As Jacksonville Florida continues its search for exactly what it wants to be when it grows up, perhaps the word “exactly” should be removed from the search. Simply searching for what it wants to be may, in the end, be good enough.
Jacksonville Community Council, Inc., which serves as a nonprofit retainer of information and regurgitator of information, in its 2013 Community Snapshot shows where things have gotten better or worse. The trend in the city’s crime rate is better than it has been in the last decade. Despite the nightly TV news reports of murder, shootings and other mayhem, the JCCI snapshot shows that at least as far as downtown Jacksonville is concerned; the overall crime rate is down from 5,149 per 100,000 residents to 4,896.
Its’ estimated that downtown Jacksonville has 500-plus more people who have decided to actually live downtown as opposed to the suburbs of Mandarin, the Beaches, Argyle Forest and elsewhere. And even though its’ hard to see, the vacancy rate for office space downtown has decreased by just under 1%.
Of those children without health insurance in Jacksonville, the report indicates that again things have gotten better with just 8.2 % of them not covered by some sort of health plan in 2013 as opposed to 8.3% not covered in previous years.
What’s telling in this snapshot of the city are that the earnings for male versus female worker still tends to show a $20,000 gap. Men tend to earn an average pay check of $51,360 per year while women average $38,971. When you factor in issues such as day care, and elder care, areas in which women dominate in terms of services that are provided that are not part of their “salaried” work day, that $38,000 a year pay check gets smaller.
And despite the fact that Jacksonville has elected its first African American Mayor, the lingering question of “Is Racism a problem?” hovers over the city. Up 6% over the previous survey, 62% say things have gotten worse.
And of those surveyed, citizen dissatisfaction with local government is up to 66% as opposed to 60% a decade ago. And for reasons that members of the City Council and Mayor’s office can’t quite figure out, citizen satisfaction with Basic City Services-trash removal, weed control, cleaning empty lots is down 7 points from where it was.
While the Community Council’s look at Jacksonville is not all inclusive and a bit deceptive in how they list the issues, it does give one a report card on the present. The question for city leaders and the rest of us is exactly what kind of city do we want?