County Utility Committee - Here they go again but with a nice change
Columbia County, FL (Posted Oct 28, 2010 09:25 am)
It was a nice change from the usual nastiness of county meetings, as a serious Com Scarlet Frisina chaired her first meeting and was pleasant and open to questions from the public and the press.
On Tuesday morning, October 26th, the County Utility Committee met, minus its Chairman, Commissioner Jody DuPree. Unlike in the rest of the civilized municipal world, where it is the practice of the Clerk to call the roll at the beginning of a meeting, Columbia County's good old boys skip over that formality in order that they may come up with a creative reason for someone's absence after the meeting.
At the September 28th County Utility Committee meeting, it was Commissioner Bailey who had gone missing. It was announced by Com DuPree that Com Bailey was "tied up somewhere." It was unknown if Com Bailey was at his new job and couldn't get away, had a previous engagement, was mowing his lawn, or was just MIA. It is also unknown if the "tied up somewhere" explanation is in the minutes.
County Attorney Marlin Feagle sat through the whole meeting to make a one minute explanation.
At the beginning of the Sept. 28th meeting, Com DuPree, unaware of rules that he approved when the committee was being set up, announced, "We do not have a quorum."
There was a quorum and this confusion caused the appearance of County Attorney Marlin Feagle at the October 26th meeting to explain that they did indeed have a quorum and what a quorum was. Mr. Feagle's one minute explanation cost the County's tax payers a minimum of $100, as it is unknown if Mr. Feagle charged the County for walking across the street from his office to the meeting, or if there were any other additional research charges involved in his one minute explanation.
Webmaster Patrick Weaver rested his eyes at a meeting he never should have attended.
Squandering public funds is nothing new
Squandering public funds and time is nothing new for the management of Columbia County and the October 26th Utility Committee meeting was another bull's eye.
A power point presentation, prepared by $31 dollar an hour Senior Staff Assistant and former City Manager, David Kraus, was run on a lap top by the County's Webmaster and deputy IT guy, Patrick Weaver, who took time from doing productive work to walk across the street to operate the presentation.
Senior Staff Assistant David Kraus watches the slides of his power point go by.
The Observer asked Mr. Kraus if he knew how to run a power point.
Mr. Kraus told the Observer, "I made the presentation and I know how to present it." Mr. Kraus didn't understand the necessity of Mr. Weaver's appearance at the meeting.
Mr. Kraus took twenty five minutes to read his presentation to the committee. No one had any questions and its recommendations were adopted.
The Committee also decided to hear private utility rate cases before they went to the County Commission. The County Commission is required by statute to hear rate cases.
Three of the five County Commissioners are seated on the Utility Committee.
This pre hearing, will have three county commissioners hearing the same case twice, causing twice the time and work for the county staff and causing the impartial hearing officer – the county's own utility consultant, the attorney who is hired by the board, to listen to the same case twice. The big boys from Tallahassee don't work cheap.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Commissioner Bailey, who now has a day job that does not apparently give him the same freedom to attend daytime county meetings as when he was working in the family business, decided that the utility committee meetings should be held in the evening to be more convenient for folks [like him] that work during the day to attend.
As of yesterday afternoon, the meeting place is still unannounced, as the good old boys of the homeless Columbia County Commission don't have meeting room of their own.