A resolution to make the Macon mayors office the lead agency on gang-reduction and youth intervention programs got through the city Public Safety Committee by 4-1 on Monday, an early step in committee Chairman Virgil Watkins drive to adopt federal guidelines for those programs.
Councilman Henry Gibson was the only vote against the resolution, saying it was a slap in the police chiefs face to designate the mayors office as running anti-gang efforts.
This is a law enforcement problem, and should be coordinated through law enforcement, he said.
Watkins said though many youth intervention programs are police-officer driven, the majority involve efforts beyond guns and bullets such as job training and coordinating with other agencies.
Gibson maintained that even so, overall coordination should lie with police.
Since a spate of violent incidents nearly a year ago, Macon City Council has debated various youth-violence prevention ideas. A proposal from Mayor Robert Reichert to hire about half a dozen new police got dismantled by council members. Watkins has floated several ideas, but all have bogged down in discussion.
In a closely-related discussion, Councilman Frank Tompkins asked Assistant City Attorney Stuart Morelli what the rule was for getting legislation stuck in committee before full council. Morelli said if something isnt dealt with in two regular meetings, a majority of council can order that committee to report on the proposal at its next regular meeting.
They were discussing a budget amendment which passed Public Safety but is still in the Appropriations Committee to hire a youth intervention coordinator, councils response to Reicherts request for more police.
Thats how it looked when it left this committee: just hiring one civilian coordinator, not the six or seven police officers the administration requested, Morelli said.
Tompkins said the community wants council to act on the issue, rather than stay bogged down in personal and political quibbling.
Well be over the summer real soon, and were still stuck in first gear, he said.
Councilman Tom Ellington, who chairs the Appropriations committee, said hes not trying to prevent the proposals passage, but since the current fiscal year ends June 30, it makes more sense to add the new position to the fiscal 2013 budget now under consideration. Ellington said hes also waiting on further proposals from Watkins, which he expects to get this week.
Watkins said his resolution designating the mayors office as the lead gang-reduction agency is part of establishing the youth intervention coordinator position.
Authorization for Bragg Jam to use city streets on July 28, including allowing people to drink alcohol on downtown streets, passed the committee 5-0.
This is basically a recap of the resolution from last year, said Ellington, the resolutions sponsor.
The festival contributes to the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and reimburses the city for security costs and cleanup, he said.
Gibson asked if theres a formal contract for that reimbursement.
Internal Affairs Director Keith Moffett said he thinks the Public Works Department just bills Bragg Jam for those costs.
They have always paid in the past, he said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.