What we have here, is a failure to communicate

We know that’s a dated wisecrack – and maybe a little too snarky for the circumstances – but it remains a perfect crystallization of what just happened as the city commission was about to approve a development contract.

It also, unfortunately, describes the culture of civic engagement between government and the governed that has been infected by disinterest and detachment and has disabled the essence of citizenship and its representatives.

Communication is a two-party event.

Both of us have failed.

But we have a moment to take advantage of, in which we can bring our voices to the conversation, and be considered by the officials we have elected and the city management they are responsible for.

After a three-and-a-half hour exchange, the commission – in a 4-3 decision – postponed the vote for two weeks to invite fresh citizen feedback on the project or the process or both. Some have found fault with the timing, referring to it as the “eleventh hour” and saying it like it’s a bad thing. The “eleventh hour” is precisely the best time to make sure a major decision will serve a good outcome because by then it will have been almost completely formed. It isn’t always useful to critique an unfinished plan too early in its development.

So, gather information, consider it, and then send your notes to City Manager Tony Delgado – who will collect and compile them for presentation to the commissioners and the affected city staff.

Watch Video highlights of Monday’s commission meeting

Review The complete record of the public workshop held in October of last year

Please note that, as requested, CRA Director Nicole Travis provided an access path for the public comments along with all the documents associated with the workshop.

Now, let’s do our part. Engage your citizenship.

E-mail the commissioners

But one at a time, please!


For the most part, when recipients open an email that includes others they are less inclined to take it personally. Make sure your message resonates by sending it to each commissioner separately.

Scott Franklin - Stephanie Madden -  Sara McCarley - Chad Mcleod

Bill Mutz - Bill Read - Phillip Walker

Each of these noble citizens represents all the rest of us. The four geographic designations - Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast, etc. - apply only to the residency requirements for commissioners, not to their constituents. Bill Read, for instance, lives in the city's northeast quadrant and is likely to be more in tune with the businesses and neighborhoods in that area, but serves us all as our representative to the city management and staff.

It will always help to send your message to City Manager Shawn Sherouse  because it's his job to implement whatever projects, resolutions, and ordinances the Commission proposes in response to our communication.


State legislators representing Lakeland

Representative Colleen Burton

Senator Kelli Stargell