For months, she or her page have written editorials (I count about eight in six months) that read like the work of high school girls scorned, lashing out at Lakeland generally and Paula Dockery, specifically. That mean hateful Paula, she took our boyfriend, errr, commuter rail away. Let’s toilet paper her house. I’m surprised they haven’t run Dockery’s picture with horns and a moustache drawn on it.
In Healy world, there is no other side to this story. No cities outside of Orlando have interests. CSX is altruistic. The idea of politicians other than Dan Webster working the system to protect the fiercely expressed wishes of their constituents is unfair. There’s no such thing as inappropriate personal interest or conflict or ethical question if it serves the creation of Orlando’s commuter rail plan. Jeb Bush is a forward thinking lover of mass transit. There’s one senator who is compromised and self-dealing, but it’s not JD Alexander, the one who stands to make lots of money off increased freight train capacity and who is deeply embedded with GrayRobinson, the mega firm behind much of this deal. (Yep, the same one with nice building on Lake Morton. Lakeland has one of the less important branch offices.) Only one region is acting selfishly, and it isn’t the one eager to dump its freight train problem on another. And Dockery hasn’t spent the last few months working on alternatives to the destructive Orlando plan.
My man Tom Palmer alerted me, via his blog, to Ms. Healy’s latest Dockery hit piece. Here’s the link.
And an excerpt: “Not only is she opposing the rail plan, she’s actually leading the charge against it. What a lady!”
What a lady, indeed.
Oh, by the way, it’s worth noting that one of the top spokeswomen for the Orlando commuter rail, Marianne Gurnee, worked for Healy on the editorial board of the Sentinel, and wrote about commuter rail, before leaving two years ago.
Healy says that’s no big deal, and she’s right. But in a deal where many aspersions have been cast upon many people, that piece of data should drop into the mix as well.
To her credit, Ms. Healy was nice enough to answer a few other questions I emailed to her, which is a hell of a lot more than I ever got out of David Greene.
Here’s how it went:
Me: Isn’t it true that your editorial board and paper as a whole have long complained and written about the hardships of having significant freight traffic in your downtown core?
Healy: Yes, we opposed the freight traffic. But even before that, we were adamant supporters of rail in the area. We campaigned for light rail and then commuter rail. The commuter rail itself, not the removal of freight trains, was our strongest concern.
Me: Have you ever visited Lakeland? Have ever asked a person from Lakeland to explain the impacts this deal is likely to have?
Healy: Yes, I’ve visited Lakeland. And I have talked with Paula Dockery about the impacts. She and I were in Leadership Florida together and enjoyed a good relationship.
Me: Did you ever talk to sentinel reporter Jay Hamburg about this issue and the potential regional impacts? I found him to be honest and evenhanded in his reporting.
Healy: I probably have talked with Jay about this but we did our own reporting on the end board and I do my own reporting now.
Me: Do you consider the relocation of freight from the A-line to S-line a part of Orlando’s commuter rail deal. Are the two materially related, in your opinion? Or are they separate issues? And if they are separate, as has been claimed at various times by various officials, why can’t Orlando simply take its federal and state money and start providing service without the relocation?
Healy: Billy, I really haven’t gotten into that. In my column Sunday, I was just commenting on the political aspect of Osceola County.
Yeah, sure she was.
Anyway, check out part two tomorrow. It’ll be a suggestion for what a responsible Sentinel editorial on this subject might look like.