Jacksonville, The Times They Aren’t a Changin

From the blue gate that opens to Roaring Creek Farm, Jacksonville is 195 miles to the east.
At the farm, it is peaceful. Jacksonville, however, is a hot mess.
It’s the Jacksonville way, and it’s been mostly that way during the 40 years I’ve reflected on the city as a journalist.
But the city’s bad traits have only been exacerbated by the current administration.
As demonstrated through words and action, at its core is a meanness and a posture of war.
Unfortunately, its enemy is inclusiveness and striving for common ground.
And it has molded people who know better into its ugly image.
While the city’s murder rate climbs ever upward, the administration, with a majority of the City Council bent to its will, has stuck its nose into another elected body’s business.
Before and since consolidation, the city’s minority neighborhoods have been treated shabbily.
That’s particularly true with the public schools.
The School Board hopes to reverse that shame by asking voters to approve a sales tax to upgrade the system’s dilapidated schools, the oldest in the state.
But the administration and council, egged on by a group of rich people who want to grab a disproportionate chunk of the tax revenue for their pet projects, stand in the way.
It’s the Jacksonville way.
Instead of this power play, the administration and council should be paying attention to city challenges that actually fall under their purview:
The murder rate. The fact that after 50 years, the promises of consolidation remain unfulfilled. Failing infrastructure. Pollution. Preparing the city for climate change.
It’s difficult to pay to correct such shortcomings while giving away hundreds of millions of dollars to favored developers who have the money to pay their own way instead of feeding off taxpayers who don’t get such breaks.
It’s the Jacksonville way.
With this administration just at the start of its second term, it’s going to be a long and dangerous four years.
An embarrassingly low turnout of voters put this crew into office. One has to wonder how much people care.
The mayor isn’t fiddling while the city burns. He’s attending Jaguar practices.
And the people shrug instead of demanding change.
It’s the Jacksonville way.

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I wrote opinion columns for The Florida Times-Union for 28 years. I retired in December 2017, but I still have a few things to say. Often those thoughts come to me when I'm at our farm in Gadsden County where life is simple and the environment still beautiful.

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