Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; Transparency Needed on Kids Bill

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; Transparency Needed on Kids Bill

Article excerpt

Byline: Garrett Dennis

Much has been said within the chambers of City Council and in the hallways on the fourth floor of City Hall in recent weeks regarding legislation for the children of our city.

Florida Times-Union columnist Ron Littlepage called Mayor Lenny Curry's new Kids Hope Alliance a "bad bill" upon its release.

Another article had the mayor's staff saying it was on its fifth iteration, yet the administration is encouraging City Council to pass this quickly. This is despite the fact that mere days before it expected full passage of the substitute bill, the administration had not even posted online the latest revisions to it.

The reason this bill is on its fifth revision is because it was originally crafted without the stakeholders at the table.

In addition, multiple versions of the bill included allowing board members from outside Jacksonville. But if Mayor Curry can't find seven qualified board members out of the 880,000 people who live in Duval County, then he isn't trying hard enough.

All of my colleagues agree that we need to get things right for kids. That is why I think this process should not be rushed.

After listening to hours of concerns that resulted in five iterations, I became convinced that part of the problem was that we were starting from the wrong base. That is why I introduced a new bill that is significantly simpler and shorter - and more transparent.

My aim is to take the politics out of children's issues, and preserve the good work and wisdom of former Mayor Ed Austin when he created the Children's Commission over 20 years ago.

When Mayor Curry released his bill, he had not even shared the results of an audit that showed that the Children's Commission has been drastically improving outcomes and succeeding.

That is not transparent.

All of my colleagues agree the Children's Commission and Jacksonville Journey should be combined.

And the stakeholders who spoke at committee meetings agreed that adding more autonomy and transparency - and removing politics - were the right steps to take to craft policy for our children. …

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