Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

County News

County 5 Puts Taxpayers on the Line, No Mechanism to do the "Do-Over", Do it Anyway

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – (continued from Part I)

No Mechanism to do the "Do-Over

In attempting to roll back the clock, The 5 need a mechanism to do the "Do-Over."

There is none.

The County Charter requires the County Commission to approve Rules of Procedure (ROP). They have done that. The rules are meant to control the public, giving a bare outline of the order of County business. The latest incarnation of the rules was written by County Attorney Joel Foreman.

In civilized counties, the ROP refer to either Robert's or Sturgis's rules of parliamentary procedure. This controls how the governing agency transacts its official business.

After numerous requests, Mr. Foreman and The 5 have refused to include detailed rules for the conduct of the County's own business.

Previously, former long-time County Attorney Marlin Feagle said, "Robert's Rules are too complicated for them [The 5]."

The County ROP does not provide a procedure to reconsider its prior motions. Once passed – they remain passed.

The 5 is the legislature of Columbia County.

The Attorney General and the Courts have found, "Where the Legislature has directed the manner in which something is to be accomplished, it operates as a prohibition against its being accomplished otherwise." (citations omitted)

The County has not provided a way to pull back its motion to reject its April 21 decision to award the contract to Century Ambulance and have the County staff negotiate a contract with Century.

The Board

The 5 looked unusually small last Thursday night.

The County 5 provided no substantive conversation or any questions to show how they could change their prior vote or show why the court has lost jurisdiction over Lifeguard's appeal of Purchasing Director Hill's decision to deny its protest.

The 5 made a willful and intentional run-around of the requirement that matters of litigation are to be held in executive sessions, recorded by a court reporter, and made public at the conclusion of the litigation. Aided by County Attorney Foreman and the attorneys at NGN, the attorneys met individually with each (or some – no one is talking) of the commissioners to discuss its litigation strategy.

Mr. Foreman announced at the meeting, "I was at a loss as to how we would actually put the cat back in the bag. That's why I think we need to proceed with supervision through outside counsel -- as they have represented to us -- as I know they have represented to several of you in the meetings -- your individual sessions with them -- that they do have mechanisms -- they believe they will employ that will restore competitive advantage here in secrecy. This is not a bulletproof solution -- it is a solution."

Mr. Foreman continued, "There's a difference between what's fair and what's technically legal. I think that Mr. Perko's point is that there are in fact some technical issues here that if proven in a court of law; if in fact they are the way as Lifeguard has represented them, could be fatal."

"I think there is an appreciation for that risk and with an appreciation for that risk this is a practical, and according to our outside counsel, reachable solution that is consistent with the solution that several of you have asked me about before you ever voted on this."

The County 5 voted to put out another RFP for EMS ambulance service.

At the conclusion of the vote the folks from Lifeguard and Century left. Your reporter asked Lifeguard's attorney, Gary Perko, if he was going back to the circuit court for an injunction to stop the County's action.

Mr. Perko said, "I have to talk with my client."


Based on the secret meetings of The 5; inept and incompetent county management; and NGN convincing The 5 that they may know what's at the end of the rainbow and have found the secret elixir to cure what appears to be a loss in the Circuit Court, the taxpayers of Columbia County will again be on the hook to NGN for tens of thousands of dollars in legal and consulting fees.

Mr. Foreman's 12th hour Hail Mary pass that the RFP was "vague and inadequate," is clearly not reflected in the record.

On March 21, 2016, Mr. Foreman told The 5, "Why individual committee members might have decided to change their decision, I would hope would be reflected somewhere in those transcripts. And, if this case were to go to court, I'm sure they would be called. County staff would in fact be called to testify if the case went to court."

The County 5, in order to keep themselves and the higher echelons of County government out of the witness box, will spend any amount and tell any story."

Circuit Court Judge, Leandra Johnson, a hometown girl who went to school with many of the County's participants in the case, may have the last word.

The Columbia County 5, the legend continues.

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.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

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