Wednesday night I published an article on Lakeland Local. I was told an office had discovered an advertisement that made it appear a candidate for Lakeland City Commission had his home for sale. On Thursday, the candidate objected to the article. I asked for answers or comment from the candidate. Though I was confident in the accuracy of the article, I offered to hold the article from display while he readied a response. I asked for a response by an 8am deadline.
I received no return calls or emails. I reinstated the article this morning.
The following is for readers who would like to see the process both before and after publication:
In addition to the listing first reported to me, I found the the house is also listed at FBOSellBuy.com, and ForSaleByOwnerBuyersGuide.com. The sites used the same photos for the ads, and the first used four different photos.
The phone number listed in the sale ads is (561) 542-2923. On Wednesday, I called that number for confirmation about the status of the home for sale. I received no response.
The website Manta (“Vital info on small businesses.”) gives that same phone number in their listing for the Goetz Foundation of Florida: Goetz Foundation Of Florida – 426 Bonnieview Dr Valrico, FL 33594 Phone: (561) 542-2923. The site DNB.PowerProfiles.com, also lists the same information for the Goetz Foundation of Florida. GuideStar.com, a site that lists information about not-for-profits, gives a Lakeland mailbox drop address for the Goetz Foundation of Florida, but no phone number.
Though the address listed is for Valrico, Florida, the phone number has an area code (561) for Palm Beach County. According to the WhitePages.com, the number is a cell phone using the T-Mobile service.
On April 9, 2006 the home at 3038 Cleveland Heights Blvd was last sold to the LOXAHATCHEE GROUP. The Quit Claim Deed describes the Loxahatchee Group as “A Florida 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation” whose post office address is “RR4 Loxahatchee Florida  in the county of Palm Beach, State of Florida.”
The Ledger published: “…the Loxahatchee Group, which Florida Department of State records show is the Goetz Foundation of Florida operating under another name.”
On the candidate’s web site he lists the following: “In 2004, Goetz also began the Goetz Foundation of Florida, a 501 (c)(3) non- profit organization, designed to help those victimized by the devastating hurricanes that year and since has changed focus to help impovershed families. – Meet the Candidate”
If you search the Florida Department of State records for information about the Goetz Foundation of Florida, you will find two PDF documents (1) (2) that list the phone contact number for James Goetz. In both cases, the number is (561) 542-2923.
On Thursday afternoon, the candidate left comments on this article. I used the email left by the candidate in the comments to ask for additional information based on his comment. I withdrew the article from display to allow the candidate time to respond through phone or email. I placed a new article online with the first comment left by the candidate and his assertion the house was not for sale. I found another number for the candidate. Numerous emails and calls were not returned. I sent the candidate a final email offering space on Lakeland Local to explain his feelings and thoughts. I explained I needed the article by 8am Friday morning. I didn’t want the process to drag indefinitely.
On Thursday night, the phone at (561) 542-2923 was finally answered. The person who answered wouldn’t give a name or answer other than to say “Our house is not for sale.”
I have received no additional word from the candidate.
I stand by the article as written. It is presented above unchanged from the original publication. However, I have reinstated it with the additional information concerning the process presented in the sections “Before Publication” and “After Publication.”
The candidate has responded that “the home is in no way for sale.” For whatever reason, the “for sale by owner” ads exist. The candidate has offered no explanation for their existence. However, I see no reason voters should not accept the candidate’s comment at face value at this date.
For the record, no one has called or written asking about ads online concerning the sale of any homes of any other candidates for Lakeland City Commission. Therefore, I have made no inquiry into any other such ads.