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Controversial Richmond department fuels PR duel

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Thursday, March 29th, 2012 at 10:16 am in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Richmond.

Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety Director DeVone Boggan uncharacteristically fired off a swift and strongly worded press release in response to the broad release of a critical report prepared in the office of vocal critic and Richmond Councilman Corky Boozé. (See links below.)

Boggan called the report an unsubstantiated, error-ridden and poorly written document prepared by an unqualified intern. And he chastised the city for allowing what he called a “student opinion paper” to be distributed through the council agenda process.

“In the absence of a graduate school supervisor providing appropriate direction and feedback (particularly around biased presentations) this report should be considered nothing more than a writing exercise draft,” Boggan wrote.

The Office of Neighborhood Safety has been under fire for months after a bloody fight broke out in city hall between rival clients and scared the bejeezus out of staffers. Created six years ago, the department attempts to reduce gun violence in the community through a variety of intervention programs.

Boggan recently agreed that an independent evaluation is appropriate and has requested $375,000 for the analysis.

In the meantime, Boozé has had the agency in his crosshairs for some time. He has questioned Boggan’s $148,000-a-year salary, requested audits of the $2.6 million-a-year department and has repeatedly asked for proof of its efficacy.

The public relations spat is further clouded by the fact that Boozé is at war with the progressive majority on the council, whose members regard the Office of Neighborhood Safety as a centerpiece in their efforts to reduce community violence through non-police channels.

Readers should definitely view with caution the contents of the 12-page intern’s report issued under the guidance of one of the Office of Neighborhood Safety’s most vocal opponent. But just because Boozé has an agenda doesn’t mean all the findings in this report are inaccurate. It raises serious questions about how this agency spends taxpayer dollars that must be answered if the public is to have confidence in Boggan’s leadership in light of what happened here last year.

Read Boggan’s press release here.

Read intern Anna Johnson’s report and Powerpoint presentations out of Booze’s office here and here.

Watch video of the City Council’s March 27 discussion here. (It is item No. I-1.)

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  • RR senile columnist

    Use the budget to hire more cops. Richmond doesn’t need more community organisers on the payroll.

  • John W.

    Malfunction junction!

  • Rick K.

    Looks like Richmond’s Office of Neighborhood Safety has noble goals, but must its director be paid an exorbitant $148,000 a year salary? With a salary like that, the “fully-loaded” benefits and pension costs must be through the roof! If federal and/or state grants are paying for this program, I suggest that the federal and/or state governments impose some type of salary/benefits review. Sadly, too many “grants” programs too often end up lining the pockets of overpaid government workers (“hosts”) and their favorite consultants (“parasites”) instead of accomplishing their intended goals (such as preventing crime).