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The Lake City Reporter: Keeping the Olustee Myth Alive – A New Twist on Letters to the Editor

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The Lake City Reporter recently reported on the January 8, 2019, Florida Gateway College Board meeting, a meeting in which the board voted unanimously to end funding for the Olustee Battle Festival. The College Board is composed of gubernatorial appointees, six of whom were present: a banker, three educators, and two physicians. Three of the six are long time Columbia County residents.

The Lake City Reporter (LCR), which bills itself as the "hometown" newspaper, didn't attend the Board meeting. However, after the January 9 Observer article (Florida Gateway College Board Unanimously Votes to End Support for Olustee Battle Festival) was published, Florida's strong public records law and Florida Gateway College President Larry Barrett combined to provide a DVD of the meeting to the newspaper by the end of business on the 9th, four hours after its request.

Background: 2014-2015
The Lake City Reporter Position

On February 16, 2014, LCR publisher Todd Wilson wrote about the "The 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Olustee weekend." He called it "A scrapbook moment" and a "great success."

About the day of the battle Publisher Wilson wrote, "On that day, a total of 2,807 men from both sides were killed or wounded."

There was not one word about slavery; not one word about succession; not one word about the massacre of injured black northern soldiers who couldn't escape the battlefield at the conclusion of the battle.

On February 12, 2015, in an opinion piece titled, "All that mattered at Olustee," LCR editor Robert Bridges wrote, "This weekend we come together, not in celebration of bloodshed or slaughter, but in solemn homage to the most basic impulse we know: the defense of that which we hold dear."

Mr. Bridges didn't mention: slavery, succession, or the massacre of black troops after the battle.

On February 15, 2015, the LCR followed up with, "Our Opinion, Olustee Sunday a time to reflect."

Here, the Bridges/Wilson duo wrote, "Celebrate the day, should you visit the battlefield this crisp, clear morning. Just keep in mind what it’s really about: the most basic impulse we know, to save those we love from anguish and pain."

The battle reenactment, Americans blowing each other's brains out, was not mentioned.

Once again, the Bridges/Wilson duo did not mention: slavery, succession, or the massacre of black soldiers marooned on the battlefield after the battle.

January 10, 2019
A Bold Faced Lake City Reporter Lie

On January 10, 2019, the LCR ran an article about the FGC Board meeting in which it wrote, "Stew Lilker of the Columbia County Observer website told board members the event glorifies a painful chapter of American history best left in the history books."

Your reporter's remarks never mentioned anything about glorification or leaving anything "in the history books." See: What Lilker said.

Some of what the festival fathers and mothers leave out about the history of the age can be found in this 2015 Opinion from the publisher: "Lake City, Columbia County - Florida's Gateway to the Past."

Earl Green Steps Up to the Plate

January 10, 2019, Earl Green stepped up to the plate on Facebook, writing that the FGC Board tactics are those used by "Islam, socialism/communism etc..."

Mr. Green wrote that FGC is "NO LONGER a[n] institution of higher learning, you are a subversive organization bent on destroying the very fabric of FLORIDA HISTORY... You are now a cesspool of leftist/socialist dung... YOU ARE NOW IRRELEVANT."


                                         Mr. Green's Facebook post

The Lake City Reporter
Trolling for a Letter to the Editor

Later on, one of Mr. Green's Facebook posters, "Wally Germany" wrote, "Senc[d]] this to the Reporter please, Earl"

Mr. Green responded, "The editor called about [an] hour after I posted it and asked my permission I said yes"


                      The "Wally Germany" request and Mr. Green's response.

Mr. Green said a lot of things about the FGC Board and the Lake City Reporter reprinted every one of them. However, Mr. Green never mentioned anything about "betrayal." The headline, "Abandoning Olustee a betrayal" came straight from the minds of the LCR's Bridges/Wilson duo, or just one of them.


Mr. Green's letter to the editor. ++ to enlarge

Bridges/Wilson: Not Talking

On January 11, 2019, FGC President Barrett sent an email to LCR publisher Todd Wilson, the subject being "letter to the editor." [Mr. Green's letter].

Attaching the Facebook page of Mr. Green, President Barrett asked, "Is the attachment correct?"

On January 16, not having received a response, President Barrett sent his email again: "Todd, I am not sure if you received this email from me or not. If you could respond in writing that would be great. Thanks, Larry."

At 11:59 am yesterday morning, your reporter inquired of the LCR asking if they followed their own "Letters Policy," or if they had another policy "regarding the importing comments from Facebook and converting them to "Letters to the Editor."

Your reporter also wrote: "Additionally, while Mr. Green was graphic in his denunciation of the FGC Board, he never used the word betrayal. This is your editorial comment. If it is not and you have another version of Mr. Green's Facebook post, please advise."

Epilogue

President Barrett never heard back from the Lake City Reporter.

Your reporter has not heard back from the Lake City Reporter.

Columbia County, Florida: the legend continues.

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