published Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield hires 2 to fight gangs


by Cliff Hightower

COMPREHENSIVE GANG MODEL

The comprehensive model that Chattanooga is examining to address gang problems would utilize five tools:

* Community mobilization

* Opportunities

* Intervention

* Suppression

* Organizational change

Source: City of Chattanooga

Audio clip

City Council meeting - 01/03/12

Mayor Ron Littlefield said Tuesday he plans to address gang problems by hiring two new staff members to head an initiative to address youth violence.

He also asked the City Council on Tuesday to redirect $75,000 originally slated for minority business development to instead fund a study of gang problems within the city.

"We've addressed the problems systematically and we need to go further," Littlefield said.

The mayor addressed the council during its Legal, Legislative and Public Safety Committee and introduced the two new members of city staff -- Boyd Patterson, a Hamilton County assistant district attorney, and Fred Houser, a case manager and counselor at the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center in Nashville. Houser also was involved in Chattanooga Venture, a nonprofit organization that directed citizen involvement in city planning in the 1980s.

Both will work on the city's gang initiative.

Littlefield said the two men would start full-time work today at salaries between $70,000 to $90,000 each. He said he could not disclose specific salaries Tuesday because the details still were being worked on.

He said the current budget would be able to support the two salaries.

But some council members questioned the money being used to hire the pair.

Councilwoman Pam Ladd said she was leery of two staff members being hired before the gang study was conducted and wondered whether they would have any work to do.

"I'm adverse to employment without a plan," she said.

Councilwoman Deborah Scott said she wanted job descriptions and specific salaries of the two hires.

Littlefield said he would provide the information but said he did not want salaries to stand in the way of making progress on stopping gangs.

The council does not approve hires by the administration except for the police and fire chiefs.

But the council will vote next week on whether to move $75,000 slated for minority business development money to pay for the gang study.

The money originally was to help fund the Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce, but after investigations found discrepancies in how chamber handled its finances, the council decided to hold the money.

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, the Urban League of Chattanooga and the United Way are set to speak to the council next week about proposals for the minority business money.

"I don't want to get into a debate about that money," Littlefield told the council. "That will happen next week."

Ladd said she would not talk about the money until next week but said she thought there was more than one pot containing $75,000 rather than taking it from minority business.

"I think we can find it through some efficiencies," she said.

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