City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow recently joined Steve Stewart on Above the Fold. He discussed topics such as ethics, corruption in Tallahassee, and competitive bids on projects.
Commissioner Matlow was asked about his Blueprint vote on the $20 million economic development grant to Florida State University for stadium repairs. The grant passed the Board , however Matlow voted against the project. Matlow said that providing the funds to FSU would not allow Blueprint to bond any other economic development projects until 2028.
Commissioner Matlow was asked why he views the roughly $55 million funding for the Northeast Gateway project as subsidies for the developers. His response was, “when the project was first proposed to us, we did a traffic study and learned that based on existing conditions, only 500 cars a day would use the road. So it wasn’t solving any traffic problems.”
Matlow said there is a push is to develop the 4,000 acres in the Welaunee Plantation. “Historically, new development has always paid for itself, as far as roadways and new transit… it’s very bizarre to put city funds into a roadway before any type of development has even been proposed,” he explained.
When Matlow was asked about whether the government is in the business of subsidizing growth, the commissioner said, “to me, it boils down to who’s tax dollars are they.” In the case of the Northeast Gateway project, “we are funding road projects for people who may not live here yet and have not paid into the system.”
The Commissioner Matlow also addressed his ethics proposal.
“If we do anything, it’s got to be putting our government on the right track. But, unfortunately, a couple of convictions, I don’t think, fixes the issue. So we have been soliciting outside proposals for how they might be helpful, we held a community meeting,…the Ethics Board has given proposals too,” Matlow said of the steps taken. Matlow hopes the suggestions and ideas on ethics will be presented to the city commission for a vote.
The discussion then turned to lobbyists and the problem with public relations groups that run campaigns, lobby those that get elected and secure local government get contracts.
Matlow said he recognizes that Tallahassee is a small town, and a lot of people work together, but an “elected official should say, ‘if you work on my campaign, don’t apply for contracts.’
Regarding the Scott Maddox trial, Matlow was asked if he felt like many do, that Maddox was convicted and now the city can move forward or is there a systematic problem.
The commissioner quickly responded, “yeah, when I ran for office, in one of my first campaign ads, I say, “if we want meaningful change, we have to turn the system upside down.”
Matlow asserted, “I didn’t know the breadth of corruption that was happening here. I was just a business owner noticing that when you tried to approach the city, it fell on deaf ears.”