The Vikings Sail Away as PSC Teams Adopt ‘Eagles’

Their days as a “community college” long behind them, Polk State College has adopted a new attitude. Now the school’s sports teams will reflect that change. This morning PSC President Dr. Eileen Holden announced the school is adopting the Eagle as the team mascot. “This was a great opportunity for us to adopt a dynamic […]

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 […]

Battle Over USFP

Tomorrow, the’re fighting tooth-and-nail at the University of South Florida Polytechnic. Well, maybe circuit-and-servo. The school is the site of the 2nd Annual USF Poly RoboBattle, an event for more than 175 high-school students from Florida and South Carolina. The RoboBattle is a regional qualifying round in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science […]

Be a patriot, JD: Divest from your CSX-related holdings

As I was driving home last night, I heard a WUSF report in which Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, waxed patriotic about how it’s our duty to support our troops by approving Sunrail. Yes, really. The idea is that the 3,000 daily riders of SunRail will help us wean ourselves from foreign oil, thus making it less likely that our soldiers will need to fight in the Middle East. I wish I could find a link because the actual statement, in his trembling voice, is moving.

Given Alexander’s obvious deep feeling for the common good of our state and soldiers and his solemn belief that the CSX/SunRail deal is so vital to both, I expect an announcement any day that he’s divesting his vast personal business interests in this deal. See them detailed here. Of course, it’s just a coincidence that the Winter Haven rail hub CSX will build as part of this deal with $23 million or so of your money will serve JD’s personal business interests and those of his partners. With a deal this important to our future, this important to our troops, I’m sure that JD will want to remove any taint that might surround it. That’s what a patriot does.

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.

Pay No Attention to That Indefinite Delay for Building the Hub

Hey, you remember when some schmuck wrote this?:

And finally, I now think that if the freight realignment deal goes down, and CSX gets no public money for the hub, it won’t get built – at least for a number of years. I base that sense partly on some completely unreliable third-hand scuttlebut I’ve heard and partly on common sense. The stuff and vehicle-based economy that drove the push for this hub has crashed and faces long-term structural hurdles to returning to what it was in 2005. At the same time, Florida’s explosive population growth, which also drove the rationale for the hub, has halted.

I’m willing to put my – meager – money where my mouth is. Anybody who wants to bet a $1 on the fate of the hub if the realignment deal goes down, drop me a line.

[Emphasis mine]

Let’s mosey on over to Tom Palmer’s blog for a bit of news:

Lakeland Commission: Man, The People We (Ostensibly) Serve Are Annoying

In the latest effort to ensure it still gets invited to all the good regional cocktail parties if and when the CSX deal goes splat, our Lakeland City Commission – excluding Justin Troller and Howard Wiggs – has sent a blanket email – with DOT-fawning letter attached – urging Florida senators to ignore any silly citizen emails or other contact expressing opposition from anyone not “official”.

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.

Central Florida Invitational

Can’t make Spring Training? Then check out some well-played Division I Division I, Division II, NAIA and Junior Colleges baseball at the Central Florida Invitational. It’s 215 teams playing over 600 games in a little more than a month. Here’s the schedule (pdf) The file includes directions to all 14 stadiums in the Lakeland, Winter […]

Thoughts on a Pair of Planning Meetings

TrafficTuesday night there were a pair of meetings where area residents discussed long range community planning.

At the one I attended, Lakeland Vision brought together over 100 concerned residents to discuss Lakeland growth priorities. The Ledger described the other as supporting a study: “…called the Gateway Selected Area Study, is part of an effort to look at the expected growth impact of the planned CSX freight terminal in South Winter Haven and the expected spinoff industrial, commercial and residential development.”

In Lakeland, citizens expressed that the top growth priority should be before the development comes: “Growth will be well-planned and managed to ensure that public infrastructure investments can keep up with the needs of a growing population.”

At the other meeting, they were addressing the growth impact of the CSX rail yard. However, some government officials seemed a bit confused why they were conducting the study:

Where (I Think) The CSX/ILC Deal Stands

CSX Railroad Crossing LightsIt’s important to understand that for Lakeland, as far as I can tell, the CSX deal presents a single potential problem in three parts. That problem is the possible creation of an expanded, multi-track, industrial rail corridor – and all the disruption that would bring – running through the downtown core, where city taxpayers have spent millions to create elegant, livable spaces….

Live Blogging Paula Dockery’s Address to the City Commissioners

The live presentation was Monday November 3rd at the normal Lakeland City Commissioner’s Meeting. I posted what I could as the presentation was made.

You can see the video online or on LGN at 6pm tonight and various other times.

I have Senator Dockery’s slideshow at the end of the live blogging post.

In Defense Of Confrontation – And Democracy

Straw PollCommentary   I got busy last week, so this is a little dated now. But I want to take a moment to revisit Politics-in-the-Park-gate. You may remember, that’s when the crack triumvirate of Tom Palmer, Bob Gernert, and shadowy counterterroism forces within the city of Lakeland’s security apparatus conjured, denounced, and successfully intervened with their imaginations to halt the mortal threat to Charlie Crist’s comfort posed by a blog post I spent 15 minutes writing the night before. A bunch of Jack Bauers, they are.

Background here. There clearly was no plan – other than my meek exhortation – to confront the governor with CSX questions or chanting. (Though I’m told Crist’s FDLE security detail was made aware of the threat and presumably briefed the governor on it. So thanks for that, Tom, Bob, and whoever else. The more the People’s governor associates CSX with controversy and political intensity, the happier I’ll be. The People’s governor is not known for his political bravery. Ask Orlando.)

But what if there was a plan? What if some portion of P in P goers had chanted CSX so that Charlie could hear them or shouted questions since he wasn’t taking them in person, from what I understand. (I wasn’t there when he spoke.)

Over on his Winter Haven Chamber blog, Bob Gernert said such a thing would amount to an “ambush” of the governor. And that would be bad form, I guess.

But wait just a second. Who pays the People’s Governor’s salary? I thought he worked for us. This was an explicitly political rally, wasn’t it? Crist was there, explicitly, to ask us to vote for John McCain. Does this transaction only flow in one direction? We can’t ask him something in return? That’s an ambush? It might hurt his feelings, and that might…..? Whaaaaaa?

Why Not the News Chief & The Ledger?

You might have missed this on the Ledger Web site: The Gainesville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner will merge news operations, according to an announcement by executives of both papers Monday. News and copy desk functions, design, layout and pagination for the two papers will be done in Gainesville.

Now, why is that important to readers of the Ledger and the News-Chief? Read on…