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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

City Breezes Through Council Meeting: CM Johnson's meeting rules make brief appearance

LAKE CITY, FL –  Last night the City Council breezed through the evening's agenda in under 12 minutes. There were no substantive comments by any Council member. City Manager (CM) Johnson announced that the Council policy for public meetings will be back before the Council at the December 16th meeting, with the changes that were directed by the Council.

CM Johnson explained that there would also be a memorandum of comments from City Attorney Herbert Darby.

CM Johnson told the Council, "I would encourage the Council, if you have any additional changes that you want to make in that policy between now and the time that it comes back on the 16th, just give it to me or call me and I'll come visit with you. I think the final product would be pleasing not only to you, but to the public; to the news media. It will be back on the 16th."

Agenda Preparation (extended coverage from Nov. 18)

One of the topics of discussion during the November 18, 2013 review of City Manager Johnson's new meeting policy was agenda preparation and distribution. CM Johnson suggested that the Council meeting agendas be prepared and distributed on the Thursday before the City Council's Monday meetings.

City Councilman George Ward questioned whether the agenda should be prepared for distribution on Friday as it presently was. Mr. Ward was content to leave it that way.

CM Johnson commented that the agenda and supporting material should be "out as quickly as possible prior to the meeting. I've always had a standard where I try to have it out by noon Wednesday. That's a standard that I impose to the staff to have all your agenda items in by noon Wednesday so we can get it distributed and posted... certainly ideally by no later than Thursday," he said.

Other than the agenda for this meeting, City Manager Johnson has not been able to have the City Council agendas available before Friday after noon.

CM Johnson shared his thoughts on the difficulties of getting the agenda prepared and distributed before Friday.

Councilwoman Moses said Friday was fine for agenda distribution.

CM Johnson: In 2011, a proponent of good government at the NFBA

In December 2011, one of the major issues that confronted the North Florida Broadband Authority, after the forced federal government shutdown of the $30mil federal grant, was the lack of timely available agenda information. City Manager Johnson, a member of the finance committee and a staunch supporter of the NFBA, was an outspoken proponent of having agenda material available to the NFBA Board of Directors a week in advance of its meetings.

On December 7, 2011, City Manager Johnson told the NFBA Board of Directors that agenda material should be available five days before the meeting. He said, "I think that one week prior would be the standard we want to set."

Again, at the January 4, 2012 NFBA meeting, after Taylor County's NFBA representative, Pam Feagle, suggested that the NFBA meeting agendas should be prepared and distributed at the latest on the Friday before the Wednesday meeting, City Manager Johnson again agreed that the agenda should be available 5 days before the meeting.

City Manager Johnson never followed through. Taylor County pulled out of the NFBA. The NFBA agendas and the NFBA languished.

Epilogue (commentary)

Columbia County and the County 5, with all their problems, have been able to get their agendas prepared, distributed and posted to the net on the Fridays before the County Commission meetings on the following Thursdays.

City Manager Johnson's inability to have the City's agenda material available five days before City Council meetings speaks volumes for both the City Manager and the City Council.

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