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City Severs Ties with Gang Contractor
By Sentinel News Service
Published August 6, 2009

 City officials severed ties with a gang intervention contractor that was unable to deliver what it promised or keep up with bureaucratic demands, it was reported today.

Unity T.W.O., a nonprofit founded in 1998, lost its $350,000-plus annual contract with the city Friday after a series of problems, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In some cases, gang intervention workers — many of them are former gang members themselves — never did the work they submitted paperwork for.

Documents obtained by the newspaper also portray the agency as overwhelmed, with overdrawn bank accounts, blown deadlines and missed payrolls.

Unity T.W.O. staff members missed appointments to get fingerprinted by city officials and to provide information for background checks, The Times reported.

In May, two staffers in the mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development filed sexual harassment claims against Unity T.W.O. employees, alleging unwelcome sexual advances, the newspaper reported.

Gang intervention workers act as liaisons between police and the community. Increasingly, the city relies on them to monitor street gossip and prevent revenge shootings.

 Susan K. Lee, director of urban peace at the Advancement Project, the L.A. public policy nonprofit, said the troubles underscore the growing pains attending the city’s efforts to manage gang-reduction programs.

 “There is a higher bar being set,” Lee said. “There are adjustments that are going to have to be made on both sides.”

Unity T.W.O.’s founder, Kevin Mustafa Fletcher, did not return calls to The Times seeking comment.

The mayor’s office said the decision to sever ties with Unity T.W.O. was in the best interest of the city, but has declined to elaborate, citing instructions from the city attorney.

 Unity T.W.O. is perhaps best known for brokering a truce between the Swans and East Coast Crips in 2004.

Categories: Local

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