The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a report yesterday that celebrated a statewide crime decrease of 6.4% to a 39 year low. Unfortunately, Gainesville bucked that trend by heading in the wrong direction: crime has increased 36% since 2005.
It is not surprising to me in a town where law enforcement has to compete with a failing golf course for funding. Our city commission has asked police and fire to expect a 15% cut at a time when we are experiencing a crime wave. This is symptomatic of a city infested with a cult of overplanning. Millions are spent to make Gainesville “pedestrian friendly” while it becomes less safe to actually walk the streets.
Gainesville needs to get back to basics and provide for core services like police, fire, emergency services and good roads. This will only happen when the voters hold them accountable by showing up. A voter turnout of 9-14% tells commissioners, “We don’t care. Do whatever you like.”
Last month, 86% of voters opted out of making their commissioners listen to them. If you want to fight crime in Gainesville, start by voting in new leadership with better priorities.
I got a call from the Supervisor of Elections today. A citizen (translation: a Craig Lowe supporter) complained that our sign on the 34th Street wall did not have the required disclaimer. I told her that we did have it and that I had photographic evidence. This is what it looked like at the time it was painted.
Next, she questioned the legality of the sign. There was a question of the wall being government property. Isn’t it amazing that this never comes up when ANY other free speech is exercised on this wall?? No, it’s only an issue if a local conservative candidate utilizes Gainesville’s most recognizable public display.
During the late 80’s, I recall that the city wanted to scrub the wall and keep it from being covered with graffiti. At that time, I recall that the city was prevented from doing so because someone discovered that the wall was private property. I never learned whose property it was, but that is what I remember.
Personally, even if it’s public, it’s a good example of UNequal protection. No one else EVER gets a call from the authorities for what’s on the wall!
During a phone banking operation last night, one of our volunteers got into a conversation with a member of the Evergreen Cemetery Association. That person gave us a number to call, and I called that person immediately. They are concerned that the city is wanting to develop the cemetery property. Presumably, this would include exhuming the remains and interring them somewhere else.
Evergreen Cemetery is a city owned cemetery, and a local heritage landmark. To me, it seems unthinkable and sacrilegious to develop this piece of land. I know that the city is committed to “infill development”, but this is beyond bad taste. If they want to remove a local landmark, I believe Ironwood Golf Course is still available!
If this is some sort of false alarm, the city needs to give its assurances to the members of the Evergreen Cemetery Association. If it is a real threat, I hope that I can help alleviate it after I take office.
When I got into this race, I had my reasons. Obviously, I was unhappy about something, or I would not be going to so much trouble to effect the changes I want. As this campaign has grown, and others have gotten on board, I have found that many other people not only share my point of view, but some have brought reasons of their own! I just want to list those reasons here. You may find that you have a reason to become a part of it!
GRU electric rates. Yes, this was the original and most popular reason. It’s a cause that cuts across party lines and all sorts of socioeconomic barriers. A city commission that is tone deaf to this problem is destined to find opposition.
Koppers. I am finding that many environmentalists feel betrayed by a city commission that has talked a good game on the environment but that is, in the end, just a lot of talk. Whether it’s opposing the new tree-burning power plant, or cleaning up a Superfund site. I want to honor and prioritize the concerns of local Greens.
Police and Fire. Our first responders feel scapegoated by a city government that thinks it is only “fair” to make public safety take the same hit as other projects during a recession. And many individual fire-fighters are not happy that their union endorsed my opponent before talking to any other candidate.
East Gainesville. As we have walked the predominantly African-American neighborhoods of the East side, we hear that these people feel taken for granted. They groan at being given a park or beautification projects when they need opportunity for economic advancement.
Downtown businesses. Whether it’s a shop on ripped apart Main St., or local watering holes that feel endlessly harassed by a city that never thinks they are good enough, small businesses operate in a hostile government environment.
Angry insiders. I have received more than a few calls from people within the system who are upset at mismanagement and corruption. They want change, and they want new faces who are not connected to the powerful.
Churches. People of faith feel scorned by a city commission that looks down on them and judges their motives. When churches came to meetings to voice their concerns, they were called names and associated with hate groups. Then they were told they needed to pay a new fire services fee. The city needs to cultivate a better relationship with its many churches.
Commuters. People who drive want to know why fixing the existing roads is a lower priority than expensive and counterproductive cosmetic projects, like making Main St. more “pedestrian friendly”.
Feel free to add your reason to the comments section! And thank you to everyone who calls to say they are telling their friends about me, and the people I see holding my signs on street corners that I have never met, and all my friends who have reappeared from all the stages of my adult life to help.
The past couple of weeks we have been working hard to get our message out to the people in the Koppers-effected area and to East Gainesville. Of course, Koppers effects a very large area, but as you get away from it, people have different concerns. Of course, GRU electric bills are the transcendent issue that hits every household. Yet, in East Gainesville there are burdens that predate high electric rates and the 1983 designation of Koppers as a Superfund site.
As growth and prosperity came to Gainesville, it seems to have passed the East side by. The East side is much more African-American in population, and it relies on the cohesive communities formed by its many churches much more than commerce. And there are not only churches, but many smaller ministries that specialize in teaching values to their youth and assisting the needy in learning how to add value to society by improving themselves. During this campaign we have only scratched the surface of a body of people who work tirelessly after hours to serve those who are less fortunate than themselves.
I had a conversation yesterday with a minister who runs a small business in East Gainesville. His real passion is teaching the values of marriage and pre-marital abstinence to young people and ministering to HIV/Aids patients. His business is successful, but he lights up when he talks about his vision of creating a community of shared values. You cannot listen to him and not want to buy into his work. It is just one of the great things that is happening in Gainesville.
So, why do people look down on the East side? Is it because of race? Is it a perception of crime? Or is it that working class people are looked down on in general? I know that I have been belittled for my job during this campaign, and I am a white man who works for many white professionals on the West side of town. So race isn’t a part of what gets me a lot of grief. No, it seems that I have just enough lower-class credentials to make some people wrinkle their noses at me.
In some ways, I think we have all played into this condescension of the East side. Is it possible to stop calling it East Gainesville? Aren’t they Gainesville as much as the rest of us? Am I not running for Mayor of Gainesville? The heroic people I am meeting are my fellow citizens, my brothers and sisters, of Gainesville. And they are putting me in a very inclusive frame of mind.