County Commission treats its
own like dogs
Ellisville Utility Boondoggle marches on
Columbia County, FL
(posted March 27, 2010 - 01:55 pm)
A moderate crowd showed up for the county meeting. The
Sheriff's department had five of its members there
to protect the County Commission from some mysterious
threat from the old folks from Ellisville, who can
barely pay their bills now.
It was a sad day in Columbia County Thursday night as
long time County Commissioner and Board Chairman, Ronald
Williams, treated Commissioners Bailey and Frisina with
a rudeness and disdain that he usually reserves for
members of the public and your reporter. Com Williams'
treatment of Com Scarlet Frisina was particularly
disturbing, as he pointed his finger in her face,
wouldn't allow her to talk and treated her more like one
of his hunting dogs than a representative of the people.
the meeting progressed, Chairman Williams did a lot of
talking about straw polls, cans of worms and other
things, which were irrelevant, and it was clear that the
county commission and the county management were
entering into unchartered territory. The cries of "We're
in the utility business," for the past few months by Com
Williams and others should have been more accurately
stated as, "We're in training to be in the utility
business." That couldn't have been clearer during
Thursday night's special meeting.
District III's Com DuPree's recent remark that the
County Manager didn't know anything about the utility
business may have very well been on point, but the rest
of the sentence should have been and "neither do we."
What everybody has conveniently forgotten was in
2006, when the preliminary talks about the Ellisville
utility began ratcheting up, it was boom times in
Florida and unemployment was 3.3 percent, property
values were skyrocketing and the county was rolling in
Throughout the meeting, County Manager Dale Williams,
unlike the Board Chairman, was gracious with his
answers. Here he is answering a question from Denise
Bose of East Side Village
On March 15, 2007, with the boom times barreling
along, this project was pushed into high gear to benefit
the 19 businesses in Ellisville, when the County
Commission presented and passed the Drinking Water
Facilities Plan the Columbia County way, like a mugging,
with so little notice that one is not aware of it until
it is happening.
A week later, County Manager Dale Williams was making
promises to the big boys, like Pilot, that water could
be at the Ellisville interchange by April of 2008.
The 10 residential customers that fell within the
initial Ellisville service area were an afterthought and
nobody was making them any promises.
April 2008 came and went and no one who was familiar
with the SOP of Columbia County was surprised that there
wasn't a drop of Ellisville utility water to be found.
Time marched on as Columbia County dragged its feet
and jerked around. The economy was going bust and for a
while at least, the county used some common sense and
realized that it just couldn't afford to keep marching
on with a project that was way behind schedule and
clearly couldn't support itself anymore. The Ellisville
Utility Boondoggle was headed into moth balls where it
belonged. That didn't last long.
A short time after the elections of Jody DuPree and
Scarlet Frisina, the "good ole boy" fat cats, the under
the radar movers and shakers of Columbia County that are
always getting the special deals on fire protection or
timberland exemptions – the same folks that were
wheeling and dealing the land around Ellisville before
the utility talk left the hut built with Com Williams'
"straw polls," made a stand. Never mind that they should
have been the ones to get together and build a water
plant or devise a plan to grow their investments in
So much for the moth balls.
Instead, their well connected friends in the county
saw to it that the giant hand of government reached its
mitt into the pockets of all the working families of
Columbia County and the people of America, via
fraudulently acquired stimulus money, to pay for
something that they should have paid for themselves,
proving once again that the true believers in private
enterprise are the biggest hypocrites of all when they
smell greenbacks in their neighbor's pockets.
Of course, the County could have worked with the City
and pumped the best fresh water in Florida from the City
line down 441 to Ellisville and built an eight mile long
commercial corridor with endless potential, but the
County fathers, after years of well practiced
myopia and warfare -- spelled jealousy -- with Lake
City, couldn't see the forest through straw poll dust in
their eyes, as that plan fell dead, with the usual
Columbia County cry baby excuses.
County utility attorney, Brian Armstrong of NGN, had to
jump in and save the county from potential law suits
after Commissioner Dewey Weaver made a motion, which
would have treated some of Ellisville's residents
differently than their neighbors. The leaders of
Columbia County still haven't learned that folks are
supposed to be treated equally.
Anybody who thinks that pipeline wouldn't have been a
greater benefit to Columbia County and Columbia County's
economic development than what is presently going on in
the Ellisville Utility Boondoggle just can't think.
Attorney foils raid on mystery fund
Commissioner Weaver's attempted Thursday night raid
on some secret "economic development" fund money to pay
impact fees for the cash strapped, hapless residents in
Ellisville and his explanation – longevity lets you know
where the money is -- when queried by Com DuPree,
confirmed what many folks have been thinking for years –
that the county has not been playing it straight with
The County Manager's shuck and jive follow up begs
for an explanation from the County Clerk, the chief
financial officer of the county and a forensic audit by
the Fed, who should finally come in here and turn the
county pockets inside out, because they too have been
getting screwed by the county for a long time.
Of course, with Florida's unemployment rate the
highest in the nation and the highest it has ever been,
none of this helps the poor folks in Ellisville and the
folks in other parts of the county, who are going to be
subject to the county's cast net and the unstoppable
greedy hand of big county government when this utility
scenario repeats itself again and again in other parts
of the county.