City Chooses ‘Gang Problem’ to Tackle in Bloomberg Challenge

A Bloomberg facilitator, standing, addresses a workshop in the mayor’s office. Among those participating were Jonathan Lunde of Lowell-based UTEC; George Moriarty, Northern Essex Community College; Mayor James J. Fiorentini; Noah Koretz of MassDevelopment and other officials. (Courtesy photograph.)

Haverhill pinpointed its “gang problem” as a something it wants to solve during an all-day brainstorming session last week. The meeting was part of the city’s bid to win between $100,000 and $5 million from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charitable foundation.

As WHAV first reported in July, as one of the first 300 cities to enter the competition, Haverhill was granted technical assistance from Bloomberg’s 2017 Mayors Challenge. The so-called “Idea Accelerator” took place in Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s office with a Bloomberg-appointed “facilitator.”

“The problem we identified was kids in Haverhill who are affiliated with gangs,” said Fiorentini.  “The facilitator helped us drill down and get more specific. For example, the work group I was in drilled down to the more specific problem that many of our kids that are in gangs or at risk for joining gangs do not have jobs or job opportunities,” the mayor added.

Participating in the workshop were representatives of the Police Department, city schools, planning and economic development, local social service agencies and nonprofits and UTEC, a Lowell-based organization that provides outreach into gang neighborhoods and jobs to former gang members.

Fiorentini drew parallels between the odds against bringing Amazon’s second national headquarters to the area and winning up to $5 million from the Bloomberg Challenge. “There is tremendous and difficult competition, but we also know that although our chances are long, we have to try,” the mayor said, adding “We are always looking for new and innovation solutions to tough and difficult problems.”

In July, Fiorentini thought one problem the city might be able to solve was automating its paid parking problem. Since then, though, the city has found itself responding to a series of what are believed to be gang-related shootings in the Acre neighborhood.

“We know we are not going to be able to arrest our way out of our gang problem,” the mayor said, “So we are trying to be forward-looking and find innovative solutions.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies is putting up more than $17 million for the 2017 Mayors Challenge. Thirty-five cities will win $100,000, while four more receive $1 million and one grand prize winner gets $5 million. The grand prize winner will be announced a year from October. There are 555 cities—from all 50 states, Washington and Puerto Rico—in competition.

“U.S. mayors face bigger challenges than ever before,” the foundation said. “Innovation is no longer optional; it’s necessary so cities can continue to deliver results and improve life for residents.”

3 thoughts on “City Chooses ‘Gang Problem’ to Tackle in Bloomberg Challenge

  1. Out of control liberal public policies have created the gang problem and these blind liberals don’t even see it.
    WIC and welfare payments incentivizing young girls having multiple children they can’t afford to raise, subjecting them to cradle to grave government subsistence. In school baby sitting services at HHS for children having children. $1.8BILLION in welfare paid to criminal invaders in Massachusetts EVERY year. Mayor taxman building low income subsidized housing on every corner attracting this population to the city. Race based Haverhill Hispanic Coalition making special demands for non-English speaking students and promoting non-assimilation into society. Obama keeping the southern border wide open to facilitate the flow of drugs into the country funding the gangs. Promoting illegal invaders to get driver’s licenses to legally move around. Hardcore liberal judges handing down weak sentences to known gang members putting them right back out on the street. Obama decriminalizing certain laws and releasing prisoners in jail back into society. And on, and on, and on….

  2. “kids that are in gangs or at risk for joining gangs do not have jobs or job opportunities,” the mayor added. –

    Mayor Jimmy, when you figure out WHY kids do not have as many job opportunities, get back to us. It’s been staring you and your ideological pols in the face for over a decade.

    “Bloomberg Philanthropies” –

    Is one of the conditions disarming the populace? As we all now, the hypocrite Bloomberg surrounds himself, as does his friends, with armed folks. Kind of like the hypocrites on Beacon Hill, who get to go to work in a building surround by armed security and MA State Police protection. Still waiting for the anti-gun ideologues, and MA AG Maura Healey’s support to get rid of armed security on Beacon Hill and other state offices.

    • After Lane Glenn, the president of NECC, set up a program with community colleges in the Dominican Republic to educate their criminally illegal students attending NECC, and take jobs here, what was the mayor expecting?

      Maybe mayor Jimmy can contact the liberals at Eastern Bank who donated $10,000 last week to fund the program at NECC and ask them where the jobs are?