Chamber Follows in DLP Footsteps

Remember Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce President Kathleen Munson? Well, it looks as though the Chamber has decided to follow the Downtown Lakeland Partnership’s lead and ask state officials to do exactly what the Chamber should have asked for months ago.

You can read a PDF of the letter over at Empirical Polk. (No, I didn’t get a copy of the letter. Here is why.)

Josh accurately points out an error in the letter. CSX hasn’t publicly claimed 1,000 to 2,000 new jobs. I have no idea where the Chamber got that number.

I do have a couple of reactions to Josh’s post. Please don’t lump all of “Lakeland” with the Chamber. From the start of reporting here at Lakeland Local we’ve focused on the train traffic through Lakeland. Of course we mention the truck traffic. That’s being through. However, we expected Winter Haven and other Polk County bloggers would focus on that aspect of the project.

Speaking of that traffic, Billy Townsend figured that daily truck traffic on 60 would jump 13% to 23% based on CSX’s numbers.

Billy Townsend is the person in the state who knows the whys and wherefores of this project better than anyone. He works for a Tampa newspaper. I live in Lakeland and focus on this community. So, why did it take our questioning of CSX officials to point out the truth about the employment numbers? It took three questions to get an answer. Winter Haven officials should have taken CSX to task about those numbers as early as February 2006.

Here, and I believe in the Tribune, there has been a concerned effort to report accurate numbers. That’s difficult when dealing with CSX, and I understand, with Winter Haven officials. So, no, everybody on both sides isn’t pointing to the big numbers.

No single person I know has faulted CSX for skirting the DCA project size limit. Joked about — yes. Said, “well, what do you expect?” — yes. That’s what many businesses do. However, did Winter Haven public officials help CSX obscure the true size? They are people you elect to represent you, not CSX. I’m more concerned that county and other elected officials weren’t right in CSX’s business when this project started.

I thank Josh for publishing the letter so you can read it.

I do have an additional issue with the letter:

It states, “Our research has confirmed that, while the project will generate a positive economic impact for Winter Haven and our county with an increase in jobs and tax benefits.”

I’d like to see that research. One company’s “positive impact” is your “increased road building costs.”

10 thoughts on “Chamber Follows in DLP Footsteps

  1. Hello, Bob, it’s always good to hear your point of view of my posts.

    1) “reasonably accurate” does not equal “accurate.” Your referenced post still has the “8500” number first reported in 2006 and given as a “projection” as if you have trust in those numbers. You may. I won’t speak for you.

    2) The questions at the meeting were first about the number of permanent jobs CSX expected. It quickly became pointed at the approximate number of permanent jobs CSX could guarantee at their facility. I think the audience heard just how few that number would be. Especially considering how many employees are expected to move from the current facility.

    2b) I’ll quote from Billy’s post: “The CSX officials repeatedly and clearly – more clearly than I have ever heard them – said they don’t know if the second part of the ILC, the one that would produce most of the 2,000 predicted onsite jobs, will happen.” I don’t see your comment on Billy’s post.

    3) Billy’s been proven to be accurate over the years, and I believe I am. When I’ve missed something, I correct it. I’ll stand by what I wrote after the meeting.

    I didn’t see you at that meeting. Did you videotape it? Can I get a copy? I’d like to host it on Polk County Rail Hub

    As an aside: There were many people in the audience who seemed surprised that the guaranteed number was far less than the 8500 published on websites and in their newspaper.

    4) “New revelations” is your term and has nothing to do with I wrote in June or on Aug. 28. On the other hand, squishy numbers have been bandied about in numerous articles and on your web site. You can attribute “squishy numbers” to me if you like. I don’t think anyone else has used that term.

    Anyway, thanks for reading.

  2. Hello, Bob, it’s always good to hear your point of view of my posts.

    1) “reasonably accurate” does not equal “accurate.” Your referenced post still has the “8500” number first reported in 2006 and given as a “projection” as if you have trust in those numbers. You may. I won’t speak for you.

    2) The questions at the meeting were first about the number of permanent jobs CSX expected. It quickly became pointed at the approximate number of permanent jobs CSX could guarantee at their facility. I think the audience heard just how few that number would be. Especially considering how many employees are expected to move from the current facility.

    2b) I’ll quote from Billy’s post: “The CSX officials repeatedly and clearly – more clearly than I have ever heard them – said they don’t know if the second part of the ILC, the one that would produce most of the 2,000 predicted onsite jobs, will happen.” I don’t see your comment on Billy’s post.

    3) Billy’s been proven to be accurate over the years, and I believe I am. When I’ve missed something, I correct it. I’ll stand by what I wrote after the meeting.

    I didn’t see you at that meeting. Did you videotape it? Can I get a copy? I’d like to host it on Polk County Rail Hub

    As an aside: There were many people in the audience who seemed surprised that the guaranteed number was far less than the 8500 published on websites and in their newspaper.

    4) “New revelations” is your term and has nothing to do with I wrote in June or on Aug. 28. On the other hand, squishy numbers have been bandied about in numerous articles and on your web site. You can attribute “squishy numbers” to me if you like. I don’t think anyone else has used that term.

    Anyway, thanks for reading.

  3. I’m comfortable that I reported the statistics on February 21 as accurately as they were presented. They are extremely close to the numbers you insinuate your “questioning of CSX officials” produced. I never said I attended the June meeting so I’ll have to rely on your video. What I AM saying is that the essence of your your journalistic excursion had been previously reported. No video tape should be necessary.

    It’s fine if you want to re-report something. I question whether it was “new” information.

  4. I’m comfortable that I reported the statistics on February 21 as accurately as they were presented. They are extremely close to the numbers you insinuate your “questioning of CSX officials” produced. I never said I attended the June meeting so I’ll have to rely on your video. What I AM saying is that the essence of your your journalistic excursion had been previously reported. No video tape should be necessary.

    It’s fine if you want to re-report something. I question whether it was “new” information.

  5. (1) I’m also comfortable that you reported CSX’s numbers as given. I have had no reason to doubt your accuracy in reporting what CSX said.

    (2) “insinuate – v; to suggest or hint slyly” I think I’m pretty plain in what I reported. Billy’s quote above was better written, but made the same point.

    (3) The numbers have been bandied about, and I get the impression from your January report that CSX presented similar numbers as they had previously.

    (4) Maybe you’re missing the point, or the tone of language obfuscates the issue, but I urge you to read Billy’s quote again. I’ll place it here to make it easier to refer to:

    “The CSX officials repeatedly and clearly – more clearly than I have ever heard them – said they don’t know if the second part of the ILC, the one that would produce most of the 2,000 predicted onsite jobs, will happen.”

    (5) I’ll go out on a short sturdy limb and say Billy Townsend understands the history of this project better than anyone else in Polk County and even he saw a shift in CSX’s tone that night. I know I’ve said it ad nauseum, but Billy’s sentence was spot on.

    (6) The beauty of running this blog is it’s fine that I report on anything I want. I also don’t mind if you like or dislike my style. However, I’ll stand by the accuracy of my statements. I won’t worry how the tone affects you.

    I appreciate your connection to this project. I get the idea you think CSX is good for Winter Haven, Polk County, Florida, etc. That’s just the impression I get. I haven’t asked you directly.

    My position has been clear: give me realistic numbers, explain how you arrived at those numbers, show me the data. I’ll look at the information and come to my own conclusions. It isn’t just this project. I feel its my duty as a citizen to do my homework on those issues that affect my community. I expect the same out of my elected officials and community leaders. Our conclusions might be different, but I want to know theirs was also based on facts. Not speculation.

    I’ll say to CSX as I would to any elected official: “Don’t expect me to buy any “projections” if you can’t follow those simple steps.”

  6. (1) I’m also comfortable that you reported CSX’s numbers as given. I have had no reason to doubt your accuracy in reporting what CSX said.

    (2) “insinuate – v; to suggest or hint slyly” I think I’m pretty plain in what I reported. Billy’s quote above was better written, but made the same point.

    (3) The numbers have been bandied about, and I get the impression from your January report that CSX presented similar numbers as they had previously.

    (4) Maybe you’re missing the point, or the tone of language obfuscates the issue, but I urge you to read Billy’s quote again. I’ll place it here to make it easier to refer to:

    “The CSX officials repeatedly and clearly – more clearly than I have ever heard them – said they don’t know if the second part of the ILC, the one that would produce most of the 2,000 predicted onsite jobs, will happen.”

    (5) I’ll go out on a short sturdy limb and say Billy Townsend understands the history of this project better than anyone else in Polk County and even he saw a shift in CSX’s tone that night. I know I’ve said it ad nauseum, but Billy’s sentence was spot on.

    (6) The beauty of running this blog is it’s fine that I report on anything I want. I also don’t mind if you like or dislike my style. However, I’ll stand by the accuracy of my statements. I won’t worry how the tone affects you.

    I appreciate your connection to this project. I get the idea you think CSX is good for Winter Haven, Polk County, Florida, etc. That’s just the impression I get. I haven’t asked you directly.

    My position has been clear: give me realistic numbers, explain how you arrived at those numbers, show me the data. I’ll look at the information and come to my own conclusions. It isn’t just this project. I feel its my duty as a citizen to do my homework on those issues that affect my community. I expect the same out of my elected officials and community leaders. Our conclusions might be different, but I want to know theirs was also based on facts. Not speculation.

    I’ll say to CSX as I would to any elected official: “Don’t expect me to buy any “projections” if you can’t follow those simple steps.”

  7. Bob, we’re speaking at cross purposes, and I’ll take my awkward prose as my share of continuing that confusion.

    Yes, in February, your blog reported those numbers. They weren’t new numbers. Such numbers were reported on January 19, 2006. More than a year before your post.

    So, how are we speaking the same thing and getting different conclusions?

    Because in the meetings I attended before June, the number 8500 was the focus. That number was featured in almost every article from Jan. 2006 to June 2007.

    We’d hear over and over again that 8500 new jobs would come to Winter Haven. After June we’re not hearing that number. Why? I’ll post it again because it was pithy, and accurate:

    “The CSX officials repeatedly and clearly – more clearly than I have ever heard them – said they don’t know if the second part of the ILC, the one that would produce most of the 2,000 predicted onsite jobs, will happen. — Billy Townsend”

    In February 2007, you wrote: “Both Phase I and II combined are projected to employ at least 2,000 people on site and an additional 6500 indirect jobs across the County.” In your August 2007 post, I see neither of those numbers mentioned.

    Is that more succinct? Again, thanks always for explaining your position.

  8. Bob, we’re speaking at cross purposes, and I’ll take my awkward prose as my share of continuing that confusion.

    Yes, in February, your blog reported those numbers. They weren’t new numbers. Such numbers were reported on January 19, 2006. More than a year before your post.

    So, how are we speaking the same thing and getting different conclusions?

    Because in the meetings I attended before June, the number 8500 was the focus. That number was featured in almost every article from Jan. 2006 to June 2007.

    We’d hear over and over again that 8500 new jobs would come to Winter Haven. After June we’re not hearing that number. Why? I’ll post it again because it was pithy, and accurate:

    “The CSX officials repeatedly and clearly – more clearly than I have ever heard them – said they don’t know if the second part of the ILC, the one that would produce most of the 2,000 predicted onsite jobs, will happen. — Billy Townsend”

    In February 2007, you wrote: “Both Phase I and II combined are projected to employ at least 2,000 people on site and an additional 6500 indirect jobs across the County.” In your August 2007 post, I see neither of those numbers mentioned.

    Is that more succinct? Again, thanks always for explaining your position.

Comments are closed.