Stew Lilker’s

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Sheriff Hunter Rescues County Commission: At budget time, will he be standing in front of the Board for overdue raises for his road deputies?

Sheriff Mark Hunter
Sheriff Mark Hunter
(File Photo)

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night at the County Commission, Columbia County's popular 2nd term Sheriff, Mark Hunter, came to the microphone as a private citizen and ran cover for his friends on the County Commission, who couldn't answer three simple questions: Who went to Tallahassee in April during legislative week? What did they accomplish? How much did they spend?

Your reporter addressed the Board, "A few weeks ago, some of you went to Tallahassee. I don't know who. It would have been nice for the public, the public that pays the bills, if somebody would have reported back what happened and everything that you accomplished. I think that would've been nice Mr. Chairman. That's what they do in other places. Maybe in the future, after you spend the public's money, you could report back on what you've done and what you've accomplished. That's not a bad idea, is it Mr. Chairman?

Chairman Bailey responded, "Mr. Lilker, I didn't go."

The Observer, "I'm just asking. I don't know who went. Nobody knows who went."

Commissioner Nash added, "It was my responsibility to give a report and I didn't."

The Observer followed up, "Does anybody know how much the County spent on lodging; and how many people stayed overnight -- does anybody know?

There was a long silence. You could have heard a pin drop.

The Observer, "No, I didn't think so."

Sheriff Hunter rides to the rescue

Sheriff Hunter stepped up to the microphone. "I probably shouldn't do this," he said.

He continued, "I am proud of this County Commission going over to Tallahassee and representing Columbia County, Florida. While it cost us a little bit of money, the benefit that we gain from them going over there and seeing our legislators and seeing the folks over there... it is paramount that we keep up with the bills going through Tallahassee.

Sheriff Hunter asked your reporter, "Mr. Lilker, have you ever been to Tallahassee and gone through the legislative process?"

You reporter volunteered, "I'm looking forward to going with you. I've never been to Tallahassee."

The Sheriff continued, "Well, before you pass judgment on somebody for going over there...

Your reporter added, "I didn't pass judgment, I just asked them how much they spent."

"A hundred times worse over there than over here"

Sheriff Hunter continued, "I can tell you this, when they get all that tax money over there and they start doin all the wheelin and dealin, Stew, you think this is bad? You get over there - it's 100 times worse over there than it is over here."

"These guys do a pretty good job overall. Do they get it right all the time? No, but it's paramount that we have representation from our local folks going over there; seeing that process; knowing the legislators to keep them from cutting the funds that we get for our local area and making those relationships with those people over there. To spend local money -- it's an investment."

"Mr. Nash, I'm gonna tell ya, you should have come back and gave a report."

Sheriff Hunter concluded, "It is a good thing they go to Tallahassee. It's a little bit of money spent, but it's spent wisely, in my opinion."


As budget time nears, and it is really right here, it will be interesting to see if Sheriff Hunter, who has already taken care of his top brass, is going to be back at the podium standing up for his folks on the bottom of the Sheriff's totem pole; the deputies that ride the streets and keep your jail and court secure. 

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