During the Downtown Lakeland partnership sponsored Mayoral Forum, I “live tweeted” the questions and answers to and from the candidates. I sent about 56 tweets in about 60 minutes.
The nature of Twitter is 140 characters, with the AP Stylebook thrown out the window. So, as Rod Stewart once sang, “please pardon my grammar.”
01 1st Q on “Homeless problem” – All say there are issues. Dorsch says move homeless services outside of downtown
02 Q2: Are there too many agencies “helping” downtown? Should the mayor’s office help co-ordinate the work? #lkld
03 Verplanck: Yes, and he thinks they work fairly well together. The mayors office could work stronger with the groups. #lkld
04 Fields: Lakeland Downtown needs a common vision and a common economic development plan. Mayors office should lead. #lkld
05 Dorsch: Wants to rely on private sector and the mayor’s office shouldn’t dictate a common vision. Let different groups have their own ideas.
06 Q: Are you happy with current mix of businesses downtown. Fields wants more to make it a destination.Dorsch: Not happy with mix….
07 Dorsch wants more entertainment. Verplanck also wants more businesses, residential, and quiet zone. All want “more.” downtown. #lkld
08 Q: Can the Mayor’s office help ensure property owners keep up their property? Fields: wants to create prgs to help owners improve property.
09 Each candidate gets 2 mins to answer questions and 30 sec follow up. #lkld
10 Fields wants incentives instead of punishments. Dorsch: Thinks competition would help. Answer is to bring in new investments to
11 Dorsch: Says his company’s investment on Memorial and their impact fees upgraded the area. Do the same downtown.
12 Verplanck: Brings up past prg that moved “seedy bars” off Pine street that helped that area. | City needs to sell their properties for….
13 Verplanck: …for redevelopment. Do a better job with code enforcement
14 Q: What should be the city’s position on Sunrail? Is there anything the city should have done differently.
15 Dorsch: Thinks the city should have more of a clamor before. Thinks city leaders were reactive instead of proactive. They were not prepared
16 Fields: We suffered from not having strong enough relationships with otr communities. Need to have vision for entire I-4 corridor.
17 Fields: We will need quiet zones when the economy improves. We need reroute trains.
18 Verplanck: is impatient for fixes. Need to get a quiet zone now and reroute in long term. Join east&west in Polk Co. to work together.
19 Where should High Speed Rail stop go in Polk Co: Verplanck: Kathleen area. Fields: Where Feds think is best. Maybe USFPoly? Maybe Kathleen
20 Dorsch: Study the issue but by the way lets not spend funds on quiet zone.
21 Q: How do you define leadership and when have you showed it in the past.
22 Verplanck: Believes people have faith in his ability to provide leadership.
23 Fields: Someone has a willingness and the heart to…listen to others… …work for a common purpose. “A servants heart and attitude.”
24 Fields: Look to his website to see all his examples of work. He also mentions 4 governors have appointed him to positions outside Polk Co.
25 Dorsch: Leader brings a vision to a company, city, etc. and bring people together to create the vision. | Listen first, think, then act
26 Dorsch: Ability to make tough decisions if they don’t make one popular. He has no previous alliances and doesn’t owe favors.
27 Now the audience gets to start asking questions: #lkld
28 Q2Fields: 2hr parking downtown limit isn’t working correctly. Fields: technology can fix prob after getting input from business owners.
29 Fields: City will need more parking and there are solutions on the horizon.
30 Qon Lake Hollingsworth: Would you support a plan to build & maintain restroom facilities: Dorsch: Y Fields: Open to it: Verplanck: Yes.
31 Verplanck: Needs a system to ensure they are safe. It’s been an issue since hes been in town.
32 Q:How will you turn around airport losing $? Verplanck: City is trying to keep it for airport related bus.We need a world class airport dir.
33 V: would temp rent space to a restaurant for $0 to help bring traffic to airport.
34 Fields: Improve ability to communicate to stakeholders. That hurt the work at the airport. Help build consensus w/all stakeholders
35 Dorsch: He wasn’t privy to info all the otrs had. He think it must have been a management problem.
36 Q: How do you feel about height restrictions downtown? #lkld
37 Fields: Be open minded and hear from the people and build consensus.
38 Dorsch: Doesn’t see any reason for them. Likes tall buildings and the activity they bring.
39 Dorsch revisits his airport topic to explain an idea. #lkld
40 Verplanck: Explains that the CRAs have considered different height limits according to districts. Supports that plan.
41 Q2Jim: Position on why LDDA logo was made by a consulting firm outside Lkld.
42 Verplanck: He wanted to favor a Lkld business but LDDA said a local firm couldn’t do all
43 Q: Can you identify an area were city has not done a good job? And what should the city do to fix it?
44 Dorsch: Lakeland Electric. There are obviously some management issues. “Seat of the pants management” In favor of outside evaluation of LE
45 Fields: Adapting how we communicate internally and externally. Uses Lkld Elec.bill as example. City should have used tech to announce.
46 Verplanck: #1 problem where we let folks down is communication. Also uses Lkld Elec. as example. It was an embarrassment to commission.
47 Q1: What will you do to advance the arts in Lkld? Verplanck: Family supports the arts. Idea: RLCams fines should go to the cultural funds.
48 Fields: RLCams fines should go to the arts one time and the city needs to work w/agencies to come up ideas. More than line item help.
49 Dorsch: Get a community calendar to help people know about events and inform people electronically.
50 Q:What role do you see the city helping other areas like they did on Parker street?
51 Fields: Economics have changed and the city needs to look at new plans to roll out help elsewhere.
52 Verplanck: To make Downtown strong we need to make other areas strong.
53 Dorsch: Importance of Mayor and City to bring all orgs together with a shared vision. Incentive prgs to help homeowners rather than fines.
54 Last Q: Will you support the Lake Citizen Agenda Survey?
55 Verplanck: Hasn’t seen it but would like to meet. Citizen tries to explain what it is. “Has about 15 issues”
56 Fields: He’ll consider any input from the community. Dorsch: Also wants any input from the community.
You’re encouraged to see how well I gave the gist of the answers by viewing the video shot by the crew from The Ledger:
Note: If you can’t see the video here, it is archived at http://bit.ly/14i9DA
Due to a brain lapse, I misspelled Jim Verplanck as Verplanct for the first few tweets, until Ledger Managing Editor/Online Barry Friedman dropped me a note. I repaired those tweets.