The race for mayor of Lakeland has attracted a fourth candidate: Christopher Diaz, a 33-year-old former Polk Sheriff’s detective and current co-owner of a children’s goods retailer. He told The Ledger he doesn’t have a position on the strong-mayor ballot issue: “It’s up to the voters. I’m looking to be a representative of their voice. … I’m not running for mayor to put my ideals in them. They tell me what do to, and I will serve them to the best of my ability.”
City commissioners on Tuesday raised stormwater fees and parking ticket fines. They got updates on medical marijuana dispensaries, Chamber of Commerce plans, the Lakeland Magic and a Simpson Park teaching garden. They also chose a firm to coordinate a homeless strategy and delayed hearing a land-use dispute between a boat storage facility and homeowners. Check meeting highlights below as shared on Twitter.
Patrick Shawn Jones, a 52-year-old heavy metal DJ and certified sterilization technician (Facebook profile), has filed (document) to run for mayor, offering a strong contrast with businessman Bill Mutz, the only other announced candidate. “I know how it is to ride a city bus to work and have to walk home because the bus doesn’t run at night. I know what the price of bread is at Walmart — I can’t afford Publix,” he told reporter Christopher Guinn.
Lakeland’s homeless people would be better served with more focus on “rapid re-housing” (info) and less on transitional housing, according to a consultant recommended to guide the city’s strategy on homelessness. Commissioners are scheduled to decide June 19 whether to award a contract to Tallahassee-based Florida Housing Coalition (link).
Robert Palmer, whose high school graduation took place at The Lakeland Center 19 years ago, announces that the building will carry his initials now that its name is being changed to the RP Funding Center. Palmer's mortgage-lending company has signed a five-year naming rights deal for the building that opened in 1974 as the Lakeland Civic Center. RP Funding is also founding partner of the Lakeland Magic NBA D-league team that will be headquartered at the renamed center.
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The Ledger: The five-year naming rights deal was part of a larger package involving the building, the Lakeland Magic and the Orlando Magic likely exceeding $5 million.
Video: Lakeland Magic | Full news conference