Let's connect the dots, shall we?

Citizens want the city to behave well, protect their interests, and manage their tax dollars responsibly - and frugally.

They often chant their dissatisfaction in emails to City Hall, on Facebook, and in letters to the editor, urging better outcomes and looking for improvements to the city’s livability.

But seldom, it seems, in person at city commission meetings. And often, past the point of no return.

It doesn’t have to be so.

Near the end of a recent Monday commission meeting, Commissioner Bill Read suggested moving the meeting time back to 9:00 AM in light of the fact that the citizens who chanted for a chance to address them at a more convenient hour, almost never do. The motion was not seconded but may come back after the November election installs at least one new commissioner.

As for the timing of active citizenship, many procrastinate by inaction at the earliest stages when reasonable changes can still be reasonably accommodated, and then are left in the almost useless position of railing against a fait accompli!

Now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of the city.

Summit Consulting, a Lakeland-based company is considering moving from its current location in Commerce Park, to a vacant parcel in downtown, which has been vacant for more than 30 years, generates no tax revenue, and costs the city to maintain.

Considering. This is not a one deal. It is a plan. It is subject to many stages of review, compromise, and reconfiguration. It may not happen at all, but citizenship allows - and requires - full participation for each individual who wishes to be heard on the matter.

No, you don’t get a vote. Not you, personally. You gave that vote to the seven commissioners who will listen not only to the planners, developers, and experts, but also to you, and me. This is representative democracy. Every citizen is eligible to cast a vote for every commissioner, who, while four of them must reside in one of the city’s four geographical quadrants, are elected to represent and serve us all.

Now is the time to speak and be heard. If you don’t, it’s on you.

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