15 Years…

Jerrod Miller

Fifteen years is a long time.

Fifteen years is the blink of an eye.

Fifteen years ago this month, Jerrod Miller lost his life at the age of 15 outside a school dance at the Delray Full Service Center.

Just like my daughter, Jerrod would be 30 years old today if not for a bullet fired on a crisp February night by a rookie Delray police officer.

Jerrod Miller died exactly 7 years to the day before Trayvon Martin, 17, lost his life after an encounter with a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida.

People remember Trayvon. I’m afraid that Jerrod might be fading from memory in the consciousness of the larger Delray Beach community.

Oh, I’m sure his friends, family, neighbors, congregants at his church and his teachers still grieve his loss as I do. But the lessons we were supposed to learn, the strides we were supposed to make are at risk on this somber anniversary of a tragedy which also happens to dovetail with Black History Month.

Delray like so much of America wrestles with race. We have a fraught history in this community. We have a dividing line at Swinton. We are diverse but segregated at the same time. Sometimes it makes for a combustible mix.

In a little more than a month, we will head to the polls to choose from among a slew of candidates for two city commission seats. If we are Democrats, we will also vote for a challenger to take on President Trump.

Ironically, I was at Mar A Lago, the night Jerrod Miller was shot while driving his uncle’s Cadillac in our southwest neighborhood, a place now known as The Set. I saw the future president that night as he whisked by and never dreamed he would be president. I was not at his gold leafed resort for a political function that night but rather a charitable event. My phone would ring in the early morning hours with the news of the fatal shooting. I knew immediately that life would not be the same.

When police shootings occur, a dynamic occurs—a tornado of media, lawyers, union reps, police investigators, prosecutors, media, activists, hate mail, threats, anger, anxiety and crushing sadness.

Absolute crushing sadness.

As a mayor, you become isolated—from your colleagues on the commission and from everyone really. It’s a lonely place and there is no playbook to reference.

I think of that lonely place whenever I hear of bad things happening. I know there’s hurting families, anxious policymakers and sad police officers in whatever community bears the byline of tragedy.

For 15 years now, I have had recurring dreams about a young man I never knew in life. I saw him only once—in a casket, at his funeral—at the 7th Day Adventist Church in our northwest neighborhood. I met and admired his pastor. I knew his father—not the biological opportunist who showed up after the shooting–but the man who Jerrod knew as his dad.  And I met his grandmother who sat quietly with us in a room at Old School Square during our race relations workshops.

Over the years, I have met his friends, a cousin and his twin brother Sherrod, a young man deeply haunted by the loss of his brother. We had a tearful meeting a few years back along with several police officers who were on the scene that fateful evening. We tried to reach Sherrod. I think he wanted to be reached. But we failed….he failed too. For now anyway…maybe someday.

Sometimes that’s what happens, but it is so very hard to accept.

In a month or so we will choose elected officials and who we choose matters. Yes these people will be tasked with the usual—how to manage growth, how to keep the millage rate from spiking and how to keep up with the needs and controversies of a bustling city/village.

But they might also find themselves dealing with something wholly unexpected—an act of violence, a natural disaster or in the case of Mayor Dave Schmidt who I sat next to for three years on the dais, the presence of terrorists in little old Delray. Stuff happens, as they say.

Me…I’m concerned about race relations in our community. I have been for a long time now.

There are real issues out there: equity issues, housing issues, the need for jobs and opportunities for our children and grandchildren.

There are social issues too—abuse and neglect, poverty and addiction that touch every part of this city.

And there are political issues too—feuds and splits wrapped up in race that have stoked anger, resentment and sadness.

When you ignore a toxic brew of emotions they tend not to dissipate but to fester. That’s dangerous.

Powering ahead does not solve anything—there will be a reckoning and often times reckonings are ugly.

Here’s hoping that whoever is elected or re-elected in March that they stop and consider the important work of community building and improved race relations. We might not be able to heal our divided nation but we can make a difference right here in our community. We can set an example.

If we don’t try we will continue to fray at the seams—ever so slowly…until one day we break.

 

 

 

 

Fourteen Years Gone

Jerrod Miller

Fourteen years ago yesterday, Jerrod Miller, 16, was shot and killed outside of the Delray Full Service Center by a rookie Delray Beach police officer.

Jerrod was shot exactly 7 years before Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida sparking a national conversation that still boils.

In the ensuing years, we’ve experienced countless stories that are eerily similar.

I’m not sure how many people are thinking of Jerrod Miller these days in Delray, but I am. I think about him all the time.

I know a few police officers are thinking about him too because I got a text from one of them. I used to get a lot more—time passes I suppose.

When the shooting happened, we heard over and over again how Delray would never be the same and I suppose in some ways that is true. If you were there, if you were his brother, father, grandmother, relative, friend or teacher you most certainly were changed by what happened.

But time marches on, relentlessly. And so does life. It’s a cliché sure, but reality too.

Today, most people probably don’t know what happened in a breeze way at a school that now serves as an adult education center. Back in those days, it was an alternative school.

But I remember and I will never forget. That’s why I am writing this today…a very small way to keep a memory alive.

We’ve lost a lot of young men and women to gunfire in the 14 years since we lost Jerrod.

That’s a real national emergency if you ask me.

But I’m afraid we are becoming immune. I fear that our hearts are hardening.

I heard about a fatal shooting in Delray a few weeks back, but I don’t remember seeing much on the news and nobody I knew really talked about it. Maybe we’ve become numb to violence. I sure hope not.

Because the day we become numb to violence is the day we become untethered from our humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

13 Years

Jerrod Miller

Thirteen years ago today, Jerrod Miller, 16, was shot and killed outside of the Delray Full Service Center by a rookie Delray Beach police officer.

Jerrod was killed exactly 7 years to the day before Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida sparking a national conversation that still boils.

In the ensuing years, we’ve read about Freddie Gray, Ferguson, Missouri and a whole slew of incidents that have engulfed young men of color, police departments, communities, schools and our nation’s soul.

I’m not sure how many people are thinking of Jerrod Miller today in Delray Beach where we seem to be focused on gutter politics and whether this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a 50 year tradition will be the last because of a few myopic elected officials who don’t understand what it means to be a steward.

All of those things are important—who serves in office and whether community traditions continue or are shooed way.

But they also pale when viewed through the prism of a basic question; whether we are a good place for children and families to live.

Jerrod was my daughter’s age in 2005. I think of that often, every time I see my first born and marvel at the young woman she has become. She’s a teacher now, but back then she was a student at Atlantic High School and the kids were shaken about what happened the night Jerrod was shot. Samantha was given the opportunity to grow up, go to college and launch a career. Jerrod didn’t have that opportunity. And I think about him all the time.

For 13 years, I have had recurring dreams about a young man I never knew in life. I saw him only once—in a casket, at his funeral—at an 7th Day Adventist Church in our northwest neighborhood. I met and admired his pastor. I knew his father—not the biological opportunist who showed up after the shooting, but the man who Jerrod knew as his dad.  And I met his grandmother who sat quietly with us in a  room at Old School Square during our race relations workshops.

Ironically, I was at Mar-a-Lago, at a charity fundraiser the night of the shooting. I had no clue that life would change for so many with a middle of the night phone call that informed me of the news.

When police shootings occur, a dynamic occurs—a vortex of media, lawyers, union reps, police investigators, prosecutors, media, activists, hate mail, threats, anger, anxiety and crushing sadness.

Absolutely crushing sadness.

As a mayor, you become isolated—from your colleagues on the commission and from everyone really. It’s a lonely place and there is no playbook to reference.

I think of that lonely place when I see things happen—in places like Ferguson, Baltimore and yes Parkland because I know there’s hurting families, anxious policymakers and sad police officers.

In my case, I was walled off from the officer because of the investigation but I felt for him and his family. I tried not to pass judgment, I tried to think of him as a 23 year-old man. And when my son hit that age, I realized just how young that is. Jerrod was shot while allegedly driving erratically near a school dance. It all happened in a matter of seconds.

I’ve always been a fan of the Delray Beach Police Department and public safety professionals in general. I rode with them as a young reporter, got to know them as people and marveled at the complexity of their jobs and how well they performed. There is no Delray Beach as we know it, without their stellar work. They made it safe to live, work and play here but that challenge is ongoing and we must strive to be the kind of city that protects those who protect and serve us. So when the narrative emerged after the shooting of a rogue police department, I knew from personal experience that it wasn’t true. Of course, there was a fraught history–and that matters. Like America itself, Delray has struggled with race. But we were hard at work on the issue. We may have been imperfect, slow at times, blind to things but there were sincere efforts in our city to bridge the divide–to talk, engage and work together. Bridges had been built, relationships had formed and they were real and we would rely on them in the tough days ahead.

I also felt deeply for the family, friends and teachers who were shocked by the shooting.

We were isolated from the family as a result of the investigation, the inevitable litigation and other factors including an inquest, a rare event that was ordered in the case. I did spend time with several of Jerrod’s teachers who came to see me racked with emotion. We also spent a lot of time in the community answering questions, listening and praying.

But all during this time I was also thinking about another young man—Sherrod, Jerrod’s twin brother.

I asked  officers and community members for any information on him. I was told he was devastated and angry. Who could fault him. I’m sure there was confusion too.

I never did get to connect with Sherrod at the time. But I never stopped thinking about him.

I was saddened to read newspaper headlines a few years later detailing trouble that he had found.

He ended up doing time.

But a few years ago, he re-emerged. I got a call from an officer/friend who said Sherrod wanted to meet me and a few other  police officers including the chief. He wanted to see us. He had something to say.

And so we met, quietly in an office at City Hall. I was nervous about the meeting but anxious to see him too.

I’ve never written about this part of the story before but it’s important to share.

When Sherrod walked in the first thing you noticed was his size—6’5” and strong.

He was heavily tattooed and clearly someone who had seen a lot in his short life.  And yet there was something about him too that I just can’t describe–maybe the word is vulnerable.

When he saw us, the emotions were raw. He shook hands with all of us but it quickly fell into an embrace and a few tears.

It was very powerful.

For all of us.

Seasoned police officers who have seen it all and then some. Officers who had been called to the scene 13 years ago and were  very moved by what they saw.

We talked and talked some more. A lot poured out. Prison. Anger. Anger at Delray police. The searing pain of losing a brother. A twin; someone who feels a part of you. And a realization that the cycle has to stop. If at all possible, the anger had to be let go. Sherrod wanted to apologize to us, for things he had said and done. We told him it was OK and not necessary. We just wanted him to live a decent life. We were sorry that we didn’t help him and he needed a lot of help.

We vowed to help Sherrod get started again.  And we did. A job. Support. Advice.

I’d like to say that we all grew close. For awhile we texted, his preferred method of communication– with me anyway. Then the texts bounced back. His number must have changed.

And we lost touch.

He got arrested again. You can look up the details.

I keep tabs via the Internet.

On this, a sad anniversary, I pray he finds peace. I pray we all do.

I share these stories on the anniversary because I believe that it’s important that others know what happened on Feb. 26, 2005 in the village by the sea.

At the time, many felt Delray would never be the same. That’s how big this was. But I find we move on, maybe not the families, maybe not the direct participants, but society moves on.

There have been other violent deaths in Delray since. There have been young people gunned down by other young people right here in our community. And life goes on, as I suppose it should and must.

But my hope is that with every loss we would learn something that makes us better people and a better, closer community.

Until that happens, we will continue to fray–inch by inch– until  eventually we break.

 

 

Remembering

Jerrod Miller

Jerrod Miller

Eleven years ago today I got a call from the Police Department informing me that there was a fatal shooting outside a school dance in Delray Beach.

Jerrod Miller, 15, was shot and killed while driving his uncle’s car near a breezeway at the Full Service Center, in our southwest neighborhood. A rookie police officer pulled the trigger.

I was mayor at the time and had the spent the evening at Donald Trump’s Mar A Lago (who would have guessed about the Donald?) for a charity fundraiser. I left Palm Beach feeling on top of the world.

That feeling ended when the phone rang in the early morning hours. There is no playbook to reach for when a 15 year-old child is shot and killed by a police officer in America.

The shooting happened exactly 10 years before Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, way before Ferguson, Black Lives Matter and the volatile shooting in Chicago that has engulfed that city’s mayor and cost the police chief his job.

My daughter, now 26, was also 15 when Jerrod was killed. I think that may be why the loss affected me in a very deep and very personal way. I couldn’t imagine losing a child. There are still mornings when I wake up to image’s of Jerrod’s face from a dream.

Never let them tell you that being a small town mayor is an easy job.

I share this because it’s important to remember these types of events because they tend to shape who you are and what you become as a community. The incident—which was a tragedy for all involved—was remembered last year— the 10 year anniversary. But these critical events need to be remembered every year, because it’s important to do so.

History can be a great guide for your present and your future if you take the time to understand it.

The Commissioners I served with valued race relations and we were working on improving our dialogue before the shooting. I think our efforts and the huge strides made before we arrived—especially by our Police Department—helped us cope with a terrible tragedy without widespread violence and recrimination. The leadership of people like Elizabeth Wesley, Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Pompey, Vera Farrington, Commissioner David Randolph, Zach Straghn, Evelyn Dobson, Pame Williams, Carolyn and Joe Gholston and many others also made a difference in our community. We had a deep reservoir of work, dialogue and progress to draw on when tragedy struck.

That does not mean that the situation wasn’t deeply painful or easy—I can assure you it wasn’t. But we never came apart as a community because there were relationships and efforts under way for years to address deep seated issues. And because we dug even deeper after Jerrod. We found that we shared a common love for our city and a common passion for improving the lives of all people in the village. So we talked, we met, we cried, we prayed and yes at times we argued–but we never wavered from a foundational commitment to each other and to Delray.

That commitment was not lip service, it was real. Significant dollars were spent in impoverished neighborhoods, programs were supported, strategies to help schools, families and children were not just talked about but were implemented. Community policing built bridges and made people feel safer in their homes and neighborhoods. It was a commitment–a covenant–and it went both ways because citizens were asked to volunteer, step up, lead and take risks and they did and it made a difference. There is never an end to this type of work. Nor should there be. But it’s about more than dollars, even though money and investment is important. It’s about relationships and building community. And it’s about trust and love.

That’s why we made it through, even though there was pain that words cannot describe.

Race has been America’s Achilles heel since our nation’s founding and it has been an issue in Delray for over 100 years.

Recently, there have been mentions of race and the Swinton dividing line on issues ranging from the design of Old School Square Park and where to direct CRA investment to the makeup of city boards and the staff, board and audience of the Arts Garage.

These are issues that need to be surfaced and understood—but the worst thing we can do is apply lipstick and declare victory.

When we started the Race Relations initiative as part of the Downtown Master Planning process it was meant as a long term initiative and this type of work needs to be considered as a long term commitment to fostering better relationships, more understanding and more opportunity.

I think Community Benefits Agreements are good in concept, but the true goal ought to be broad based, long lasting opportunity and prosperity. The only way to achieve that is to improve the capacity of the communities we are trying to lift up. You have to talk about developing human capital and we have a huge amount of it. Otherwise, it becomes about steering money to the politically connected few at the expense of the many.

Efforts like Delray Students First, Village Academy, Milagro Center, Dare 2 Be Great, the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, the Achievement Center, Delray Library and yes Old School Square and Arts Garage are all valuable tools for growing capacity and developing human capital.

But there are gaps—we are in an entrepreneurial and technological age and we ought to be investing in programs that teach both—like Girls Who Code, Wyncode, General Assembly etc.

In addition, there are tools and programs to strengthen neighborhoods. We were once very active in Neighborhoods USA and worked with local foundations on leadership training and capacity building. These are valuable tools to help encourage and inspire current and future leaders.

If you don’t do these types of things, you end up with spray paint “solutions” that wash away when it rains—and it will rain.

Optics will not work over the long haul. The term implies that you are merely concerned with how things look. Nope. Sorry, that doesn’t cut it. Your work has to be real and it has to be meaningful. And your commitment has to be long lasting.

You have to dig deep.

It has to be about love.

 

 

10 Years Gone

forever

Today marks 10 years since the death of Jerrod Miller.

Today also marks the anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death in Sanford, Florida.

After witnessing the protests in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City this year, I am grateful that we were able to keep the peace in Delray Beach in 2005. That we were able to do so does not mean that the shooting did not cause searing pain in our community, it most assuredly did. And still does.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Jerrod and his family. He was the same age as my daughter when he died and his loss resonated with my family in a very personal and deep way. I often see his face in dreams and I still pray for him and his family.

I’m often asked why we didn’t spiral out of control when Jerrod, 15, was shot by an off-duty rookie police officer while driving a car outside a school dance at the Delray Full Service Center.

There is no short or simple answer to that question, I’m just grateful that we were able to grieve and communicate in a way that did not tear us apart or hurt others.

There is no playbook to turn too when tragedies like this occur. But there are certain values that communities can embrace  that can help when tragedies occur.

Former Police Chief Rick Overman used to talk about building a reservoir of goodwill in the community. He would tell me and others that in his line of work, it was not a matter of  if bad things would happen, but a matter of when. He wanted his department –and his city– to have a reservoir of good will to draw upon when tragedy would strike.

So community policing is not just a feel good PR exercise. It’s an effective strategy for officers to connect with the people they are sworn to protect and serve. Relationships between law enforcement and communities are critical. If you don’t have a good one, all bets are off when bad things happen and they always happen.

We tend to focus on pensions and wages when we talk about police these days. But the plain truth of the matter is we would not have the Delray that we know and most of us love if we did not have a very, very good and effective police department. In order for people to invest and take risks on businesses, development projects or even buying a home in a community they first have to feel safe.

The Delray Police Department made our success possible. That is not to say that we don’t have problems: we do. We suffer from too much crime, drug addiction and other immense challenges. And this is not to say that we have a perfect PD. But make no mistake, this not an easy place to be a police officer and we have been blessed with some great ones.

As a result, today I feel safe downtown. And when I moved here I didn’t.

Community policing,, traditional law enforcement, great detective work and special programs such as Kids and Cops, Toy Drives etc., helped us enormously in the run up to and in the aftermath of Feb. 26. 2005. So did personal relationships between officers and community leaders and between elected officials and members of the community.

I was blessed to have served with a very good city commission. We got along. What a concept.

They supported me and you need that support;  because when you sit in the mayor’s chair during shootings and hurricanes the buck stops with you. It can be a lonely and overwhelming job but it helps to know that people have your back. It’s not all ribbon cuttings and chicken dinners.

But you can’t be effective on your own. You need a team. The entire commission and many key people on city staff stepped up and kept the lines of communication with the community open. Commissioner Alberta McCarthy especially–did yeoman’s work during this critical time.

So today, on the 10th anniversary of a very sad day in Delray, I remember Jerrod and his family. And I pray for our city and for all those who live here and all those who protect and serve.

 

Water Cooler Wednesday: Ferguson & Delray

Ferguson, Missouri.

Ferguson, Missouri.

The disturbing images from Ferguson, Missouri have been dominating the news for over a week now.

My friends from outside of Delray Beach have reacted with a mixture of reactions; most of them have tuned it out and turned the channel to preseason football.

But for those of us who lived in Delray Beach in February 2005, the reaction is quite different and can be summed up with this phrase: “this could have happened here.”

Yes, it could have.

And I have been asked repeatedly in the past week why it didn’t.

The short answer is: I don’t know for sure. But I do know some things that I think helped.

For those unaware, on a February night in 2005, a rookie police officer shot and killed 15-year-old Jerrod Miller outside a school dance at the Delray Full Service Center.

The officer was white. Jerrod was African American.

Jerrod was shot after he was stopped by the officer outside the dance while driving his uncle’s car. He did not have a license. In a split second–that would forever alter this community and several lives–Jerrod made the decision to hit the gas and pull away from the officer.  The officer fired and….

So Ferguson is different for those of us who were in Delray in February ‘O5. It feels closer, it rekindles memories, it triggers anxieties and it touches nerves we thought were long ago soothed.

It turns out they weren’t. Sure, life goes on. It always does, but we were altered by the experience.

And Ferguson brings it back.

So did Trayvon Martin, which happened exactly five years to the day after Jerrod Miller.

The Miller shooting was big news in 2005. We had protests and demonstrations. Delray felt tense and emotions were very, very high. But we did not have violence. The community did not break apart.

A local journalist called me this week and asked about Jerrod and why Delray did not spiral out of control like Ferguson. A former head of our Clergy Association who is now the Episcopal Bishop in New Jersey also reached out to share a sermon he plans to deliver this Sunday. Several friends and former colleagues emailed, texted and called just to talk about Ferguson and our experience in Delray.

I’d like to think that the strength of our community kept things in check. We did have protests. We did have anger. We experienced lots of emotion, but we didn’t become Ferguson or Sanford. Maybe, we were lucky; or maybe 15 years plus of community policing and decent leadership helped to keep things from getting violent and destructive. I do know that our elders stood up for keeping the peace. So did our clergy, elected officials, city staff, police officers, non-profit leaders, educators and everyday stakeholders. I think all of that and some things I don’t know about helped.

When I was first elected way back in 2000, I was a young man with lots of dreams, drive and ambition. I was also a tad naïve—especially about politics. Sometimes being naïve can be a good thing—you don’t know your limits so you strive. And sometimes it can bite you. But I was also very coachable and eager to learn from those who came before me.

As a rookie commissioner I went to visit our then Police Chief Rick Overman. Rick was older than I was. He had already had a career in Orlando before coming to Delray where he transformed our department. By the time I was elected he had been in Delray for almost a decade. As a newspaper reporter, I had gotten to know him and I was a student of his reform strategies and his leadership style. I saw him as a visionary and a highly effective leader. Arguably the best I’ve seen, up close and personal.

So I was all ears when I went to talk to him in my new role as a commissioner. I told Chief Overman that I wanted to heal some community divisions and invest in some neighborhoods that I felt had been neglected. I wanted to build on some of the relationships and successes he had made possible as a result of community policing.

Rick looked me in the eye and said the following: “In my line of work, and now yours, it’s not a matter of if something is going to happen, but when. That’s why every day I look for opportunities to build up a reservoir of good will, because I know someday I will be forced to draw down on that reservoir and when I do I need to know there is something to draw down on.”

Those words resonated with me and with many others that Rick influenced during his tenure in Delray.

There is no playbook when tragedy strikes. But it helps to have a reservoir. It helps to have relationships.

I am reading lots of stories about promises to change Ferguson. “If only people would get off the streets and go home, we will do x, y and z.  These are after the fact attempts at reform. Reactive not proactive.

Truth is, we were busy community building in Delray long, long before that sad night in 2005. I think that helped us. We drew down on the reservoir, but we at least we had one.

I hope and pray we still do.

Because you don’t just fill a reservoir and forget about it. Like a garden, a city and the relationships within the city, need to be tended to or weeds start to grow.

If problems aren’t addressed they don’t magically disappear, they fester and tend to get worse.

I think Delray’s history of working together, Delray’s track record of engagement and community policing helped us in the wake of Jerrod’s shooting. We had leaders we could turn too, successes we could point too and most important of all, we recognized we had a lot more work we had to do and that was acknowledged.  We also acknowledged that this community has had a long and troubled history with race relations. We were attempting to discuss and address some of those issues prior to the shooting.

We also had earned some trust, which isn’t built overnight (although it can be lost in an instant) and we knew that trust is always fragile and that relationships require a lot of dedication and more listening than talking.

There is a lot of anger in society today.  There is desperation, dysfunction, crime, abuse of all sorts and economic despair. We can point fingers, we can cast blame and we do. But that doesn’t change the facts on the ground.

We were fortunate not to have the unrest we are witnessing in Ferguson. But we ignore the signals at our own peril.

In cities, issues are always interconnected and memories are long.

I used to get frustrated when slights from years ago were laid at my feet as if I had been responsible. Until I realized I was responsible, for at least trying to understand, listen and solve problems. When you step into a leadership position, you inherit it all, the good, the bad and the ugly and there’s plenty of all three. It’s your responsibility. Not to take it all on your own, a common mistake that “hero” leaders often make. But to lead a discussion and challenge others to work together to leave things better than before.

But the key piece to remember is that the moving parts all relate: you may not want development, but someone in the community needs a construction job or may work at a store, restaurant or office that you don’t want to see built. We may want to get tough with our cops on pensions, wages and benefits (and all are legitimate and important concerns to have) but you better realize that we need good officers to protect and serve a very complex community and that they deal with very dangerous situations multiple times a shift in this city. That costs money. Real money.

We may want to cut support to a library, a non-profit, an arts center or an afterschool program but you have to realize there’s a kid and a parent that find those services and programs important.

Filling the reservoir is always complicated. But it begins with constant conversation between leaders and they people they serve. They don’t serve you, you serve them.

You can’t serve if you don’t listen. And if you don’t listen…well turn on the TV and tune into Ferguson.