Today’s the first day of University of Florida’s Dance Marathon. This video is the fun introduction (features my daughter Eden) – that played dramatically on all the screens at the O’Connell Center – of what they call the “overall” team, the 15 students who run the year-long giant fundraising operation. They’ve worked very hard all year in case anyone wants to practice the ultimate act of civility in a Florida State town…
Did you realize Tallahassee is one of only 4 capital cities nationwide without an official performing arts center? Yes, we have Ruby Diamond Auditorium, and it’s wonderful. But it’s a university facility, so FSU performances will always have first dibs on it, making it increasingly difficult for even high-profile groups to book dates there. And the Civic Center is a great place for some types of events, but the poor acoustics make it a poor choice for musical performances (if you’ve ever attended a concert there, you know). So why not build a facility specifically tailored to the needs of the performing arts? If such a center would help boost our local economy, improve educational opportunities, enhance our cultural experiences, AND add to the downtown revitalization efforts, what’s not to love? Surely there are enough local supporters of the initiative to help back it. And what about all the “new money” and notoriety the center would bring to town? Well, fundraising efforts for this project over the past couple of years surprisingly haven’t nearly met their goals. And the proposed plans have had to be downgraded to just one building with smaller capacity. The price tag, however, is still $89.9 million to get the job done. That’s no chump change for any capital city.
So do you think it’s a worthy investment for our town? Or is this another ill-timed lofty goal that should be pushed to the back burner a while longer to make way for other priorities? Check out The Village Square‘s discussion on the topic in our “Get Local” Tallahassee section of our We the Wiki website. Feel free to add to it, too — additional sources, fact checks, an op-ed, or pros and cons of the gas tax. Remember, the content of our Wiki is made greater by factual, civil, diverse contributions from people like you. So, go ahead — check it out. And if you’re a first-time user, be sure to check out the Tools & Tips page, too. If you have trouble with the site using Internet Explorer, try switching over to Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
(Find Conversational Shift online HERE.) Liberals and conservatives would each like to control the three branches of the federal government, and if they could, state and local governments. However, such political domination would be unhealthy for the political process and our nation as a whole.
We know that it was a bad idea when kings ruled with absolute authority; it’s a bad idea for one company to monopolize an industry. So, why then, do so many people think that it is a good idea for their political persuasion to control the decision making process of this country? (more…)
Imam Muhammad Musri, President and Senior Imam of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, former Co-Chair of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, and former member of the Florida Governor’s Faith-Based Advisory Council (appointed by Governor Jeb Bush and reappointed by Governor Charlie Crist), will be TCFR’s next featured speaker.
Imam Musri will discuss Islam, Islamic law, ongoing transitions within the Middle East, Quran burnings in Gainesville, Fl and Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan (and other horrific developments including the massacre in Kandahar) both of which evoked highly critical comments by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Imam Musri also will discuss the role of moderate Muslims since 9/11.
WHEN: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 from 5:30 to 7:00 P.M.
WHERE: Hotel Duval, Opal Room in the Lower Level Lobby
415 North Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301
Light hors d’oeuvres will be provided from 5:30 to 6:00PM and the presentation will commence at 6:00PM. Please RSVP to email@example.com at your earliest convenience if you have not done so already.
Our immediate priority is to continue developing and diversifying TCFR’s membership base: individual, corporate and institutional memberships. For those who have not had the opportunity to submit your inaugural spring season membership dues, please do at your earliest convenience so that we may show strong numbers to our Washington counterpart. Also, please let us know of individuals and/or business entities you think might be interested in joining.
About the Tallahassee Committee on Foreign Relations (TCFR):
A private nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization (501(c)(3) status pending), TCFR’s mission is to help facilitate a more robust local dialogue on international issues, including trade, economic development, foreign policy, security and humanitarian issues. Membership is open to the general public and includes active civic, business, government, academic and political leaders interested in engaging in discussion with top U.S. and international policy makers, and other influential officials. TCFR is a chapter of the American Committees on Foreign Relations, which was established nearly 70 years ago as a program of the Council on Foreign Relations. While there is no longer a formal relationship between the Council and ACFR, the emphasis remains substantially similar to serve as a vehicle to engage at the local level.
(Get more information about this program and reserve a seat online HERE.)
By Bill Berlow
When Michigan’s economic decline began to go from worrisome to precipitous about a decade ago, the realization finally hit home that the state’s lack of economic diversification was a financial Achilles heel.
Manufacturing had been Michigan’s mainstay. But changes in consumer habits, the shift to an information-based world economy, and then the recession combined to deliver what came close to a triple knockout punch.
Amid these staggering blows, Michigan State University and the City of East Lansing recognized that it was more important than ever for town and gown to collaborate. They understood that Michigan’s economic survival was on the line, and that both university and city would lose if they failed to work more closely together.
Thursday night at City Hall, Michigan State and East Lansing economic development representatives Charles Hasemann and Tim Dempsey will discuss the partnership their respective institutions developed in the face of their state’s crisis. The public forum – the fifth of six town-hall meetings sponsored by Town and Gown Tallahassee (TAG) – starts at 7 p.m.
Like Michigan State and East Lansing, Tallahassee’s higher education institutions and the broader community operate in an economic environment that is weighted disproportionately toward one sector. Here, it’s public employment. While public payrolls have historically provided Tallahassee with financial stability, the trends toward smaller government work forces and slower rates of budget growth have revealed the capital city’s economic vulnerabilities.
“This is why we’re so eager to learn from Michigan State and the City of East Lansing,” said Mike Pate, project director for TAG. “The similarities between their community and ours are pretty striking.”
Michigan’s capital, Lansing, is adjacent to East Lansing. Like that area, Tallahassee is not historically a highly entrepreneurial community, and its relative lack of economic diversification poses a long-term threat, said Pate, former publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat.
Local residents and community leaders agree. In surveys sponsored by TAG in late 2010 of 814 residents and 54 leaders, 95 percent of residents and 100 percent of leaders said they believed that Florida State and Florida A&M universities and Tallahassee Community College are critical to this community’s economic well-being.
“It was clear from those how important it is to diversify our economy beyond government and higher education,” Pate said.
Dempsey, East Lansing’s planning director, said the same holds true in his city.
“We realized very quickly that the so-called three-legged stool – GM, State of Michigan, MSU – was focused on working for someone rather than creating your own economic opportunities,” he said. “The idea of entrepreneurialism was largely lost amidst the readily available good-paying jobs with solid pensions.
“We believed to foster entrepreneurialism and innovation we needed to both educate and promote the concept, while simultaneously supporting those willing to take that risk.”
Dempsey and Hasemann said the partnership between East Lansing and Michigan State began with SmartZones, a state economic development tool that enabled the financing of incubators, funding pools and business support services.
Technology transfer – that is, the commercialization of knowledge, research and skills developed in universities – is an important piece of it, Hasemann said.
“Innovation, generally, is a big driver of real new jobs in any economy,” he said. “By that, I mean that in order to create new jobs, you have to have real advantage over existing markets. … But it’s also about existing companies, who are made more competitive through MSU innovations in technology, business process, or even just consulting with our faculty. Again – innovations drive market advantage.”
The town-hall forums are the second phase of the four-phase TAG initiative. TAG is supported by FSU and FAMU, TCC, city and county governments, Leon County Schools, the Chamber of Commerce, several local businesses and other organizations, The Village Square, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The final forum – on college-student engagement in the local community – is not yet scheduled.
Anyone interested in attending Thursday’s forum on economic development partnerships is asked to register online at: http://www.wiki.tothevillagesquare.org/display/events/TAG+Tallahassee. The forum will be digitally recorded and posted on The Village Square’s website, and will be rebroadcast on several local cable channels.
(Get more information about this program and reserve a seat online HERE.)
“People always think they’re behaving ethically, even when they’re being hauled off in handcuffs,’ said Democrat editorial page editor-turned-Leon County Commission candidate Mary Ann Lindley at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s community conversation on ethics last week, co-sponsored by The Village Square and the Collins Center.
Paid professional ethicists, students, political people and garden variety taxpayers gathered at the Challenger Learning Center to consider the effects of ethics — or lack of ethics – on the economy.
If Sydney Greenstreet in Casablanca had Power Point and an IMAX theater screen, he’d have given Florida Chamber Foundation President Dale Brill’s lecture. “There’s a role for corruption in the marketplace,” said Brill as he scrolled through a series of slides that proved it.
Far from endorsing bribery, Brill was merely restating recurring themes of human behavior familiar to readers of the Bible and viewers of cable news. If Greenstreet was central casting’s version of the tribal elder in every community who knows which people are for sale, and at what price, Brill is the avatar of 21st century professionals who make the business case for ethical behavior.
There are more of them than you think.
The Ten Commandments were good enough for God and for a long time, the Twitter version—do unto others—sufficed for the rest of us. But these days, America alone has 130 academic “ethics centers” with more on the way. In addition, there’s a small army of private consultants like Jonathan Low, who joined Brill in making the case that “it makes for a bad economy when “your customers, suppliers, lenders and investors don’t trust you.”
Low’s company, Predictiv Consulting, serves clients all over the world but his home is in Palm Beach County, which earned the name “Corruption County” as a parade of city and county officials were perp-walked out of their offices and into prisons in recent years.
Whether you’re talking about communities or corporations, believe Low when he says that much of its reputation resides with the folks at the top. If you’re looking for a sustainable business, or political career, there had better be no air between what you’re doing, and what you say you’re doing.
Florence Snyder is a corporate and First Amendment lawyer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Those of you who attended last spring’s The Psychology of Polarization and DemonizationDinner at the Square will remember University of Virginia’s Matt Motyl, who taught us about the psychology behind the latest ugly politics. Looks like he’s got another interesting project going related to – of all things – basketball. It’s intriguing and only takes five minutes!
Here’s Matt’s email…
My lab has jumped on the March Madness bandwagon and we just launched a project that lets you find out who you implicitly believe will win this year’s NCAA tournament match-ups. The tests are about five minutes long, and at the end you’ll get feedback on your implicit thoughts about the game. We’re trying to get as many people to take the study as possible, so please feel free to pass the link on to those you think might be interested!
Setting up a log-in does require an email address, but don’t worry — its just so that we can avoid having to ask the same questions over and over (like gender, for example) if you want to take multiple studies. We won’t spam you, we promise!
We’re delighted to be partnering with the Florida Chamber Foundation and Collins Center to co-host a brand new forum on strictly Florida Topics – Florida Matters: Spirited Dialogue About the Issues. TONIGHT we kick off the series at 5:30 pm with a conversation on “Government and Business Ethics” with special guest Jonathan Low of Predictiv Consulting and Florida Chamber Foundation’s own Dale Brill. Each event will also include discussion of the topic in small groups and a 3-flight wine tasting. The second program – on “Your Vote in Florida” – will be in two weeks on March 29th.
For more information and to reserve a seat, click HERE.
Do you find yourself strategically plotting out your errands route to save a few extra bucks (and pricey gallons of gas) as you make your way around town? What if the County adds another 5-cent tax onto your big gas bill? Many counties throughout Florida have already implemented this local option tax, and after years of consideration, Leon County could be next. Would you support this so-called “user’s tax” (on drivers) that’s intended to help maintain and improve our roadways? Or do you worry that it’s just another increase in your living expenses from which you may not reap many benefits? Check out The Village Square‘s discussion on the topic in our “Get Local” Tallahassee section of our We the Wiki website. Feel free to add to it, too — additional sources, fact checks, an op-ed, or pros and cons of the gas tax. Remember, the content of our Wiki is made greater by factual, civil, diverse contributions from people like you. So, go ahead — check it out. And if you’re a first-time user, be sure to check out the Tools & Tips page, too. If you have trouble with the site using Internet Explorer, try switching over to Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
We’re delighted to be partnering with the Florida Chamber Foundation and Collins Center to co-host a brand new forum on strictly Florida Topics – Florida Matters: Spirited Dialogue About the Issues. This Thursday night, March 15th, kicks off the series at 5:30 pm with a conversation on “Government and Business Ethics” with special guest Jonathan Low of Predictiv Consulting and Florida Chamber Foundation’s own Dale Brill. Each event will also include discussion of the topic in small groups and a 3-flight wine tasting. The second program – on “Your Vote in Florida” – will be March 29th.
For more information and to reserve a seat, click HERE.