Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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PT II:  When Cnty Coms Are MIA From Bd Mtngs, "It's None of Your Business," Com Tim Murphy

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – In Part I, "Meeting Attendance Double Standard,  No Problem for the County 5," we left off with, "There is nothing in any County charter, rule, policy, procedure or tradition, for the County Commission to publicly censure a fellow commissioner... Twelve years later, the County still is absent any rules regarding Commissioner attendance at County Board meetings."

The recently passed almost 100 pages of County Commission rules, known in some circles as Foreman's Rules, contains nothing about County Commissioner attendance at its own board meetings.

On September 21, during this years final budget hearing, the last time Commissioners could hear comments from the public and make changes to the $147 mil budget, Commissioners Nash and Murphy were known to be at a family event and were MIA.

There is no mention in the minutes of any announcement regarding the lack of appearances of the two commissioners, because there wasn't any announcement.

There was no mention in the County's mainstream media, the Lake City Reporter, that Commissioners Nash and Murphy were MIA at the final budget hearing.

As reported earlier, Commissioner Phillips went on vacation during the recent Hurricane Irma Declared State of Emergency.

Thursday Night at The 5:  November 2, 2017

Your reporter, also a resident of Columbia County, was a witness to the 2005 events surrounding and public censure of then Commissioner George Skinner. Thursday night he addressed the County 5:

Observer:  "In 2006-2007, somewhere around there - only Chairman Williams would remember, for the first time, maybe in the history of this board, a county commissioner was publicly censured. This board had no authority to do that -- there is no law that says this board can publicly censure a county commissioner. He was publicly censured for missing a meeting over at the court house."

"Some of you might remember recently that two county commissioners were out on a family outing and missed probably the most important meeting for the citizens of this county, the final budget hearing. That was Mr. Nash and Mr. Murphy. Those are facts."

"In that time also, Commissioner Everett Phillips, during a Declared State of Emergency, went on a vacation, causing residents in his district not to be able to participate in FEMA funding for certain hurricane caused repairs for which they could have applied."

"The commissioner that was publicly censured [2005] was George Skinner. Commissioner Williams remembers George Skinner, I'm sure."

Commissioner Williams:  "Who?"

Observer:  "George Skinner a long time resident of Columbia County, [he] grew up here. I'm asking that this board revisit that."

Marlin Feagle [County Attorney] said at the time, the reason that he was publicly censured was because the board felt like it

"The reason Mr. Skinner missed a meeting was because he was hooked on oxycodone -- he was way away ahead of the curve and he missed a meeting at the court house."

"At the [2005 County Commission] meeting, Commissioner Dewey Weaver pulled a piece of paper out of his lapel and made a motion that he [Skinner] be publicly censured."

"I'm asking that, that situation be revisited. I'm asking that the County Attorney Joel Foreman go over the facts in that issue, I'm sure there's records, and I'm asking, considering the recent history of the actions of the county commissioners of  Columbia County, Nash, Murphy, and Phillips that that public censure be rescinded by this board of County Commissioners, as an act of public decency."

 "What's good for this board is good for the former commissioners."

 "Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman."

Commissioner Nash: "Accusations"
Commissioner Murphy: "None of your business"

Commissioner Nash opined, "Stew, you make accusations up there. I think every board member here that when we miss meetings it's because we have to miss meetings. As far as 06-07, Commissioner Skinner, I have no interest in revisiting and over ruling a board. I think that I missed meetings one time since I've been here? Maybe two? When you get up there and say that, it's like we're out jet settin' around the United States and not taking care of what we need to take care of."

Commissioner Nash's nephew, Commissioner Murphy followed up [as spoken], "I'll follow up on that. You know, you haven't even had have the common decency to ask me why I missed, which is none of your business."

No one on The 5 took exception to this. Some thought it was funny. The County's elected County Attorney, Joel Foreman, was not smiling.

Mr. Murphy continued [as spoken], "The other constituents that have asked me, I've given them the courtesy to let em' know where I went. But, you know, I missed one meeting. I went to my nephew's wedding. But, it kills me to sit here and have to -unintelligible- anyway, I told ya'. So, you take it where you want to, bud. You want that ride? That's fine."

None of The 5 wanted to revisit the illegal public censure of Commissioner George Skinner.


Commissioner's Nash's complaining about allegations rings hollow. It was a fact that he and his nephew, Commissioner Murphy were off on a family outing during the Final Budget Hearing. Neither Mr. Nash, nor Mr. Murphy, made any attempt to explain and it wasn't clear if their family relative was getting married on Thursday evening, during the County 5 meeting, or if they were traveling.

The courts are clear and specific, "The most important duty of a county commissioner is to attend commission meetings."

Since 2005 the County 5 has made rule after rule to control the electorate, but not one that requires them to attend County Commission meetings, or any that requires them to explain their absences.

In Columbia County, for now, the public has no right to know.

The Columbia County 5: the legend continues.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On Nov. 4, 2017, citizen49a of Lake City, FL wrote:

Won't answer questions. Don't even bother to attend meetings.

"You know, you haven't even had have the common decency to ask me why I missed, which is none of your business."

None of our business.

Looks like we're making good progress towards having a Columbia County Politburo that will just dictate their rulings to us, their subjects.


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