City Council gets answers to YO! Memphis questions - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City Council gets answers to YO! Memphis questions

City council members got the answers Tuesday to a handful of questions they asked about Yo! Memphis. Despite the dollars spent on gift certificates and travel for kids, the government says they're spending the money according to policy. But even the auditors suggested the policies aren't tight enough during tough times.

Memphis internal auditor Liz Moore told City Council members the Department of Labor had signed off on Yo! Memphis spending. The controversial program had been on the radar here ever since council members became aware of budget problems last year.

Yo! Memphis had been targeted because of concerns about mall gift certificates bought with federal dollars and contracts awarded to people with ties to city administration. The audit said more about the policies that exist for grant-funded agencies than it said about questionable spending.

”When you think of 18-hundred children, you spend 20-million dollars," said council member Tajuan Stout Mitchell. "Well, children are precious, but that comes to about $11,000 a child and we spend less than, a lot less than that, on education of our children.”

Auditor Liz Moore suggested someone be appointed to oversee grant spending, and that a universal ethics policy be created that would require conflict of interest disclosures.

”Hopefully, it would be placed in the city’s personnel manual for all employees and everyone that do business with it,” Moore said.

City Councilman Joe Brown, who has long been a supporter of the controversial Yo! Memphis program, said there’s no need.

”I really don't have concerns because YO! Memphis was in compliance and it’s good to have guidelines but at the same time," Brown said. "YO! Memphis was in compliance of DOL, Department of Labor.”

But Council members agreed grant dollars need oversight now more than ever.

Whatever they do would not actually affect Yo! Memphis anymore. The agency is now called Yo! Academy and gets its funding directly from Washington. But some on the council said this process has exposed important weaknesses, and they're using it as the impetus to keep it from happening again.

Powered by Frankly