Rain and bone-chilling temperatures did not deter the standing room only crowd that attended the January 7, 2017 kick off of this year’s Hungry Club Forum of Savannah, Inc. is (HCFS) monthly Signature Roundtable and Open Forum. The forum featured Savannah City Manager Roberto “Rob” Hernandez as keynote presenter on “Visions and Strategies for the City of Savannah,” and was held in the Multipurpose Room of the WBS YMCA at 9:30 AM.
Hernandez, who has been on the job in Savannah for ninety days was relaxed, determined and thorough in his presentation which focused on his assessment of Savannah’s most pressing and long-term needs, and how this needs list might be approached by the Mayor and Council depending on the availability of funds. According to former State Senator Diana Harvey Johnson, a consultant to the HCFS, Hernandez has a three prong capability to be a top-notch City Manager for Savannah. His more than twenty-five years of progressive and responsible local government management experience is highlighted by his expertise in community economic development, public safety and military service.
Bishop Willie Ferrell, HCFS President, saw the hour and half long Open forum as the highlight of this month’s forum, as many people are interested in hearing from the new City Manger and interacting with him on what he views as priorities for the City. Among the varied issues and concerns discussed during the hour and a half long Open Forum were: 1) the seemingly disconnect between the Port of Savannah operation as one of the largest ports on the East Coast and the City of Savannah’s 26% poverty rate. A rate that has persisted now going on thirty years, 2) the lack of clarity with respect to the City’s plans for the Arena Project, which has been repeatedly advocated by African leaders and Westside residents as a community development priority, 3) City of Savannah residents are also Chatham County residents. County government must be approached with some of the same agenda items, 4) We cannot arrest away the problems of public safety and crime. We must also focus on the causes, more effective prevention and re-entry programs, 4) Present and long-term programs for infrastructure improvement and flooding, and 5) Minority Business Development and parity in the awarding of contracts, more programs for the elderly, homelessness, and dilapidated housing and other structures. For improved transparency, Hernandez agreed to provide quarterly progress updates on City projects.
The Hungry Club Forum of Savannah, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, community-oriented organization dedicated to providing quality educational, economic empowerment and cultural enrichment programs, and to bringing forth involvement and discussion of issues to move our collective community forward. For more information, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Julia Wright at 233-0855 or Diana Harvey Johnson at (912) 927-8425.