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Suwannee Valley TA: Fandango Continues, Tri County Board Has Collective Amnesia

Posted January 5, 2015  11:55 pm | (1 comment)

On March 26, 2012, the SVTA Board had 5 members present. By the next meeting, on June 25, no one remembered what happened at the March meeting.

COLUMBIA - HAMILTON - SUWANNEE COUNTY, FL – The Suwannee Valley TA (SVTA) fandango continues unabated. The constants are Columbia County Commissioner Ronald Williams, who has been the Chairman of the SVTA for as long as anyone can remember, and a North Central Florida culture of cronyism and back room decision making that has apparently gone on forever.

Recent reports by the Lake City Reporter, Columbia County's hometown print newspaper, have claimed that there are two sets of minutes for the June 25, 2012, SVTA Board meeting. That's wrong: there is one set of signed minutes that have every appearance of having been approved by the SVTA Board on September 24, 2012, and then something that Auditor Richard Powell claims he found, and another set provided by the SVTA on December 22, 2014, with a scribbled note.

March 26, 2012: The key to what followed (Who's on first?)

While the March 26, 2012, SVTA Board meeting minutes (click image) are silent regarding the policies the Board approved that evening, your reporter was there and recorded and took photos at the meeting.

No mention of any policy adoption can be found in the minutes of March 26, which were were approved at the SVTA's next Board meeting on June 25, 2012.

The June 25, 2012 minutes, (click image) no matter the incarnation, state [as written] that the "Policy and Procedure were omitted to the Board July 14, 2012 in error and Ms. Pra requested approval to include this information." (The July 14 date is obviously meant to be the March 26 meeting. See pg. 2).

The June 25, 2012 minutes were submitted to the SVTA Board and approved. They were submitted by Shirley Cribbs, the sister of the present interim SVTA Administrator, Teresa Fortner.

Your reporter attended the March 26, 2012, SVTA Board meeting

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Fifty-seven minutes into the meeting Administrator Gwen Pra brought up the SVTA policies.

Administrator Pra began: There are the policies and procedures, the SVTA Guides that have been updated.

Chairman Williams assured that the Board knew what they were approving.

Chairman Williams:  OK. Do you want to read out each one of them for the Board for the record?

Administrator Pra did not mention forgetting anything and continued on. She couldn't have been clearer about what she was presenting.

Administrator Pra:  OK. These are the personnel rules and regulations update.
Chairman Williams:  OK.
Administrator Pra:  Ahm.
Chairman Williams:  You [to the Board] approve all of em’ one time. We’ll just go through em. These things we asked you to do, so we know what they are.
Administrator Pra:  And this one is the operators manual. This is the accident and incident investigation. This had to be re -- written for DOT
Chairman Williams:  Um hm.
Administrator Pra:  And this is the -- ahm -- this is the systems (unintelligible) programs thing which you would be -- ahm -- approving.
Chairman Williams:  Um-hm
Administrator Pra:  And this is a policy that is on the use of computers - network and software and internet at the agency which hasn’t -- was not here before. (pause) Harassment, sexual harassment was not provided before. This is the -- ahm -- drug and alcohol policy.
Chairman Williams:  OK
Administrator Pra: Which is provided -- which is required by the federal government. Safety policy. This is something relating to our auditor. They asked us to set up procedures on how we handled paper checks. There are many -- um -- bonus evaluations or job descriptions here. Those have all been written. And procedures have been written. And this is not for public release and it’s not for public view actually. Um -- It has to be closed out. Only the Board members can see that document. And not open to the press. This is a policy for requesting trip reservations for transportation service.
Chairman Williams: OK.  Mr. Hal? [Hal Airth, the long time SVTA attorney] You reviewed all a’ those?
Administrator Pra:   If anybody has any question about it.
Attorney Airth:  I read some of them, but not all of em’.
Chairman Williams:  Well, these are the changes that the Board asked you to do?
Administrator Pra:  Yes sir.
Williams:  And all that.
Administrator Pra:  Yes sir, and also ones the Department of Transportation requires for safety.
Chairman Williams:  So we’re in compliance with all the (unintelligible).
Administrator Pra:  Soon as the Board approves em’ we are in compliance.

Administrator Pra explains that only the Board can see the Hazard and Security Policy.

Chairman Williams:  OK.
Attorney Airth:  We’re (unintelligible) checking on that.
Chairman Williams: OK. Motion to approve the policy changes to bring us in compliance with the Department of Transportation, both state and federal.
Unidentified:  We’ve stricken what we’ve already reviewed and (unintelligible). Mr. Chairman, I offer a motion to approve.
Chairman Williams:  We have motion.
Commissioner Ogburn:  Second.
Chairman Williams: We have a second. Any other questions or comments?

There was silence.

Chairman Williams:  All in favor signal by sayin’ “I”.  Opposed like sign. That motion carries.
Chairman Williams:  So there, at least if an incident happened we’ve got the policy to cover it. And that’s what we (unintelligible) without last time.
Administrator Pra:  We got our procedures and policies to backup any action that we have to take. And if we are going to dismiss a vendor we’re going to bring it before the Board.
Chairman Williams:  That’s fair to due process right there. OK. We’ll continue.

When the minutes were prepared; then approved, not a word showed up mentioning any policy.

Administrator Pra submitted the March 26, 2012 minutes and signed them.

Comments  (to add a comment go here) 

On January 6, citizen 49a from Lake City wrote:

Congratulations to the Observer for solving the multiplying and mutating minutes riddle.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


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