Saturday, January 30, 2010

Queen City

Is it wrong to take pride in one’s hometown? What if outsiders imply that one’s hometown has nothing a rational adult could possibly consider prideworthy? Not that this is in any way a fair characterization of my own childhood home, Lakeland, Florida – the Queen City of Western Polk County.

Well, I mention this because I did feel a slight surge of pride when my sister Betsy sent me a Ledger article on Doc Dockery, one of the prime movers behind the high-speed rail line that President Obama promoted in his Tampa speech last week. Mr. Dockery was relentless in following through on the high-speed rail issue, taking on more than one recalcitrant governor and various other politicians in pushing this idea through the Florida legislature.

This is what my Grandmother Yost used to call “stick-to-itiveness,” and Doc isn’t the only Lakelander to exhibit this quality -- as was evident in a hometown-relevant article sent to me last week by my friend Rachel under the cheery greeting, “Lakeland Drama!”

Rachel’s story was about the murder of Abraham Shakespeare, a Lakeland man who recently won an 11-million-dollar payout from the Florida lottery. Mr. Shakespeare’s body was found Wednesday under a 30 by 30 foot slab of concrete on the property of Shar Krasniqi, the boyfriend of Ms. Denice “DeeDee” Moore (no relation -- really), a woman described as a “person of interest.”

Anyone reading the article is likely to get the impression that the “interest” of the police in Ms. Moore is more than casual. In fact, she reportedly told Mr. Shakespeare that she would help him, “come up with a plan to drop out of sight to get away from people who were constantly asking for money and so he could avoid child-support problems.”

Once again the stick-to-itiveness of a fellow Lakelander shows its stuff. Think about it: If in fact Ms. Moore turns to out to have been behind the interment of Mr. Shakespeare, she can unabashedly say that her “plan” did everything she said it would for him:

Drop out of sight – check (!)

Get away from people who constantly ask for money – check

Avoid child-support problems – check

Admittedly there may have been some aspects of the plan on which Mr. Shakespeare was not briefed.

But here it is necessary to raise an ethical issue. No, not the impropriety of making light of a situation that, for at least one individual, can surely be considered a tragedy (guilty). I’m thinking about the child support matter. Was Mr. Shakespeare, with his 11 million dollars in the bank, seeking a way to avoid child support payments? If so, shame on you, sir. And if not, let me offer both condolences and apologies right here and now. As a fellow Lakelander, I can do no less.