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 […]

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 […]

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 […]


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 […]

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 […]


photo credit: Tom Hagerty for Lakeland Local

Merry Christmas and Happy Leadership from Shakespeare and King Hal

It occurs to me — as odd, non-sequitorish things often occur to me — that Shakespeare’s ruthless quill may have created the white Santa and struck the first fierce blow in the war on Christmas. Sure, I guess it’s well-established that the notion of Santa Claus comes from that swarthy Greek, Saint Nicholas. But honestly, […]

Frank’s Friends Are a Minority — and a Problem

I have a soft spot for Frank O’Reilly. He was giving the business to predatory charter schools, generally, and Harold Maready, specifically, before it was cool. Even before me. Before that, he used to light up the Polk County Builders Association over obstinate impact fee objections. I once called Frank “the only card-carrying member of […]

#LKLD Election 2013: One powerful inference, and one straight-up fact

I don’t have all that much to say about the election. You all know where I stand if you’ve been reading at all. Howard Wiggs made the gutsy decision to turn this election into a referendum on the city manager and chief and, I like to think, the city attorney. He won, fairly handily, by […]

On the Frances Langford Promenade

photo credit: Tom Hagerty for Lakeland Local

Bottom Line: A Vote for Wiggs is the Only Chance for Reckoning

Gow Fields weaves together condescension and content-free word strands as skillfully as my grandmother braided hair. It is his core political talent. And it was on full display during my little visit to the City Commission last week. With two exceptions, I have a hard time remembering anything he said.* But those two exceptions are […]

Questions for Monday’s City Commission Meeting

In the wake of the Friday agenda study and the mayoral debate at my Lakeland Kiwanis Club, I’ve figured out specifically what I’m going to ask city commissioners on Monday morning. I’m looking for clarity, not debate. I’m not going to argue with them. I think this is, by far, the most serious leadership crisis […]

Lakeland Has America’s Worst City Government. We Have to Confront It Every Day.

Late Update (9 p.m.): Wow. Much has happened in the last 10 hours. First Don Selvage, then Howard Wiggs, have made clear calls for leadership changes. Good for them. The dynamics of this have just changed significantly. It will probably not be pretty from here on out, but this is a necessary process for getting […]


photo credit: Tom Hagerty for Lakeland Local

Our City Commission is Quite United, Bruce. The Unity is the Problem

The Lakeland Police Advisory Committee (LPAC) is headed and given voice by the forceful Bruce Abels, a longtime top executive with Saddle Creek. I know Bruce pretty well, and I respect his sharp intellect and civic-mindedness. He didn’t ask for the peculiar unpaid honor of taking a lot of crap in public — not to […]


photo credit: Tom Hagerty for Lakeland Local

Get Specific or Get Rolled: Fighting Lakeland’s “Darkness Visible”

I’ve attended any number of police Town Hallish events over the years. And LPD’s on Monday night went about as I expected. The over-under on speaker references to unfair Baker Acts is always 2. We hit that exactly. And there’s always the funny woman saying/doing something outrageous to make the entire uproar seem ridiculous. Thus, […]