EDITORIAL: Council should vet Redwood appeal carefully

May 11—When considering whether to grant funding, government officials have the responsibility of carefully vetting organizations and their applications.

The money came from somewhere, usually from taxpayers, making it incumbent on government to take measures to assure that fund applicants are worthy stewards and that their applications reflect specific, targeted, trackable and effective use of grant money.

The Anderson City Council seems to be doing just that in regard to an American Rescue Plan funding application from the Redwood Foundation.

The Redwood Foundation originally requested a grant of $246,000 for a program called Cure Violence Prevention, and the city's ARP grant committee made an original, "pre-award" commitment of $62,000 for the cause.

However, when committee members learned about a police action at the home of a Redwood board of directors member, they withdrew the grant approval.

The council's denial letter explained the members' reasoning.

"The grant committee considered the updated information provided by the Madison County Prosecutor and the Anderson Police Department, including a copy of a probable cause affidavit, and a copy of the filed formal charges, during the pre-award period," the denial letter stated.

A search warrant for drugs and a gun used in a homicide had been issued for the home of the Redwood board member

"It is the consensus of the committee that this trust and confidence was severely harmed," the letter stated. "As a result, funding for the project previously identified for a potential award would not be in the best interests of the local and federal government."

Last week, council met to hear an appeal from the Redwood Foundation and voted 8-0 to deny the appeal.

Redwood officials didn't show up but later cried foul, noting they had not been directly notified about the meeting.

Council then did the right thing by rescheduling the appeal hearing for May 23.

Redwood representatives will have a chance to make their case then.

While the police action at the board member's home shouldn't automatically disqualify the group from receiving funding, it does give cause for concern about the organization's leadership.

Redwood's program to reduce violence does seem like a worthy investment of ARP money, depending on the quality, accountability and sustainability of the plan.

Council should take all of these factors into account when reconsidering the appeal.