March 24, 2016

Minutes of the Rotary Meeting – March 24, 2016
By: Henry R. Seawell, IV
Invocation, Song, Music and Pledge
Robbie McClure called the meeting to order. Jimmy Lyon gave the invocation.
Larry Sindel led the song and pledge, accompanied by Les Greer on the piano.
Introduction of Guests and Visitors: Tommy Blankenship
Student Guest: The student of the week was Santajia Lindsey from C.F. Vigor High School, introduced by Saty Putcha.
Announcements: Rotarians were reminded of the upcoming District Conference, which is scheduled to be held in Orange Beach April 22-24, 2016. Les Greer gave an announcement regarding the status of the CART Program. To date, the Club has contributed $3,587.72 to the CART Program, monies that will help further the fight against Alzheimer’s.
Speaker: Jeff Carter, Executive Director of the City of Mobile’s Innovation Team (the “Team”), was introduced by Cart Blackwell.
Mr. Carter, a lifelong resident of Mobile and graduate of the University of South Alabama, discussed the current state of blight in the Mobile area and the Team’s efforts to mitigate these conditions. Mobile has the distinction of being one of eighteen cities in the United States that receive funds from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Team has used those funds, in part, to implement the Bloomberg Innovation Delivery Model to deliver adequate and effective public service.
According to Carter, Mobile has 1,256 blighted properties. These conditions have an adverse effect on property value estimated at $83MM and effect more than 13,000 homeowners. These blighted properties are generally dilapidated, open to the public and/or abandoned. Every property within a 150’ radius is negatively impacted.
In the past, the only method used by the City to remediate blight was using the criminal ordinances to levy fines or other penalties against property owners that failed to maintain. This has not worked, but rather served to further burden the court’s docket. A push is being made by the Team to better implement methodology aimed at the property itself. Specifically, many of the blighted properties are not marketable due to issues with heirship, clouded title, or tax issues. By tackling these deficiencies directly, the Team hopes to make the land saleable.
The Team has likewise instituted a “blight index” to rate the degree of blight. Fortunately, only 15% of these properties have reached the point where they are no longer salvageable and must be demolished. Presently, 25% of Mobilians live within 150’ of a blighted structure, but the Team has undertaken the lofty goal of reducing that figure to 20% by next year. Finally, Mr. Carter introduced the five member “Team Innovation,” all of which have impressive resumes and a unique skill set. The City of Mobile appears to be in good hands with Team Innovation tackling blight.
The meeting was adjourned.