Politicians showing little confidence in democracy

Tuesday night Jacksonville will learn whether the City Council trusts voters to make decisions important to the community and its heritage.
An ordinance calling for a straw vote on the future of local historical monuments is up for a final vote. Committee votes call for it to be defeated, a position advocated by local liberal organizations and a group of local business and civic leaders.
The ploy is to defeat the resolution, avoid a referendum, and then hold a “community conversation” about what to do with the monuments.
The conversation, conveniently, would be timed to end after next year’s city elections. There is no need for a conversation because this issue has been debated for years. It already has resulted in the midnight removal of a statue that stood in Hemming Park, now Johnson Park, for nearly a century.
It also seems likely that the “conversation” would be rendered moot by the revival of a bill to remove the Women of the Southland statue of a widow and children in Springfield Park. That bill had been deferred and is reposing in committees.
Several Republicans have been voting against the referendum bill and Eye on Jacksonville will be watching them on the final vote.
One poll indicates the people, including a majority of Democrats, want to retain the city’s historical monuments.
Two separate groups have looked into this issue and neither recommended removing statues. One was the City Council Task Force on Civil Rights History, which held hearings involving a wide range of viewpoints and in 2018 produced recommendations for greater recognition of the achievements of local residents with black skin and for improving race relations.
Local activist Blake Harper is championing an alternative to removal that should appeal to both sides.
He heads the Unity Project, which proposes retaining the existing monuments and statues related to the city’s history and adding new ones that recognize and honor the contributions of Jacksonville citizens with black skin to add context to the city’s history.
Both the Northside Coalition and the Jacksonville Civic Council favor revising the city’s history by removing all monuments and historical markers related to the Civil War.
What then? Rewrite history books? It all smacks of the Biden administration’s Disinformation Governance Board, which many Americans believe was established primarily to promulgate disinformation (and now has been put on “pause.”)
By deciding to preserve and augment its history, Jacksonville would show the fractured nation that Bold New City is more interested in uniting than dividing its citizens.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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