Columbia County Commissioner accuses citizen of "Plunderin around" his personal equipment.
Columbia County, FL (Posted April 29, 2011 10:07 am)
In Columbia County Florida, whenever one thinks the legendary good ol' boy County Commission has reached a new low, they pull a rabbit out of a hat, never disappoint, and outdo themselves. Last Thursday's County Commission meeting was no exception, unless one counts the meeting before or some of the ones before that.
After the adjournment of last Thursday's County Commission meeting, another gem of Columbia County elected officialdom dysfunction, longtime District 1 Commissioner, Ronald Williams, had packed up his stuff and was heading toward the exits, along with the rest of the audience, some of whom were already out of the door. As he walked by your reporter, I said to him, "You know, Ronald, you are beginning to look like the smartest person on the board."
With that, Commissioner Williams shouted out, "Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman. I got somethin, I'm sorry. Ah – Ah - I was a little upset."
The Commissioner did not look upset.
Commissioner DuPree banged the gavel and yelled out, "May I have your attention please."
Commissioner Williams shouted over to Commissioner DuPree, "May we call the meetin back to order please?"
Without taking a breath and without taking note that many folks had left the meeting, Commissioner DuPree said, "I call the meetin back to order."
In the civilized world
In the civilized world, the meeting would have been over, as folks had already left and to reconvene the meeting without notice was a clear violation of Florida's Sunshine Law.
In other counties, the County Attorney may have spoken up and mentioned that it was an unlawful act to reconvene the County Commission meeting after members of the audience had left. County Atty. Marlin Feagle, inventor of the famous "Feagle feel like a principle of law," was his usual silent self in the face of Board wrong doing.
Commissioner DuPree recognized Commissioner Williams, "Mr. Williams."
Then, in a diatribe, Commissioner Williams accused longtime resident, Barbara Lemley of "plunderin around" his truck and his personal equipment.
Commissioner Williams told the shocked crowd, "I will be filin a incident report with the Sheriff Department -- because I don't -- I don't put it past you to plant drug or put explosives on my truck."
Commissioner Williams concluded, "So if I beeed blowed up -- you all know what's goin on. Okay? Now meetin adjourned."
The following day, Good Friday, County Commissioner Williams was working overtime, when he purportedly told a reporter from the County's only print newspaper that he didn't see anything at all.
A real news source would have gone whoops, and dropped the story, but not Lake City's Lake City Reporter, which along with Columbia County is constantly plumbing the depths to reach new lows.
On Easter Sunday, the Lake City Reporter's lead headline was "Williams to file incident report against Lemley." This was old news.
What was new news was that Commissioner Williams had witnessed absolutely nothing that he had spoken about. If the Lake City Reporter ran this story past its libel attorney, it surely was not evident, as the Lake City Reporter did not report speaking to anyone who purportedly witnessed the events. Instead, the County's good ol' boy newspaper just repeated the lies and dragged Ms. Lemley through the mud, based on hearsay and double hearsay.
Residents advised the Observer that they thought the story was inappropriate for Easter Sunday morning.
The records request is available here.
The incident report
On Tuesday, April 27th at 1:16 PM, the Observer filed a records request with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, requesting a copy of the incident report regarding the accusations against Ms. Lemley.
At 2:09 PM, Sgt. Ed Siefert, of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, responded:
Mr. Lilker, The Columbia County Sheriff's Office does not have a complaint on file from Mr. Williams concerning Barbara Lemley. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
It's unusual business as usual in Columbia County, Florida.
Updated April 14, 2013: repaired grammar and link box