A final message from 4TLH
4TLH was born to inform, to shape discourse in our community and to shine a light on extremism.
There are figures within our community who are unabashedly anti-business, anti-law enforcement, anti-growth. And they are perfectly willing to tear down good people and bedrock institutions just to advance those extremist views.
Fortunately, election day did not go well for those folks. The balance of power on the city commission remained intact and the same is true for the county commission.
The far-left extremists now face a decision – will they double down on divisiveness, or lower the temperature in an effort to more successfully advance the more palatable parts of their agenda, while reducing the collateral damage to the community?
By the way, the moderates in town who are opposing this extremism must up their game as well.
Ramming things through, fueled by hubris and arrogance also contributes to divisiveness. “Winning” has to be measured by more than just being on the right side of 3-2 votes. There are grains of truth in a wide array of political views.
So, let’s look at some of the key issues facing our community in the coming years:
- Growth: While anti-growth forces did not make any gains in terms of the makeup of the city and county commissions, make no mistake, they are winning when it comes to slowing and stymieing the pace of growth in our community. Remember: of the 33 most populous counties in Florida, Leon County’s population growth percentage over the last 10 years is next to last. That’s a recipe for economic decline and stagnation. We are not growing nearly fast enough and high crime, poverty and a lack of affordable housing are predictable by-products. Instead of flat-out opposing new projects via demagoguery and obstructionism, progressives in town should work to make sure growth is as desirable as possible. And developers in town must recognize the sensitivity of these projects and move forward as transparently as possible. End runs and sneak attacks can’t be options.
- Crime and law enforcement: A growing economy is the best tonic for chronic crime. But the work of improving trust between the community and law enforcement can never, ever end. The Tallahassee Police Department needs to seek more diversity, more community involvement and more transparency. In turn, those hostile to law enforcement can’t be allowed to leverage “gotcha” moments into hyper-divisive issues.
- Relationship-building: A sad by-product of the recent campaign is the division created between beloved and giant institutions in our community. Florida State University, Florida A&M University, the city, the county, local businesses and more found themselves at odds as the community was manipulated into conflict by those who feed off the division, not solution-seeking and relationship-building. This is no way to govern, and it is the antithesis of collaborative leadership. There are good people in the progressive movement. They need to disown those who unabashedly aim to “blow up” our community and, instead, seek constructive ways to hold institutions accountable. There is simply no need to use scorched earth tactics which include throwing blankets of public corruption over good people and organizations. And, again, there are two sides to this – those in the local majority should also seek common ground and dial down the rhetoric. What good is winning if we just end up in the same ugly political arena which led to a disgusted electorate and low turnout? Also important: how can a more “blue” county and city find a way to work with a “red” state government? It’s not impossible.
- Vision: Finally, we need a new shared vision for our community. And it has to be a lot more substantial than just “beating the other guys and keeping/gaining control.”
When will we start putting community above politics and power?
Where are the leaders? Where is the reservoir of selflessness and humility required to achieve great things?
As founders of 4TLH, we are hopeful a new tone can be set on our community, but realistic that it will require leaders on both sides to listen to new voices, to adopt new strategies and to swallow some pride. Election winners will need to eschew retribution. Losers will need to avoid doubling down on failure.
It won’t be easy.
For our part, we have tried to fight the good fight, but 4TLH’s time has ended – its supporters will be looking for new ways to win the war of ideas.
We believe in Tallahassee’s future and in a vision of greatness.
We are, and will always be, for TLH.
Bryan Desloge and Lee Hinkle