Thursday, May 08, 2008

CDBG, I can't quit you

I really need to stop writing about this whole Community Development Block Grant situation, but this editorial is so full of disjointed logic and double-speak that I don't know where to begin.

Obviously the fact that the editorial concedes that both the East Athens Development Corporation and the Hancock Corridor Development Corporation are not providing efficiency in service delivery and show a pattern of missing stated goals and targets yet still says it's sad we didn't show them respect is confusing to me, but this notion of respect irritates me.

And the reason is because we're focusing on the organizations and not the community. The goal of this portion of funding, and the resulting partnership that emerged between the local government and these two organizations, is to provide much-needed services to an area in need. If these organizations are consistently not meeting their goals, thus meaning they are not providing efficient services to those communities, then the communities are not being respected by the organizations themselves and inaction on the part of the commission is disrespect toward the community.

We can talk about 'process' all day long - and, as I noted in my forum, I completely agree that the way this was done was probably not the best course of action, thus spurring me to offer a partial restoration of funding - but if the end result is not being delivered, and if the two agencies have ignored repeated concerns from staff, then at some point you have to say enough.

This chunk of funding has a mission, and that mission is to better the lives of the people living in those census tracts regardless of the agency working to execute that mission. Will the work of ACTION to repair homes for low-income citizens not make life better there? Will increased funding for ACT ONE to assist those in need in those areas not make their life better?

If we focus on the means rather than the ends, then we have lost sight of what it is we're trying to do.

Granted, there is ample reason for that lack of confidence. But what the mayor and commission should have done during the month between April's misguided vote and this month's similarly misguided vote is to have come up with a detailed proposal for how EADC and HCDC should be using the $285,000 in question, and challenged the two agencies to respond to that detailed proposal.

Actually, the commission shouldn't be in the business of dictating exactly how another organization should be striving to achieve its mission, and then micro-managing them in order to see they reach their goal. At some point, don't EADC and HCDC have to step up and take some responsibility for their actions? They've been receiving funding for more than 16 years, and as their own records show and the reports from HED indicate, they have been falling well below their own goals and standards for quite some time.

By the way there was a guy who claimed to have a plan to do just that. His name's Dodson, and I didn't see him offer a solution that night.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head. How long have these two organizations and their leaders been "disrespecting the community" by doing nothing?

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that post is what I call hitting the nail on the head, anonymous.
And how great is it that we live in a town where so many of us stayed awake through every bit of that meeting?



7:20 PM  
Anonymous Cathi said...

Hey Maddy - Good to hear from you!
Jmac - "CDBG, I can't quit you" - The constant commentary on blogs and in the ABH reflects the strong feelings of many, including you, about government accountability, about race, and about poverty. We want things to be right and finally saw an opening for change (or not in the case of the opponents)!
I think the funding change is a step in the right direction. With even more affordable housing construction funded, there will be a struggle to find qualified buyers. At that point the need for housing counseling will become an issue. Let's hope there is some funding for housing counseling next year.

6:31 AM  

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