Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County 5: 3 pm Today. Reaching Into Your Pockets to Spend $$ Hundreds of Thousands

The training ground for what is wrong with Washington

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The Columbia County 5 are meeting at 3 pm today, rather than 5:30 pm in an early afternoon County Commission meeting. The Commissioners want to attend the County Fair. Hidden away on The 5's docket this afternoon are hundreds of thousands of dollars of unbudgeted expenditures; an interlocal agreement which if approved will give $100,000 to the SRWMD; $80,000 for lobbying; and what confidential sources have claimed is an over $1,000,000 issue with the Bascom Norris Bypass, Columbia County's own Big Dig.

Besides the hundreds of thousands of dollars on The 5's rubber stamp consent agenda, three items on the regular agenda are notable: a $100,000 gift to the SRWMD; a lobbying agreement with no price; and the Columbia County Big Dig, Bascom Norris, which also is without any dollar value.

The 30 year modus operandi of The 5, in concert with the County Manager, who is responsible for preparing the agenda, has been to leave meaningful dollar amounts off the agenda as a way of keeping the public in the dark about the real financial operations of the County.

The $100,000 to the SRWMD has no explanation of the budgetary source of this money. County residents are already taxed by the Water Management District.

Residents to pay $80,000 to lobby for water

The only thing available to the public is the letter of agreement with a law firm.

According to the agreement, Metz-Husband-Daughton, P.A., will be representing the NFWWG on behalf of Columbia County. This firm is being hired "to lobby the executive and legislative branches of Florida state government on your behalf," according to the letter of engagement.

The lobbying agreement comes with a price tag of $80,000 plus a laundry list of expenses. A careful examination of the documents in possession of the Observer has turned up nothing in the minutes regarding the NFWWG (North Florida Water Working Group).

As is the long time practice of The 5 and the County Staff, there is no indication from where the money is coming to fund this lobbying imitative, nor is there any accountability to the people.

Columbia County's Big Dig: Bascom Norris, $1,000,000 plus?

Finishing off the discussion items on The 5's agenda is an item labeled: Bascom Norris Connector Project.

Confidential sources have advised the Observer that what is really on the table is worth over $1,000,000 and that Kevin Kirby, Public Works Director, is negotiating for the County. There has been talk of law suits and nobody is talking on the record.

Mr. Kirby's negotiation skills and training are unclear. An examination of Mr. Kirby's personnel file has turned up nothing in that regard.


The Columbia County 5 is Florida's legendary good ole' boys. The 5's exploits are known far and wide.

At 3 pm this afternoon The 5 will be at it again. The results should be interesting.

The Columbia County 5 from left to right: Commissioners Ronald Williams; Rusty DePratter; Bucky Nash; Stephen Bailey; Scarlet Frisina

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