Kansas City Councilman Michael Brooks, who took office in 2011, persuaded City Manager Troy Schulte this fall to issue a $15,000 check to bring controversial boxer Floyd Mayweather to Kansas City for an event.
Except Schulte was unaware that Mayweather had served time this summer on a domestic violence charge. Questions began to be raised about the city funding the planned youth enrichment and anti-violence event, with some saying Mayweather was an unfit role model to discuss anti-violence.
The event, which was slated to be held earlier this month, never occurred. So the city demanded repayment. Except the check has been cashed.
And the city's efforts to voluntarily get repaid have been unsuccessful to date.
"It was an opportunity for us to step in and help a group that is doing good things," the city manager explained. "But it's unfortunate it's turning out this way."
Brooks and Ossco Bolton, a former gang leader, had proposed the event. Bolton is now executive director of P.O.S.S.E., which stands for Peers Organized to Support Student Excellence. The organization began in 1995 and bills itself as providing training, mentoring and constructive activities for youth to become leaders. The group works with at-risk, inner city kids.
Bolton says he has tried to reschedule the event or get a substitute leader such as Mayweather's father to head up the event in early 2013.
"This is the first time I've even spoken out," he told KCTV5's Stacey Cameron. "This is my city. I was born and raised in Kansas City."
He said this would have been an amazing event for youth.
"A lot of our young people in the urban core don't get a chance to meet a champion," he said. "My contact was Councilman Brooks. And we had been talking about doing something even when he was a pastor. The opportunity came up once (he joined the City Council)."
The city had given the organization until Thursday to repay the money, but the money wasn't forthcoming.
"What we'll probably do from the city's perspective is pursue our legal options," Schulte told KCTV5.
Brooks repeatedly refused to explain to taxpayers what happened.
"As long as the investigation is going on, I don't have any comment," he said about an internal audit at City Hall. "When the investigation is over with, I'll say whatever needs to be said."
City documents indicate that Schulte, Brooks and others at City Hall had previously supported another effort to bring Mayweather to town. Bolton and Ron Hunt, a Kansas City activist, sought neighborhood grant funds to put together last April an event featuring Mayweather and fellow boxer Evander Holyfield.
Emails indicate that Schulte and Brooks were originally aboard. But the grant request went nowhere with the advisory group that approves the funding in part because of flaws in the application such as listing a Hickman-Mills School District facility as the site without ever contacting the district for approval.
Hunt has been a lightning rod at City Hall and the Kansas City School District. He drew backlash from many African-American leaders when he proposed in 2010 that students skip class at the Kansas City School District, which has provided him funding in the past.
Bolton downplays Hunt's involvement in the Mayweather event.
"Ron's involvement was finding the entertainment, and he knows the process," Bolton explained.
However this particular issue is resolved, it is likely to spark changes at City Hall.
"What we'll do is pursue all the legal remedies available to us, and we'll see if we can get the money back and back into other civic needs. And we'll tighten up our procedures," the city manager said.
Bolton apparently posted the following in all caps on his Facebok page in response to KCTV5's coverage, "WHY CAN'T YOU ALL REPORT THE REAL NEWS AND NOT ACT LIKE SNAKES FOR RATINGS...20 CHILDREN MURDERED AND YOU ALL STILL WORRIED ABOUT $15,000 FROM A $1 BILLION DOLLAR BUDGET THIS CITY HAS."
What do you think? Tell us on KCTV5's Facebook page.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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