Issue 34, August 21st

Wow, I’m having a tough time containing my enthusiasm while composing this message.  Last week’s meeting was packed full of things to celebrate!  As you know, we’ve partnered with Robert E Lee’s NJROTC squad for the past 4 years, and as a result began a scholarship program for JROTC cadets.  Every scholarship needs a funding vehicle, so 2 years ago we began holding our very successful charity clay shoot.  Last year’s shoot turned out to be so successful we had excess funding when we were awarding scholarships earlier this year.  Since the Lee High partnership has been so beneficial, we reached out to Rob Baldwin (husband of longtime member Ramona Baldwin) and asked if they had any “projects” for which they needed sponsors.  Coincidentally they had 3 needs they have been struggling to fund for years, 2 of which we were able to fulfill.  The first being their competition uniforms the cadets wear when traveling to drill competitions.  As these are lent out to the students, the squad usually gets about 5-6 years out of them.  Currently the set they’re using predated Rob’s arrival 5+ years ago.  With some not matching (tops and bottoms) and showing wear, this was an immediate necessity we were fortunate to be able to fund.  SBMC Charities purchased 40 new uniforms that look fitting of a well-capitalized squad outfitted as well as they perform!

Trailer Collage

The second request was a professional wrap for their enclosed utility trailer.  This trailer is used to transport all their equipment to various competitions and functions, pulled behind a traditional truck or SUV.  Rob long had a relationship with former SBMC member Media Wraps; and had negotiated a stellar discounted deal for a multicolored wrap just in need of funding.  Once again we were able to help them reach the finish line on this endeavor, and everywhere they go people will know SBMC helped along the way!  We began this partnership as Lee is in a lower-income area with many students coming from single-income households lacking the advantages many of our members and children enjoy.  It’s an honor to be able to award all the scholarships we fund annually, but to see something tangible in person, and also the pride in the faces of the kids, truly makes me even more proud to be a member of this club.  With the help of SBMC Charities totaling about $6,500, these cadets will travel and compete in the style comparable to a Bolles or a Kenny.  More importantly, they’ve worked for us at TPC, and multiple years at the Clay Shoot so many know what it’s taken to raise the money to fund these endeavors.  Hopefully we’ve given Rob a little assistance in building the character he’s instilling in his cadets, so they know if you work hard you can achieve great things!

Now all of that was only during the first 10 mins of the meeting.  Attendance was high, nearly every seat in the ballroom was filled, plus Karen Mathis and A.G. Gancarski (Florida Politics) were present to report on the Mayor’s inaugural visit to our club.  Steve Johnston announced the success of the Texas Hold ‘em Tournament raking in over $3k for our Christmas Kids Shopping Spree!  We upped the ante further when one of the prizes remaining was auctioned off for $100 adding to the tournaments success.  Then City Rescue Mission generously donated a spot in their annual golf tournament held tomorrow at TPC!  Jepp Walter ran a bidding war between Nico Hogeveen and I up over $100.  When it was obvious we were at the max, CRM offered a 2nd spot if we would both purchase, bringing $200 to the auction!

Then the main event began with Rep. Charles McBurney introducing the Mayor with a personal story of how they met several years ago.  Charles was the Duval GOP Treasurer and then private citizen Curry approached him about getting involved.  Curry went on to eventually succeed Charles as Treasurer long prior to his bid for Mayor.  I find it to be an honor every Mayor addresses our club at least on an annual basis.  It’s nice to offer our members access in order to ask questions directly of the highest office in our city.  Initially when scheduling the Mayor for last week, I thought it might be a disadvantage to be hosting him so close to the election.  By then he would have made the rounds to most of the other civic clubs, news interviews, etc. and we’d find ourselves listening to the same story we had read for weeks….in reality our experience was quite the opposite.  With all the critics having become vocal in the last week or so, it was fantastic to have the Mayor speaking directly about arguments recently raised, endorsements recently gained, and especially since early voting began a few days prior.  Florida Politics reported hearing discussion prior to the meeting commencing that SBMC members were raising questions and objections about moving forward with the initiative.  In the end the perception was the Mayor did very well responding to questions and probably changed the minds of many in the crowd.

Unfortunately our fellow member Bill Bishop, having been one of the pundits interviewed by the media coming out against the initiative, long had a conflict out of town keeping him from attending.  We had spoken at length the day before the T/U article, as well as the day it came out and I agree this isn’t a perfect solution.  As I noted last week, upon passage we need to hold our local officials accountable to search for other avenues to further accelerate the debt reduction sooner than 2030 when the sales tax revenue will begin to “flow” as the Mayor stated.  Strategically I agree with the Mayor, this is probably the best deal we can get right now.  If this was on the ballot coupled with statements of the intention to raise property taxes, I think at 50%+1 vote could prove to be a struggle.  Again, many voters are not as engaged as our members and would vote against any new tax that will adversely impact their wallet.  However I agree with Bill that we do need something more in the immediate term to begin tackling the problem.  Regardless, this is what we have at the moment and any plan being kept under wraps would likely be a breach of Sunshine laws if agreed upon by all of city hall.

Finally this week we’ll take a break from politics and be visited by a long-time former SBMC member Donn Carr who is an international Real Estate & Business Consultant as well as a motivational speaker.  When Donn was here in Jacksonville, he was the General Manager of the Avenues Mall.  Most noteworthy to many of you, Donn sponsored the bar every year at our Holiday Party to ensure all of his friends had a fantastic time.  He tells me he has something “special” in store for next week but won’t even share what it is with me.  Also as he doesn’t often make it in town, Donn advised he’ll be visiting our member Aromas for happy hour around 5:30 with a few of our mutual friends, any who would like more time to catch up are invited to join.

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