1/27/2023: As critical as trash pickup

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Friday, January 27, 2023

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Milwaukee’s former violence prevention director, who crafted the city’s groundbreaking gun violence strategy, is helping Kalamazoo draft one too. Also: Kalamazoo Public Schools is continuing to investigate the surprise formation of a KPS foundation even as the foundation itself stands in limbo. And Kalamazoo’s Arcadia Creek Festival Place may be getting a makeover.

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Sharing a blueprint for peace

Reggie Moore speaks to a group of people in a meeting room.

The old way of doing things – ad hoc prevention programs and increasing police budgets – wasn’t working.

So, when Reggie Moore agreed to lead Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention with a focus on lowering gun violence, he said he would only do so with buy-in from people and community organizations that did not operate out of City Hall.

The result was the Blueprint for Peace. A strategy and policy document to which thousands of people and organizations gave input for reducing gun violence by addressing the myriad causes and the limits of status quo responses to it.

For the past year, Moore has been advising a similarly structured initiative being guided by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s Initiatives & Public Policy office, which is moving from the research to the strategy setting phase. A steering committee has been holding meetings, which representatives of NowKalamazoo have attended. The result is expected to be a new approach to stemming gun violence in the Kalamazoo area, which will in turn guide how millions of dollars of city, county, and other funding is spent.

In Milwaukee, the Blueprint for Peace made the case that using data and research to determine which policies and efforts should be prioritized and funded would be less expensive overall. It would also directly and indirectly create more opportunity for young people – and increase the quality of life of those living in neighborhoods that suffer from decades of both disinvestment and gun violence.

“Oftentimes there is a reason” for the violence. It’s “a human issue.” To solve it, a community needs to get below the surface level.

Moore urged the community to change its approach and put the funding behind it commensurate with the problem and the solution. “It needs to be seen as critical as trash pickup.”

Click here to read what Moore said in Kalamazoo on Thursday.

KPS investigation continues and superintendent search begins

The Kalamazoo Public Schools is continuing its investigation into alleged financial misdeeds by the district’s former head of operations. Assistant Superintendent of Operations Jim English was fired on Dec. 28 after it came to light he was doing things and spending money without the board’s approval. “The lawyers and auditors assisted with the investigation,” said board President TiAnna Harrison. “They indicated that the district was likely to uncover items, and this investigation continues.” She said they are looking for other “irregularities” in English’s official work for the district.

Meanwhile, the search for a new superintendent took a step forward on Thursday. The district is looking for a replacement for Rita Raichoudhuri, who resigned just two weeks before English was fired. The search for a superintendent begins with the search for a search firm. The district put out a Request for Proposals and launched a new subcommittee to do the oversee the search. The board also set up another subcommittee – this one to work on improving community relations, which have suffered in past month. Trustees suggested the committee consider holding community forums and publicize school events where trustees can meet with parents informally.

More News You Need To Know

Controversial KPS Foundation in limbo

The controversy over the creation of an unapproved foundation at Kalamazoo Public Schools is confusing, especially as the investigation is ongoing. We do know that Assistant Superintendent of Operations Jim English created and funded the Kalamazoo Public Schools Foundation last year without the approval or even knowledge of the Board of Education. That was partly what led to his firing in December. MLive reports that board members found out about the foundation only when the Excelsior, the district’s community newsletter, featured an article about it.

Two months later, that foundation is in limbo. English used district funds, again without board approval, to hire Jack Mosser to set up and fundraise for the foundation, as well as chair its board. Mosser recently left his full-time job as the development director for the Western Michigan University School of Medicine and KPS officials say they can’t get a hold of him. The district doesn’t know if the foundation even has a bank account. “I have no idea how much money is in there,” Interim Superintendent Cindy Green told MLive. “Nothing has come to the board about that 501(c)(3) other than the fact we paid bills for somebody.” [MLive]

Upgrades may be coming to downtown events venue

Kalamazoo’s Arcadia Creek Festival Place could be getting a facelift under plans being considered by Kalamazoo city officials. Assistant City Manager Rebekah Kik said part of the goal is to better connect the venue with other popular downtown locations. Security and access to the nearby creek are other major considerations. During the first phase of improvements, canopies in the nearly 20-year-old venue would be replaced. The city is also looking at eventually rebuilding the stage.

Officials have discussed reconfiguring the site to better connect it to its namesake creek. Currently, people can’t easily access Arcadia Creek because the banks are so steep. The city is considering building a new stage overlooking the creek. They also want to improve the stage so it has the capacity to hold lighting and other stage equipment. Currently, event organizers have to bring in their own equipment. Kik said she is looking for grants to help fund the improvements. [MLive]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

Human Trafficking: Changing the Narrative – Fetzer Center
9:00AM 1/27

Semi-Annual Voss Media Board Game Swap Meet – Voss Media Board Game Cafe
12:00PM 1/27

Art Exhibition Wall: Gallery Opening – WMU, Office for Sustainability
12:00PM 1/27

Traditional Archery Expo – Kalamazoo County Expo Center
2pm 1/27, 9am 1/28-29

Vintage in the Zoo presents: Night Shop – Louie’s Trophy House
5:00PM 1/27

5th Annual Trailblazers of HOPE Tribute – Douglass Community Association
5:45PM 1/27

Music with Steve Kamerling – Brick + Brine
6:00PM 1/27

Free Movie Night! – Milwood United Methodist Church
6:00PM 1/27

Live Music with Lucas Perkins – this is a bookstore
6:30PM 1/27

For the love of Baklava! – Chef Channon Mondoux
7pm 1/27

The Great Leap – Farmers Alley Theatre
7:30pm 1/27-28, 2/2-4, 2/9-11; 2pm 1/29, 2/5, 2/12

The Book of Mormon – Miller Auditorium
7:30pm 1/27-28, 2pm 1/28

Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea – WMU, Williams Theater
7:30pm 1/27-28, 2/2-4; 2pm 2/5

Teeny-Tiny Winter Music Fest – The Clover Room
8:00PM 1/27-28

Bonny Doon – Bell’s Eccentric Café
8:00PM 1/27

Faith Quashie and Grayson Nye – The Clover Room
8:00PM 1/27

Ben Traverse – Final Gravity Brewing Co.
8:00PM 1/27

2 Wintery Nights – Old Dog Tavern
10pm 1/27-28

A Special 10th Anniversary Story Time – Bookbug
10:00AM 1/28

John Ball Zoo Program: Growing Up WILD – Schrier Park
10:00AM 1/28

Cat Cafe: An Event for Cat Lovers – Vintage Inspired
10:00AM 1/28

LEGO Club for Kids! – Parchment Community Library
10:00AM 1/28

Finding Space Where There Was None: Container Gardening – Wedel’s
10:00AM 1/28

Birding Basics: Birding at Home and Beyond – Ayurvedic Wellness Center
10:00AM 1/28

Downtown Kalamazoo Chili Cook-Off 2023 – State Theatre
11:00AM 1/28

Kalamazoo Chili Cook-Off – Downtown Kalamazoo
11:00AM 1/28

“It’s Not A Dream, It’s A Plan” Class – Wedel’s
11:15AM 1/28

The Kalamazoo Lyceum – How is Media Changing the Way We Think?
2:00PM 1/28

The Pairs and Brian Koenigsknecht – The Clover Room
3:00PM 1/28

9th Chili Cookoff – NEDs on Gull Lake
4:00PM 1/28

Jeffest 2 – Papa Pete’s
7:00PM 1/28

Darcy Wilkin Whatzit Hour feat. Mark Stuart – Dormouse Theatre
7:30PM 1/28

Megan Dooley and Bill Caskey – The Clover Room
8:00PM 1/28

LIVE MUSIC featuring: Payton and Annabelle – Sugar Bowl Bar & Grill
8:00PM 1/28

Paranormal Tour of Drake Farmstead – Michigan Paranormal Encounters
8:00PM 1/28

LIVE MUSIC featuring: Donnie Jr – Sugar Bowl Bar & Grill
10:00PM 1/28

Modern Marvels – Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
3:00PM 1/29

See more upcoming events here.

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