Response to Scott Decision to Reject High Speed Rail Funds

This morning Florida Governor Rick Scott unilaterally chose to reject high speed rail funds offered by the Feds. Of course, surprised officials were quick to respond. State Senator Paula Dockery This morning I spoke to Governor Rick Scott who informed me of his decision to turn back $2.4 billion to the federal government. I expressed […]

Voting Today

Lakeland city residents, you have until 7pm to vote in the SE District City Commissioner race. You have a choice between incumbent Edie Yates and challenger Rusty Boedicker. Three precincts have changed to new locations, so check the precinct list before you go to vote.

Reader Request: Walker – Grier Results

A reader requested we publish the November and December results for the Phillip Walker and Clarance Grier, Sr. City Commission race.

• In December, Walker won all save four precincts (117,120,204,205). He picked up the 119 from November, but lost the 120.

• Grier trailed Walker by 1511 votes in November. He picked up 819 votes in December, but Walker added 316 to take Grier by 1008 votes.

• The percentages in December were Walker (45.6), Grier (30.2), and Shirah (24.2). In December, Walker (55.9) and Grier (44.1)

• Grier gained the most ground in Precincts 236 (82 vote turn around), 221 (56 vote turnaround) and 224 (50 vote turnaround)

Find the chart at

Absentee Voters the Difference in Mayoral Race

Here are a few bullet points on tonight’s mayoral election:

• Though Verplanck lost 93 votes from his November totals, they would not have been enough to overcome Fields. In November Fields trailed Verplanck by a mere 244 votes. He more than overcame that deficit by adding 659 votes to his November total.

• There were 43 fewer total absentee voters than in November: 3294 to 3251

• However, the absentee voters turned out for Fields. 63.28% of his gain came there (417 of his 659 additional votes)

• In the absentee votes, Fields gained 13.5 percentage points. From 35.6% of absentee votes in November to 48.9% of the absentee votes in Dec. Verplanck gained 2.6%.

• All precincts reported fewer voters in December than November.

• From the November election to the December election, Verplanck lost votes in 14 of the 25 precincts. Fields lost votes in 4 of the 25 precincts.

• Elliott Dorsch endorsed Gow Fields. Dorsch carried a single precinct in November (201) with 87 votes. In the December race, Fields gained only 22 votes to Verplanck’s 34 vote gain in that precinct. Narrowly missing in November, Fields took the precinct in December.

• Fields greatest gains came in precincts 221 and 229. In precinct 221, Fields added 46 votes from November to December, but Verplanck lost 46 votes to give Fields a 92 vote gain. In precinct 229, Fields added 22 votes and Verplanck lost 29 votes for a 51 vote Fields gain.

• In the four precincts Fields lost votes from November to December, he lost a mere 22 votes from his November totals. In the 14 precincts where Verplanck lost votes, he lost an average of approximately 18 votes per precinct.

• Fields captured three precincts he lost in November – 120, 201, 223

• Verplanck captured eight precincts and the absentee vote. However, Fields gained on Verplanck in all but one of those precincts.

• In the only positive result for Verplanck, precinct 230, he gained 24 votes over his November totals. Fields lost 7 votes in precinct 230 to give Verplanck a 31 vote gain.

I’ll post the usual spreadsheet in the morning…

A Final Pair of Questions for the Mayoral Candidates

In my continuing effort to give you a peek behind the scenes, here’s an email I sent Friday to the two Lakeland mayoral candidates: We’re in the last days of the campaign. On Monday and Tuesday I’d like to have a chance for Lakeland Local readers to see something from each of you. However, by […]

A Simple Question for Polk’s Republican Officials and Candidates: Did ACORN Steal the 2008 Election for Barack Obama?

This is a truly astonishing poll. 51 percent of Republicans think that pathetic little ACORN engineered a massive conspiracy to turn the 2008 presidential election into an electoral college rout. Only 27 percent are sure Obama actually won. We live in pretty Republican county here, so I want to know what the people’s representatives and would-be representatives think: Do you agree with a majority of your party that ACORN stole the 2008 presidential election? If not, does this level of delusion within your party concern you? Email me at I will be tracking all of you down for an answer, so you can save time and effort by emailing first.

Special Election Sample Ballot

The good folks at the Polk County Elections Office have been ever so kind as to release the sample ballot for the December 8th run-off election (pdf) (Google) run-off election.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice the ballot contains a race for SE District D. Since Patrick Shawn Jones dropped out of the race, Edie Yates must wait until January 26th for that election. They say the third time is the charm.

Jones Withdraws from Lakeland City Commission Race

According to city officials, this morning Patrick Jones withdrew from his campaign for Lakeland SE District D. Jones was the last candidate on the ballot to challenge commission Edie Yates in her re-election bid. That forces the city to schedule yet another special qualifying period to give interested persons the opportunity to run against Yates.

City officials have proposed ending the new qualifying period on November 20, 2009 at Noon. If anyone qualifies to run, they propose a special election to be held on January 5th.

The Lakeland City Commissioners have set a special meeting for Friday, November 13th at 8am to vote and officially set the dates.

Pinning Down Randy Wilkinson

Another reason I love County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson is his utter inability to give a one word answer. Now, it’s true, many questions can’t be answered with one word, but this one can: Will you turn down federal government health insurance if you’re elected to Congress?

Here’s how Randy answered that question last week. “If the current system remains in place, I will deny the cadillac health care coverage given to the U.S.Congress.”

Hmmm. Quite a bit of wiggle room there.

Commissioner Wilkinson, You’ll Turn Down Federal Health Insurance, Right?

I’ve been out of commission with work and whatnot for a while, so I’m just now taking a moment to remark on the big Tea Party Fest that the Tea Party festers held a couple of Saturdays ago in the rain. I couldn’t help noticing this from The Ledger story:

County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson had just stepped up to the podium at the TEA party protest Saturday in Lakeland when plumber Charles Paleveda of Tampa – who’s nicknamed himself “Charlie the Plumber” – stomped toward the stage, waving his American flag.

“I am angry!” he barked from beneath his U.S. Marine Corps cap.

“And you should be!” Wilkinson replied, to cheers.

A Blow to the Greene-ocracy

Congratulations to my friend Jamie Beckett for his election to the Winter Haven City Commission. Jamie is an intellectually honest libertarian, and I can’t wait to see how his big picture approach to government meshes with the actual business of running a city. In any event, Jamie won’t be another yes-man or woman to the petty imperialism of Winter Haven City Manager David Greene, the most anti-democratic, untransparent local-level public official I’ve ever seen. He’s the Dick Cheney of small cities. Good for Winter Haven citizens for bringing a skeptic in the fold.

Mayoral Forum – Live Tweets Redux

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.” Read the tweets inside…

So, Rep. McKeel, Would You Have Voted For The Stimulus?

I noted the following in The Ledger’s account of the Chamber legislative wrap-up gala:

“We made the decision that K through 12 be held as harmless as possible during the budget cutting,” said Rep. Seth McKeel of Lakeland, who chairs and is on several education committees.

“Many of us broke with a pledge not to raise taxes to do that. We also took $3.5 billion in federal stimulus package funds. We could not have held education harmless without it, but that money runs out in two years,” he said.

Tea Party Coming to Lakeland: Time to Break Out Schoolhouse Rock

You all know that I aggressively pursue evenhandedness in the promotion of social and political happenings.

Thus, I’m thrilled to note that the national “Tea Party” movement, spawned by the noted populist derivatives trader-turned-CNBC heartthrob Rick Santelli, is coming to Lakeland on April 15, as part of a national day of tea parties scheduled to coincide with tax day. The Lakeland event is set for noon to 2 p.m. at Kryger Overlook Park on Massachusetts (nice historical synergy there). As the name suggests, the park overlooks Lake Mirror. The Lakeland event even has a Facebook page. At least 21 people have confirmed that they will attend. Eleven maybes.

Gow Fields Opens the Lakeland Mayoral Race

The next few months will bring us another race for Lakeland mayor. Currently squaring off are city commissioners Gow Fields and Jim Verplanck. We’re reaching out to both men to speak to the community. We’re in it for the whole race, and hope to have many conversations with both candidates during the campaign. First up is Gow Fields. Last Tuesday, we spoke a little about this emerging medium, CSX, and what he’d do with a magic wand.

Maybe I’ll Run

What do you think? Could a stuttering, wonkish, pro-gay-marriage, pro-confrontation, anti-Jay Dennis, anti-CSX, acerbicly progressive guy of mediocre looks be the next mayor of our fair city? Come on, you know you’d want to read about that campaign. Gow and I would have some epic debates. Consider this my exploratory post. Draft me, baby.

City Commission Retreat Live! (Sort of…)

For much of the day I’ll report live the discussion at the City Commission retreat. Check here every so often for the casual remarks. The process of the current exercise doesn’t work well with live blogging. I’ve stopped and will publish a summation this weekend.

You can find the agenda (pdf) and come back when they discuss the area where you have the most interest.

The Rev. Jay Dennis Heterosexual Divorce Time Tracker – Rick Warren Edition

You didn’t think I forgot, did you? It has now been two months since Pastor Jay Dennis, R-First Baptist Church at the Mall, led the fight to protect the institution of marriage from marauding homosexual monogamy, committment, and fashion sense. I continue to wait breathlessly for him to take up once again the burden/ego trip […]

Corporate Socialist News, Part 1: Sen. Jeb Bush, R-Lehman, CSX, FEC?

You’ve probably seen that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may run for the U.S. senate seat fellow Republican Mel Martinez will vacate in 2010.

Don’t be fooled by talk of Bush fatigue. Jeb is urbane, articulate about policy, and very warm toward and popular among Hispanics – everything that the core of his party is not. His governorship is widely perceived as a success. If Jeb runs, he will win the Republican nomination without opposition. He will likely defeat whoever Florida’s weak Democratic party throws up against him.

However, I am not sure how well Jeb will function in the senate if he wins. In my brief experience of interviewing him, even before the CSX stuff, I found him to have a prickly, highly executive demeanor. And I think my experience dovetails with the conventional wisdom about him. Jeb seems to like being in charge. I wonder if he would become frustrated by the senate – and its co-equal coterie of egos.

Anyway, I think any candidate who hopes to beat Jeb will need to attack the perceptions that he was successful as governor, a perception I personally don’t think the evidence supports. I think Jeb’s record allows him to be portrayed as the embodiment of corporate socialism, as a champion of the political and business cronyism that has wrecked this country. In that sense, he’s vulnerable to critiques from the political left and right.

Read the extended edition for some free advice on how to do that. Caveat emptor, of course: