From Orange County Commissioner Rod Love
Let me start off this week’s column by saying that the below is addressed to “Whoever it may concern”; that is, this should be everyone: young & old; black, white & brown; haves & have-nots; secular and the religious; republicans, democrats, and independents; and most importantly, everyday Joe/Jane citizens who are sick & tired of being sick & tired.
On July 17th, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. at the Commission Chambers at 201 South Rosalind Avenue Orlando, FL 32801, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners will be engaged in budget workshop deliberations where they will consider approximately $4.2 billion for the Fiscal Year 2018-2019. While this will be my first and last budget workshop as a sitting Commissioner, I am compelled to solicit citizen support for the establishment of Community Empowerment Zones (CEZ) for blighted communities riddled with high juvenile arrests, low performing schools, high incidents of behavioral referrals, high child welfare placements into foster care placements, early learning enrollment of low income families, and an array of undiagnosed children’s services needs.
While there is much that ails impoverished communities, such as the lack of economic opportunities, CEZ has a singular goal that incorporates a hybrid theory of a very successful law enforcement management philosophy called CompStat. CompStat directs the deployment of limited resources within a defined geographical area to address specific data-driven needs while achieving maximum effectiveness.
In 2016, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners allocated $250,000 to create a program specifically for small grassroots nonprofit organizations. The Small Scale Citizens’ Review Panel (SSCRP) Funding Program was developed by the Citizen’s Commission for Children (CCC) and is currently being piloted with 5 nonprofit organizations. The goal of this program is to aid smaller agencies in gaining access to Orange County funding opportunities. I applaud Commissioners Clarke and Siplin for their leadership and efforts in concert with the Board in championing this initiative. In proposing the establishment of Community Empowerment Zones (CEZ), my intent is to build off the efforts put into the Review Panel program.
I am imploring community and faith leaders as well as all community stakeholders to attend the budget workshop meeting to exercise your right to speak in favor of the establishment of CEZ during public comment, which will begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. Those who wish to give public comment may do so by arriving early before 9:00 a.m. on July 17th and completing a speaker card at the desk in front of the Chambers or online at http://www.orangecountyfl.net/
My father-in-law, who happens to be a pastor, provides spiritual leadership to my family and me, and one particular verse that he shares is applicable for this topic is James 4:2, “You have not because you ask Not”. Let me be clear: CEZ is not welfare, it’s economic “wellcare”. CEZ utilizes existing resources to provide direct services to children and families who are in desperate need of these services.
Talk to your neighbors, friends, and family. Ask your pastors and community leaders where they stand on this topic. Will they show up? Will you? Whether you plan to speak or not, I am requesting that everyone wear the color green which symbolizes hope and growth as well as to show your support for this important issue. I hope to see all of you on July 17th.