Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey took to Twitter to defend a meeting at his private residence related to how taxpayer funds dedicated to Tallahassee’s gun violence issue would be allocated for the next budget year.
During recent budget workshops, city commissioners made the decision to allocate $1 million per year over the next fiver years to address the issue of gun violence.
At one point in the process, city staff had recommended hiring five police officers with a cost of $550,000 and allocating the remaining $450,000 to gun violence prevention programs.
However, subsequent city meetings seem to indicate that hiring police officers is not part of the plan.
WFSU recently reported that last month Mayor Dailey held two meetings at his home, inviting a select group of people to discuss how to distribute the $1 million the city has set aside to reduce gun violence.
Among those invited to Dailey’s home were his chief of staff, Courtney Thomas; Leon County Assistant Sheriff Argatha Gilmore; Royle King, executive director of the Council on the Status of Men and Boys; Cecka Rose Green, executive director of the Children’s Services Council; and a number of people representing other nonprofits. Also on hand were two candidates who recently lost their primary challenges: Dailey’s former opponent in the mayoral race, Whitfield Leland III; and Rudy Ferguson, who lost to Leon County Commissioner Nick Maddox.
WSFU reported that neighborhood activist Talethia Edwards, who attended the meeting, said the plan discussed allocating $500,000 to go to direct service “navigators” working with the Council on the Status of Men and Boys; $300,000 for street teams for the city’s TEMPO program, which serves youth who are neither in school nor holding a job; and $200,000 for restorative justice — the ‘restoration’ piece of their strategy.
County Commissioner Kristin Dozier, who will face Dailey in a runoff in November, says she was contacted after both meetings from people who had heard about them. She said the people were concerned, she says, “about whether we were going to have a public conversation.”
“I think the concerns I was hearing — and I share them — were about kind of hand-picking,” Dozier said. “Did the mayor hand-pick certain groups to be there, and then those groups, you know, made their way into the agenda recommendations?
Responding to questions about the meetings, Mayor Dailey said he was just meeting with constituents.
And on his personal Twitter account he wrote, “I will never apologize for being the Mayor that brings our community together to hear directly from citizens on how to solve our most pressing issues.”
The final decision on where the $1 million in funds will be allocated to address gun violence will be decided at the September 21st Tallahassee City Commission meeting.