OBA: Bean connection hindering Street Safe
A street-level anti-gang initiative may have failed to attract corporate backing because controversial pastor Leroy Bean is being considered to run it, according to the Opposition.
One Bermuda Alliance National Security spokesman Jeff Baron spoke out following comments from Minister of National Security Wayne Perinchief that Street Safe encountered a “lack of buy-in from the donor community”.
The programme is modelled on a successful gang intervention initiative in Boston, which is run by a non-profit organisation. It uses street workers from neighbourhoods affected by gun violence to seek out those responsible, and help them change their lives.
A Government-funded administrator was appointed in Bermuda, and in June six representatives from the Boston programme visited the Island to train 30 local volunteers to become street workers. CARTEL representatives were among those trained.
Mr Perinchief told The Royal Gazette on Monday that the initiative got delayed after that “as in Bermuda there was no non-profit organisation that was willing to simply step up and formulate this Street Safe programme or carry it through”.
He explained that the programme failed to get “buy-in from the donor community”. Asked why, he replied: “With time, I feel we would have gotten buy-in. But when it comes to public-private enterprises, it’s not easy to get that link between the Government and the private sector that you’re going to operate with, and it’s not just because of the economy. I think that philanthropists are a bit leery at first of new programmes, especially when they have to work with Government. I think there’s not just a perception, there’s an attitude that if Government is going to do it then let them do it entirely.”
Mr Perinchief said his Ministry put money into the initiative and “we actually had enough to take care of the first year for the administrator”. However, he said Street Safe has now been moved from his Ministry to Glenn Blakeney’s Ministry of Youth, Families and Sports, which will take it forward.
“I think that under the new Ministry it should get some traction,” he said. “I do know that they are talking to some people that do that [street level intervention] already. I’ll let you speak to Glenn Blakeney so he can tell you how they’re going to advance it.”
According to Mr Baron, Street Safe may have failed to attract donors and community support due to concerns that CARTEL will run it. He spoke with potential Street Safe donors from international business and the churches earlier this year.
“A lot of them did propose to offer funds, but made it clear that they would not align their companies or their funds if Leroy Bean of CARTEL was involved in the project,” he said.
“They had significant concerns that CARTEL is not a charitable organisation.”
Mr Bean is running as the Progressive Labour Party election candidate in St George’s South, despite Premier Paula Cox reportedly opposing his selection. She called for him to resign from the Bermuda Land Development Corporation in early 2011 when it emerged public money was paid to him as a consultant while he was deputy chairman. Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews described this as “a fundamental conflict of interest”.
He did not resign or pay back the money, and Ms Cox dissolved the board in May 2011.
Further concerns were raised in August that CARTEL is not a registered charity, despite winning a 21-year lease from Government to use White’s Island for “charitable purposes” defined as adventure training for young people.
The OBA criticised the process of granting the lease to CARTEL as “corrupt” because Mr Bean has associations with the ruling party, and the lease was not put out to tender.
CARTEL is still not a registered charity according to the latest Government list issued on November 27.
Mr Blakeney confirmed yesterday that CARTEL is one of the organisations under consideration to run the new gang intervention programme.
“We are looking not only at Street Safe but other intervention and prevention programmes,” he said, explaining this would include “street-level intervention” and “we still have several options as to who will run that”.
Asked if CARTEL was one of them, he replied: “There are Bermudian entities worthy of consideration. We are looking at all the options that are on the table, that’s including CARTEL. There’s no definite decision made as yet as it’s a fluid situation.”
Asked if he had heard of any concerns from potential donors that CARTEL is under consideration, Mr Blakeney replied: “No, I have not had anyone express any concern to me as regards to that.”
Mr Perinchief said yesterday that he had no concerns about CARTEL being involved in Street Safe and had not heard any raised by donors either.
Mr Bean told this newspaper in August that CARTEL had planned to assume a role within Street Safe — but the deal fell through due to a lack of funding. He did not return calls for comment yesterday.
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