Not a Dime for FPU or the Lakeland Chamber; Focus on Polk State

Award Recipient: Jim Freeman with Sen. JD Alexander edit

JD Alexander

Let’s just recap for a second:

A rogue senator from Lake Wales or Winter Haven or wherever’s he from managed to cower virtually everyone outside of Lakeland into accepting an unaccredited, unloved, unbuilt university that no one from Lakeland wanted while severing a relationship with a real university that everyone in Lakeland wanted to keep.

And the governor thought that was a peachy idea despite overwhelming opposition from all levels. Enough to restore your faith in democracy, isn’t it?

I must say I was not surprised by our good governor’s approval of a campus that would seem to violate every “principle” he supposedly had. As some schlub wrote more than a year ago:

[Scott] killed [High Speed Rail] because it had actual public benefit in mind, rather than straight corporate benefit. Doing that makes liberals and Democrats mad. Making liberals and Democrats mad and transferring as much public wealth to private hands as possible is the entire conservative platform. Thus, the fact that the CSX plan is a massive freight deal–the state-funded implementation of CSX’s business plan disguised as worthless suburban passenger rail plan–appeals to Scott. I promise you. I predict he and J.D. will eventually get along quite well. Similar sensibilities.

One of these days, you people will listen to me.

In any event, contrast the sliminess and petty power stuff on display in the Goodman report with the behavior of the ever impressive Eileen Holden in addressing the awful killing of two PSC students in their Winter Haven apartment.

Polk State may the only institution — public or private — I see actually fulfilling its mission in a consistent and responsible way in this county. I feel sure others will disagree, both about Polk State and other institutions. Feel free to prove me wrong. But I will tell you this, no leader in this county has said a thing like this anytime recently:

I can tell you that these three young men were successful students, that they were popular, that they were highly engaged in student life here at Polk State — and, we all hope, Esteban will be those things here again soon.

But I can also tell you that how successful, popular or involved they were does not define the magnitude of our grief today.

Our entire College community is focused on the success — and the intrinsic value — of every single one of our students. There is not one person that has ever been associated with Polk State that we would be willing to discount or discard.

When we say, as we often do, “We are Polk” — that is what we are saying. We are a collection of individuals who share communities and dreams and challenges and opportunities.

I apologize in advance for using Holden as a sort of weapon, but consider this question: could Harold Maready or J.D. Alexander ever get up in any setting and say a thing like that with a straight face?

Let’s be clear about something. Even the longtime supporters of USFP backed the campus for its “economic development” potential. That means its presumed ability to throw off money. It was never, ever about “the success — and the intrinsic value — of every single one of our students.”

And at this point, I truly don’t care what it’s about. I would like to focus all of our collective energy on Polk State, which is the asset best positioned to change and enhance actual human lives in this county. It also has, from what I can tell, our best institutional leader.

If you’re in a local government, and you can still do it, pull your money from Heartland Parkway U and divert to Polk State. Expand programs. Establish scholarships. Serve the kids McKeel and company don’t want to serve.

And here’s one idea for the city of Lakeland. How about collecting market rent for that beautiful Chamber of Commerce building on Lake Morton and providing it directly to Polk State? That’s a far better investment than any investment in the Chamber. Honestly, name one good or useful thing the Chamber has done in a decade?

Waiting….No, the Luau does not count. We can find someone else to throw a Luau.

I can, however, name a damaging thing the Chamber did — the ridiculous vote of the handful of muckety-mucks backing J.D.’s version of FPU. It’s not so much that it falsely conveyed the position of hundreds of businesses to Rick Scott; I don’t think anything anyone said was going to matter to Scott.

Rather, it gave media and state-level people an excuse to think Lakeland as a city and people and business community were willing participants in this fiasco when we were not. That’s going to have damaging implications for years to come when we try to get real universities to offer graduate programs out here. So thanks for that, Chamber.

And will you be holding another vote on whether to bring Goodman back as president? Come on. That would be fun.

I’m going to go all libertarian here and say I’d prefer my tax money not going to incompetent organizations that actively work against my interests. If you agree, let city commissioners know.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Darby Dowdy for Lakeland Local

7 thoughts on “Not a Dime for FPU or the Lakeland Chamber; Focus on Polk State

  1. Rock on! I’m a student at USFP and have spent countless hours fighting this crap. Thanks for writing this. You nailed it! Go Bulls!

  2. As a student of USF POLY I can tell you the school has had a huge positive impact on me. What has happened is a democratic travesty. Now my mentors will be out of a job and we are powerless to stop it.

  3. Isn’t it hell when arbitrary government power is turned against your interests? Join the Liberty team Billy!

    BTW, no more Disqus comments Chuck?

  4. Amen! You ever seen or heard of a Governor whom you felt listened LESS to the people than Rick Scott?

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