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 […]

Of Inertia, Sexism, Maturity, and The Total Vindication of The Ledger

It really is astonishing. For eight months, we liberal media types in Lakeland pushed with all of our limited might against a giant bureaucratic rock of inertia. And yet we could not move the unified dead weight of Doug Thomas, Tim McCausland, and the City Commission — the people with the power to act to […]

A Nole Fan’s Unified Theory of Football, Race, Sex, and Love — Part 1

What you are about to read is my surrender. For many years, I have wanted to write the definitive cultural analysis of major college football in the South — our benighted region’s most socially and historically consequential institution that doesn’t involve prison or bondage. Doubt me? Look at the aftermath of the Iron Bowl. Anything […]

Untended Power: How Lakeland Leaders Failed Lisa Womack and Each Other

Power is the soil of leadership. When it’s cultivated, deployed, and restrained with care and expansive purpose, it can produce bounty. When you look at all the pretty things you like in this city, you may think you’re looking at sound, forward-looking policy. What you’re really looking at is power. Because there is no policy […]

One Sentence to Sum Up Lakeland Leadership

It ran in The Ledger this morning: City commissioners likely will soon discuss a plan to conduct a morale survey for employees at City Hall and the Lakeland Police Department. Dear God. How long ago did we start talking about that survey? Props to Keith Merritt for finally doing the right thing and withdrawing support […]

From the Penultimate Pancake Festival

photo credit: Chuck Welch for Lakeland Local

What I learned at the Fabulous Gretchen Peters Concert

If you’ve ever listened to the Sean Hannity radio show (don’t ask, I don’t exactly know when I have, osmosis of some sort), you may have heard the stirring Martina McBride country anthem, “Independence Day.” He uses it to open the show. Here’s the refrain: Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing Let the […]