by Mike Sharkey
The summer meeting of the Legislative Committee on Intergovernmental Relations is set for Monday at City Hall and the agenda is filled with enough items to interest just about anyone.
However, it’s the afternoon panel discussion on the foreclosure issue facing the state of Florida that may lure most people to the public meeting.
“It’s a huge problem in the state. We are where you don’t want to to be,” said Rip Colvin, executive director of the committee. “The number of people losing their homes in some areas is horrible. Lee County, where Ft. Meyers is, is called ground zero.”
The committee consists of four members of the State House of Representatives, four members of the State Senate and seven members appointed by the governor. The gubernatorial appointments are from all over the state.
“We sit as a legislative body and look at all governmental issues,” said Colvin, who is based out of Tallahassee.
Colvin called the reaction to Hurricane Katrina — which devastated the New Orleans area — the “mother of all failures” in regards to intergovernmental cooperation. He said Florida is pretty good about dealing with hurricanes, which must be addressed on three levels: federal, state and local.
“All three legs have to hold up their end of the bargain,” he said, referring to the informal agreement as a stool that must be kept flat by all three agencies working together. “In Katrina, the stool was level, but it was flat on the ground because the legs were gone.”
The current committee is chaired by State Sen. Tony Hill, who says foreclosure is one of the state’s biggest problems and one that affects everyone.
“You would not know it from the news, but foreclosures are putting families out on the streets every single day,” said Hill.
The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. in Council Chambers. Colvin said the morning session is devoted to several topics including the federal stimulus bill, town hall meetings across the state attended by LCIR staff members, emergency management issue and current committee projects.
After lunch, there’s a panel discussion devoted solely to the foreclosure problem. Colvin said the panel will include a representative from the offices of both U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez; a representative from State CFO Alex Sink’s office; a representative from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; April Charney from Jacksonville Area Legal Aid; a representative from the City of Jacksonville; and representatives from the banking industry.
The meeting is open to the public and will be streamed live on the City’s Web site.