Mayor Marks Champions Municipal Home Rule Authority at U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting
June 27, 2014
Last week, Mayor John Marks joined hundreds of elected officials and leaders from around the nation at the 82nd annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Dallas, Texas. During the four-day gathering, city leaders met on a broad range of policy issues impacting America's cities, including the economic health of the nation's cities, minimum wage, immigration, early childhood education and school governance, municipal bonds, energy efficiency, transportation and infrastructure investment, housing, help for returning Veterans and the intersections between sports, race and politics in America.
During the meeting, Mayor Marks sponsored a resolution that addressed the importance of maintaining home rule authority for cities around the nation, which was adopted by the full Conference during the closing business session. Mayor Marks plans to introduce a similar resolution for consideration by the Florida League of Cities this fall.
"Ensuring that cities have the ability to provide services without interference from the state and federal government is critically important," said Mayor John Marks. "The ongoing assault on home rule authority is an issue that affects local governments across the nation. However, in recent years this issue has become increasingly problematic in Florida. With the passage of this resolution, I plan to continue fighting for the rights of local elected officials and city governments to act in the best interest of their citizens."
As Vice Chair for Transportation and Communications, Mayor Marks was also instrumental in the passage of a resolution that supports an open and free internet. The resolution was put forth in response to a recent ruling by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the ongoing debate on net neutrality in the United States. Additionally, the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement was announced, urging the federal and state governments to enact bipartisan legislation, policies and programs to assist mayors in their efforts to lead the nation toward energy independence, protect the environment and fight climate change.
Mayor Marks was also recognized for over a decade of service to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Mayor Marks has served in a number of capacities during his term, most recently as the Vice Chair for Transportation and Communications and as a Trustee of the organization. He has represented the U.S. Conference of Mayors at numerous conferences, both nationally and internationally, discussing issues such as Smart Grid technologies and economic development efforts.
"We congratulate Mayor Marks for his long-time service to the nation's mayors and the residents of Tallahassee," said Tom Cochran, USCM CEO and Executive Director. "Mayor Marks has brought a wealth of experience to the Conference of Mayors, and his contributions in the area of telecommunications have been invaluable. We thank him for his visionary guidance and owe him a debt of gratitude for his decade of service."
The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. www.uscm.org
Mayor Marks Invited to White House to Discuss National Plan to End Veteran Homelessness
June 3, 2014
On Wednesday, Mayor John Marks will participate in a meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., to discuss a national plan to end homelessness among Veterans. The meeting is being organized by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the National League of Cities and will encourage mayors to take part in the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. The Mayors Challenge seeks to solidify partnerships and secure commitments to end Veteran homelessness from mayors across the country in their cities by the end of the 2015 calendar year.
"Ending homelessness in our community and supporting Veterans have been longstanding priorities of mine," said Mayor John Marks. "As a Veteran, I am especially sensitive to the needs of those in our Veteran community, and I am committed to doing everything I can to assist these individuals. Thanks to the leadership shown by our local Veterans groups, service providers, and the Tallahassee City Commission, we have a strong chance to end Veteran homelessness in Tallahassee and Leon County by 2015."
The Tallahassee community has already made progress to reduce the number of homeless Veterans in Tallahassee and Leon County, which according to estimates may be as high as 400 individuals. During the meeting, Mayor Marks will highlight ongoing partnerships between local service providers and state and federal organizations that are working to assist Veterans and their families in Tallahassee. For example, the City of Tallahassee recently collaborated with the Big Bend Homeless Coalition and the Tallahassee Housing Authority to obtain rental assistance for homeless veterans. The City also acquired and rehabilitated a vacant 50 unit apartment building which was donated to the Homeless Coalition and is being used to house low income veterans.
Another key initiative is the North Florida Homeless Veterans Stand Down, an annual event that provides Veterans with free access to showers, food, clothing, medical services, legal and mental health services, and job counseling. The City of Tallahassee provided free bus service and bus passes as well as additional resources during the three-day event that served more than 200 Leon County Veterans.
"It is critically important that Florida's Capital City is represented at this meeting in D.C.," said Washington Sanchez, Chairman of the Florida Veterans Foundation and Director of the North Florida Homeless Veterans Stand Down. "Tallahassee's commitment to eliminating Veteran homelessness has served as an example for other Florida cities to follow."
Kickoff for Florida's Summer BreakSpot:
Free Nutritious Meals for Children
May 16, 2014
Local, state and national leaders will formally kick off Summer BreakSpot, a federal nutrition program that enables school districts, parks and recreation programs, faith-based groups, and other nonprofit organizations to serve free meals to children when school is out.
Following the program, attendees will have an opportunity to observe an afterschool supper served to children at the Palmer Munroe Teen Center at 6:00 p.m.
What: Site visit and media event to launch the Summer BreakSpot program
Jamie Nash, National League of Cities
Mayor John Marks, City of Tallahassee
Rich English, America's Second Harvest of the Big Bend
Sheila Costigan, Foundation for Leon County Schools
Robin Safley, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
When: Monday, May 19, 5:40 p.m.
Where: Palmer Munroe Teen Center, 1900 Jackson Bluff Road
Florida Mayors Urge President Putin to End Discrimination Against LGBT Citizens and Visitors
January 30, 2014
Today, Tallahassee Mayor John Marks, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman signed a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin (PDF), urging the Russian government to repeal the nation's controversial "anti-gay" law. The law, which was signed by President Putin in June of 2013, allows the Russian government to enforce a ban upon all forms of homosexual "propaganda". Under this measure, citizens and visitors in Russia that identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) can be subject to discrimination, fines, and incarceration.
The cities of Tallahassee, Orlando, and St. Petersburg each have Russian sister city counterparts:
- The City of Tallahassee and the City of Krasnodar, est. 1984
- The City of Orlando and the City of Orenburg, est. 1997
- The Cities of St. Petersburg, est. 2003
The letter, which was electronically submitted to the Kremlin this morning, was sent prior to the start of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and responds to President Putin's recent comments to the international community. An excerpt from the mayors' letter is provided below:
"While we are encouraged by your most recent statement that the guests of the Olympic Games will not 'have any problems', we remain concerned that the law condones a culture of intimidation and harassment toward gays that extends far beyond the span of the Olympic events. Surely, as billions of people from around the world look toward Sochi, it is our hope that they view displays of national pride, sportsmanship, and freedom, not those of intolerance and discrimination. Even more importantly, however -- once the Olympics Games have concluded, the spotlight subsides, and the guests return to their own countries -- the violation of human rights will continue so long as the law remains in effect."
Tallahassee Receives $40,000 Grant Award
for the iGrow – "Whatever You Like" Youth Farm
January 24, 2014
On Friday, Mayor John Marks accepted a $40,000 grant award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors during the organization's 82nd Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. The 2014 GRO1000 Gardens and Green Spaces Program, which promotes and recognizes mayoral leadership in the development of greenscapes across the nation, was awarded to the city of Tallahassee and the Tallahassee Food Network for the proposed expansion of the iGrow – "Whatever You Like" Youth Farm located on Dunn Street in the Frenchtown district.
In total, five cities were awarded the maximum level of funding:
- Tallahassee, Fla.
- Mesa, Ariz.
- Houston, Texas
- Miramar, Fla.
- Minneapolis, Minn.
"We highly commend the mayors in all five of these winning cities for their actions to improve the quality of life for all their citizens," said Tom Cochran, CEO & Executive Director of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. "Thanks to the outstanding work by these mayors, their citizens have access to healthy, natural food while uniting people of all ages and creating a sense of community."
The award will be dispersed over a three-year period and consists of monetary funds and product from The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company totaling $40,000. All funds and in-kind product will go directly to the Tallahassee Food Network, which applied for the grant in partnership with the Mayor's Office.
"Located in the heart of Tallahassee's historic Frenchtown district, the iGrow – 'Whatever You Like' Youth Farm represents the culmination of our community's efforts to enhance access to healthy foods, education and overall wellness for our city's youths," Mayor Marks said. "This project will serve as a model of what can be done when government and businesses work together with citizens to create something truly extraordinary."
The iGrow – "Whatever You Like" Youth Farm began operating in 2011 and to date has produced well over 2,000 lbs. of food for local residents. With the additional resources, the Tallahassee Food Network plans to expand food production and provide additional educational opportunities focused on healthy living and the importance of community-based food systems.
"The Tallahassee Food Network and the iGrow – 'Whatever You Like' Youth Group would like to thank its many partners and supporters in helping to make the Dunn Street Youth Farm a thriving enterprise where young people and city residents can learn and participate in the development of an amazing urban agricultural program," said Sundiata Ameh-El, Co-Coordinator of the Tallahassee Food Network. "The GRO1000 grant will be instrumental in assisting the program to continue to operate at the forefront of youth development, agricultural innovation and community engagement."
The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,399 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. www.uscm.org
The Tallahassee Food Network is a group of community activists dedicated to developing resilient, community-based food systems that will provide healthy, affordable food for all. http://tallahasseefoodnetwork.blogspot.com
iGrow is one of the Tallahassee Food Network's youth-focused initiatives. It emerged from and continues to be sustained by partnerships amongst the Frenchtown Revitalization Council and Frenchtown CDC; Tallahassee Food Gardens and the Tallahassee Sustainability Group; C.A.N.D.I. and Project F.O.O.D; the Damayan Garden Project; and the COPE Coalition. http://igrow-whateveryoulike.weebly.com/
Tallahassee Mayor John Marks and Auburn Mayor Bill Ham Place Wager on Outcome of BCS National Championship
December 30, 2013
Mayor John Marks and Mayor Bill Ham, Jr. of Auburn, Alabama have agreed today to a friendly wager, the results of which will be determined by the outcome of the January 6 BCS National Championship game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Auburn Tigers.
Marks, an alumnus of Florida State University, has complete faith in the nation's #1 college football team. "It's extraordinary to see what the Seminole football team, Coach Jimbo Fisher, and rest of the staff have accomplished this year," said Marks. "Auburn is also a great team, but if there's someone out there with any doubt as to who will win, I have one word for them: UNCONQUERED!"
If the Seminoles win, Mayor Ham will provide Mayor Marks with a gift of the world-renowned, freshly squeezed Toomer's lemonade, an Auburn tradition from Toomer's Drugs. Should the Tigers clinch the national title, Mayor Marks will send Mayor Ham a care package of the famous Bradley's sausage from Tallahassee's iconic Bradley's County Store
In addition to the wagers of lemonade and sausage, the mayor of the losing team will also make a charitable donation of $200 to the Boys & Girls Club of the winning city.
"I'm confident in what Coach Malzahn and this Auburn team are bringing to Pasadena, and I look forward to getting a taste of Bradley's sausage and to Mayor Marks' upcoming generous contribution to our local Boys and Girls Club," said Mayor Ham of the City of Auburn.
"We're honored to be a part of the mayors' wager," said Janet Bradley Parker, owner of Bradley's Country Store. "Our homemade sausage is a long-standing, cherished tradition here in Tallahassee, and we are proud that Mayor Marks would choose our business to represent the community. Of course, we'd much rather see a Seminole victory!"
Mayor Marks offered one final thought on the wager, "Regardless of the game's outcome, I am proud to be a Seminole. Go Noles!"
Mayor Marks Meets with Transportation Secretary Foxx to
Discuss Restoring Passenger Rail Service to the Gulf Coast
December 19, 2013
On Tuesday, Mayor John Marks joined a group of bipartisan mayors from around the country in Washington D.C. to discuss the importance of passenger rail service and the economic benefits it provides to cities. The mayoral delegation met with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who was the mayor of Charlotte, N.C. before being appointed to his post at the USDOT by President Obama in 2013.
In a presentation to Secretary Foxx, Mayor Marks spoke on the importance of restoring passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Jacksonville after it was suspended following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Mayor Marks highlighted the economic benefits that renewed passenger rail service could provide for cities along the route. He also emphasized how the recent local surge in public and private investment – for Gaines Street, College Town, and FAMU Way – is near the Tallahassee Amtrak Station and could be further enhanced by restoring passenger rail service.
"I want to focus the conversation on economic development," said Mayor Marks. "There are hundreds of millions of dollars – both public and private – that are being invested into developing the area within a mile or two of the train station. Restoring passenger rail service to Tallahassee would allow us to take advantage of this significant economic development tool."
The delegation's trip was sponsored by Transportation for America, a Washington based advocacy group. Transportation for America is an alliance of elected, business and civic leaders from communities across the country, united to ensure that states and the federal government step up to invest in smart, homegrown, locally-driven transportation solutions — because these are the investments that hold the key to our future economic prosperity.
Mayor John Marks Will Not Seek Reelection in 2014
October 1. 2013
Mayor John Marks of Tallahassee announced on October 1, 2013, that he will not seek a fourth term as mayor of Florida's capital city.
"Today, I am officially announcing I will not be seeking reelection as mayor of Tallahassee," said Marks. "I want to thank the good people who live in our city for the privilege you have bestowed on me and my family by allowing me to serve you these past ten years - it has truly been an honor."
Read the Full Story
Mayoral Accomplishments 2003 - 2013 (PDF)
Help Restore Amtrak Passenger Service to Tallahassee
February 27, 2012
Amtrak service in North Florida was suspended in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina caused damage to part of the Sunset Limited Route from New Orleans to Jacksonville. Repairs enabled the restoration of freight train traffic; however, Amtrak has not reestablished passenger service along this portion of the Sunset Limited Route. The federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 required Amtrak to submit a plan to restore passenger rail service between New Orleans, Louisiana and Jacksonville/Sanford, Florida; but the necessary steps detailed in this plan have yet to be implemented.
The State of Florida plans to spend $118 million dollars to reestablish service from Miami to Jacksonville, yet there has been no further effort to resume passenger service for North Florida. In light of this situation, 15 cities and counties in North Florida have passed resolutions supporting the restoration of Amtrak Service and the Sunset Limited Route.
You can do your part by letting your state and federal leaders know just how important Amtrak service is to you. Please take a few moments to email at least one of your state and federal elected officials and urge them to restore Amtrak passenger service to the people of North Florida.
Email Governor Rick Scott:
Email Senator Bill Nelson:
Email Senator Marco Rubio:
Find your State Senator:
Find your State Representative:
Find your United States Congressman: