Florida Crown's harassment continues
Columbia County Commission Position
Columbia County, FL (posted April 16,
County Manager (“CM”) Dale Williams explained some of
Commission issues with the FCWB:
Does my board have some issues?
Absolutely. Are they adamant in their issues?
Absolutely. They’ve got some things that even I don’t
know. We are not so bad that we will not take your
money. When you talk about the money that you do have
some latitude in distribution, they believe they have a
legal right to help determine how that money is
distributed. They believe that the budgets are supposed
to be approved in a certain legal fashion and currently
they are not.
CM Williams did not explain how the Columbia County
Commission came up with their legal conclusions.
Someone asked the County Manager, “In what way are
they not being legally approved?”
CM Williams responded, “They are not going back to
the individual county commissions for their approval.”
Executive Director Chastain:
are, but they don’t know it. We are required to submit
the budgets to them when we send the WIA plan to them.
That WIA plan is the budget ... We need three of four
county commissions to approve the budget. Mr. Bailey was
here last year. We go through the budget. We lay it out.
Every year I ask, does the Consortium have any
questions? It’s been done every year.
The Observer asked the County Manager, “Does the
county know what part of the FCWB money they want
CM Williams answered, “Individual commissioners have
The Observer followed up, “Do you think that might be
available at the upcoming joint meeting?”
CM Williams said, “I think they owe it to you.”
The Observer asked, “Out of the 1.6 million dollar
FCWB budget, just how much money are we talking about
that is discretionary?”
There was no clear answer, although the estimates ran
from about twenty thousand dollars divided between the
four counties of the Consortium to about one hundred and
seventy thousand dollars.
Where is the Columbia County Consortium member?
Board member Warren Downs reflected everyone's
frustration with the Columbia County Commission and
FCWB member Warren W. Downs asked County Manager
Williams, “Where is the [Columbia County] board member
that is the member of the Consortium?”
CM Williams answered, “That member is Commissioner
Bailey. He was invited today. He was out of town when
the meeting [the joint County Commission – FCWB meeting
scheduled for 6 p.m. that evening] was cancelled. I did
not think he would be here because I think he had prior
In the past, the four county Consortium used to meet
along with the FCWB. When Commissioner Bailey came on
board he wanted to change things and have the Consortium
meet separately. According to Mr. Chastain, the
Consortium members did not want to do that.
Mr. Chastain said, “The Consortium members have
communicated with me that they are very happy with the
way Florida Crown is operated.” “Nowhere in Florida is a
Board of County Commissioners being involved in the day
to day operations of spending the money. That’s a
Consortium responsibility. It involves three other
CM Williams responded, “I am hearing them saying
there is a latitude in your budget and there should be
some input on the part of the board and the other
agencies of the county that all interface on what you
are doing ... They are telling me that they have a legal
obligation to do that.”
Mr. Downs’ frustration was evident, “Look at the
people here who are volunteering their time to do
something good for their fellow man. To be tied up with
such trivial stuff is a waste of our time.”
Chairman Thompson told CM Williams, “This doesn’t
serve anybody well. When this board has an opportunity
to do an extreme amount of good through the stimulus
dollars, we are spending a lot of time on this issue. We
need to get beyond it. We want a cordial relationship.
CM Williams said, “I know they have all intentions of
rescheduling the meetings.”
The FCWB asked, “When?”
In either a clear effort to keep FCWB on the ropes,
or just plain rudeness, the County could not come up
with a time.
Executive Director Chastain told the County Manager,
“I have twenty five board members. They are setting a
schedule. They are driving. Plus there are people who
want to come to speak on this issue.”
Chairman Thompson told the County Manager and the
Workforce Board, “We are as prepared as we are ever
going to be. Florida Crown is going to continue its work
until the state tells us to shut the doors.”
Mr. Downs wanted to know, “Why isn’t [Commissioner]
Bailey coming down and asking the questions himself. He
is supposed to be the board’s representative. Instead of
coming here and working with the board, or coming here
with ideas, he doesn’t come here and keeps throwing a
monkey wrench in the machine.
Florida is in the top the of highest unemployed.
With Florida now number ten on the list of states
with the worst unemployment and Florida Crown working
hard and seeing almost three thousand people a month
during the present national economic crisis, it is still
not understood how it came about that Jack Berry
protégé, Columbia County Commissioner, Jody DuPree, saw
fit to mug both the four county region and the residents
of Columbia County with his ill timed and illegal
motion, which has wasted and diverted so much valuable
time, effort and money.
After the meeting concluded, County Manager Dale
Williams told the Observer that the county had contacted
Florida for answers to the following three
questions: 1) What is the role of the Consortium?2) What
are the duties and responsibilities of the FCWB? 3) What
funds are restricted and what funds are not?
The CM told the Observer that he would send along the
answers when they are received. No explanation was
given as to why Mr. DuPree and the Board acted without
those answers at their fingertips.