Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida Crown Affair moves to Gilchrist County

John Chastain address the Gilchrist County Commission
Florida Crown Workforce Board Executive Director, John Chastain addresses the Gilchrist
County Commission.

This story began in December of 2007, when Gilchrist County Commission Chairperson, Sharon Langford, who was also the Chairperson of the Florida Crown Workforce Board Consortium, was deposed in a coup orchestrated by Columbia County Commissioner, Stephen Bailey.

At 2:00 o’clock on Monday afternoon, June 2nd, the Gilchrist Board of County Commissioners met and heard a brief presentation from Florida Crown executive director John Chastain.

Mr. Chastain began by telling the Board, “You are going to hear more information than you probably want. There are some issues that you should be aware of.”

Chariperson Sharon Langford and Vice Chair Harrison
Chairperson, Sharon Langford and Vice Chair D. Ray Harrison Jr.

The Board listened intently as Mr. Chastain continued his brief Florida Crown update.

Explaining the mission of the Florida Crown Workforce Board (FCWB), he told the Commission that the issue is mainly on programs. “We are designed for people.”

Mr. Chastain explained that Columbia County "wants to use the money that comes into FCWB for economic development."  He was emphatic when he told the Commissioners, “That is not what we are for.”

On March 18, 2009, Columbia County had asked FCWB for information (see pg. 2). The answer provided was over thirteen hundred pages. That answer wasn’t enough for Columbia County and on May 1st, County Manager Dale Williams, acting “on behalf of the [Columbia] County Board of County Commissioners” asked the President of Workforce Florida, Inc., the parent organization of the workforce boards in Florida, another twenty seven questions. That answer was another five hundred pages of information.

Mr. Chastain told the Gilchrist Commissioners, “We answered all their questions. Now they are demanding that the interlocal agreement be rewritten. That’s an issue for the Consortium.”

Mr. Chastain explained that he did not “by law” have a direct relationship with any county. He said, “My relationship is with the Consortium. “

Mr. Chastain said that in the past Columbia County wanted the interlocal reopened. “They unseated fifty percent of our board members. “

Former Columbia County Commissioner, Elizabeth PorterWhile Mr. Chastain was making his presentation, former Columbia County Commissioner Elizabeth Porter sat in the audience furiously text messaging and note taking, all the while shaking her head “no.”

Mr. Chastain said, “My relationship is with the Consortium member.”

Commissioner D. Ray Harrison, Jr., asked, “Why the hard line?”

Commissioner Randy Durden asked if it was a majority vote by the Columbia County Board to withdraw.

Commissioner Tommy Langford told Mr. Chastain, “You all do a fantastic job. I’ve never heard anything but good.”

After Mr. Chastain’s presentation concluded and the Gilchrist Commissioners had finished asking their questions and making their comments, Chairperson Langford asked for comments from any interested persons, inquiring if anyone had anything they would like to add.

In the past, the Columbia County Commission used to allow this kind of public comment, but the practice was ended after newly elected commissioner, Jody DuPree, the commissioner who moved that Columbia County withdraw from FCWB, put the ball in motion to put an end to timely and relevant pubic comment.

Gilchrist County Commissioner, Tommy LangfordDuring a brief meeting recess, Commissioner Tommy Langford told the Observer, “ I don’t understand their reason for doing that. I can’t understand why anybody would want to pull out. There must be some reason that we don’t know about or they don’t want us to know about. It’s a plus for us. It will give us more consortium members.”

Commissioner D. Ray Harrison, Jr. told the Observer, “I know Dale Williams. I don’t understand why he would do this. I sit on the Hospice board with him, but I guess he works for the Board [County Commission].

The Region Seven, FCWB consortium, is scheduled to meet in Lake City at 1:00 pm today. The commissioners representing Gilchrist, Union, and Dixie counties are scheduled to be there.

At 4:15 pm on Monday, Ms Kimi Roberts, a spokesperson for Columbia County, told the Observer that Commissioner Stephen Bailey and County Manager Dale Williams will be attending the Consortium meeting. She could not say if Columbia County’s high powered outside counsel, Greg Stewart of the Tallahassee law firm of NGN would be attending.


Florida Crown Affair:

  County gives up battle to destroy Fl Crown - Good old boys play possum to the end (posted October 11, 2010 05:00 am)
 • Florida Crown remains in the lurch
(posted April 21, 2010)
 • Florida Crown on top again (posted April 14, 2010) 
Florida Crown - Columbia County -Time for a little mercy (posted March 19, 2010)
 Florida Crown Invitation Com Langford steps up – it takes a woman (posted March 15, 2010)
Florida Crown Soars $402,000 Wings Grant Awarded (posted Oct 28, 2009)
 Difficult economic times - Florida Crown stretched thin and working overtime (posted Nov 26, 2009)
  Florida Crown Affair • Search Continues For Columbia County Issues (Part II) (posted June 18, 2009)
  Florida Crown Affair • Search Continues For Columbia County Issues (Part I) (posted June 17, 2009)
Florida Crown Affair moves to Gilchrist County (posted June 2, 2009)
  County Commission ignores rule of law
(posted May 26, 2009)
 • The Observer responds to County Manager Dale Williams (May 21, 2009)
 Florida Crown Receives Florida Literacy Award (posted May 20, 2009)
 Florida Crown's harassment continues
(Part II)
(posted April 16, 2009)
 Columbia County Commission leaves Florida Crown in the lurch – again
(Part 1)
(posted April 15, 2009)
  Florida Crown Gets Clean Bill of Health (posted March 23, 2009)
  George Skinner, former Columbia County Commissioner, weighs in on the Florida Crown controversy. (posted March 16, 2009)
  Florida Crown Workforce Board -- To good to leave (Posted March 12, 2009)