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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County News

Charter Review Commission Ignores Public Comments and South End Residents


CRC Chairman Koby Adams (left) and Berry Amendment provocateur, Jackson "Jack" P. Berry (right), view the PowerPoint presentation by KS&A's Kurt Spitzer. Mr. Berry is also the Columbia County representative on the Wellness Council.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last Thursday, May 10, 2012, the Columbia County Charter Review Commission met for its first public hearing at the School Board Administrative Complex auditorium, which continues to have some of the most pitiful acoustics in Florida. While many of the commission members strained to hear the four members of the public who spoke, it seemed not to make a difference anyway, as there was no discussion of the speaker's comments or recommendations.

The Charter Review Commission has two consultants. As in years past, it hired KS&A Associates, a firm that bills itself as "Government Consultants." Kurt Spitzer represents that firm. The other consultant hired by the county is the law firm of Cobb & Cole.


KS&A's Kurt Spitzer addresses the CRC during his PowerPoint presentation.

During a PowerPoint presentation by Mr. Spitzer he interjected his own unsubstantiated opinions and presented them as facts to the Commission.

Mr. Spitzer's comments clearly supported the proposed charter revisions of the hand picked CRC.

The Berry Amendment, eliminating the requirement to put public meeting information on the internet, was an example of this tactic.

Mr. Spitzer also, along with the Charter Review Commission, continued to misrepresent and reinvent the "Enhanced Meeting Notice" requirement of the charter, as he represented it as a "requirement of supplementary public notice."

In 2006 it was "enhanced" public notice that was the topic of discussion and what is reflected in the minutes of the time. It also was approved with an over 82% majority.

The Lake City Reporter: The facts – what's that?

A Lake City Reporter article on May 11th got both Mr. Spitzer's name wrong and his title, calling him the "attorney."

As of May 10, 2012, there were 33,606 registered voters in Columbia County. Including your reporter eight members of the public showed up, or .02380% of the county's registered voters. That is two hundreds of 1%.

The Lake City Reporter headline reporting the meeting read:  "Sparse crowd at charter meeting."

South End Residents Ignored

In years past, the Charter Review Commission held at least one public meeting and one public hearing in the community center at Fort White. For some of those in the south end of the County the round trip to Lake City can be over 80 miles.

Your reporter, a resident of the South End, traveled approximately 70 miles round trip to attend the public hearing. Your reporter suggested having one of the final public hearings, as in years past, at the Fort White Community Center. The suggestion fell on deaf ears.

District II County Commissioner Rusty DePratter's district covers one half of the South End. Apparently, he was not able to find three qualified residents in his district to sit on the CRC, as he has only one resident from Dist. II on the CRC.

Representative Elizabeth Porter's chief of staff, Koby Adams, who has been against "enhanced" public notice since 2006, did not ask for comments from the commissioners regarding the Berry Amendment, any of the other amendments or the idea of having a public hearing in Fort White.

Epilogue

Eight people out of 33,606 may be a lot of things, according to the dictionary a crowd it is not.

Residents in the South End continue to take it on the chin.

The public deception by the Todd Wilson and the Lake City Reporter continues unabated, or worse.

It is business as usual in Columbia County.

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