Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Politics

St. Petersburg: A chat with new CONA president Lisa Wheeler-Brown

ST. PETERSBURG — Last week, longtime community activist Lisa Wheeler-Brown became the first black president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations.

Wheeler-Brown was first called to public service after her son was killed during a mysterious double murder in 2008. When no arrests were made and the case went cold, she pushed for answers, criticizing the "no snitching" culture and trying to get people to talk to police. She started a foundation to support victims' families and campaigned against the violence taking a toll in the black community.

She didn't give up, and earlier this year, thanks in large part to her work, her son's killer was sent to prison for life.

The Times spoke with Wheeler-Brown, 45, on Tuesday about her latest endeavor, taking the helm of CONA, one of St. Petersburg's most influential community organizations.

What do you think the biggest issues are facing the neighborhoods?

Public safety and community policing. And also we haven't been able to get really anything done with the (code department) for the past year, and that's what the neighborhoods are really screaming about.

What's your plan to rectify those issues?

Well, since we have a new mayor, sitting with him and just coming up with a plan. The neighborhoods that are participating in CONA really are looking forward to this new mayor and this new working relationship, so hopefully we can have a better relationship with City Hall, with the city, that can get some things done for the neighborhoods.

How significant do you think it is that CONA has elected a black female president?

Well, a change has come. I think with a new mayor, a new police chief and a new person over CONA, I think that's important because we want to move the city forward and this will give us all an opportunity to work together and kind of unify our community, and I'm all for that. I'm all for unity, and it's just not about the south side, it's about the north side, east, west — St. Pete as a whole.

On that topic of different neighborhoods, do you think that there has been a division in how black and white neighborhoods are treated as it relates to city services?

Yes, I do. Because each neighborhood is different and they have different needs. I live in Midtown and I could show you some pictures of how our neighborhoods look compared to the north side. I'm talking everything from the boarded-up houses to unkempt lawns. And don't get me wrong, because I know that it is on the north side also. I know that. But for some reason it seems that the south side is suffering a little bit more.

How do you think you can fix that?

Communicating better is one thing. That's where I'm going to start. Communicating better, following up and just not stopping until we have what we need in all of our neighborhoods.

Comments
Democrats jubilant, and newly confident about 2018, as Alabama delivers win on Trumpís turf

Democrats jubilant, and newly confident about 2018, as Alabama delivers win on Trumpís turf

The Democratsí seismic victory Tuesday in the unlikely political battleground of Alabama brought jubilation ó and a sudden a rush of confidence ó to a party that has been struggling to gain its footing since Donald Trump won the presidency 13 months ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

WASHINGTON ó Congressional Republicans on Tuesday rushed toward a deal on a massive tax package that would reduce the top tax rate for wealthy Americans to 37 percent and slash the corporate rate to a level slightly higher than what businesses and co...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

WASHINGTON ó President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed into law a sweeping defense policy bill that authorizes a $700 billion budget for the military, including additional spending on missile defense programs to counter North Koreaís growing nuclear w...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

WASHINGTON ó Donald Trump Jr., the presidentís eldest son, has asked the House Intelligence Committee to open an investigation into leaked information related to his closed interview with the committee last week."To maintain the credibility of the in...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

WASHINGTON -ó Itís the lock that launched a two-year investigation and took down a president. And now more than four decades later ó and for a starting bid of $50,000 ó it can be a really wonky conversation piece.Nate D. Sanders Auctions will auction...
Published: 12/12/17
Democrats say Trumpís tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

Democrats say Trumpís tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

WASHINGTON ó Plowing into the sexual harassment debate in a big way, President Donald Trump laced into Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday, tweeting that the New York Democrat would come to his office "begging" for campaign contributions and "do anyth...
Published: 12/12/17
Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ó National political leaders, a Hollywood actress and a retired basketball star made last-ditch efforts to woo voters in the Alabama Senate race Monday, as the candidates gave their final arguments in a pivotal special election that ...
Published: 12/12/17
PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump teamís falsehoods of 2017

PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump teamís falsehoods of 2017

President Donald Trump made many inaccurate statements in 2017. His White House team seems to be following in his footsteps when defending him. Some of Trumpís staffers have made the argument that it is valid to use inaccurate facts to bolster larger...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17
PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

President Donald Trump’s words can be at odds with reality, a fact we’ve documented again and again during his first year in office. His claim that the Trump-Russia investigation is a "made-up story" earned Trump our 2017 Lie of the Year....
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

TAMPA ó With the Republican tax bill poised to eliminate the opportunity, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Monday said it had refinanced a big chunk of its debt to save money in the future.The authority borrowed $152 million from the bo...
Published: 12/11/17