J.D. Makes His Move After a Terrible Day for the CSX Deal

Update: Sentinel says the budget language is much ado about nothing, quoting Alexander and others. We’ll see.

Wow. Intrigue and shenanigans everywhere in the CSX deal on Monday. First and foremost, Senate Democratic leaders finally woke up to realize that a $600 million subsidy for a major corporation at a time of school closings makes for a pretty potent issue with which to club certain Republicans controlling the state purse strings. Later language to move the deal forward magically appeared in the Senate budget, which is controlled by J.D. Alexander.

From a Democratic press release:

“Alarmed by the determination of some Republican leaders to push ahead with the controversial $1.6 billion CSX deal despite Florida’s increasing job losses, Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) and incoming Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich (D-Weston) on Monday called on the legislature to reverse course on the project and return the money to whence it came.

“More than $600 million was siphoned from shovel-ready transportation and infrastructure projects in towns and communities thoughout Florida in order to deliver a sweetheart deal to a multi-billion dollar private company championing a train even Mickey Mouse can’t use,” said Senator Lawson. “This money needs to be returned to the districts to immediately begin those road and infrastructure projects derailed by the CSX deal. And the money needs to be used to offset skyrocketing hikes in “fees” Floridians are facing for basic motor vehicle services.”

Sen. Gary Siplin, an Orlando-area Democrat no less, glossed the whole deal: The “Choo Choo to Nowhere.” I gotta tell you. That’s pretty strong. I’m kicking myself for not coming up with that on my own. See the St. Pete Times for the full rundown.

The Times posted that about 2:15 p.m. A few hours a later, about 7:30 p.m., news broke that language had quietly appeared in the Senate budget bill giving the go-ahead to purchase the tracks from CSX without reference to liability. I’m not entirely sure what the parctical purpose of the language is. But I think it would allow the state to move forward with paying CSX for the Orlando rail lines, S-line upgrades and the Winter Haven hub construction if the liability bill, which is the bill before the senate, goes down, as appears increasingly likely.

Hmmmm. Now who is the chair of the senate budget committee? Oh yes, that’s right, Sen. Alexander. Sen. J.D. Alexander who also owns Phoenix Industries, the Haven food distribution company that does work with CSX; Sen. Alexander who was the driving force behind the Heartland Parkway, the big toll road that would tie into the CSX hub in Winter Haven; Sen. Alexander who represents a large part of south Lakeland, by the way.

Now, if the purchase goes through, I’m relatively sure that CSX isn’t going to lift its liability requirement to get SunRail moving. Could that leave the Orlando guys fighting for their commuter line while CSX sits pretty with all that state money for the S-line improvements and the hub? Talk about a subsidy. And who would benefit?

Those of you in the J.D. circle of trust out there, feel free to correct any aspersions I’m casting. Maybe someone else stuck that language into the budget bill that Alexander controls. Possible, I suppose. Those of you who are not in the circle might think about an ethics complaint.

20 thoughts on “J.D. Makes His Move After a Terrible Day for the CSX Deal

  1. I don’t understand why people are so intrigued by “Republican” and “Democrat”. There are so many things going wrong in this country right now,not to mention in the county, that are republican backed and democrat backed. Why is the “news” written on Lakeland Local by you, Billy, so full of bias. Isn’t news supposed to be un biased? I read Lakeland Local everyday and I cannot remember an article written by you that talks about anything fishy or negative that is done by a Democrat. Please correct me if I am wrong. This is not written to be argumentative, I honestly just want to know.

  2. I don’t understand why people are so intrigued by “Republican” and “Democrat”. There are so many things going wrong in this country right now,not to mention in the county, that are republican backed and democrat backed. Why is the “news” written on Lakeland Local by you, Billy, so full of bias. Isn’t news supposed to be un biased? I read Lakeland Local everyday and I cannot remember an article written by you that talks about anything fishy or negative that is done by a Democrat. Please correct me if I am wrong. This is not written to be argumentative, I honestly just want to know.

  3. Ashley,
    First of all, if I am not mistaken…this is not a “news report”, but an opinion blog…so your reasoning doesn’t really make any sense. That being said, I really don’t see anything biased about this article at all, the facts are the facts. The Democrats can certainly use this issue to attack the Republican’s who are backing this horrible deal AND JD Alexander IS the head of the Ways and Means Committe, and they DID in fact put language into the budget that side steps committee hearings. Why is it biased to report the facts? and then offer an opinion in relation to those facts on an OPINION blog?

  4. Ashley,
    First of all, if I am not mistaken…this is not a “news report”, but an opinion blog…so your reasoning doesn’t really make any sense. That being said, I really don’t see anything biased about this article at all, the facts are the facts. The Democrats can certainly use this issue to attack the Republican’s who are backing this horrible deal AND JD Alexander IS the head of the Ways and Means Committe, and they DID in fact put language into the budget that side steps committee hearings. Why is it biased to report the facts? and then offer an opinion in relation to those facts on an OPINION blog?

  5. Kim, you are obviously fired up about this situation to which your response makes no sense. I made a general statement about all of the reporting done on Lakeland Local by Billy. I asked him for a post that has been written by him that is not biased. I didn’t site things that he said in this post that were biased. Its was a general comment and question. I read back today through everything that has been written here by Billy and the vast majority of it is biased, or should I say “opinionated” about the moves of a certain political parties. News should be un biased and I will say it again and again and again. This may not be a “news site” but when posts are written that are “informing” citizens of a happening, it definitely comes across as news and should not contain biased opinions. And trust me, I am not the only one who feels this way. Billy doesn’t need a public defender, let him defend himself. I asked a simple question. Now I am waiting for an answer.

  6. Kim, you are obviously fired up about this situation to which your response makes no sense. I made a general statement about all of the reporting done on Lakeland Local by Billy. I asked him for a post that has been written by him that is not biased. I didn’t site things that he said in this post that were biased. Its was a general comment and question. I read back today through everything that has been written here by Billy and the vast majority of it is biased, or should I say “opinionated” about the moves of a certain political parties. News should be un biased and I will say it again and again and again. This may not be a “news site” but when posts are written that are “informing” citizens of a happening, it definitely comes across as news and should not contain biased opinions. And trust me, I am not the only one who feels this way. Billy doesn’t need a public defender, let him defend himself. I asked a simple question. Now I am waiting for an answer.

  7. from past postings, Chuck, the creator of lakelandlocal, would argue this is a news blog.

  8. from past postings, Chuck, the creator of lakelandlocal, would argue this is a news blog.

  9. Actually, I’d probably say “news site,” but does it matter?

    I try not to use the term “blog” because it originally was a shortened form of “web log.” Those where lists of sites you found on the Web that you’d like others to see.

    The confusion here is a misunderstanding of the role of a news site. Newspapers, radio and TV stations have never been unbiased. Each member of the media has a bias in some form. This isn’t place to discuss that point, but I would remind you that your local newspaper mixes news, opinion, features, and advertising in each day’s edition.

    The only difference in our coverage is that we lack advertising.

  10. Actually, I’d probably say “news site,” but does it matter?

    I try not to use the term “blog” because it originally was a shortened form of “web log.” Those where lists of sites you found on the Web that you’d like others to see.

    The confusion here is a misunderstanding of the role of a news site. Newspapers, radio and TV stations have never been unbiased. Each member of the media has a bias in some form. This isn’t place to discuss that point, but I would remind you that your local newspaper mixes news, opinion, features, and advertising in each day’s edition.

    The only difference in our coverage is that we lack advertising.

  11. You also lack credibility when your writers are so obviously biased as Billy is in regard to CSX. That’s why at a true news company, such as the Tribune, he was pulled from covering the CSX issue when his wife began working as the DLP director.

  12. You also lack credibility when your writers are so obviously biased as Billy is in regard to CSX. That’s why at a true news company, such as the Tribune, he was pulled from covering the CSX issue when his wife began working as the DLP director.

  13. Sorry Ashley:

    Hadn’t had a chance to respond to you. I appreciate the people getting my back, but she asks a good question.

    Actually, in this post, I really didn’t mean to say Dem good/Rep bad. I was more pointing out that the CSX deal could make a useful political issue in these budget times. Purely from a cynical, tactical point-of-view. I generally do try to include party references Joe Blow, R-etc. in what I write as context.

    On the larger point, I have been plenty critical of Buddy Dyer and others of the Dem persuasion involved in the CSX deal. And I’ve never seen a more skillful, braver political performance than that by Paula Dockery, who is a republican. Beyond that, in case you haven’t noticed, there aren’t many Democrats around here to attack. It’s a pretty bleak cupboard. Repblicans make most of the decisions in Polk County and florida. Thus, when I disagree, they get my little bit of heat. It’s true that I tend to think we ought to spend a little more money on decent health, that I’m fairly socially liberal, and I don’t think allowing the national economy to collapse into a steaming heap if we can help it is smart policy. But Dems often disppaoint me on those points as well. And I really enjoy well-conceived conservative arguments. The problem is that too often the Rush/Hannity/Beck et al. groups are speaking for all of you, and they are dishonest thugs. Hope that helps.

  14. Sorry Ashley:

    Hadn’t had a chance to respond to you. I appreciate the people getting my back, but she asks a good question.

    Actually, in this post, I really didn’t mean to say Dem good/Rep bad. I was more pointing out that the CSX deal could make a useful political issue in these budget times. Purely from a cynical, tactical point-of-view. I generally do try to include party references Joe Blow, R-etc. in what I write as context.

    On the larger point, I have been plenty critical of Buddy Dyer and others of the Dem persuasion involved in the CSX deal. And I’ve never seen a more skillful, braver political performance than that by Paula Dockery, who is a republican. Beyond that, in case you haven’t noticed, there aren’t many Democrats around here to attack. It’s a pretty bleak cupboard. Repblicans make most of the decisions in Polk County and florida. Thus, when I disagree, they get my little bit of heat. It’s true that I tend to think we ought to spend a little more money on decent health, that I’m fairly socially liberal, and I don’t think allowing the national economy to collapse into a steaming heap if we can help it is smart policy. But Dems often disppaoint me on those points as well. And I really enjoy well-conceived conservative arguments. The problem is that too often the Rush/Hannity/Beck et al. groups are speaking for all of you, and they are dishonest thugs. Hope that helps.

  15. Just to finish: This is what I do, and how I do it. I think my credibility will either rise and fall based on that. I do not claim to be neutral on anything – unless I say so – and you should read me with that in mind. I will always defend or retract anything I write. i don’t duck. And there may be a couple of people who disagree with me on many things who still find me useful, even if I’m challenging them.

  16. Just to finish: This is what I do, and how I do it. I think my credibility will either rise and fall based on that. I do not claim to be neutral on anything – unless I say so – and you should read me with that in mind. I will always defend or retract anything I write. i don’t duck. And there may be a couple of people who disagree with me on many things who still find me useful, even if I’m challenging them.

  17. Well said, Billy. Thank you for your response. There are definitely times when writers & readers just have to agree to disagree about certain things, and politics is definitely one of those in my book. I love politics, I am a staunch Republican and I love to debate, but I can respect the opinions of those who do not fall under the same party line as I. News is reported with bias all of the time, as Chuck said, which when I think about it is true, but i just want the facts, without a slant.
    I guess that is why I am not the editor at The Ledger.

  18. Well said, Billy. Thank you for your response. There are definitely times when writers & readers just have to agree to disagree about certain things, and politics is definitely one of those in my book. I love politics, I am a staunch Republican and I love to debate, but I can respect the opinions of those who do not fall under the same party line as I. News is reported with bias all of the time, as Chuck said, which when I think about it is true, but i just want the facts, without a slant.
    I guess that is why I am not the editor at The Ledger.

  19. Let’s remind some readers of a couple of definitions:

    Credibility: “capable of being believed; believable: a credible statement”

    I believe Billy is very capable of being believed. I believe that of every person who contributes to Lakeland Local. If I didn’t they wouldn’t write here.

    If you don’t believe Billy, that is your call. But consider how very easy he makes it to check his facts.

    And that leads us to…

    Transparency: “the quality or state of being transparent.” And in this case it means: Have we informed everyone that Billy’s wife works for DLP? Yes. Do you have an easy to read record of how Billy has written about this issue? Yes. Can you check his work? Yes.

    Unlike much of traditional media, we don’t pretend our contributors are bias free. Instead, we are as transparent as possible about our world views. (And don’t forget that includes contributors from various parts of the political spectrum.)

    Wouldn’t you, as a reader, rather know writer positions and how they reached them?

  20. Let’s remind some readers of a couple of definitions:

    Credibility: “capable of being believed; believable: a credible statement”

    I believe Billy is very capable of being believed. I believe that of every person who contributes to Lakeland Local. If I didn’t they wouldn’t write here.

    If you don’t believe Billy, that is your call. But consider how very easy he makes it to check his facts.

    And that leads us to…

    Transparency: “the quality or state of being transparent.” And in this case it means: Have we informed everyone that Billy’s wife works for DLP? Yes. Do you have an easy to read record of how Billy has written about this issue? Yes. Can you check his work? Yes.

    Unlike much of traditional media, we don’t pretend our contributors are bias free. Instead, we are as transparent as possible about our world views. (And don’t forget that includes contributors from various parts of the political spectrum.)

    Wouldn’t you, as a reader, rather know writer positions and how they reached them?

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