Saturday, April 21, 2018
Opinion

Guest column: Less criticism, more solutions, Lakewood Estates president says

My job as president of the Lakewood Estates Civic Association is to work to unite our neighborhood, to bring our residents together in a common effort to maintain our way of life, bolster our property values, keep our crime rate down and protect our children. Everyone can appreciate this job is not always easy, and our neighborhood in particular has issues with the equal-opportunity offending young drivers speeding through our streets, playing music over decibel limits, tossing litter from cars and engaging in occasional graffiti. I am known for dealing with this problem proactively and I do not let up on repeat offenders. For my doggedness, I am sometimes misunderstood, but I am more often praised for my hard work.

For instance, under my leadership and with the help of others, in 2009, our neighborhood was recognized with the Outstanding Achievement Award for Neighborhood Advocacy by then-Mayor Rick Baker and City Council Member Jamie Bennett because of our proactive approach to problem-solving, along with a cooperative attitude toward our neighboring associations and city departments. Today, our membership continues to grow (56 new members so far this year) and attendance at our meetings runs consistently between 70 and 80, and that includes attendance by homeowners and renters, black, white or other. The reason for that is simple: All of our residents have a concern over the quality of life in Lakewood Estates and that supersedes the perceptions of a small minority who level criticism toward me based on perceptions of race.

On the other hand, it goes with the territory that criticism sometimes comes my way. Sandra Gadsden's critical editorial of me overlooked some important factors. For instance, a former president of our crime watch, Connie Oliver, happens to be African-American. Ms. Oliver appreciates the hard work I do to keep our neighborhood peaceful, and furthermore stated, "My hat is off to Judy for having the perseverance to fight the uphill battle to keep our neighborhood peaceful, quiet, and safe for all. She knows that the problems in our neighborhood are shouldered by all, black and white, and that the troublemakers are also black and white, as well."

Lakewood Estates is one of St. Pete's nicest neighborhoods and I am proud of our diversity. We work together to take care of each other. The woman who needed her garage door painted was white; the woman who got a free xeriscaped yard was black. We didn't ask about the color of the people we helped last Thanksgiving, or the individuals who benefited from the huge quantity of cold-weather bedding and clothing we raised for Pinellas Hope. I am disappointed that so much credence was put into just three families critical of me personally, yet who do not take part in neighborhood activities, do not pay dues, do not come to meetings, and do not participate in the casual and formal activities of interacting with the neighborhood. That is their choice, but I hope these families, like so many of their neighbors, will join with us in conversations and work to protecting our neighborhood and bring their concerns forward in a meaningful, productive dialogue.

Judy Ellis has been president of the Lakewood Estates Civic Association since 2006.

Comments
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18