Local Progressives Split with Democrats Over Homeless Issues

Local Progressives Split with Democrats Over Homeless Issues

Recent votes and statements by Tallahassee elected officials indicate there is a growing split between progressive politicians and traditional Democrats on how to handle the issues related to homelessness.

Leon County Commissioner David O’Keefe, Tallahassee City Commissioner Jack Porter and Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow have teamed up to provide a united front against policies that have attempted to address camping in public, trespassing and other issues related to homelessness.

During the last Leon County Commission, the Board voted 6-1 to schedule a public hearing to consider adopting a proposed ordinance prohibiting unauthorized solicitation on private property.

The proposed ordinance would allow law enforcement to enforce the prohibition of unauthorized solicitation on private property.

O’Keefe voted against the issue citing his concern over how law enforcement would implement the ordinance. O’Keefe then reposted a social media a post by City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow’s aide – Ryan Ray – that stated the ordinance was championed by the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.

In fact, the ordinance was supported by six Democrats which included Bill Proctor, Rick Minor, Carolyn Cummings, Nick Maddox, Christian Caban, and Brian Welch.

In addition, O’Keefe was the lone vote against Leon County’s efforts to minimize panhandling by installing signs discouraging motorists from giving money to people standing in intersections. City Commissioner Matlow was also critical of the move.

Matlow posted on social media, “I don’t think we need the government telling us what we can and cannot do with our own money. We already contribute to solutions via taxes, but there is a refusal to address the actual need in our community.”

When asked about the pushback toward the signs, Leon County Commissioner Rick Minor stated, “I think they misconstrue the purpose of the signs.” He explained that the purpose of the signs is for people to understand if they really want to help, they should donate to Big Bend.

State Legislature Addresses Camping in Public Places

The most recent issue that local progressives have come out against is related to state level legislation that seeks to prevent homeless people from sleeping in public places such as streets, sidewalks and parks. The legislation also provides some financial support for both substance abuse programs and mental health.

The legislation – which is moving through the committee process in the Senate and House – has some Democrat support and Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Davie, called the proposal “a start.”

However, O’Keefe, Porter & Matlow wasted no time in coming out against the legislation in comments to WCTV.

O’Keefe said the proposed legislation only takes “us down the path of criminalizing homelessness, which is proven to be both inhumane, costly and ineffective…”

Porter said, “This is a classic example of a legislature that is out of touch with local needs and what it’s going to take to meaningfully address the affordable housing crisis and house our unhoused population.”

And Matlow said the “big-gest void in our community isn’t the shelter environment or a camp environment….If we want people not sleeping on the streets, we need to get them sleeping in houses.”

In addition, the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee reposted the progressive opposition to the proposed legislation. The WCTV story indicated the reporter reached out to all local officials, but only O’Keefe, Porter, & Matlow responded.

Ongoing Problem

Since the COVID epidemic, local governments across the nation have been trying to address the issue of homelessness. The problem is compounded by the increased cost of housing.

In Tallahassee there has been workshop after workshop to address the impact of the homeless and to also provide options that will reduce the number of people not sheltered.

However, encampments on public property remain and businesses continue to feel the impact of indecision by local government leaders who seem reluctant to act due to positions of their progressive colleagues.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor recently stated, “We want to be compassionate, but we’ve erred on the side of being soft.” He continued, “You don’t play hard ball using a plastic bat, and this is a hard ball issue.” Proctor also noted that, “We should probably look for best practices and some models from across the country.”

Ironically, some of the proposals criticized in Tallahassee by progressive officials have already been implemented in California where homeless encampments have had a significant impact on the quality of life.

15 Responses to "Local Progressives Split with Democrats Over Homeless Issues"

  1. @ News Mavin

    Referencing your de-annexation idea.

    Maybe it’s time for Bradfordville to become Leon County’s second city.

  2. Question. Why do we allow the label ‘Progressives’ when all the positions these folks back are regressive..? Less freedoms and more government control. More taxes less value. Call these folks out for where they actually stand … ‘Regressives’ … Socialism takes aware progress and returns us to a regressive society .. When we let someone control the language they then control the message.. Let’s ‘regress’ to the 1920’s USSR with all the ‘advancements’. Yes, that will work just as well.. People need to start talking more with their neighbors and educating others on the subjects so Regressives are voted out of office..

  3. The side with a pulse. Good for them mixing it up vs the inside blob. Clear now conservatives will support the anti-tax increase comm.rs. To Nicholas there was a decent chance to change guard in 22, our local GOP leadership decided to help keep Scott Maddox’s city mgr for some reason

  4. OK, Try to follow me on this………… TR should do a City Commissioner Survey putting together several questions that would be FOR the People. Let them answer the questions independently not letting them know that they ALL got the Survey. Have each of them think that they are the only one that got it. Compare their answers to see if they all want the same thing for Tallahassee. This way, we will know if Dailey, Richardson & Cox only go against Matlow & Porter because they are not Democrats and if Matlow & Porter go against Dailey, Richardson & Cox because they go against them every time.

  5. @Anne Marie:
    Sorry for your situation.
    This is EXACTLY what happens all over America when illiberals are in charge of local governments.
    They propagate like cockroaches, and the problems multiply with them.
    I predict it will get much worse until the northside (the tax base) gets fed up enough to do what they should have done a decade ago:

  6. Address who the real homeless are. Most are homeless because they want be, panhandlers, drug, alcohol, mental issues. Help/ encourage the Real homeless and really discourage the bums!


    Matlow: “If we want people not sleeping on the streets, we need to get them sleeping in houses.”” ………………………. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to build an Apartment Building full of 1 Bedroom Units?

  8. @ Anne Marie- I am so sorry. That is Disgusting, Disturbing, and Shameful. Tallahassee MUST do better. The entire City and County Commission should be Fired. Put someone in there who will clean up this disgusting city.

  9. Matlow ” “I don’t think we need the government telling us what we can and cannot do with our own money.”

    And yet, thats pretty much all they do through taxes.

  10. agreed nicholas weed, the county administrator and city manager look like fools and are completely overpaid. disagree that Evan Power has anything to do with it.

  11. They ALL need to do their jobs. Tallahassee has become the embarrassment of the state. They are all Democrats.

    How about it, Evan Power, get some Republicans elected?! This is what happens when Evan Power works on Dailey’s campaign instead of getting Republicans elected.

    This is what happens when the majority caters to special interests, multi-million dollars stadium seat giveaways, investigating each other is their answer to fighting crime, junkets on the taxpayers dime, and on and on…

    This is what happens when you overpay the County Administrator and have an incompetent City Manager..

    Tackle the key leadership positions and evaluate those and make corrections and the chaos will subside. I think we have poor leadership in Evan Power, the County Administrator and the City Manager. Start there.

  12. We bought our home in beautiful Myers Park neighborhood on Gadsden Street 2 years ago not knowing that a business owner would be allowed to have groups of homeless people to live on his abandoned property at Monroe & Harrison. We are forced to see them defecate in the streets, come to our house asking for money and even threatened to “kick our ass ” as we garden in our front yard. We can’t even drive down Harrison to Monroe anymore because of all the litter lining the streets and the constant filth we are forced to look at. And here we thought we were buying into a historic neighborhood. Sad.

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