On April 5th, the Village Square hosted the 11th annual Tallahassee Town Hall with City of Tallahassee and Leon County Commissioners participating. Tom Flanigan from FSU News moderated the event and engaged the commissioners in a discussion about issues important to the residents of our community.
City Commissioners Dianne Williams Cox, Curtis Richardson and Jack Porter were the first panel to address questions by Mr. Flanigan. They were asked to address the recent arrests that took place at City Hall during an evening protest for abortion rights.
Jack Porter claimed peaceful protesters shouldn’t be arrested, and that they weren’t disrupting any government function or being a danger to others. However, Dianne Williams Cox and Curtis Richardson noted that the protesters had been warned numerous times about the rules for protesting, which included no tents or camping in the city park and to leave by sundown. Some individuals did not follow the ordinance, and went as far as telling police officers they planned on being arrested.
Jack Porter claimed renter protection and diversion programs is the best way to keep people in their homes when asked about short-and-long-term solutions for homelessness and affordable housing. Dianne Williams Cox noted how ordinances have changed to allow for old vacant hotels and office buildings to be refurbished to create affordable/workforce housing.
Leon County Commissioners Brian Welch, David O’Keefe, Nick Maddox and Rick Minor participated in the Town Hall. When asked if public safety and crime was being addressed successfully, Rick Minor stated, “You can now conceal a weapon without having a background check, without having a permit … Frankly, that’s going to make things a lot harder for us and every other community in this state to crack down on shooting and murders.”
David O’Keefe commented on the Sheriff’s new target of getting 100% of minors who would be arrested sent to pre-arrest diversion. Previously, the goal was 70%. O’Keefe noted this way kids can have a chance without being, “shuffled into the criminal justice system”.
County Commissioners discussed the impacts that state preemption is having on local governments. Chairman Nick Maddox stated, “It’s an all-out attack on local government.” He went on to ask everyone in the room to raise their hand if they would rather go to the state legislature to argue a bill than going to the County Commission. Nobody raised their hand. He continued, “It takes the power away from us to do what you ask us to do and puts it in the state legislature’s hands.”