Correction to This Article
The article about Ronald L. Moten, co-founder of Peaceoholics, and his emergence as a factor in this year's D.C. mayor's race said that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty appoints the board at the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp. The mayor appoints four of the board's seven members; the D.C. Council appoints the other three.
Page 2 of 3   <       >

Peaceoholics' Moten, a Fenty ally, emerges as a force in D.C. mayoral race

District Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, left, is drawing support for his reelection from Ronald Moten, co-founder of Peaceoholics.
District Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, left, is drawing support for his reelection from Ronald Moten, co-founder of Peaceoholics. (Kevin Clark/the Washington Post)
  Enlarge Photo     Buy Photo

Since then, the organization has collected millions in city grants and contracts, and the Fenty administration has turned to it repeatedly to help fight crime and provide city services. Peaceoholics operates prisoner-reentry programs for the District, oversees some police-sponsored mediation sessions and assigns mentors to some schools.

Peaceoholics has received city funds from numerous agencies over the years, including the police and Human Services departments, but it's unclear exactly how much money the organization has drawn because not all city records are available and the group has not filed its 2009 990 form with the Internal Revenue Service.

However, District financial records show that Peaceoholics, generally well respected by many youth advocates, received at least $277,000 from city agencies in fiscal 2006, when Fenty was running for mayor. By 2008, that tally had risen to at least $1.5 million in payments for services or contracts, some of which were not competitively bid, according to the records.

Last year, Peaceoholics received at least $5.1 million from the city, including $4.4 million to build a group home for at-risk youths in Southeast Washington. In addition, the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp., largely funded with city money distributed by a board appointed by the mayor, has given the nonprofit group $3.6 million in contracts since 2005, including $1.5 million last year, records show. The Justice Grants Administration, another quasi-city agency, awarded it $500,000 in October to help run prisoner reentry programs.

And as more money flowed to Peaceoholics from the city, Moten received pay raises. His salary increased from $43,930 in 2005 to $99,330 in 2008, according to public tax filings. Peaceoholics co-founder Jauhar Abraham made $111,000 in 2008. Moten and Abraham said they made less than the heads of other local nonprofits.

Fenty said the money has been spent well because Peaceoholics is "effective." But others said neither the city nor Peaceoholics has fully accounted for how the funds were spent or whether the investment has led to less crime.

"I have never seen any tangible or quantifiable results from them, and I haven't talked to anyone in the department who has," said Kristopher Baumann, a Gray supporter who heads the local Fraternal Order of Police.

By its nature, Moten said, violence-prevention work is gritty, centered on knowing who the potential troublemakers are and how to smooth over "beefs" that can lead to shootings and homicides. According to documents supplied by Peaceoholics, the group negotiated 29 "cease-fire agreements" and "monitored" 41 neighborhood "feuds" from October 2008 to May 2009.

"Most people think it's just putting people into a room, squashing a beef through mediation," Moten said. "Well, if it took people years to get into that mentality, it's not going to be resolved in one meeting."

Organization's roots

Moten said he and Abraham were especially qualified to start such a service in the District.

Largely raised by his grandparents because his parents were addicts, Moten worked two jobs from a young age. While working at a now-closed Swensen's ice cream shop on Wisconsin Avenue at 15, Moten met a drug dealer with "gold all over his body" who owned a BMW.

"I couldn't get none of that, and I saw an opportunity," said Moten, who persuaded the dealer to take him on as underling. "I was the first young guy in the neighborhood with cocaine."

<       2        >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company