And where to begin?
I’m proud to have been invited to serve on the JCCI Issues Committee … which will spend the next few weeks determining the course of JCCI’s studies and programs for the coming year. It will be a daunting, but I think very rewarding challenge.
JCCI used the online service “Survey Monkey” to do some preliminary work in gathering information about issues. I’m sure no one will be particularly surprised that 83% of those responding to the online survey thought that the quality of public education is the most important issue facing our fair city, followed by murders and gun violence at 66%. Those issues also topped the list of issues respondents think are important to the entire community, with the availability of jobs that pay a living wage checking in at #3. No real “aha” moments there, as those are all topics that dominate the local news.
But the meat of the committee’s work, and what will be particularly interesting to an “issues guy” like me, will be the more than 600 written responses that appeared on the essay portion of the survey. Somehow, our committee has to take these 600 responses, along with the 25 or 30 or so we came up with in a hour at the meeting today, and decide which of them rise to the top and warrant further study, be it a one hour educational program to a full blown 6-7 month study.
I’m very anxious to see what Jacksonville’s citizens come up with as important issues. As I work to stand up a public affairs television show as an independent producer, these insights could be very valuable. But more than that, I’m just pleased that I can help make a difference in the community I’ve chosen as my home.
Not that there’s any paucity of information about issues that are important in Jacksonville. In it’s 25+ years of existence, JCCI has studied topics ranging from housing, growth, homelessness, garbage, air and water quality, and race relations to philanthropy, and arts and culture. There have been numerous studies and programs dealing with government, and this year’s signature study is about the city budget process. I’m on that committee as well, but I’ve not written about it … yet. When the findings and recommendations are released, I’ll have plenty to say.
So if you were asked, what would you say is the most important issue in the community in which you live? I’d love to see if there’s any commonality among my readers both locally and around the globe.
And speaking of issues, tomorrow night is the second hearing by The Jacksonville City Council in a Committee of the Whole on the landfill contract. Last time, the city made it’s presentation, and public comments were allowed. Thursday night will be more focused on presentations by those who favor bidding the contract. CM Daniel Davis asked that representatives from Republic, the company spending the most money in an effort to convince the city to bid, be placed under oath before making their presentation. We’ll see if that happens, and many people will I’m sure be lined up to speak on the issue. Tomorrow’s meeting is at 5:30, later in the day than the meeting two weeks ago. That might encourage more people to attend. I’m going to see if I can get CoveritLive up and running on this blog before the meeting … or I might just tweet the highlights. We’ll see how it goes.
And in fairness, Waste Management is spending a lot of money to convince the city council they already HAVE a contract. I do have to say that, in my opinion anyway, Mayor Peyton made his case more compellingly at Tiger Bay last Friday than did CM Jack Webb. The Mayor has made that presentation so many times by now that I’m sure he’s reciting it in his sleep. The council is scheduled for a vote tomorrow on this issue, but it’s possible it’ll be re-referred to committee. That frankly wouldn’t surprise me.
Just as a point of interest, last Friday was the 6 month anniversary of my being out of work. Nothing’s come up yet, but I’ve got a couple of interesting projects I’m working on. Still, I’m feeling a little like Bullinkle Moose … standing on a stage … saying “Hey Rocky … watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” I hope it’s the lion … “guess I don’t know my own strength”.