By Greg Jackson, Esq.
A friend, who is a fellow barrister (lawyer), called to ask my advice on an issue. A few months ago his client leased a townhouse to a tenant and had received a call about water streaks on the downstairs bathroom walls. My friend advised the client to get a plumber to check the pipes inside the walls for leaks. His client seemed pleased with the advice and my friend did not hear any more from him . . . Until last week.
Turns out the client contacted a plumber and was told that there was a shower valve leaking in the upstairs bathroom that would be about $300 to repair. The client declined the repair at the time because the leak was small and manageable, but the plumber encouraged him to fix the problem sooner rather than later to prevent future damage. Time went by and the tenant continued to call the client about the expanding water streaks, but the client decided that he could live with a little leakage and took a wait-and-see approach instead of calling the plumber back to make the repair. Having litigated numerous water intrusion cases, I knew exactly where this story was going, but allowed my friend to continue.
After several weeks of doing nothing, one day the client received a call from his tenant advising that there was water streaming down the walls and sparks coming from the electrical outlets. The plumber was finally called back and upon inspection determined that the leak was coming from the shower valve that had gone without repair. The repair cost this time was in the neighborhood of $15,000. The plumber told the client that if he had called just a couple weeks earlier he could have cost-effectively repaired the shower valve; but, now due to the client’s delay the repair cost was more significant.
When most people hear this story, they say the client should have listened to the plumber and paid $300 to repair the small water leak instead of the $15,000 for the major damage. Well imagine this — although a simplistic version — that the client represents government, the apartment represents Apopka, the tenant represents residents, the plumber represents the Apopka Task Force, the water issue represents the root causes of violence (i.e., lack of economic opportunity, poverty, etc.), and I, interestingly enough, represent myself. For several years, Apopka residents have been expressing their concerns about the increase in violence. Violence that may not be seen throughout all of Apopka, but is most certainly felt in the underserved areas. To address the concerns of the affected Apopka residents, a plan providing recommendations on how to best address the root causes of violence in the community was drafted. One would think that the plan would have been embraced and efforts made to at least explore the possibility of implementing at least one recommendation from the report. But instead, Apopka appears to be employing a wait-and-see approach that seems vaguely similar to the approaches followed in the past or by others. But Apopka has the unique opportunity to standout as a trailblazer by implementing a cutting-edge approach to addressing the root causes of violence.
Apopka is often viewed as the little sister to Orlando, and it shouldn’t be. Apopka is oftentimes recognized as the second largest municipality in Orange County, but is rarely given the respect it deserves. As a city, Apopka is a tight-knit community that cares about the wellbeing of each of its residents. Apopka is a fighter willing to stare down and address any adversity. Apopka is no second-fiddle to anyone. Which is why Apopka should willingly take the first step to show Central Florida the path to addressing the root causes of violence by employing a long term strategy. Let’s not wait for another tragedy for the city to stand Apopka Strong, let’s be bold enough to stand Apopka Strong with fresh new ideas and solutions that others can follow. As a good friend once told me, “A house is built to win by people who like winning, not by people who cherish the nuance of stillness.” Now, I say to Apopka, it is time to move away from stillness and stand as the leader you are, as the leaders we all are, to take action — in my humble opinion.
Greg Jackson is a past Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.