If you wanted the early gist of Lakeland’s High Speed Rail kickoff you needed a Twitter account. Lakeland Vision’s Shannon Lanier and Orlando’s Bob O’Malley attended the meeting and gave as close to a play-by-play as you’ll get in 140 character increments.
Today’s meeting wasn’t a charts-and-video snoozefest. Senator Paula Dockery led a coalition of politicians and community leaders to drive home a message: From Tampa to Orlando to Miami everyone is on the same track: high speed rail on the I-4 corridor and then down to Miami. In our lifetime, and primarily paid for through federal funds. What’s more, they’re all working together this time.
To prove togetherness, Representative Seth McKeel, the Lakeland City Commission, the Polk County Commissioners, the Lakeland Chamber Chair, Tampa Bay Partnership President, and representatives from the Central Florida Partnership, environmental and union groups made public both their presence and approval.
The Florida coalition hasn’t won approval from Washington. Their comments made it clear that they believe they are in the right place, with the right program, and their only competition is a California plan.
Today wasn’t a discussion of the tough points. No charts to display station options. There were no tough questions about design firms, or state dollars. Today was a paean to togetherness and a request for grass roots support.
The coalition emphasized they will need Washington to hear from concerned citizens if Florida is to be awarded funds from DC in December.
They looked to the crowd of traditional business leaders, concerned citizens from the red and blue sides of the aisle, and some new economy representatives. The coalition asked them to spread the word to follow the programs on the Net, Facebook and Twitter. Those are the links if you want to join. Expect the media to follow the story, Hopefully this time they’ll ask the hard questions from day one.
Still, there seemed to be a missing blocker in today’s kickoff.
Unless they sat very quietly in the back, missing were representatives from Winter Haven politics, chamber, and the man from Florida Senate District 17.
Where were they? They understand the desire to present an united front. It wasn’t long ago one Winter Haven community leader urged Lakeland to accept that the ILC and Orlando commuter rail were done deals. He blogged, “It is time we work together for the greater good.”
A high-speed rail program for all of Florida, designed and implemented in the Sunshine. That was the program kicked off today. It certainly sounded like the greater good. Let’s hope those leaders from the East get on board.