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Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas Response to Media

Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas

Response to Media

 

As reported in at least one media outlet, I did speak with Commissioner Wiggs yesterday afternoon.  We have worked together for 10 years and I am obviously disappointed by his statement.  I have carefully followed the plan of action that was publicly outlined at the July 22nd Town Hall meeting including working closely with the Commission endorsed Lakeland Police Advisory Commission (LPAC) as we address the issues facing the Lakeland Police Department. Howard is a respected member of the Lakeland City Commission but as City Manager, I work for the Mayor and City Commission as a whole and therefore understand that different opinions regarding my management of the City are inevitable, especially during the stressful times we are experiencing.

 

I believe I have been responsive to what the City Commission has asked me to do. As requested at the June 28th Agenda Study Session, I had Police Chief Womack meet with the City Commission on July 1st to speak about the actions she and the command staff were taking in response to the issues facing the LPD.  Further, during my comments at the July 22nd Town Hall Meeting, I outlined the specifics of a plan to ensure our investigations followed all required state laws, collective bargaining agreement provisions and due process and to issue appropriate levels of discipline based upon the results of those investigations.

 

I promised and have delivered upon my commitment to keep both the City Commission and the public informed as to results of the various investigations as they were completed, which have included advance notice to City Commissioners followed by public media releases, press conferences and posting on the City’s special LPD microsite.  Recognizing the importance of transparency in response to these issues, this same microsite also includes a robust listing of virtually every piece of information that has been generated throughout our efforts and has become a widely accessed and trusted source of information by our community, our employees and the news media. 

 

I also pledged the support of both myself and the entire municipal organization to work with and promptly respond to any information or request by the Commission endorsed LPAC as they carried out their mission and charge to address the following:

1.      Do we – the City of Lakeland and the LPD – have the appropriate processes in place to address the challenges we are confronting today?

2.      What can be done to improve a speak-up culture within the LPD and City Hall?

3.      What can be done to improve a culture in which citizens can know their complaints will be heard, fairly evaluated and acted upon promptly?

4.      What measurements can we set in place to fairly judge our success?

The LPAC was asked to provide an update to the City Commission within 30 days of their first meeting which was done on September 3rd and complete their final report within 60 to 90 days.  They are on schedule and are planning to present their findings and recommendations at the October 21, 2013 City Commission meeting.

Lastly, in addition to my commitment to work with the LPAC, I stated as City Manager that I would simultaneously be developing a specific plan of action that will address what we learned from our investigations; why our established policies and procedures failed; and outline a framework of initiatives that I and the LPD administration will be implementing to prevent such matters from occurring in the future.  In our September 11thpresentation to the LPAC, Chief Womack and I highlighted our accountability for our respective operations, the status of our investigations, disciplinary actions taken, current responses to issues and most importantly, a comprehensive blueprint of the steps and programs we believe will be required going forward.

 

At a Lakeland Chamber of Commerce function that very same evening, I encouraged Commissioner Wiggs to watch the presentation on the LPD microsite as several of his colleagues had attended the meeting and were very complementary of the information provided.  I was surprised to learn during yesterday’s conversation that he has not yet watched the video presentation.  That presentation was intended to serve as the basis of my final report and recommendations to the City Commission on October 21st following their receipt of the LPAC report.

 

My job as City Manager is to professionally lead and oversee the operations of this organization and I will continue to do so to the best of my abilities during these trying times.  I have carried out exactly what I committed to do dating back to the July 22nd Town Hall meeting. I reaffirmed that same path of action with the consent of the City Commission at their August 5th meeting and we are within weeks of completing that process.  The City of Lakeland has accomplished tremendous success during my tenure as City Manager through a productive and collaborative relationship with the City Commission, and I am confident that this foundation will enable us to successfully resolve our current challenges as well.

 


EDDIE HALL ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR LAKELAND CITY COMMISSIONER

 LAKELAND, FL (February 13, 2013) – Eddie Hall filed papers on Monday, February 11th to become a candidate for the Lakeland City Commission, At Large # 1 position.   Hall is the second person to file paperwork for the At Large seat being vacated by Howard Wiggs. Mr. Wiggs is not seeking re-election due to term limits and his campaign for Mayor.  Hall states, “I love Lakeland!   I have lived, worked and been involved with many activities in the Lakeland area for the past 41 years.   I have seen the City of Lakeland grow over this time period, having lived in the north Lakeland area for 27 years and in the south area for the past 14.” He added,  “Lakeland has a very diverse community and I want to serve as a representative for ALL the citizens of Lakeland.   I will bring the same drive and determination I have always had to the office of City Commissioner when representing the people of our community.”

 

Hall was born in Kalkaska, Michigan in 1964 and raised on his family’s farm until age 8 when they moved to north Lakeland.   Several weeks after moving to the Lake Gibson area, Hall was struck by a car traveling approximately 70 mph, leaving him a paraplegic for life.   Hall said, “The doctors were amazed that I survived the accident and declared it a miracle.”   Having multiple fractures and concussions, he went through several operations after the accident and was able to return home, even though the doctors felt there was no hope for a normal future.  

 

Hall returned to the Polk County School system at Padgett Elementary as the first wheelchair bound student and participated with all the other children.  Determined not to allow his disability to prevent him from leading a normal life, Hall learned to become quite proficient with his wheel chair.  His determination helped him to earn letters in three sports (football, basketball and track) at Lake Gibson Senior High (LGSH) while serving as team manager.  He became known as “Fast Eddie” for his ability to respond quickly to player requests.  After graduating from LGHS, he went on to Polk Community College where he obtained his Associates of Science degree in Computer Engineering and was an equipment manager with the basketball team.  

 

One of Hall’s goals was to work for Publix Supermarkets.  In 1984, his dream came true when he started a successful career with Publix in the Dispatch Department.  Upon completing 10 years of service working in Lakeland Dispatch, he was promoted to the Corporate Distribution and Warehousing Division working as a Systems Administrator for the Transportation Routing system.   In this capacity, he served all Publix distribution centers in the southeast United States and traveled to Miami, Atlanta, Tennessee and other locations. 

 

He participated in a number of committees for Publix during this time as well as representing Publix on the Orlando and Tampa Bay Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization, and Polk County Transportation Planning Organization. In 2000, he was promoted to Inventory Control Manager for Publix Dairy processing where he was responsible for the purchasing of ALL products for the Plant.   Hall is the first wheelchair employee employed at Publix.  He has spent his entire adult life as an advocate for the disabled and mobility impaired.  Hall said, “It is an Honor and Privilege to be a part of the Publix Family.”  

 

He retired with distinction from Publix in 2010 after 26 years of service and is now employed part-time as a Lead Sales Generator with the South Lakeland Home Depot store.  After many years as a local pioneer and advocate, Hall wants to continue serving the local community.  He will use his many years of experience of working in the corporate world and on issues for persons with disabilities to serve ALL of the citizens of Lakeland.  Hall is married and has two children, Evert and Edilson.  His wife Katty is from Babahoyo, Ecuador.

 

Eddie Hall Volunteer activities in Lakeland and Polk County:

 

Lakeland Sister Cities International – Chairman, Babahoyo, Ecuador Committee
Polk County Transportation Planning Organization – Board Member, Disabled Representative

Polk County Transportation Planning Organization- Citizen Advisory Council, City of Lakeland Representative
Lakeland Housing Authority - Commissioner
Polk County Council Parent Teacher Association - Treasurer
Polk County Schools – Exceptional Student Education – Executive Board and Advisory Council
Polk County Schools - Jesse Keene Elementary School Student Advisory Council

Home Depot Diversity Committee

Lakeland Physically Handicap Club, former President

Lakeland Handicap Bowling Club, former President

Lakeland Jaycees, former Director

 

 

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