After reading Wednesday’s story on the Girls Club lease issue with Lollipop, I am deeply saddened that from his own admission and without understanding this whole mess with the Girls Club began from an ill-conceived perception of deliberate racial inequality.
After being handed a Ethics Complaint by Ronald Williams II, alleging among other things that Councilman Jake Hill violated his ethical requirements of an elected official in discussing and voting on an issue pertaining to a City Contract with an organization wherein his spouce serves as a member of the board of directors.
Councilman Hill admitted in his remarks at the City Council meeting on January 19 that the whole issue of Lollipop stemmed from his learning that Happy House had been offered the lease of the Girl’s Club building for $100/year and no black organization was extended the same. He further explained that when he learned Lollipop had been given a fee of $500 per month, he felt frustrated by what he termed an ongoing double standard for whites and blacks. Hill explained he felt the City Manager should have sought proposals from black organizations, despite the fact that he (Hill) only informed Lollipop a for-profit center presented to be under the umbrella of George Warren & Foundation where his spouse sits as a board member. He also neglected to mention that no other “white” organizations were offered the space.
What Councilman Hill failed to explain was how his actions connected to City Charter or Code which gives the City Manager the authority to negotiate with a not-for-profit without competitive bidding.
He also didn’t care to connect his agenda with the population served through Happy House to Lears its diverse enrollment, included almost 40% African American students. Or how the potential perception at the City enriching a private corporation by offering the same rent offered to a not-for-profit.
Further Hill neglected to explain why he felt exempt from the Charter’s provision restricting the role of Council persons in interference with City administration. Neither did he address his spouse being a member of the board of directors along with a convicted felon and the ability of George & Warren Foundation to secure childcare licensing given the dynamics of its owners.
Councilman Hill in his haste to correct a perception of mistreatment of “blacks” mistreated al residents of Lake City and especially his constituents by instigating a very distasteful, racial display of a boy crying wolf.
It is rather disheartening that as much as our country needs to find common ground and understanding, we are forced to be subjected to “leadership” whose by any means necessary tactics damage the very people they claim to help. Sometimes, the obvious difference doesn’t impact a decision. Our growth requires an internal process of identifying ways to improve and discontinued practice of quick allegations of racial disparity. It’s a true issue of discrimination exists, it will exist after you come to the policy because ultimately, two wrongs didn’t make a right.