What Type Of City Do We Want This To Be?

As the pension issue limps on, you will hear lots of rhetoric from our local politicians about how they want to make sure they “protect those who protect us” and “make sure the pension deal is good for the employees and the taxpayer.”  And then of course there is the one old question politicians love to ask- “What type of city do we want this to be?”

This got me thinking.  What type of city do we want Jacksonville to be?  Judging by recent media reports, It doesn’t appear anyone is willing to tackle the question being asked.

In mid June, I embarked on a little experiment and began tracking news articles from across the Jacksonville media landscape to see how much attention is paid to issues that lower the quality of life in our city.  Among the astonishing results:

5 Detained in Apparent Acid Bomb Attack
Woman Shot In Home Invasion Attempt
Two Charged in Meth Making That Closed The Main Street Bridge
1 Killed, 1 Injured After Multiple Robbery Shootings Near Avondale
2 Arrested in Jacksonville Crime Spree On Westside
Teens Found Overdosing At Huguenot Park
Business Owner Kills Customer, Police Say
Jacksonville Man Shot After Fight Over Friday Night Card Game
Suspect Who Battered Jacksonville Police Officer Is On The Loose
Naked Child Found Swimming In Jacksonville Beach Retention Pond
Man Shot And Killed Early Saturday Morning in Jacksonville
Two Killed In Shooting In Jacksonville Restaurant Parking Lot
Man Shot and Killed on Florida Avenue in Jacksonville
Woman, 72, Shot By Home Invader; Husband, 74, Returns Fire
Shooting Near Wacko’s Leaves One Person Injured
16 Year Old Raped Walking To Friend’s House on Jacksonville’s Westside
Four in Custody Following Northside Shooting, Robbery Attempt
Women Shot And Killed In Jacksonville Early Friday, Found On Driveway
Two Women Hospitalized After Fire/Shooting At Jacksonville Motel Six

This doesn’t include the gun shot, stabbing, and other assault victims that were responded to and didn’t warrant time in the paper or on the news.

There were also the tragic events surrounding Cherish Perrywinkle, the young girl kidnapped and murdered on the northside at the end of June or the events out in Jacksonville Beach on Memorial Day when a gang of thugs ran roughshod through a community event.  Both of these events sent shockwaves through our community.

During this same time, the local media landscape, especially the editorial board at 1 Riverside Avenue, has taken on the role of crusaders against the deadly police and fire pension fund, trying to make people believe this city will perish because of “those greedy fire fighters.”

During this pension attack, I haven’t seen one editorial piece dedicated to the quality of life in our city.  Not one pertaining to the above mentioned articles in an effort to openly debate where our city is really heading. No JCC or Jacksonville Chamber press releases. No “Blue Ribbon Panels.”  No polls.


None of these entities seem concerned that Arlington, once a picture perfect model for a city suburb, is full of crime.  How does a community that is home to a Mayor and three council members decline like that?  

In 2011, I conducted a scientific poll about issues in Jacksonville.  5% of the public at the time considered fire fighters and their pensions an issue.  The Times Union is harping on a subject that over 90% of the city doesn’t even see as an issue.  Now……..people concerned about being the victim of a violent crime?  I bet that would poll higher than 5%.

I understand that as Jacksonville continues to grow beyond the 1 million mark in population, you are going to undoubtedly have a growth in some crime.  I also understand that neighborhoods like Arlington will go through cycles.  Cities such as ours are going to have highs and lows.

But at the end of the day, the many entities who have their claws in city government and salivate and scheme to get their hands on $1.2 Billion in pension fund money must step up and have a constructive debate on where the quality of life in our great city is heading. Fire Fighters step up for this city every day.  So should they.



One thought on “What Type Of City Do We Want This To Be?

  1. A community is not made of the publishers of newspapers or those few that have access to the media outlets. Multitudes of citizens that work in their daily lives to provide for the future of families, with the bedrock belief that good will come to those that strive to do good make up the community. Our city deserves better from its leaders, both elected and those that lead in un- elected capacities, as opinion shapers through the media are part of. The truest test of good 4th estate participants is open mindedness and the willingness to point out all sides of communities’ pressing issues, not to ignore unpleasant items that are causing under currents within a society. It is especially wrong for non-editorial pieces to be used as the bully pulpit on debatable issues.
    Communities do cycle through lean and fruitful times, but in neither case is one sided news reporting help the community to make reasonable decisions. The public safety pension issue is one of those that have been the local whipping post for all public sector ills. Possibly due to a backlash of the positive sentiment, that was mostly unsolicited by those in public safety, after 9/11. This issue, like all funding issues in the public sector does require close consideration for proper scrutiny, but only by those that truly understand all of the long term implications of any change to any of the overall system’s many facets. Pensions are not stand alone considerations for any organizations when considering employee cost, and the public sector is no different. Every organization must try to recruit and retain good employees and in addition to the total compensation package, working considerations are important as well. Tough to keep moral up when every time your employees look at the paper they see that they are the reason for all the city’s ills. Not fair to the public sector worker, or the public served by these self serving inkslingers.
    Robin Gainey

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