Consolidation: Let the conversation begin!

By R.B Holmes Jr.
President  and Publisher

It is high time to begin the conversation about consolidating our beloved city, Tallahassee, Florida.  I believe that if we are to be a vital, vibrant and visionary city of this 21st century, then the bold vision to consolidate the city and county must begin now, and not later.  If not, we will be trapped in the past, and the future of this great city will be significantly diminished.  I commend the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s leadership in stepping forward to underwrite an independent study on consolidating Tallahassee and Leon County governments.
We have the immense intellectual assets to move forward.  We have two premier universities:  Florida State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and an outstanding community college, Tallahassee Community College.  Our business and civic leaders are second to none.  Our citizenry is ready for change and innovation.  We must now convince the citizenry that the time has come to consolidate.  This decision must not and cannot be delayed because of fear, emotions, maintaining the status quo, or selfish interests.  Just because we have never done it before is not a good reason to not move forward.

We will never build the dynamic economy that we need in this city that will create jobs, close the income gap between races and neighborhoods, bring down the serious health disparities, and yes, significantly eradicate the high crime rate, if local government does not operate differently.  We can’t simply talk about our challenging and growing social, economic, educational and political ills — it is time to take bold steps.

I firmly believe that consolidation is the next bold step for the future of Tallahassee.  A few years ago, we supported going to a strong mayoral system; this was the right thing to do.  Moreover, we have merged a few city and county agencies.  However, my friends, we are tinkering on the edges.  The way forward now is to consolidate the entire government.

Listen, my beloved hometown, Jacksonville, Florida, took this quantum step many decades ago. Jacksonville is now bolder and better because of consolidation.   There are other cities that our talented business and civic leaders have visited seeking new ideas that we can activate to increase our economic base and rebrand this city.  When we consolidate, not if, but when, then we will see other city leaders coming to Tallahassee to see how we have become a city that is not necessarily trying to survive, but to thrive.

Finally, I was so honored and humbled to have received the Chamber of Commerce’s Life Time Leadership Award last year.  This award is annually presented to local citizens of this amazing community in recognition of their vision and leadership.  I hope that the past recipients of this award, who are still living, will join me in this effort.  I pray that many others who want to do what is in the best interest of this wonderful city, will join me with an open mind and a pure heart.   The Capital Outlook will appoint a Task Force: The Coalition of Concerned Citizens for the Consideration of Consolidation.   The members of this Task Force will be announced by the end of November.

Tallahassee, it is time to have a serious dialogue on consolidation.  Let us begin the conversation.

Reverend Dr. RB Holmes, Pastor
Bethel Missionary Baptist Church
President, Live Communications, Inc.
(The Capital Outlook and WTAL Radio-1450 AM)