Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

Columbia County

Columbia County 5 Economic Under-Development: Another Bollixed Deal – Ambulance Co. on Ropes

After 2 years and being put on hold again, an unhappy Dr. Graham (left) and Attorney James Krause headed to the exit. Mr. Krause told your reporter, "I'm a procurement attorney. It's what I do."

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night at The 5, Columbia County's restraint of trade policies, which historically favor its good ole' boys, operate in the shadows, and have crippled economic development since the Civil War, were front and center once again.

James A. Graham, M.D., a disabled veteran from Georgia, tried to get the County 5 make good on a promise made on August 15, 2013, to issue a license to operate a transport ambulance service for patients of the Lake City V.A. Medical Center and the V. A. Nursing Home Unit.

Last night, when it became clear that the license was going to be denied, Dr. Graham's attorney, James Krause, an expert in federal and public contracts and a Florida Certified General Contractor, stood up and asked to address The 5. Chairman DePratter shut him down – twice.

Part II tomorrow: The rest of the story. Last night's Excelsior Ambulance Request for a COPCN.

Stage 1: August 1, 2013

On August 1, 2013, Dr. Graham traveled to the Columbia County 5 to ask for a county license, called a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (COPCN), necessary in order to operate an ambulance company in Florida. According to Florida law, the state won't issue an ambulance company a Florida license without a local COPCN.

During the August 1 meeting, The 5 complained it didn't know much about Dr. Graham's company and requested additional information. Then The 5 tabled the item until its next meeting.

Acting County Manager Ben Scott omitted these details from his presentation last night.

Stage 2: August 15, 2013
Another Embarrassing Meeting of the Infamous County 5

Two years ago, on August 15, 2013, Dr. Graham appeared before The County 5 with his attorney. Dr. Graham's expression speaks for itself.

On August 15, 2013, for just shy of 40 minutes, The 5 questioned Dr. Graham; heard from Dr. Graham's attorney; debated among themselves; offered various amendments to motions; heard from County Attorney, Marlin Feagle; and made different motions.

The minutes barely reflect the heightened confusion.   However, in the end, Board Clerk Sandy Markham recorded that The 5 agreed to give Excelsior a COPCN if they were awarded the V.A. contract. (click pdf image to go to the August 15, 2013 minutes)

Stage 3: July 15, 2015
Columbia County Hears From Excelsior Ambulance

On July 15, 2015, Dr. Graham, via U.S. Mail and email, advised the County that his company, Excelsior Ambulance Service, had a week earlier been awarded the ambulance contract by the North Florida/South Georgia Veteran Health System. The V.A award letter concluded: "We look forward to a successful contract period."         (click pdf image to go to the July 7, 2015, V.A. Acceptance letter)

Based on the 2013 meetings, it appeared that Dr. Graham thought there would be clear sailing in Columbia County. Dr. Graham asked that the County award the COPCN as previously agreed.

His July 15 letter to the County indicates that was not to be. In the last paragraph of page 1, Dr. Graham wrote: "There has been some confusion as to requiring Excelsior to appear again before the Board for discussion of this COPCN, but it is clear that they have already discussed and clearly identified the requirements for receiving the COPCN from Columbia County."

Last night Dr. Graham and his attorney, James Krause showed up at The 5. It was not pretty.

Part II tomorrow: The rest of the story. Last night's Excelsior Ambulance Request for a COPCN.

Comments (to add a comment go here)

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.