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Cnty Chair Reverses Vote - Love's Wins - Confusion Part II of Economic Development the County 5 Way

The silver box w/black stripe is the Clerk's recorder. Without it, she doesn't know what the Chairman says.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The August 4 meeting of the Columbia County 5 had as its main attraction the vote on the economic development incentive passed unanimously the morning before by the Economic Development Advisory Board. Not pleased by the actions of the Company, the EDAB voted to modify the terms of the incentive guarantee. Before the meeting began, Chairman Nash made it clear that he didn't care if the public could hear or not.


August 4: The County 5 Meet – Another County Mess

On August 4, The 5 met for the second of its bi-monthly meetings.

The new agreement recommended by the EDAB never made it onto the County Agenda, nor were copies available at the meeting. The 5 was looking at an earlier unmodified agreement.

Economic Development Director Glenn Hunter introduced the findings of the EDAB, mentioning that the Board had made the incentive change. He said he contacted the company and the company was not happy. The poor acoustics and microphones made the relevant part of Mr. Hunter's statement unintelligible 20 feet away.

Confusion: the Byword of The 5

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

Commissioner Phillips said, "That's in my district. I make a motion to approve the (unintelligible) development project number 15(unintelligible).

Commissioner Nash:  "I have a motion."

Commissioner Williams:  "Second."

Unidentified:  "Second"

Commissioner Nash:  "I have a second (laughs). All I heard was a noise down there. (Laughs) OK. Do we have any discussion?"

Commissioner Frisina:  "Was that to take the recommendation of the committee?"

Unidentified:  "Yeah."

Commissioner Frisina:  "As amended?"

Unidentified:  "Yeah."

Commissioner Frisina:  "Or to leave it the way it was?"

More Confusion

Commissioner Phillips:  "So you're amending the (pauses)."

Mr. Hunter:  "Mr. Chairman I'd like to speak to that. Mr. Phillips, the document that you have in front of you is the document that was submitted to Economic Development Advisory Board. They recommended one change. And that change was that instead of it being on a pro rata basis for each employee it would be pro rata on the basis of what the one-year incentive would be that they would lose the entire one-year incentive. So you have the choice to go with the Economic Development Advisory Boards Amended Recommendation or the contract you got; or you can make any other change that you wish to make."

Your reporter was confused:  "What contract you got?"

No one answered.

Commissioner Frisina asked if changing the contract would be a "deal breaker."

Mr. Hunter said it could be.

Commissioner Phillips gave it another shot: "I make a motion with the amendment of that wording where they don't have to give up that hundred and twenty-five thousand a year, whatever it is -- totally. In other words, they can go below that 35, that's what you're talking about – right? They can go below the 35 and still get the incentive money -- right?"

Unidentified:  "Pro Rated."

Attorney Foreman, who did not provide the new agreement to anyone, tried to explain, concluding his explanation with, "The Economic Development Advisory Board was pretty emphatic that there had to be some give and take in light of the changes in consideration of the agreement."

Commissioner Phillips responded to Mr. Foreman. Mr. Phillips was unintelligible.

The Agreement in Front of You: "That's Not What the Economic Development Advisory Bd Recommended"

Attorney Foreman tried again, "That's the way it's written in the agreement in front of you. That's not what the Economic Development Advisory Board recommended. The Economic Development Advisory Board recommended that if they can't meet that jobs criteria they should not get incentives in that year."

Commissioner Phillips:  "I want to move to the pro rata."

Your reporter was still confused, "So this has changed. Is that right?"

Mr. Foreman responded, "For the public's information, the form of the agreement that is in the agenda packet does not have the amendment that the EDAB recommended yesterday morning."

Your reporter asked, "How could that happen? That's what they recommended."

Mr. Foreman followed up, "Because it was published last Friday. And the EDAB only made its recommendation yesterday. And so Commissioner Phillips has moved to adopt the form of the agreement that's in the agenda packet, not with the amendment recommended by the EDBA yesterday."

No one explained why the latest agreement was not presented to the County 5. County Attorney Foreman clearly had it before noon the day before.

Commissioner Williams was waving his hands trying to get recognized for a while. It was clear he was also in the fog. Finally he spoke up.

Commissioner Williams asked, "Is that the same thing we goin' back to?

Unidentified:  "That's right."

Commissioner Williams: "Well I move my second."

Commissioner Nash: "OK."

Commissioner Williams:  "I mean I (unintelligible)."

Commissioner Nash:  "OK."

More Confusion

Still confused, Commissioner Frisina weighed in.

Commissioner Frisina:  "So it's what is in the agenda?"

Attorney Foreman: "That's correct."

Commissioner Frisina:  "It's what we're votin'?"

Your reporter, who is a property owner and taxpayer in the County, finally felt compelled to comment: "I need to comment."

Chairman Nash:  "You lost your comment."

Your reporter responded, "Well that's not fair. That's not what the Board recommended."

Chairman Nash: "Any further discussion?"

Your reporter:  "That's a scam."

Mr. Foreman:  "The board recommended a full year's reduction if they fell below 35. Do you agree?"

Your reporter:  "Yeah."

Mr. Foreman:  "That's not what the motion is for."

Your reporter:  "But what's on the agenda. Did the recommendation ever get forwarded to the County Commission? No."

Mr. Foreman:  "It just did."

Your reporter:  "When?"

Mr. Foreman:  "Through Glenn."

Your reporter:  "You've gotta' be kidding. You had all night to publish that. That's not fair."

Chairman Nash:  "We have a motion. I have a second. Any further discussion?"

The motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Nash reversed his vote supporting his advisory board.


None of the agreements produced or circulated by the County Attorney were dated; indicated the name of the reviewer; or stated who made the changes.

Dating and taking ownership of documents and revisions is something that the County Attorney has stated would happen. He has been the elected County Attorney of the people for almost 2 years. The situation has deteriorated. The public has suffered.

Walking items onto the County agenda at the last minute has been an ongoing problem with both the DePratter Board and a particularly festering problem with the Nash Board. Commissioner Nash has asked that this be stopped. He ignores the situation.

Two years ago Chairman DePratter said he would do something about the audio. He did nothing.

Chairman Nash said he would. He changed his mind and said, "Forget it."

The audio is so bad that the Clerk has to put a tape recorder almost in his tonsils so she can hear and understand what he says.

From 10 feet away Commissioner Nash and the others are often times completely unintelligible. This is a clear violation of the Sunshine law, requiring open meetings. Chairman Nash's solution, "Forget it."


Before the meeting concluded, your reporter, during the two minute warning part of the meeting, asked Chairman Nash why a copy of the EDAB agreement was not presented to the Commission and the public. The question was addressed to both Mr. Nash and County Manager Ben Scott, who is under contract to the County 5.

Commissioner Nash stared into outer space. County Manager Scott stared into outer space. The County Attorney volunteered nothing. He stared into outer space. Your reporter repeated the question. Everyone continued staring into outer space.

The Columbia County 5, the legend continues.

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