Say Again: Gov. Lex Luthor Will Find a Reason to Keep SunRail/CSX

[box type=”shadow”]Editor’s Note: I’m on a month long “sabbatical” and for some reason Billy Townsend is in on the shores of Lake Erie, but he was able to send a message to suggest we rerun his column from February 17. Good idea.[/box] I think, generally, that creating and developing a publicly-owned rail line in the […]

How Can I Kill SunRail, But Keep CSX’s Welfare Money?

I think that’s what working through Gov. Medicare Fraud’s very smooth head these days, as signified by his delaying any decision on killing CSX/SunRail until after the legislative session. The Axe the Tax/Tea Party folks are crowing that this is the “death knell” for SunRail. Maybe. But what does that even mean? What is this […]

Time for freeloading Winter Haven to pony up for USFP

Cash MunnyNow that Winter Haven, the welfare queen of cities, is on the record with its plan to use USF Polytechnic as the world’s most high tech remote park-and-ride lot for a Legoland, maybe city and business leaders over there could actually consider paying a fair share of the campus’ development instead of riding off everyone else’s dime.

Breakfast with DOT

Goodness Gracious. Whatever one thinks of the outcome of the CSX/High Speed Rail/Tri-Rail/Rail Authority/Sunrail monstrosity that finally romanced its way through Tallahassee last week, can we all agree on the general lameness of DOT’s supposed leaders? I’d long since given up on any expectation that Stephanie Kopelousos and her top staffers would actually provide public […]

Troutman Goes Gangster on Cousin JD

The CSX/SunRail/High Speed Rail session is underway, and chaos seems to be reigning. The big news, as seen in this Ledger story, is that Rep. Baxter Troutman won’t vote because of his interest in a business that stands to profit from the CSX deal. That business, Phoenix Industries, I probably don’t need to tell you, is owned by his cousin, JD Alexander. Hilarity ensues. I really figured this thing was a done deal this time for any number of reasons, but I think it might be crumbling again. What a mess. Again.

Weak SunRail Sauce

I clearly don’t know the back story to any of the most recent negotiations – or whatever they are. But the letters to Sunrail backers from the Federal Transit Authority and from CSX discussing the new developments are chock full of nothing. They commit to nothing and really hint at nothing.

Take a look for yourselves on the extended entry:

From the Department of CSX Actions No One Could Have Predicted

Some schlub wrote this not long ago:

In this economy, CSX will not lightly walk away from more than $600 million in cash and system improvements, liability or no.

A commenter expressed some skepticism and asked what I based that on. Oh, well, just a hunch.

From The Orlando Sentinel:

Last week, in a development first reported by the Orlando Sentinel, Dyer, Mica and others negotiated an extension to a proposed contract with CSX, the Jacksonville train company that owns the tracks that SunRail would use.

CSX Deal: Relic of a [For Now] Bygone Era

In this economy, CSX will not lightly walk away from more than $600 million in cash and system improvements, liability or no. FDOT probably still wants to hand that money over to the company. In fact, it’s already done so to some degree in the form of ongoing overpass improvements in north central Florida. Buddy Dyer is out begging for $20,000 in legal expense money so lawyers can try to figure out a way around the senate. Democracy in action. (Funny that with all the money spent on John Thrasher and other uber lobbyists during the session, Dyer is reduced to panhandling for this. You would think GrayRobinson would just pick it up for him.) Anyway, this isn’t over. But it’s worth taking a moment for some post mortem thoughts before this deal reveals itself as the undead zombie vampire that we fear it might be.

The Heartland Parkway, CSX, and Mapping The Interests of JD Alexander and Company

On Dec. 8, 2006, Winter Haven City Manager David Greene wrote a letter to then FDOT secretary Denver Stutler. It is a marvelously straightforward statement of the relationship between the proposed Heartland Parkway and the CSX deal, which I’ve always seen as the great untold story of both issues. Between them, these two proposals call for roughly $10 billion in public spending to reorganize where and how freight and people move in Central Florida.

When you look closely at the effort to build this wall of money, and at who it might benefit other than CSX, more often than not you see state Sen. JD Alexander, members and alumni of Orlando’s GrayRobinson law firm, and a consistent cast of supporting characters and property owners, who between them own many properties that surround the hub or line the proposed parkway route.

J.D. Makes His Move After a Terrible Day for the CSX Deal

Update: Sentinel says the budget language is much ado about nothing, quoting Alexander and others. We’ll see.

Wow. Intrigue and shenanigans everywhere in the CSX deal on Monday. First and foremost, Senate Democratic leaders finally woke up to realize that a $600 million subsidy for a major corporation at a time of school closings makes for a pretty potent issue with which to club certain Republicans controlling the state purse strings. Later language to move the deal forward magically appeared in the Senate budget, which is controlled by J.D. Alexander.

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.

Senator Dockery’s Letter to Govenor Crist on the Eve of His Announcement

On Tuesday night, Senator Paula Dockery wrote Governor Charlie Crist. The letter was in anticipation of the Govenor’s planned announcement concerning the CSX ILC/Orlando Commuter Rail Project. Lakeland Local presents the full letter inside…

The Almost Charmingly Relentless Bad Faith Of The Orlando Sentinel’s Editorial Page

The Sentinel editorial page was at it again recently, stomping feet and calling people who object to corporate giveaways and freight train disruption in their downtown cores “haters” and other such silliness.

We sure are selfish over here. After all, these freight trains and this looming industrial corridor really aren’t that big of a deal. Don’t we understand that CSX provides a valuable frieight service, for which we should all be thankful? And, I mean, these Orlando folks have just wanted commuter rail for so long. It’s been such a high priority. It’s so important for mobility. And did I mention the freight traffic really isn’t that big a deal? Surely, if they could, those Orlando folks would keep it because it’s really a minor issue, right?

Hmmm. From the Sentinel, A1, Oct. 15, 2002, Part 3 of a 4-part series called Breaking the Gridlock.

Headline: Rerouting Trains Could Ease Backups; But Diverting Them From Orlando’s Center Would Come At A Steep Price

“Twinkies and beer, it turns out, do a remarkably good job of blocking traffic. Of course, anything packed in a mile-long freight train stops traffic. Just ask Central Florida drivers. About a dozen times a day, their trips through Winter Park, Orlando and other parts or urban Orange County are halted by engines and freight cars rumbling across the region’s urban midsection.

CSX Plans 10,000-Foot Siding Just West Of Downtown Lakeland

There has been unofficial talk recently that CSX already has plans and a contract to doubletrack through downtown Lakeland.

CSX spokesoman Gary Sease says this is not true. However, CSX does have fairly imminent plans for a 10,000-foot siding, which will amount to doubletracking, just west of downtown. Here is Sease’s full statement on that, which he provided over a couple of emails in response to an request from me.