Some of our city council members want to silence the voices of the people of Pine Bluff. How else can you explain voting against the Go Forward Pine Bluff (GFPB) Ordinance on the agenda for Monday, April 3rd city council meeting?

Voting against GFPB takes the rights and power away from the people of Pine Bluff, believe that! Gentle reader, the Pine Bluff City Council’s vote on April 03, 2017 is not an endorsement by any council member; rather it gives the people in Pine Bluff the right to make their voice and opinions heard.

Over the last two decades, Pine Bluff has been on a downward economic and quality of life spiral; leaving the city coffers on revenue life support.

There is a minuscule amount of revenue available to retain good police officers, firefighters, to remove blight, abandon and dilapidated houses, cut grass, clean ditches, repair streets, among other needs, this is what tax dollars do, but when revenue is lacking services go lacking.

We the people of Pine Bluff stand at the threshold of life or death mainly at the hands of some council members. We the people can do two things, (1) we can fight together for the survival of our city by showing up at city council meeting April 3rd and speak out. (2) we can listen to the purveyors of untruth, be convinced to do nothing and die together.

We the people must fight for survival, and make something positive happen in this city. Gentle reader, the color is green, not black vs. white; it’s not deep! Revenue is what it will take to improve our basic services, period.

Pine Bluff is approximately 76 or 78 percent African American yet we own no car dealerships, no major grocery stores, banks, or big businesses which produce hundreds of jobs for the people. If this proposal should die on the vine April 03, 2017 at the city council meeting or fail during the election, either of these translate into citizens having to pay. Paying for the loss of jobs, the high crime which affects insurance rates, along with people leaving for a better quality of life and place. An abandoned house on your block depreciates property approximately 1,400 dollars.

Crime rates on blocks with open, abandoned buildings are usually twice as high as rates on control blocks without open buildings. Where there are open buildings, 83 percent of these structures will reveal evidence of illegal use by prostitutes, drug dealers, and property criminals.

Crime is always greater in cities where there are scores of dilapidated and abandon houses. Our inner city is a mess, and yet the debaters and naysayers have no plan to revitalize Pine Bluff. I re-emphasize, no big box stores or major chain restaurants will be rushing to Pine Bluff soon.

Any effort to stimulate economic development opportunities or to create financial capital flow, establish a sustainable economic base, employment opportunities, wealth creation, improved local infrastructure, education, will require a financial investment.

Rev. Jesse C. Turner, MS Community Economic Development, Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, NHExecutive Director, Interested Citizens for Voter Registration, Inc.