Aug. 12 2014 12:00 AM

Neighborhood Watch event casualty of financial investigation, but still to go on

Clark Street Neighborhood Watch

TUESDAY, Aug. 12 – The Clark Street Neighborhood Watch Night Out event is the first casualty of the Lansing Neighborhood Council's financial woes.

The event was to receive funding - a $100 stipend for neighborhood watch programs and another $650 in grant money from the Mayor’s grant fund – for the crime and drug prevention event, coordinated by Kat Tyler.

Then Tyler got the phone call. The money was frozen in a Lansing Police investigation of the LNC, the disabled community activist was told. Police and city officials had no idea when the money would be available again. Fortunately, the Eastside Neighborhood Association and an anonymous Good Samaritan raised enough money to allow the event to go on.

It will be rescheduled from tonight to Thursday night due to weather.

“My main focus is to try to reach out to our neighbors and our community,” she said.

As many as a dozen nonprofits, neighborhood watches and neighborhood organizations that relied on the LNC as their fiscal sponsor, are locked out of access to their monies due to the police investigation. LNC would receive grant monies and distribute them for those organizations. The money was frozen and a police investigation launched after an outside accounting firm was hired to conduct a review of the LNC operations. On Aug. 1, the city severed tied with the 34-year-old organization due to “serious irregularities in the accounting and cash management policies.”

“Mayor Bernero’s office is working closely with Bob Johnson [director of planning and neighborhood development for the city] to ascertain which groups are still owed money by the LNC,” says Randy Hannan, chief of staff for Mayor Virg Bernero, in an emailed statement to the City Pulse. “We will make our best efforts to ensure that they get the funds they are supposed to receive.  At this time we don’t have a complete list of the organizations and the amounts they are owed, but we are working diligently to compile that information.”

Tyler said she appreciates the help from the Mayor's office but she is “frustrated and disappointed” by the entire situation.

Tyler said she wants her neighborhood to come together to help fight crime and prostitution which she says are a problem. She wants to return the neighborhood to its former glory, its “heyday,” she said.

The Clark Street Neighborhood Watch Night out will include a bounce house, clown and barbecue. Lansing Fire and Police will also be on hand.

But Tyler had to scrap a raffle of local business gift cards, which she felt could help neighbors.

“I wanted to buy gift cards to raffle off for the parents,” she said. “That would be really helpful since this just before going back to school. They could use those cards to help with back to school stuff.”