Federal taxpayers and Lakelanders -- not gubernatorial candidate Ron Desantis -- are cleaning up Lake Bonnet

Also, Sheriff Grady Judd sounds like he's bored with being Polk County's sheriff and is auditioning for an OAN show. Recapping DeSantis' government-sponsored campaign swing through Polk County.

The federal government is cleaning up Lake Bonnet in Lakeland with a $42.9 million grant issued thought the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s quite good news, connected to the Barnett family’s construction of Bonnet Springs Park.

Here’s a quick rundown on the federal “Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program” that we’ve all paid for through federal taxes.

The Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program is designed to provide funding opportunities for counties, municipalities and state agencies to develop large-scale mitigation activities that allow Florida communities to be more resilient to future disasters.

The funds are allocated to the state through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) newly created Community Development Block Grant – Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) program formed in response to the 2016 to 2017 presidentially declared disasters.

Rather than provide the basic information and truth about this allocation, the city of Lakeland issued what amounted to a campaign press release for politician Ron DeSantis, which said nothing about the federal government’s dominant role. And then city government held what amounted to a campaign event late last week honoring the governor for spending our federal tax money.

At a different meeting earlier in the day, I heard David Bunch accurately describe the federal funding in a non-political way. David is one of the driving forces behind the Bonnet Springs Park. I understood David to say that the private capital spent to clean up the former Bonnet Springs industrial site — plus the city’s investments and expertise — is what led to the federal grant.

That’s actually an excellent civic story to tell about governments at multiple levels collaborating to build public benefit. I’m not sure why city elected officials and staff were unable or unwilling to tell it.

But I do know that political and economic power in this community hates the federal government unless it is benefitting personally from it — like the Harrell family’s $7 million-plus in free PPP socialism money. So the official city communication all but suggests Ron DeSantis wrote the check from his personal account.

Grady sounds like he’s about to quit and go do a Newsmax show

Polk Sheriff Grady Judd held a similar “campaign” event for DeSantis on Monday for the ridiculous run people down in the street if you ‘feel’ nervous anti-protest, culture war nonsense bill he has championed.

The sheriff has needed to arrest four of his deputies for political threats or criminal abuse of the public just since January. By comparison, a total of five people were arrested last summer in Lakeland after a brief skirmish between a car and a small crowd multiple blocks away from the Lakeland protest. And yet, this new law could likely have been used to prosecute a number of city officials who attended both last summer’s peaceful protest and DeSantis’ veiled campaign event last week.

Rather than address the culture of his agency, which seems to be falling apart as deputies threaten and steal from the public, the sheriff made himself ridiculous at DeSantis’ campaign event.

DeSantis, who took no questions, was joined by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who used the platform to overtly threaten people who move to Florida and don’t vote for Republicans.

“We only want to share one thing as you move in hundreds a day,” Judd said, addressing an imagined crowd of newcomers. “Welcome to Florida, but don’t register to vote and vote the stupid way you did up North, or you’ll get what they got.”

Grady has said many Grady things over the years — some of which are funny, some are provocative, but few of which have been dumb. This one is just dumb. And petty. Grady just seems bored with doing the hard work of sheriff. It wouldn’t surprise me if he announced he’s quitting to go to an OAN or Fox shows. That seems to be where his heart is — getting into everyone else’s business on camera. His heart certainly is not in fixing the broken culture of his agency.

I genuinely miss the Grady with whom I had a tough, substantive, public debate about arming teachers — and who then helped hammer out a compromise that provided security without arming them. I don’t know who this guy is; and I wonder if he does. He used to be more than Sheriff “Own the Libs.”

And I doubt seriously that any law enforcement agency led by a talk show host with a deteriorating culture hostile to the public (or at least the parts of the public it dislikes, politically and socially) can enforce this law as anything about a political tool for intimidating critics or DeSantis political opponents.

Florida asks nothing of its citizens today. That’s why we have to import our capital, rather than develop it

I am not naive. Politicians often like to take credit for stuff their opponents do, even after trashing it. And they often like to try to use laws they create to punish opponents. I was an elected politician myself; and I observed this behavior at all levels of government. Education is particularly susceptible to this.

Indeed, I expect Ron DeSantis to be re-elected governor. Lots of people are going to travel to Florida to visit and spend tourist money post COVID. And the federal government, as here in Lakeland with Lake Bonnet, is going to drop tons and tons of money to improve life. DeSantis will take credit for it while screaming about how terrible the federal government is.

Of course, the moment he wins re-election in Florida, he will stop being governor and become presidential candidate Ron DeSantis — running on the making the rest of the country into Florida Man. That will go less well for him, I suspect.

Indeed, net migration to Florida is at its lowest rate since 2014.

The Journal writes that there were actually fewer moves into Florida from other states in 2020 than any time in the last nine years. The boom in luxury developments in the state appears to suggest that it’s turning into a playground for the wealthy, rather than emerging as an attractive destination for opportunity-seekers.

Bloomberg, too, reports that while enthusiasm from the Manhattan elite and the Wall Street crowd for Florida was high in the early months of the pandemic, it has already begun to fizzle. “The main problem with moving to Florida is that you have to live in Florida,” one investment banker told Bloomberg.

Other people’s money covers many many sins of bad governance in Florida. Our state relies on depleting capital created elsewhere — rather than developing our own — through the migration of wealthy retirees or portable capital. It’s why we have produced America’s worst state education system.

Florida is a bad model for developing and governing a state; but, politically, it will be very hard to overcome at the state level in 2022. Consumption of capacity is popular because it’s fun; and it asks nothing of you as a citizen. You see that the only thing Grady is asking of citizens is to vote for his buddies.

That’s the path Florida has chosen as a polity today: to ask nothing of its citizens in building a future.

The Lake Bonnet story, if told correctly, shows a different path, where rare homegrown private Florida capital came together with local and federal government to do something very helpful to civic capacity and the future.

But Ron DeSantis and his supporters can’t have that story told. People might like it too much. I think it’s a story worth telling, even if city government doesn’t. And I intend, with whatever limited means I have, to correct the incorrect stories politicians tell.