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City cuts off funds for drug counseling program

The City Council reversed field Thursday and voted to withdraw itssupport of Blacks Against Dangerous Drugs (BADD) after learning the state had not renewed its grant to the organization.

Under the motion, which was approved unanimously by the council, BADD will get the $15,000 it had been promised last month to pay overdue bills. But an additional $15,000 will not be forthcoming.

The action apparently removes the last of the financial support for the organization, although its chairman said the drug counseling program will not fold.

"BADD is not dead and it is not going to die," said the Rev. Wayne Thompson. "The program started with the grass roots, the people of this community saying we want to rid the south side community of drugs. . . . We have to continue doing what we can."

The motion was made by Edward Cole Jr., who had led the fight on BADD's behalf last month when City Manager Robert Obering recommended against further city expenditures on the basis of BADD's poor bookkeeping and lack of performance.

Cole had urged his fellow council members to vote with their emotions and not their intellect in order to give the program one more chance to survive. He acknowledged Thursday that there is little hope the program can continue without state support and led the drive to end city support.

"I made the appeal that we grant the $30,000," Cole said. "The intent of the original motion when we funded this $30,000 is not going to happen."

BADD was formed in 1986 to combat the problem of rising crack cocaine use among blacks. The agency offers counseling and education programs to prevent the spread of the highly addictive drug.

The city provided about $175,000 to the program, but program officials failed to reapply for money this year. A city report documented poor financial and program record keeping and non-payment of payroll taxes.

A drive to raise $40,000 fell far short, but BADD officials held out hope of securing a $63,000 grant from the state. On the basis of the state grant and an overhaul of BADD's operation, Cole was able to convince a majority of the council last month to give the program an additional $30,000.

Earlier this week, the governor's drug and crime policy officer wrote to BADD to say the request had been denied because BADD "has failed to comply with the terms of the grant awarded during the preceding year."

That news, coupled with Obering's observation that the record keeping has not improved, prompted the council to cut off the agency.

Obering said after the meeting that if another group comes forward with a program that has the same aims as BADD but is better run, he would recommend that the council support it.