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The Lakeland City Commission asked me to schedule a private meeting with State Attorney Jerry Hill to discuss the status of Sergeant Brian McNabb and to explore ways to improve the relationship between the State Attorney’s Office and the Lakeland Police Department.  I believe the City of Lakeland and the State Attorney’s Office share a common interest in protecting our citizens and trust we can find an acceptable path to achieve that end.


It was and continues to be my expectation based upon the direction that I received from the Lakeland City Commission, that I would be meeting with Mr. Hill in private in the spirit of trying to resolve outstanding issues.  I was surprised when I found out late this afternoon that instead of a private meeting between the two of us, the media was also invited to attend without my knowledge.


I was under the impression that the meeting would between the two of us in an effort to explore options regarding Sergeant McNabb as well as other ways to improve relationships between the two agencies.   Similar to challenging collective bargaining negotiations, acceptable solutions often are achieved in less formal settings between parties.  My experience is that such an approach allows the principals the opportunity to frankly explore potential common ground as opposed to what is said in the formal trappings of a very public session.


Sergeant McNabb was issued a letter from the State Attorney stating that his office would no longer accept his testimony, which essentially is a career ending letter for a Police Officer.  Based on the results of the LPD’s Internal Investigation on Sgt. McNabb, the City desired the opportunity to discuss his status and the possibility of him testifying in the future.


It was not my intent nor do I believe the intent of the Lakeland City Commission to have me meet with State Attorney Jerry Hill in a public environment.  Accordingly, I believe I that it would be prudent to seek further direction from the City Commission on how to proceed.  We agreed that tomorrow’s meeting would be postponed and I have reiterated to Mr. Hill the City’s desire to have me meet with him at least initially in private to find solutions to our challenges.  To that end, I am fully prepared to meet with Mr. Hill at our earliest convenience and have asked him to reconsider his position on the format of such a meeting.



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.





LAKELAND, FL (February 25, 2013) – Don Selvage has filed paperwork with the City of Lakeland’s Clerk, officially announcing his decision to run for a second term on the Lakeland City Commission representing the Southwest District.


Selvage is President of SHR Human Resources, LLC, offering consulting and professional recruiting services in the Central Florida area.  Selvage stated: “It has been a profound honor and privilege to serve the residents of Lakeland and I am excited about the future of this great city.  I am asking our citizens to return me to office so that I can continue my focus on: 1) Sustaining open communications and dialogue among citizens, the city commission, and city management; 2) Facilitating job growth by supporting business development; 3) Building safe, livable, and engaged neighborhoods; 4) Advocating for our seniors’ quality of life to support independent living and aging in place; and 5) Building awareness of veterans issues.”


Selvage holds a BA Degree in Political Science from Ohio State University as well as Masters’ Degrees in Administration from Central Michigan University and in National Security Affairs from Salve Regina College.  Following graduation from Ohio State University, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 30 years as an infantry officer and he is a veteran of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars.  Before retiring as a Colonel, he held several command and staff positions overseas and in the continental United States.


Actively involved in several civic and professional organizations, he currently serves as Vice Chairman, Polk County Veterans Council and is Past President of the Polk County Military Officers Association, Mid-Florida Society of Human Resource Managers, and the Lakeland Rotary Club.  He is a board member of the Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine. As a city commissioner, he serves on the boards of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, Lakeland Mass Transit District, Polk Transit Authority, Transportation Planning Organization, the Central Florida Development Council’s Arts and Culture Committee, and  the Sun n’ Fun Fly-In.  


Selvage is married to his wife Rita, a teacher at Dixieland Elementary.  They have been married for 43 years.


Polk County Commissioner John Hall and City of Lakeland Commissioner Phillip Walker are hosting a town hall at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 7 at the North Lakeland YMCA, 2125 Sleepy Hill Road, Lakeland.

Residents are invited to meet with the commissioners to discuss issues and concerns relevant to the community.

For more information, contact Commissioner Hall’s office at 863-534-6049 or the City of Lakeland Communications office at 863-834-6264.