I’m sad that I had to miss today’s forum.
Months ago, I arranged to travel to South Carolina this weekend, to visit my brother-in-law who is recuperating from a horrific auto accident. You’ll understand when I say that family must come first.
For the last four years, as your city Council member, Seat 3, you have seen me often in your community, at the rec center, the library, the MLK Center, and in most of your churches.
Many of you know of my own love for God, and my own need for going to church and fellowshipping with other believers. Mother used to tell me, “Bob—no she said, Bobby, you’re known by the company you keep.” You all have been a blessing to me.
Many of you here know my pledges to this neighborhood. With County Commissioner Ken Welsh sitting next to me, I pledged to help where I could, in moving the new CRA proposal through the city council.
At the same time as Bill Jonson, I think, I joined the NAACP a few years ago. There are many concepts many of us white folks fervently share with African Americans—including the promotion of self-discipline, traditional values, family values, and group responsibility.
I have spent a lot of time in the last four years talking with your pastors and community leaders. You will often see me at functions.
I applaud efforts like “First Rung” that will have a graduation at the end of January, that I hope I can attend. And “Refuse to Lose” is a fantastic program, too.
I applaud the afterschool effort at the Rec Center, where the children to attend get better overall grades than their counterparts at school who do not attend.
This MLK Neighborhood Coalition Center has great, worthwhile events. I have been here many times the last four years. Remember last year when Dr. Smiley was guiding the parents and grandparents of children who were getting ready to go back to school? Keep up the good work.
What can I, as a council member, help you with?
We are already helping you with new neighborhoods on the east and west of you, homes built by your residents with the help of Habitat for Humanity.
Other homes are already planned for the north Greenwood neighborhood. As your council member, I am committed to this.
The Garden Street apartments are another great example of new affordable housing in your community.
I am also working to push for safer streets. Almost every week we hear of someone getting killed or severely wounded in a car, pedestrian or bicycle accident.
We all must take personal responsibility not to speed, or text and drive.
But along Drew Street, for example, we are planning to slow down the traffic a little and have safer, smarter intersections. It’s been a slow process because Drew street is owned by the State, County and city. Definite progress is being made.
Long range, I’m also advocating for elevated rapid transit. One system is being designed by my friend Tom Nocera, Beach Tran, using Sky Tran as the vendor. It asks for no tax subsidies, is solar powered, and uses magnetic levitation propulsion—like the Japanese bullet train, only with small elevated cabs.
I’ll just mention a third area of my interest in the next four years. I’m convinced that the federal government, state government and local government must work together to help identify and help juveniles with mental health difficulties.
I have already talked with State Representative Chris Latvala, State Senator Ed Hooper and Florida Representative Gus Bilirakis.
The council, at my request, is asking for a legislative priority not to cut Mental Health funding, as it almost always is cut. Gus Bilirakis believes there is federal monies to help.
Non-profits and churches would work with children in their homes, in their neighborhoods, in their schools and churches.
Those showing anti-social behavior would be helped from earliest years, to control rage, not to be withdrawn, but to be a contributor to society.
This is a huge undertaking, but I want to reach these children long before they would think about pulling a trigger in a school.
I do hope you’ll consider giving me a second term to serve you as a Clearwater City Council Member.
I thank you all for the kindness you have shown to methese past four years; I look forward to another four. God bless you all.