Local Government Program to Reward Charitable Acts Unveiled in St. Petersburg

goodneighborlogoThe Campaign of Dr. David McKalip for St. Petersburg City Council rolled out what it described as a “major policy initiative” this week in St. Petersburg.  The proposal has already garnered attention at a local political blog (“SaintPetersblog”) and was discussed extensively on the radio on Wednesday. The program would reward citizens volunteering to help neighbors directly with tax rebates, forgiveness of fines and tickets to city sponsored events like baseball games (Rays).  The full press release is reproduced below as well as a graphic detailing the program.

Program designed to encourage citizens to be rewarded for charitable activity and build a “Community of Neighbors” to be discussed on AM 1110 at 5 pm today.

 St. Petersburg, FL – Dr.  David McKalip, candidate for St. Petersburg City Council, released today a major policy initiative that he will pursue if elected. The initiative, called the “Good Neighbor Reward Program”,  seeks to reward charitable deeds and neighborly activity through tax breaks and other City perks. “Instead of another failed government social program, I want to bring our residents together to help each other and create a community of neighbors,” offered Dr. McKalip.

 Dr. McKalip continued: “For too long the politicians have asked us to trust them to end poverty, stop crime, create jobs, prepare people with job skills and help kids get a good education.  The citizens have watched politicians spend their tax money on well-meaning social programs that often fell well short of their goals.” Dr, McKalip continued:  “My Good Neighbor Reward Program will encourage the growth of the current good work people are doing one-on-one for each other.  Personal outreach of neighbors has always been more effective at building a better society and we should reward that behavior”.

 The program would work by creating a “Good Neighbor Registry” with the City and recruiting local charity partners who would organize charitable activities or accept donations in exchange for reward points. The activities would be verified by Partner Charities and recorded in the Registry by the charity.  This would keep costs low to none for the city and allow Charities to grow and prosper with donations and volunteer time.

 Rewarded activities could include things like: tutoring a child, helping a single mom with parenting, helping a rehabilitated prisoner return to society, transporting a senior citizen to the doctor or to get their groceries, driving for Meals on Wheels, working for Habitat for Humanity, Pinellas Hope volunteer time, neighborhood cleanups, crime watch, or any other activities that leave a positive impact on the community.

 The Reward Points earned through the program would be redeemable for such City benefits as: rebates on utility bills or property taxes, forgiven parking tickets or fines, free tickets to City-based events (Rays games, Grand Prix, Mahaffey Theater and more), and free or discounted access to City-based amenities like golf or museums. The program would pay its own way and ensure that those citizens who are helping their neighbors directly or through contributions can keep their money instead of sending it to the government through taxes. The program would also use pre-existing city-created benefits to reward citizens in ways that should incur no cost to the taxpayer.  Partners for the program would be recruited from local businesses and charities.

 Dr. McKalip explained: “The citizens of St. Petersburg know something that most politicians don’t know:  they can do more to improve the life of their neighbors with a few hours of their time than any government has ever done with years of good intentions. We are more likely to begin to address long standing issues of poverty, crime, jobs and education if individual citizens reach out to their brother and sister to help them find their path to freedom, prosperity and the dignity and pride of an independent, productive life.”

 The program will be described in detail on the premier episode of the Sun Beam Times Radio Hour, which airs today at 5PM on station WTIS, AM 1110 and is sponsored by the McKalip for St. Petersburg City Council Campaign. More information on the proposed Good Neighbor Reward Program can be found at http://www.mckalipforcouncil.com/a_community_of_neighbors.goodneighborRewardProgram