Tallahassee: Activists attend final meeting to fight for a People's Budget
Tallahassee, FL – On Wednesday, September 21, the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Florida State’s Students for a Democratic Society attended the Tallahassee city commission meeting at City Hall to speak on the approval of the upcoming year’s city budget.
The activists demanded that instead of passing the unjust budget that City Manager Reese Goad drafted, they enact a People’s Budget. Dedicated organizers collaborated for over a year to rework the city budget to remove funding from the city’s police force and instead contribute it to social services, safe and affordable housing, rental assistance, eviction moratoriums, caps on raising the prices of rents, and basic needs for all Tallahassee residents.
They highlighted the fact that the city had still not enacted a $15 dollar minimum wage despite saying it was a goal over three years ago. Organizers also mentioned the lack of money for sidewalks and other infrastructure enhancements in this year’s budget. FSU SDS Activist Jacob Muldoon described how he witnessed someone pushing a stroller in the street on Tharpe Street because “there were no sidewalks on either side of the road.”
Shelby Green, a former candidate for city commission Seat 5, expressed the desire to know why the city of Tallahassee did not have a utility assistance program for residents who struggle to pay their utility bill.
Community members also demanded to know why the budget expands the pay of high-level executives while ignoring the basic upkeep and maintenance of the city.
Michael McLaughin, an activist with the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, stated, “This budget might be the aristocrat’s budget or the bureaucrat’s budget, but it is not the people’s budget.” TCAC and the other organizations involved insisted the way to end corruption and mismanagement of funds in Tallahassee is to remove budget-crafting power from the city manager. City budget workshops and meetings should also be accessible to working-class people by taking place at times they can attend.
TCAC President Delilah Pierre and TCAC member Regina Joseph, also called out the commissioners for continuing to not review the annual report from the Civilian Police Review Board that has been available since February 2022. Pierre and Joseph spoke passionately about the commissioners and city manager allowing Police Chief Lawrence Revell to remain in power. Revell sanctioned a training of the Tallahassee Police Department Tactical Apprehension and Control Team by Stronghold SOF Solutions and Eddie Gallagher earlier in 2022.
Gallagher is a former Navy SEAL who has been accused of numerous war crimes including the fatal stabbing of an injured 17-year-old prisoner. Joseph even brought copies of printed photos of Gallagher posing and smiling with the dead prisoner to give to commissioners.
At the end of public comment on the city budget, the commissioners voted three to two to approve the budget. Mayor John Dailey and Commissioners Dianne Williams-Cox and Curtis Richardson voted to approve the budget. Commissioners Jacqueline Porter and Jeremy Matlow voted against it.
Even though the commissioners voted to approve this unfair use of Tallahassee citizens’ money, the Tallahassee Community Action Committee and partners will continue to fight for the reallocation of funds through the People’s Budget. They will continue to call out and seek accountability for police crimes in the community. They will continue to fight for a safer and healthier Tallahassee for all people –not just the powerful and connected.