Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Glo Smith — Constituents living in the Urban Core of Florida's Fifth Congressional District have reasons to be concerned!

By GLO SMITH, Business and Political Consultant

The Florida Health Department has identified Jacksonville's most deadly zip codes in the Duval County Report Card. Many of these zip codes were in District 5. This report hits close to home for me because I was born and raised in the heart of the Fifth District. The report card confirms why I continue to fight for the people living in the district.  I am not a candidate at this time, but this is one of the reasons why I ran for the U.S. Congress.  It is why I spend time every day talking about the issues and collaborating with citizens to identify and implement practical solutions.  

 Our current Representative is out of touch with the constituents, and her lack of action may have contributed to some of the tenant's health conditions – case and point, the Eureka Gardens disaster.  For as long as I can remember, the tenants living in Eureka Gardens and other government housing have been complaining about deplorable living conditions with gas leaks, mold, and mildew in and outside of their apartments. I understand that tenants have a responsibility as to how they live in their homes. However, let us focus on the things that are out of their control and what happens when government officials are disconnected from their constituents.

 First, let us examine how code inspectors found code violations in 163 of 400 units. Over the years, tenants living in Eureka Gardens made complaints to the housing authorities, elected officials and to Eureka Garden's management. It appears their complaints went unanswered. Elected officials and City Code Inspectors failed to identify and overlooked most of the violations found in the city’s sweep.

Our Congresswoman showed up only when the cameras were rolling.  In an October press release regarding Eureka Gardens, Congresswoman Brown said, "we are all working diligently together to dramatically improve the environmental, safety and sanitary conditions at Eureka Gardens." The problem is not a new issue. Constituents have been complaining about and living with the conditions for years.  Nonetheless, Brown overlooked the complaints and neglected her duty to serve the people.

 In a letter to Senator Bill Nelson, Jacksonville's Mayor Lenny Curry deplored the conditions in the community, saying the apartments Eureka Gardens residents live in may "pose a threat to their safety." Curry outlined the poor living conditions there, including electrical, plumbing, environmental, and structural problems.

Now that we know about Eureka Gardens, what are officials doing about it? Are they asking for assessments to be completed on public housing? Or, are they waiting for another problem to occur before taking action? Will there be any consequences for those involved?  Congresswoman Brown called for the firing of Eureka Garden management personnel, but what about others?

This is personal for me because my husband and I raised our children and live in this district. Our family, and friends live and work in the district as well.  The people living in the district deserve and should demand more!  What is happening in Eureka Gardens and other government housing throughout the district is appalling. When will we demand more from our representatives as it relates our wellbeing and living conditions? When will we demand accountability?

 Although, the report card identifies several areas of concern, this issue goes beyond health and death.  Part of the problem lies in big government.   The notion that big government knows best, and has our best interest at heart directly contradicts with the statistics spelled out in the report card. A government that allows people to remain in poverty and despair is a government that is out of touch with reality.

 Here is what you need to know and why.  You need to know the issues identified in the report card are not unique to Florida's Fifth District. It is a snapshot of what is occurring all over this country, especially in and around Urban Core communities. This is a local, state and most of all a national problem.  Taxpayer’s dollars are used to pay for Section 8 housing, medical care, and other government programs.  Bureaucrats allow these situations to occur, so taxpayers continue to pay more to fix the problems while property owner’s promises to the tenants are broken.

 Here are some of the problems that must be addressed. Most of us know what happens when the heart of a community stops beating. It dies. We know what happens when people are given subsidies instead of a helping hand up. They are stuck in the situation and can't move forward. When generations of families are dependent on government assistance that impacts the growth of wealth, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. These problems can be solved.

 We must empower people so they can have hope and achieve their dreams, most importantly, we must allow them the opportunity to obtain personal and professional prosperity. Only then, will some of the problems identified in the Duval County Report Card be reduced, so people can live healthier, happier and longer lives.

This is the first article of a three part series based on the Duval County Report Card.  The next article will take a closer look at children living in poverty, teenage pregnancy, and the unemployment rate.

Glo Smith is a life long Republican because she knows first-hand that the conservative values and principals of the Republican Party work! Growing up in the poorest part of Jacksonville, Glo was no strangerto poverty as a child. For years, Glo's mother relied on government provisions and commodities to care for and feed her children. Regardless of the financial hardship, Glo was determined to succeedwith the moral support of her family, friends and church. She graduated from Ribault High School and obtained a Master’s of Business Administration degree from the University of Phoenix