More talking and less shooting is needed

Published 8:10 am Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A week or two ago I was going into my house, and off in the distance I heard a lot of pops. There wasn’t any particular rhythm, just a constant irregular sound of pops.

I shook my head and said to myself “Shootout.” Shortly thereafter my mother told me she had heard that a shootout had occurred on Washington Street and that a bullet had lodged in an interior wall of the home of one of our church members.

Once again, I started to shake my head in disgust. My mind flashed back to City of Franklin Police Chief Hardison making his public presentation to the Franklin City Council regarding our local gang problem. He requested that the city hire more officers in order to beef up local law enforcement with the goal of stopping the advance of gang activity within the community, which I interpreted as giving the police department what it needs to stop shootouts and prevent murder in the streets and near the homes of taxpayers trying to live peaceful lives and lawfully tending to their business.

The mayor suggested to the council that it launch a task force to research this issue and make recommendations to the city on a course of action. So far, from what I can see, the city council has done absolutely nothing to address this problem. They have shown more concern about the removal of city decals from our car windshields. But, in my humble view, a taxpayer shot down by a stray bullet can’t pay taxes.

It would be more profitable for the city government to keep taxpayers alive so they can pay the government car taxes, SPSA charges and their fat checks to travel and eat chicken here and there, etc., than let the poor taxpayer get shot by gangsters who don’t pay taxes.

Maybe the City Council is blind or suffering from some rare form of group dementia. Anyone at just about anytime can drive down South Street and see packs of young boys shuffling around looking high and trifling. Just about all of them should be in school or somewhere getting job training, but maybe the City Council has a super secret plan that has yet to be unveiled to the public to get these delinquents off the street, to get their weapons out of their hands, to get the drugs out of their veins and protect the taxpayers in the vicinity from stray bullets.

It is clear that our situation is getting worse. We can’t wait for the City Council. We have to come together as a community and figure this situation out. If anyone agrees with me, let’s hold a ward meeting and get to work. Let me know. We can do this.

Let us come together and do the following:

Keep our neighborhoods clean and remove graffiti immediately.

Demand that the city repair all street lights and install new ones where possible.

Hire more police.

Develop and maintain crime prevention programs, neighborhood watch, anti-robbery, anti-domestic violence and abuse programs.

Develop local programs to increase employment and job-skills.

Let us also support involving our youth in public speaking contests. Everyone does not play ball, but most everyone can talk. A lot of these kids go to school disrupting classrooms by cracking jokes. They love to talk. They talk on the phone.  They talk back to their parents. They talk foolishness and negativity as they drag along, scaring senior citizens and little animals. They talk when they should listen. Let us unite and direct them to an activity that they have talent for.

We can get kids off the street to do something positive and uplifting. Instead of shootouts, we can have spirited debates. Instead of us watching their dingy underwear, as their pants drag the city’s sidewalks, we can watch them prepare for careers in business, politics and mass communications.

My son has been participating in public speaking contests sponsored by Lauren Davis.  He has won two contests, and he competed in a winner’s contest on Saturday. This is a triple “A” plus activity. The kids learn how to project their voices, diction and pacing. They learn to stand straight, pull up their pants, and they learn the body language needed for a successful speech. They even learn how to deliver a clear, concise and consistent message. All of this develops confidence and self-esteem in the child. It is free to enter. We just have to get them there.

I’ve been lobbying hard to get her to bring her program to Franklin, and she has agreed to come here and is shooting for November. Her public speaking contest is an excellent opportunity for our children to get a learning experience that they can’t get elsewhere. And the child who learns what is necessary to succeed at a contest, and executes on that new knowledge can win $150.  She holds contests in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Hampton.

For the winners of the local contests, she sponsors a quarterly winner’s contest for a $1,000 prize. The kids won’t have to sell weed or crack on the street — just work hard and make a good speech. Visit her Web site at Let’s have more talking and less shooting.

If you have questions, or want to promote a contest contact me at (757) 562-4291 or e-mail me at

Let’s come together, and make a difference.