Thursday, June 25th, 2009 at 9:00am

John Christian and Elaine Renick Have Heated Email Exchange over Affordable Housing

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Leesburg District 2 City Commissioner and Senior Pastor for the Christian Worship Center, John Christian, had a heated email exchange with Lake County Commissioner, Elaine Renick, over her statements made at a commission meeting on the issue of Lake County’s Affordable Housing Program.  On Tuesday, May 19, 2009, Citizens for Better Government, L.L.C. released The Right Side of the Lake newsletter entitled “Lake County Expands War on Housing to the Poor”.  In it, we pointed out the callousness of Commissioners Renick and Stewart in regards to the poor.  The meeting infuriated Commissioner Cadwell to the point that he resigned from the Affordable Housing Committee and suggested Commissioner Renick take his position, since he no longer represented the sentiment of the board.

On that day, Commissioner Christian emailed (click here to see email string) Elaine Renick telling her, “If you come to Leesburg, I would show you how affordable housing can reduce crime, change neighborhoods, increasing self-esteem in children and families who have little or no hope, if it even matters.”  Commissioner Christian touted Chairman Cadwell’s effort in affordable housing by saying he “understood and stood with the city and helped educate many of your affordable housing advisory boards.”  He then talked about 10 real world single mothers in his church helped out by this program, and ended his email by saying, “This in no joke, this is no handout, this is about helping people.”

Commissioner Renick was none too happy with Commissioner Christian’s email.  She first tried to blame The Right Side of the Lake for slanting the truth, then she basically admitted changing the Program and said, “You can’t have the proposed timelines for the recapture provisions as presented in that plan.”  She then scolded Commissioner Christian by saying, “I would hope in the future you would take the opportunity and provide me the courtesy of discussing such an important issue with you rather than accepting the portrayal of the facts from on-line bloggers.”  Interestingly, Elaine Renick never addressed any of Commissioner Christian’s concerns nor did she care about hearing the stories of the 10 single mothers.  She was more concerned about him disrespecting her and Citizens for Better Government, L.L.C. exposing her positions.

In a follow-up email, Commissioner Christian took exception of Commissioner Renick’s tone and explained to her that he saw the meeting on DVD.  He even noted that county staff had presented contrary positions to her.  Then he told her about a meeting they had in which she interrupted a conversation between Scott Strong and himself, and at the time, she chose not to speak to him.  Commissioner Christian said, “The last time I saw you face to face you chose rather to not speak to me, although you took the liberty to speak to Scott Strong, you interrupted our conversation to speak.”

The follow-up email from Elaine Renick still tried to implicate blame on Citizens for Better Government, L.L.C.  Then, she said another totally callous and irresponsible statement, “If we disagree on how best to increase the number of people helped, then we disagree.  As long as you have seen the meeting, then you know that I reiterated the point a number of times that in order to help more people we have to replenish the funds.  A hand up, not a hand out was what I said.”  On the face to face meeting with Commissioner Christian she said, “I don’t remember that but I am so sorry.”

Do you know what Elaine Renick really just said?  Keep in mind, Commissioner Elaine Renick is a middle aged white woman who lives in a $600,000 plus home driving a Mercedes SUV.  In her mind, she knows how to better serve the people who need affordable housing more than Commissioner John Christian who is an African American minister who has been serving that community his entire life.  This is even after Commissioner Christian told her that he had 10 single mothers in his church who benefited from the Affordable Housing Program.

Then on top of that, we guess Elaine Renick is really color blind when she did not recognize one of the only African American elected officials in Lake County.  I guess she thought Commissioner Christian was a part of the wait staff, since that’s probably the only time she interacts with people of color.  Commissioner Christian is a former Director of the CDC and Board Member of Habitat for Humanity; no other official understands the affordable housing issue more than him.

The condescending tone of Commissioner Renick’s email to Commissioner Christian is extremely troubling and it shows a lack of respect for him and the African American community.  In addition, it is obvious that she has no understanding or empathy for those who need affordable housing, and these people are just a hindrance to her elite friends in the leftist environmental movement.  Renick’s form of racism is the worst because it’s ignorant and agenda driven over the real plight of poor people.

Since that County Commission meeting, Chairman Cadwell has resigned from the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and Fletcher Smith, the Director of Community Services, has resigned his position.  That in itself sends the message to us that Commissioner Renick has no business having anything to do with housing policies.  A blind man on crack cocaine could see the disdain Commissioners Renick and Stewart have for housing, and it seems that disdain is now spread to the poor and the African American Community.

Commissioner Renick has no business being on the Affordable Housing Advisory Board because she is not qualified and we ask the entire Lake County Board of County Commissioners to select Commissioner Hill, Conner, or Cadwell to that position.  The lives of real people are about to be affected by a person who has no understanding or concern for the struggles of working people and the poor – the stakes are too high.

Today, we spoke to Commissioner Christian and asked him if Commissioner Renick reached out to him to gain understanding about his community’s challenge in affordable housing.  His answer was “No”.  Commissioner Renick has made no effort to meet the 10 single mothers who have benefited from the program, there has been no communication since the May email exchange.  Commissioner Renick’s silence speaks loudly to her lack of respect and understanding of people in his community.

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