Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Anti-drug group upset by inquiry

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        An anti-drug group defended its expenses and accomplishments Monday, saying Cincinnati council members who raised questions were driven by “personal grudges.”

        But Councilman Phil Heimlich said his only motivation is to determine why a group made up of mostly volunteers spent about three-quarters of its taxpayer-subsidized budget on salaries and personnel costs.

        “There isn't anything personal about it, except how much FACT is spending on personnel,” he said. “I still think $100,000 a year for salaries is too high.”

        City contracts show that from 1997 until December 2000, The Fighting Against Crack Trafficking program will spend $563,000 of $691,000 on personnel costs.

        FACT — which attempts to intimidate drug dealers by marching and demonstrating in targeted neighborhoods — gets most of its funding from local law enforcement grants.

        The council's Law and Public Safety Committee approved $778,958 in grants Monday for 10 programs, including $150,000 for overtime to put police officers in problem areas and $150,000 for FACT.

        Council agreed to do a study of FACT and other grant recipients to ensure the money is well-spent.

        “I'm out in the community fighting against drug dealers,” said H. Jean Marshall, FACT project coordinator. “I have nothing to hide.”

        She said her $56,000-a-year salary is far less than what she made as a corporate executive before taking over as FACT director. And if Mr. Heimlich thinks “I am going to work for $30,000, then he had better start looking for somebody else,” she said.

        Councilman Charlie Winburn defended FACT, saying the group conducted 299 marches and organized 4,489 volunteers who put in 17,904 hours in the last three years.

        “You have more than paid for yourself,” said Mr. Winburn, who cut off council's questions. “We are not going to continue to attack.”


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