Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

Lake City Charter Review Board
Up-Up and Away

The Charter Review Board met for its first meeting on Tuesday evening. The members are, from left to right, advisor - Wendell Johnson, City Manager; members OJ Lake, Victoria Ellis, City Clerk - Audrey Sikes; members Mario Coppock; Ann Skinner; Dwight Kamback and City Attorney Herbert Darby.

      A charter city is a city in which the governing system is defined by the city's own charter document rather than by state, provincial, regional or national laws. Lake City can adopt or modify its organizing charter by a majority vote of its residents. A charter gives a city's residents the flexibility to choose any kind of government structure allowed by law.
     It is the duty of the Charter Review Board
to recommend changes in the Lake City Charter to the City Council, which will put those changes on the ballot in the next regularly scheduled or special election.
     It is your responsibility
as a citizen to come before the Charter Review Board and recommend changes that you think will make Lake City better.

Tuesday evening at six o'clock, the Lake City Charter Review Board rolled down the runway and took off on a ninety day journey that could change Lake City for at least the next ten years.

The Charter Review Board is appointed by the City Council. Each Council member appoints one member from their district.  The appointments are:

Councilman Eugene Jefferson appointed OJ Lake. Councilwoman Melinda Moses appointed Victoria Ellis; Mayor Witt appointed Ann Skinner; Councilman Jake Hill appointed Mario Coppock; Councilman George Ward appointed Dwight Kamback. 

Mario Coppock, who was appointed by the city council to chair the CRB, explained to Board members that he could have some scheduling conflicts and suggested that another member become the chair.

Mr. Coppock is a veteran at charter review and had important words of wisdom the CRB.

Mr. Coppock told the CRB that they never wanted to give the public the idea that they didn't want to be there.

Mr. Coppock said, "This is a serious and respected position we hold." 

Ann Skinner was elected chairperson.

City Attorney Darby explains the Sunshine Law as CRB member Dwight Kamback listens.

Long time City Attorney Herbert Darby is the legal counsel for the Charter Review Board ("CRB") and City Manager Wendell Johnson will be there as an advisor.

CM Johnson told the CRB that he will set up a city e mail account for Chairperson Skinner and that he will make the city staff available for the CRB.

Mr. Darby told the group, "It is necessary that you have public meetings that not only comply with the sunshine law, but comply with common sense."

OJ Lake and Victoria Ellis share a light moment as the legendary Mr. Darby explained that there are still parts of the charter that he is trying to understand.

OJ Lake asked how the CRB accepts recommendations.

Mr. Darby explained that all recommendations to the council have to be in writing and that the CRB could listen to anyone.

Anyone in the county or from anywhere can make recommendations to the CRB, but only city residents can vote  on the recommendations, which will be on the ballot at the next scheduled general election, unless there is a special election first.

The normally stoic City Clerk and Lake City Sunshine Girl also shared the moment.

Mr. Lake asked if a CRB member could confer with the attorney or the city manager individually.

Mr. Darby replied, "That is a close question. I will look into it. I discourage you from doing that."

Victoria Ellis asked, "Is there a pool of recommendations that have been accumulated over the past ten years?"

The CM Johnson will be looking into that.

It was determined that the city council members will be invited to address the CRB, as well as the City Manager.

CM Johnson told the CRB that he would only need one minute.

There was a discussion about time limits and limiting speaking time.

CM Johnson said, "I don't think you want to limit speaking time. From experience, I don't think that that is going to be a problem."

Chairperson Skinner, like the Mayor who appointed her, will be representing Lake City's open style of government well.

It was decided that like the city council, the board will listen to anyone, whether they fill out a slip or not.

The first meeting of the Charter Review Board ran smoothly and openly and the city is once again leading the way in Columbia County for open and responsive government.

Ms. Skinner, like Mayor Witt who appointed her, was attentive and open to suggestions from anyone, including the public.

The City Charter Review Board is off to a good start.

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