Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

We need to actually solve this problem for once and for all. Someday, some city will solve this.
Why not now, and why not here?

It will take out of the box thinking, willingness to try new things that may fail and the ability to endure merciless criticism and attacks from those who want to maintain status quo.
In the CRA the solutions to having Safer Neighborhoods, Neighborhood Rejuvenation, Effective Education and Economic Development are all interdependent. It requires attacking the problem from multiple angles at once, with a simultaneous time on top delivery of services and solutions:

  1. Economic Development starts with putting and keeping every penny of capital possible in the CRA.

    1. Hire many more grant writers in Support the 2020 Economic Development plan.

    2. Increase the viability and magnitude of 2020’s success by:

      1. Ensure District 6 and 7 City Council Members are on and engaged in the 2020 Executive Committee.

      2. Have the City provide an Applied Research Ph.D. as a project manager with staff resources full time to accurately determine community needs and programs’ effectiveness.

      3. Stop making it worse. Identify and eliminate existing practices that are exasperating the problem.

        1. Stop the immense drain of capitol in the CRA caused by predatory proactive policing in the CRA. Keep the tickets, fees, increased insurance costs etc… in the CRA.

        2. Buy Police homes in the CRA. SPPD is by far the largest drain on the local economy, over the next 30 years they are going to suck over $ One Billion dollars from the local economy. Keep their salaries and personal stakes here in the CRA.

        3. Rebuild trust and communication not by community policing one day a week but with 24\7 Community Policing and Body Cams.

          1. Let’s keep everybody honest and accountable.If you patrol in the CRA you should live in the CRA as well.

          2. No more excuses, no more delays.

          3. No more “Us versus Them”, transition it to “We are all in it together”

      4. Expand 2nd Chance pre-diversion program to adults. Keep court related fees, fines, lost wages etc… in the CRA. Turn bad behavior into good labor to rebuild and beautify the neighborhoods.

      5. Identify\create resources solely for organizing, filing paperwork and identifying seed funding for neighborhood COOPS.

        1. Corner Stores and Restaurants with reasonably priced, healthy food, utilizing as much neighborhood grown and prepared foods as possible.

        2. Shops and Service centers. Encourage High Schools, PTEC and SPC to maximize marketable creative and line of business skills and knowledge.

    3. Create a CRA Council of Neighborhoods.

      1. The District 6 and 7 City Council persons should be Co-Chairs

      2. CRA Council should meet weekly between City Council meetings for bi-directional information exchange

  2. The end game is all about the Children. Break the cycle of poverty once and it is game over. Create separate strategies for existing children and tomorrow’s children. Today’s children need help, but with an exponentially better ROI it is inexcusable to not completely level the playing field with the next generation

    1. For today’s children:

      1. Increase chances and community involvement in socializing and developing 2nd Chance offenders

      2. Augment and transition After School and Summer youth jobs to paying for achieving Energy points in Kahn Academy.

        1. This will psychologically reinforce Learning = Earning

        2. It will fill knowledge gaps so lower performing kids can catch up and others excel beyond their peers.

        3. This will also dramatically improve the ROI on our very expensive, questionably effective Pinellas County School System.

        4. Pay the kids with Pinellas 211 style debit cards that only work at local businesses for appropriate items.

    2. For the Children not born yet, this is where we have to go all out:

      1. Expand on HIPPY (Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters), which provides ECD training and materials to parents of 3-5 year olds.

        1. To all women with first time pregnancies in the CRA.

        2. Add content to cover health and nutrition for the expecting mom and new born child.

        3. Impart techniques to stimulate curiosity, reduce stress and improve emotional well-being, intellectual capacity and health in 0-3 year olds.

        4. Provide tools for tracking and aiding in the health and development of their children.

      2. Create a network of small, walking distance Child Day\Night Care\Development Center COOPs that double as Storm Shelters.

        1. Use readily available FEMA grants to pay for construction: Use local labor

        2. Use the same tools and curriculum\activities to track and aide in health and development of the children to maximize ROI on every touch.

        3. Staff with volunteers who excelled in the Home Training.

      3. Provide Scholarships for SPC’s accredited Early Childhood Development degrees and certifications to women who excel in the expanded home instruction program.

        1. Manage and staff the Child Development Centers with paid positions for the grads that continue to live in the CRA.

        2. Have a Nurse Practitioner and a Child psychologist scheduled once a week at each center to monitor and assist with physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

        3. Create art, math, science, computer, and maker leagues for healthy competition and acknowledgement of achievements.

        4. Make St Petersburg world renowned for maximizing human potential from cradle to grave.

Kurt Donley, SCLC Board Member and Criminal Justice Specialist

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