Ferguson City Council Announces New Programs

Ferguson City Council Announces New Programs, September 8th, 2014.

Ferguson City Council announced today that they are implementing several changes and new programs in response to community concerns.  These new laws and policies are designed to reduce court fine revenue used for general city operations, reform court procedures, and establish a Citizen Review Board to provide citizen oversight and guidance for the police department.  Additionally, the City Council will commit to pursue funding for the West Florissant Great Streets Project with the City of Dellwood and St. Louis County.

“The overall goal of these changes is to improve trust within the community and increase transparency, particularly within Ferguson’s courts and police department,” says Council Member, Mark Byrne, Ward 1.  “We want to demonstrate to residents that we take their concerns extremely seriously.  That’s why we’re initiating new changes within our local police force and in our courts.”

While these changes have been accomplished or are in the process of implementation, the City Council continues to explore additional changes. The Council will be holding ward meetings to hear the views of community members and anyone is welcome to contact the Council with ideas.

Specifically, the changes that are currently underway include:

The City Council has started the process to establish a Citizen Review Board to work in conjunction with the Police Department.  This Board will include citizens who are not involved in local government.  The Board will work closely with the City’s administration and the Police Chief in advising and reviewing operations and actions of the police department and will provide valuable input in improving operations.

At its next meeting the City Council will be introducing an ordinance that will ensure that budgeted court fine revenues remain at or below 15% of the City’s revenue and that any excess revenue is earmarked for special community projects instead of general revenue purposes. The Council believes that this ordinance sends a clear message that the fines imposed as punishment in the municipal court are not to be viewed as a source of revenue for the City. We are hopeful that the Council’s clear statement will encourage the Municipal Judge and Prosecutor to explore and utilize alternative methods of sentencing, such as community service, to punish violators and deter similar unlawful conduct.

In conjunction with this change, the Council will be introducing an ordinance that will repeal the separate offense of “Failure to Appear” in Municipal Court. So, defendants who fail to appear will no longer be charged with or fined for failing to appear in Municipal Court.

In addition, the City Council will be introducing an ordinance to abolish certain administrative fees which may impact low-income persons to a greater extent than others. The City is aiming to abolish the $25.00 administrative fee to cover the cost of police personnel who arrange for the towing of abandoned, nonfunctional or other vehicles; the city will now absorb this cost. And, the City Council will be abolishing the $50.00 warrant recall fee and the $15.00 notification fees which are both associated with municipal court cases where a defendant has failed to appear.

The Municipal Judge has signed an Order establishing a special docket for defendants who are having trouble making monthly payments on outstanding fines. Sometimes, financial circumstances change and although a defendant may have agreed to a particular payment plan when the case was first resolved, that person may now have trouble making those payments. This docket will allow those defendants another opportunity to speak to the judge and/or prosecutor about his or her financial circumstances and the possibility of modifying the payment plan or seeking alternative sentencing.

At the request of the City Council, the Municipal Judge signed an Order establishing a warrant recall program which will run from September 15, 2014, through October 15, 2014. All defendants with outstanding warrants are urged to contact the Municipal Court Clerk to obtain information about having the existing warrant recalled.

Lastly, the Council has expressed its commitment to seek funding for the West Florissant Great Streets Project in conjunction with the City of Dellwood and St. Louis County.  The City will seek federal and state highway funds, streetscape grants, and other sources of funds for this Project, which will improve and revitalize the entire corridor.

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Media Contact:

Devin James (636) 748-7455

devin@devinjamesgroup.com

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October 24, 2019

Reflections from Philanthropy Forward's First Cohort

Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change is a CEO fellowship program created by Neighborhood Funders Group and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The program's first cohort started in October 2018 in furtherance of building and advancing a shared vision for the future of philanthropy.

Hear perspectives from members of the first cohort as they reflect in this video on their work together as strategic thought partners, addressing philanthropy's most challenging issues and aligning to build a financial engine for social change.

2018 - 2019 Philanthropy Forward Cohort

A grid with individual photos of each of the 20 members of Philanthropy Forward's 2018-2918 cohort..

Click here for participant bios

  • Dimple Abichandani, General Service Foundation
  • Sharon Alpert, Nathan Cummings Foundation
  • Elizabeth Barajas-Roman, Solidago Foundation
  • Ned Calonge, The Colorado Trust
  • Irene Cooper-Basch, Victoria Foundation
  • Farhad A. Ebrahimi, The Chorus Foundation
  • Nicky Goren, Meyer Foundation
  • Justin Maxson, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
  • Joan Minieri, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock
  • Maria Mottola, New York Foundation
  • Mike Pratt, Scherman Foundation
  • Jocelyn Sargent, Hyams Foundation
  • Pamela Shifman, NoVo Foundation
  • Starsky D. Wilson, Deaconess Foundation
  • Steve Patrick, Aspen Institute Forum for Community solutions
  • Dennis Quirin, Raikes Foundation
September 10, 2019

For Love of Humankind: A Call to Action for Southern Philanthropy

Justin Maxson, Executive Director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, calls on fellow funding organizations based in the South to respond to the federal government's anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies with three concrete actions. This post was originally published here on the foundation's website.

Justin was part of the first Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change Fellowship cohort, a joint initiative of Neighborhood Funders Group and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, which strives to help people and places move out of poverty and achieve greater social and economic justice, is a member of NFG.


 

Justin MaxsonWe are issuing a clarion call to Southern philanthropic organizations to respond to the manic drumbeat of anti-immigrant rhetoric and cruelty coming from the White House. This month began with a mass shooting targeting the Latinx community. Days later, massive raids tore apart hundreds of families and destabilized Mississippi communities but levied no consequences for the corporate leadership that lures vulnerable people to work in grueling, dangerous conditions. It is astounding that since those events, with the resulting fear and trauma still reverberating through immigrant communities across America, the administration has: 

  • repeated its intention to end birthright citizenship, a 14th Amendment guarantee that babies born on American soil are citizens. 
  • attempted to terminate the Flores Agreement, which sets standards for the care of children in custody. This would allow the administration to detain migrant families indefinitely in facilities where children are dying of influenza, yet flu shots are not administrated, where children are sexually assaulted, where soap, toothbrushes, human contact and play are not standard, and where breastfeeding babies are taken from their mothers. Child separation is known to cause permanent psychological trauma and brain damage.
  • announced changes to the so-called “public charge rule” to make it harder for legal immigrants to secure citizenship if they use public assistance. As our partners at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argue, this change would cause many to “forgo assistance altogether, resulting in more economic insecurity and hardship, with long-term negative consequences, particularly for children.” Further, the decision “rests on the erroneous assumption that immigrants currently of modest means are harmful to our nation and our economy, devaluing their work and contributions and discounting the upward mobility immigrant families demonstrate.”

There was also a recent effort to effectively end asylum altogether at the southern border. And despite the Supreme Court ruling blocking the citizenship question from the 2020 census, advocates believe the debate will depress response rates. As we wrote earlier this month, this administration’s animus against immigrants and increasingly aggressive ICE actions are compounding the devastating effects on communities across the country. 

Why Southern philanthropy? 

An analysis of recent grantmaking by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy found our region has deportation rates five times higher than the rest of the country, yet Southern pro-immigrant organizations receive paltry philanthropic funding. Barely one percent of all money granted by the 1,000 largest foundations benefits immigrants and refugees, and even that money doesn’t go to state and local groups that are accountable to grassroots and immigrant communities. Organizations in Southern states receive less than half of the state and local funding of California, New York and Illinois. 

Where to begin? 

Speak up. As Desmund Tutu taught us, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Use your institutional voice to influence decisionmakers.

Examine your foundation’s policies. Find out if your endowment is invested in private detention centers. Consider how supporting organizing, power building and policy advocacy could advance your mission. NCRP has more recommendations in its report.

Give generously. Our partners at Hispanics in Philanthropy have curated a list of organizations helping the families affected by the raids across Mississippi. Our partners at Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees have compiled a list of ways to help, from rapid response grants to long-term strategies. 

Many of the Babcock Foundation’s grantee partners are doing more and more immediate protection work, stretching themselves thin and often putting themselves at risk. They are keeping families intact in the short term while building power for the long term, so history will stop repeating: 

If you know of more resources, please share them. If you’d like to learn more about the organizations on the ground across the South – or think about ways we can do more together – contact us. We are always looking to learn and act in alignment with our fellow funders toward a shared vision of a strong, safe, welcoming and equitable region. 

Activist Jane Addams said, “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us.” Regardless of a foundation’s mission, abject cruelty surely undermines it. It also undermines the most basic tenet of philanthropy, which literally means “love for humankind.” We see no love in this administration. It’s up to all of us to spread it.