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Best Public Servant in a Thankless Job 

Tracie McClendon-Cole

In the canon of abandoned public programs, Aim4Peace has to be somewhere near the top of Kansas City's list. Since the anti-violence program got its name in 2007, the city's homicide rate has only risen. The idea was to send street-wise mediators out into neighborhoods to de-escalate tense situations. But after barely a year, the City Council slashed the Aim4Peace budget from $773,083 to $150,492 — and bloggers cut down the program for spending what cash it did have on burgers and hot dogs for anti-violence rallies. Still, the city's justice program coordinator, Tracie McClendon-Cole, has stuck around. Before the program really got going, McClendon-Cole was the one who scouted effective mediation programs around the country. When many of the community activists — those who had helped sell the city on the idea — walked away from it (we say too many egos got in the way), McClendon-Cole regrouped. Two years later, with almost no backing, she's still fighting for a program that could work, given the right support. (We hear she's looking for revenue streams outside City Hall.) Even though things haven't gone perfectly, we think anyone willing to stick with it, just to try to make this town a safer place, deserves a little thanks.

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