Lies, Cronyism And Corruption: What Sharon Weston Broome Has Done To The BRAVE Program

Earlier today, we had a post featuring a public records request sent to Baton Rouge mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome’s office by former Metro Councilman and 2016 mayoral candidate John Delgado concerning payments to Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed and others many or most Baton Rouge voters might find inappropriate with respect to disbursements under the BRAVE program. This post is a follow-up to that one, as the results of Delgado’s request, along with some other research, have begun to trail in.

Before we get to the new material, let’s reset the context. The Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination program was designed to be a mini-version of New York’s famous CompStat program. BRAVE targeted the highly-dangerous 70802 and 70805 zip codes in Baton Rouge, using data-driven computer analysis to surge police into precise locations in an effort to prevent violent crime. When BRAVE was instituted, there were some relatively immediate positive results, though overall trends since haven’t been conclusive.

The data portion of the BRAVE program was provided by LSU, at a cost of $125,000 per year. When Broome took office in January she canceled that contract. Since that time Baton Rouge has lost the federal funding for the BRAVE program and by all indications it appears dead – which is a bad sign given the sizable spike in violent crime in the Capitol City this year compared to 2016.

Yesterday, Broome was put on the spot regarding her relationship with Reed, given his outrageous statements at Wednesday’s Metro Council meeting, essentially calling the white community in Baton Rouge a “confederacy” and characterizing the mass murder of Baton Rouge law enforcement officers by domestic terrorist Gavin Long as “justice.” TV station WAFB sent in a public records request asking for any records of contracts Broome might have had with Reed; that led to her announcing she had disassociated herself with Reed, who had served on a citizen’s advisory board regarding police practices earlier this year, and that she had canceled a contract awarded to Reed under the BRAVE program as a “street counselor” – something nobody seems to have a definition for.

The latter part was news to virtually everyone in town, and in particular Delgado, who was livid on social media and sent in a public records request looking for all contract and payment voucher data regarding the BRAVE program. In addition, the developments sent Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso looking into the city-parish’s contract database to find out who else was awarded contracts.

Remember – LSU was providing crime data analysis to assist in targeting where to send BRPD officers in order to prevent violent crime and save lives. A better $125,000 simply could not be spent by the city-parish government.

Instead, Broome sought to spend that money in other ways. A spreadsheet Amoroso generated through his research can be downloaded here, and we’ll summarize the highlights.

Yes, there is a line item for $9,800 for Silky Slim. Here’s what it’s for…

“ARTHUR REED, DIRECTOR OF STOP THE VIOLENCE, AN ORGANIZATION BASED IN THE STATE OF LOUISIANA, PROPOSES TO OFFER A PROGRAM TO TEEN IN EBRP FOCUSED ON EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONS TECHNIQUES DESIGNED TO AVOID VIOLENCE AND BUILD INCREASED”

It cuts off at that point. You probably get the gist – this is what a “street counselor” does, apparently.

Meanwhile, Broome campaign backer, member of the mayor-president’s transition team and political fixer Cleve Dunn, Jr., managed to pull in a $17,500 contract under the BRAVE program. What was that for?

“THE SERVICE PROVIDER WILL PROVIDE ON-DEMAND LOGISTICAL AND TRANSPORTATION SERVICES FOR THE BRAVE PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS AS NEEDED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, COURT APPEARANCES, MEDICAL, SOCIAL SERVICE APPOINTMENTS BETWEEN THE HOURS OF”

Dunn has a courier service. He got hired to turn it into a taxi service to take BRAVE participants around town, for $17,500. Naw, that’s not a political payoff.

Another North Baton Rouge political fixer, Isaiah Marshall, whose name might be memorable to some of our readers for his disastrous role in chairing the board of the Capital Area Transit System before being forced to resign, makes an appearance on the list with a $9,500 contract. What was that for? Are you ready?

“SERVICE PROVIDER WILL SERVE AS A FACILITATOR/ CONSULTANT TO PLAN AND ORGANIZE A NETWORK OF TEAMS/PLAYERS TO HOST TWO COMMUNITY SPORTING EVENTS FOR YOUTH AND ADULTS TARGETING THOSE ZIP CODES 70805 AND 70802”

He got $9,500 to host a couple of basketball tournaments. Oh, and wait – Marshall wasn’t the only one getting paid for that. The same description appears on a line item for $9,500 for one Zuri Sanchez, who our research indicates is a wide receiver at Madison Prep Academy in Baton Rouge who will graduate from high school next spring.

Another connected individual is Todd Sterling, who was a member of Broome’s transition team. He has a video production and public relations company, and he pulled in a $9,950 contract for…

“THE SERVICE PROVIDER WILL PROVIDE VIDEO PRODUCTION AND AUDIO RECORDINGS OF TRAINING SEMINARS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES SPONSORED BY THE ‘BRAVE’ PROJECT. * RECORDINGS AND VIDEO SHALL BE PROVIDED IN”

Seems a little high, but depending on how many of these seminars they were putting on, maybe not.

We were under the impression this was a program to put cops in the criminals’ way. Apparently it’s now a program to put on seminars.

There’s more. We have a host of entries for this…

“PROVIDER WILL RECRUIT A MINIMUM OF 30 YOUTH TO PARTICIPATE IN THE (YES) YOUTH EMPOWERMENT SOLUTIONS PROGRAM. PROVIDE GROUP LEADERS AND ASSISTANT GROUP LEADERS. IMPLEMENT THE YOUTH EMPOWERMENT SOLUTIONS CURRICULUM FROM THE”

The Youth Empowerment Solutions Program must be a big deal. Because the Louisiana Center For Health Equity picked up $16,000 for their 30 kids, as did the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. Baptist Builders International got $12,000 for their 30 kids – they need better negotiating skills, it appears – and Assisi House, Inc. is on the list for $16,000 as well, though no minimum number of recruits is specified.

The YES program is a pretty sweet honey pot, from the looks of it. A line item…

“THE SERVICE PROVIDER WILL SERVE AS GROUP LEADER FOR THE BR BCJI/YOUTH EMPOWERMENT SOLUTIONS (YES) PROGRAM AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH. THEY WILL RECRUIT STUDENTS, SCHOOLS AND ORGANIZE YOUTH LED LEADERSHIP ACTIVITIES WITHIN THEIR COMMUNITY.”

Sounds like fun, no? And rewarding as well. Lionel Franklin, Jr., was to be paid $5,000 as a group leader. As was Kadeidra Willis. Letitia Bowman was only on the list for $4,111 for that job, but Patricia Woods is on for $5,000. Ditto for Tremaine Sterling, Karmyce Chisley, Durell Hamilton and Jane Loraine Brown. Additionally, Dawn Chanet Collins is catching $6,000 to…

“PROFESSIONAL SERVICES: PROVIDER WILL SERVE AS OUTREACH PROGRAM MONITOR FOR THE BCJI/YOUTH EMPOWERMENT SOLUTIONS (YES) PROGRAM AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH. TERM:APRIL 17, 2017 THRU SEPTEMBER 30, 2017.”

In addition, Evelyn Stewart and Adell Brown, Jr. were each listed for $4,500 to…

“REVIEW THE IMPLEMENTATION GUIDELINES FOR THE YOUTH EMPOWERMENT SOLUTION (YES) PROGRAM. DEVELOP AN EVALUATION TOOL OR INSTRUMENT TO ASSESS THE PROGRAMS OFFERED THROUGH THE YES PROGRAM BASED ON THE IMPLEMENTATION GUIDELINES. CONDUCT A SITE”

There was also something called the Hope Zone Pilot Initiative. A firm named T. Simmons and Company was hired for $16,600 to…

“PROVIDE AGGRESIVE MARKETING AND OUTREACH IN THE TARGETED ZIP CODES TO EDUCATE THE COMMUNITY ABOUT THE HOPE ZONE PILOT INITIATIVE. COLLABORATE WITH EMPLOY BR TO LEVERAGE RESOURCES. TERM: APRIL 17, 2017 – SEPTEMBER 17, 2017”

Here’s T. Simmons and Company’s website. Its principal is Terry Simmons, and he’s an interesting guy who sponsors AAU basketball teams for boys and girls.

Something called the Pink Blossom Alliance is on the list for $9,900 for…

“SERVICE PROVIDER WILL HOST TWO (2) COMMUNITY OUTREACH EVENTS IN BOTH THE 70805 AND 70802 ZIP CODES. THESE EVENTS WILL SPECIFICALLY ENGAGE YOUNG FEMALES, THEIR PARENTS & THEIR SUPPORT SYSTEMS.”

Here is the Pink Blossom Alliance’s Facebook page. Judge for yourself what’s in there.

Three people – Desiree Bewley, Donney Rose and Chancelier Deshon Skidmore – are in for $7,600 apiece for…

“BRING AN ART PROGRAM TO THE COMMUNITY IN THE FORM OF A FOUR (4) WEEK CREATIVE AND PERFORMING ARTS PROGRAM SPECIFICALLY TARGETING TEENAGERS IN 70805 AND 70802 ZIP CODES. PROVIDE YOUTH MENTORSHIP, POETRY WORKSHOPS, PERFORMANCE COACHING”

We went from copying Compstat to poetry workshops. Is it any wonder the federal money dried up this year?

We’re not sure if this is the same initiative, but Christopher Patrick Turner was paid $9,600 to…

“PROVIDE A SUMMER FOUR WEEK PROGRAM THAT IMPROVE YOUTH’S CAPACITY FOR LEADERSHIP, BUSINESS, AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP THROUGH SELF-DISCOVERY IN THE ARTS. IDENTIFY PERSONAL SKILLS AND CREATIVE TALENT OF THE YOUTH TO HELP INCREASE THEIR PERSONAL”

Back to the Hope Zone. Walter McLaughlin, Jr. was paid $9,800 for…

“SERVICE PROVIDER WILL PROVIDE SERVICES TO BE RENDERED TO THE BATON ROUGE HOPE ZONE. BRING AN ARTS PROGRAM SPECIFICALLY TARGETING TEENAGERS IN 70805 AND 70802. PROVIDE ADDITIONAL SERVICES AS FOLLOWS: YOUTH MENTORSHIP; EVENT PRODUCTION;”

Joseph Hines, Jr. was paid $9,600 for the same work description.

You get the picture. A whole lot of people were paid healthy, if not princely, sums of money to largely have fun with the kids.

Meanwhile, Delgado’s public records request has yielded some interesting stuff regarding Silky Slim’s abortive contract – which it does not appear he was paid anything from.

Here’s a copy of the agreement Reed and the city-parish made…

He didn’t get paid because he hadn’t turned in his bi-weekly invoices – one assumes because the program he was supposed to be running for the kids hadn’t started yet. But if Reed hadn’t made an ass of himself at the Metro Council on Wednesday, he would have. Here’s the purchase order…

And here’s the termination letter…

Nothing in here gives us an indication one way or another that Reed’s contract with the BRAVE program was unknown to Broome, as she asserted yesterday. We don’t know whether she was telling the truth about that or not.

What we do know from reviewing these documents and line items is that a program which had garnered lots of fans for having produced some results in fighting crime was changed into something quite a bit different; it’s a lot more of an arts and crafts and midnight basketball enterprise now, and it might not even be that anymore given the loss of the federal funds for the program.

Back in February when the Metro Council began asking about Broome’s changes to BRAVE, she took to the Council podium and asserted her commitment to the program. She also said as time goes by we would see just how committed she was.

Well, now we know. It’s not quite the answer she was promising.

Interested in more news from Louisiana? We've got you covered! See More Louisiana News
Previous Article
Next Article
Join the Conversation - Download the Speakeasy App.

Trending on The Hayride