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      Councilman's efforts to redevelop neighborhood dredge up past dealings with federal funds

      Florence City Councilman Ed Robinson plans to use volunteers and churches to help him redevelop the East Florence community.

      He says the city doesn't care about the poor community or the people who call it home.

      We got an email from a source asking us to look into Robinson's involvement with federal funds the city received in 1994 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The city gave Robinson $62,500 for his organization, The Florence Community Development Corporation, to redevelop East Florence.

      According to minutes we obtained from a July 10,1995 Florence City Council meeting, the City had to pay back $1,250 of the $62,500 to HUD because it couldn't account for how the money was spent.

      Robinson says he didn't misspend one dime.

      "I paid my brother $1200 to help me do this house, $1200. Check the records. And they said we couldn't do that, I'm paying my family to do something. So the city had to pay the $1200 back, but who did HUD sanction for it? HUD sanctioned the City because the City did not give me proper guidance," explained Robinson.

      Robinson adds the City never explained to him that he couldn't pay a relative to do any work.

      "They want this perception to be that I took $62,000 . And had I done that, where would I be? There are still people that think I stole so much money. Not a dime. I built two houses with $62,000. And I have no fear of anything, the records are there."

      Robinson is requesting records from the City to prove he didn't misspend the federal funds. He plans to have those records by the February council meeting and put it on the agenda to set the record straight.

      Robinson says he used the other $61,250 to build two houses on Charles and Walnut Streets in East Florence.

      The City of Florence agreed to spend $3 million dollars to redevelop blighted inner-city neighborhoods back in July.

      The City also made a decision to fund an additional $300,000 for neighborhood investment in low-income communities in Florence.