Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Opinion Roundup; Jacksonville Needs Active, Revived JCCI

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Opinion Roundup; Jacksonville Needs Active, Revived JCCI

Article excerpt

For more than 40 years, the Jacksonville Community Council Inc has more than met its mission.

"JCCI has always been," Board Chairman Kevin Hyde told a recent gathering, "a great convener of people in our community."

Hopefully, that attribute won't disappear now that JCCI will no longer exist as a separate nonprofit and instead fold into the Citizen Engagement Pact.

The pact is an initiative aimed at encouraging coalitions of citizens and organizations to carry on the JCCI's blueprint of studying major local problems and producing reports that offer solutions for them.

It's a blueprint that deserves to endure.

Over the years, JCCI's 80-plus reports have bravely tackled Jacksonville's massive challenges - from our city's mental health crisis to our heartbreaking rates of infant mortality, from City Hall finances to reducing the murder rate.

They have been exhaustive.

They have been ground-breaking.

They have encouraged and drawn input from across the entire community.

And they have clearly made Jacksonville a better place.

So it's vital that those reports continue to emerge from the fledgling Citizen Engagement Pact.

The tragic opioid crisis would be a perfect opportunity for a JCCI study.

And the pact must maintain JCCI's practice of annual "Quality of Life" reports that regularly keep track of where the city has made strides on significant issues - education, environment, public health, the economy, race relations and more. So it's encouraging that the United Way plans to keep up that tradition.

The progress reports have been valuable. The recently released 2017 edition - the last under JCCI's banner - is another worthy contribution.

It reveals that the rate of youth poverty in Jacksonville continues to rise in unacceptable fashion - but that more local youths are successfully graduating from high school.

It reveals that while overall crime continues to steadily decrease in our area, there hasn't been similar, sustained improvement in reducing violent crime.

And the latest progress card shows that Jacksonville still has hard work ahead on many other issues, including the need to close the gaping economic gap between haves and have-nots in our community.

It's hard work that JCCI has admirably embraced - and it's noble labor that must continue even as JCCI ceases to exist as before.

WEAPONS IN DUVAL SCHOOLS

Guns and knives should never be as prevalent as textbooks and laptops in a school district's classrooms.

So Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti and School Board members should be applauded for putting together a multilayered approach to reducing weapons in the district's schools.

It includes:

- Setting up a district hotline and app dedicated to reporting tips about weapons in school buildings. …

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