Maybe it is going to take news of even more insane non-profit-based crime for more people to question the cozy patronage between politicians and their non-profit clients. For neighborhoods dealing with youth gang crimes, this ought to be scary enough:
According to the federal indictment, Galaxy Star founder Lonnie Greenlee allowed the Bloods to use the nonprofit's building as a sort of headquarters, where gang members organized, coordinated efforts to acquire guns, plotted a takeover of East Nashville's drug trade and even nearly beat a man to death.I am not so naive to think that malfeasance could not happen under a government service provider, but it is reasonable enough to assume that checks and balances provide for better regulatory oversight than do services built on voluntarism. Oversight is bound to go lax where volunteers are involved. Because community services depend on volunteers and not on government workers with budgetary obligations to elected officials, obligation to the taxpaying voters is removed and the chances of abuse increase.
Among the allegations in the indictment was that Galaxy Star worker Rodney Britton provided fake community service hours in exchange for money. Sometimes Greenlee arranged the deals, records show. Other times, it was his son, Lonnie Newsome.
It is difficult to convince people of these risks because we are predisposed to view community service groups as intrinsically good and free from the taint of abuse. We often project our own warm feelings associated with donating and volunteering on to non-profit providers. And Metro politicians want this because it allows them to cut budgets, to buy influence, and to curry deniability in these critical moments. Nonetheless, we continue to privatize government oversight at peril to our own local communities.