Another 12th Hour Meeting Cancellation at the Suwannee Valley Transit Authority
Posted March 13, 2017 01:25 pm (1 comment)
COLUMBIA, HAMILTON, SUWANNEE COUNTIES, FL – Another failure to follow the Florida statutes regarding meeting notice requirements has caused Suwannee Valley Transit Authority (SVTA) Chief, Suwannee County Commissioner Larry Sessions, to cancel another SVTA Board meeting in as many weeks.
Our March 7, 2017 article, Suwannee Valley TA Chief Fails at End Run Around Law –Improperly Noticed Meeting Canceled at 12th Hr, detailed some of the recent history of the SVTA and how Commissioner Sessions and the SVTA made a full court press trying to find someone to help the SVTA make an end run around the notice requirements of the law.
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On March 6, for a brief time around 11 am, the SVTA's home page mentioned the meeting cancelation: "Tonight's special called board meeting has been cancelled. (3/6/2017)"
On March 7, the SVTA reposted the meeting information: "The date for the special called board meeting has been changed to March 13, 2017..." This time the SVTA also included the required links to the agenda and supporting material."
The SVTA service area is over 2,000 sq mi. Florida law required the SVTA to advertise its meeting notice in the three local print newspapers in the tri-county region. It didn't.
On March 10, Columbia County's County Attorney Joel Foreman sent an email to Columbia County's SVTA Board members that said, "I consider it my duty to provide counsel to members of the Board and advise them if I believe their participation in a meeting might run afoul of Florida law. I am concerned that the meeting now set for March 13 has not been set in compliance with the requirements of Florida Statutes Ch. 189, the Uniform Special District Accountability Act."
Mr. Foreman also reminded the Columbia County commissioners, Nash and Phillips, that to knowingly violate the notice requirements and attend the meeting would subject them to being charged with a second degree misdemeanor, which is a criminal offense. (click the link to read Mr. Foreman's email)
This morning, March 13, SVTA chief Sessions said he checked the meeting notice requirements with the Suwannee River Water Management District, "with the person who does that stuff for them." Then he found out the Water Management District has different notice requirement rules.
While we were talking, Commissioner Sessions said he was waiting to hear from his attorney, SVTA Attorney Hal Airth, to see if it was required to cancel the meeting.
At just about 10:45 am, Mr. Sessions said he had received the email from Mr. Airth and the meeting was canceled. He did not know when it was going to be rescheduled.
Almost three hours later, the meeting cancellation was still not posted on the SVTA website.
Shortly after the conversation with Commissioner Sessions, your reporter sent a request under Florida's public record law to forward Mr. Airth's email. So far, it hasn't arrived.