The decency and moral courage of Charlie Ward

So, I wrote this giant essay a few weeks ago called “The Grace of Shame.” I wanted to work out for myself how to better reckon with the eternal questions of rape and abuse of sexual power that plague our species. About a third of it focused on the Jameis Winston case. And I ended […]

Of “bad” parents and “bad” schools, Part 2: When “choice” really means “blackmail”

Occasionally, a small story cuts through our national haze of abstract moral bullshit to reveal clearly the reality of life on the ground for much of America. So meet Debra Harrell, the South Carolina McDonalds-within-a-Walmart worker the state arrested at work for allowing her 9-year-old to play alone in a nearby park for two consecutive […]

Of “bad” parents and “bad” schools, Part 1: You have no idea what your school grade means

Quick. Can you explain to me how the state calculated your school’s grade? I didn’t think so. There’s a metaphor in that I’ll be exploring in the next couple/few posts. But I want to start with the grades themselves, which came out not long ago with mercifully little ado. I do think we’ve reached peak […]

Thanks for Nothing, Glenn: Behold the Conservative Values of Your Community Newspaper

Throughout the Lakeland police and government scandal, Ledger Editorial Page Editor Glenn Marston consistently synthesized and distilled for easy consumption the key moral points contained in the massive volume of official reports and news gathering. In a world of derpy, tired, fake ideological punditry, Glenn’s analytical strength and elegant writing stood out. The Ledger proudly […]

The grace of shame: Re-imagining the fight against humanity’s eternal rape culture

Run an ugly thought experiment with me. Replay your sexual history. You know you can. Run it back to young adulthood, to college, to high school. Run it back to 19 or 17. Look past the pornography. This isn’t about arousal or joy. Look past even the superficial embarrassment of nudity and awkwardness. Find what […]

The Unbearable Importance of Being Gow

I never intended to write about Gow Fields again. Really, I didn’t. But there he was Friday, six months out of office, headlining my Kiwanis Club with a 20-minute speech about the awesomeness of his time on the Lakeland City Commission and as mayor. I feel like I need a shower. So bear with me […]

Lakeland City Commission Adds Fairness and Inclusion to List of Principles and Values

Commissioner Walker saying that breakdown of principles & values have resulted in the decline of this country. #lkld — Lakeland, Florida (@lakelandgov) June 2, 2014 In some respects, I agree with Commissioner Walker. The breakdown of principles and values cause the decline of many countries. We may not agree about that exact list of principles […]

Now is the Time

There comes a time in every community to say “What was good enough before, is no longer good enough.” 25 years ago I stood in front of a city council, similar to Lakeland’s, and said “I am a breeder for Fairness.” I made a compelling argument for the City of Louisville to add a law […]

They Promised There’d be Stone Crabs Here!

photo credit: Tom Hagerty for Lakeland Local

Benefit equality: Enjoy a jubilee — and travel costs

With respect to new Ledger city reporter Ryan Little, who seems quite diligent and enterprising, I think he buried the lead in his same sex benefits story last week. Whether or not Keith Merritt supports benefits for unmarried couples isn’t remotely as important as this sentence, which started the third paragraph: Federal law already requires […]

Of corruption and customer service: Putting a bow on 11 months of City Hall critiques

I’m in a confessional mood these days. I’ve got longish essays in various stages of development about the Jameis Winston case, Lakeland’s “gangs”, and the manifold ways in which I’ve benefitted from my 400 slave-owning great great grandfather’s ill-gotten wealth. All of them will have a confessional air if I can ever finish them. Other […]

Gaming out The Ledger’s “change in our editorial position”

You may or may not have seen new Ledger Publisher Kevin Drake’s “Open Letter to Readers” editorial on Sunday. If you missed it, you’ll be relieved to know that during his month as publisher, “it has become obvious to me that Polk County is a special place.” We can all breathe a little easier knowing […]

Charge the Ball

photo credit: Tom Hagerty for Polk State College — Special to Lakeland Local

The Putnam County Clown Show and the Collapse of Homophobic Power

[Late ed. note: There are several comments awaiting approval — including a couple of juicy critical ones. Remember, I have to know your real name in order to comment. You can comment under a fake name if you want. It’s pretty lame to go fake name when you’re trying to cast aspersions on people — […]

Rogers, Kaline & Verlander

photo credit: Tom Hagerty for Lakeland Local

Will the transfer wars cost Lakeland the FHSAA hoops championships?

I am told that Lakeland is on the cusp of losing the FHSAA state basketball championships as the result of a power struggle between our city’s state legislators and the Florida High School Athletics Association. My well-placed source for this story reached out to me directly, and I trust this person implicitly. To boil it […]

READ THE REPORT: Dead City Hall Walking

One problem of complex investigative reports is the ease with which one can lose the forest for the trees. That’s what happening with the new State Attorney’s report on Doug Thomas and his alleged knowledge of widespread shenanigans in police hiring. I want to try to clarify for people the core facts/issues, as I see […]

Comradery

photo credit: Tom Hagerty for Lakeland Local

Your City Hall Just Lost a Leader

Tamara Sakagawa, community redevelopment manager for Lakeland since 2002, has resigned. Sakagawa, 40, oversaw the redevelopment of Dixieland, downtown and the midtown redevelopment areas.Sakagawa declined Thursday to discuss why she is leaving her job. Her last day will be April 11. — The Ledger In that resignation, Lakeland lost the person most responsible for making […]

Kids These Days — Maria Fabian Edition

Maria Fabian has a story. She’ll introduce it to you in a moment. It’s wrenching; and it’s the core of Invisible Innocence, the book she co-wrote with Tampa filmmaker Fred Smith. I met Maria some months ago at Deep Carnivale, a sort of book and art festival in Tampa. I was impressed not just with […]