Monday's Lake City Agenda Still a Question
Stars & Bars, City Manager & Council Go Sub Rosa
Posted July 31, 2015 07:30 am
LAKE CITY, FL – Sometime after June's tragic shooting and killing of nine African-American church members in Charleston, South Carolina, the dormant issue of the Confederate Battle Flag on the Lake City logo became a topic of backroom discussions, the place where the real business of Lake City is accomplished. On July 20, Glynnell Presley threw a monkey wrench into the backroom planning of City Manager Wendell Johnson and others when he appeared before the Council and brought up the topic of the infamous Lake City logo.
Had the SC tragedy not occurred, it was clear that the Battle Flag issue was on nobody's radar in Lake City, which had parlayed the tragic Civil War Battle of Olustee in nearby Baker County into a money making scheme which is called the Annual Battle of Olustee Festival.
On July 20, Glynnell Presley, the 83 year old lifelong Lake City resident, appeared before the City Council and asked the Council to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the Lake City Logo. Mr. Presley's one page prepared speech transformed into an extemporaneous 15 minute presentation which concluded with: "I’m asking the Council at the next meeting that you – I don’t know if you want to put it on the agenda or – something needs to be done. That’s why I’m here. That’s what I’m askin’ of you."
Coincidently, Bruce Borders, a re-enactor of the Battle of Olustee, appeared at the Council with an opposing point of view on the future of the Battle Flag, telling the Council, "That Confederate flag did not cause him [Dylann Roof] to kill nine people."
The City Council offered no comments. Unknown to the public, sub rosa discussions concerning the City logo were already occurring between the City Manager and others.
After the meeting concluded, a hostile City Manager told your reporter that he was going to poll the City Council and see what they wanted to do about putting the Lake City logo discussion on the next City agenda.
Taking a page from the Lake Shore Hosp. Auth. playbook
On Wednesday, July 29, with the City Council meeting now only a few days away, your reporter emailed City Manager Johnson and the members of the City Council six questions:
1. Has City Manager Johnson
polled the board (city council)?
2. Is the topic of the flag on the Lake City Logo going to be on the next Council agenda?
3. Has the City Manager and/or anyone on the Council been working behind the scenes to come up with a plan to replace the flag?
4. Has the City Manager or anyone on the City Council been working with anyone to come up with an alternative to the present City logo?
5. Has the City Manager and/or anyone on the City Council seen or heard of any drawing, sketch, rendering, description, showing what a new City logo may look like?
6. During Mr. Presley's presentation on July 20 at the City Council, did the City Manager or anyone on the Council know if there was a plan "afoot" relating to the first 5 questions?
Taking a page from Governor Scott's Lake Shore Hospital Authority, demonstrably one of the worst public agencies in the state of Florida, City Manager Johnson and the entire City Council refused to answer any of the questions.
Unexplainably, the City Clerk's Office morphed the six questions, which clearly were not a pubic records request, into one, which gave City Manager Johnson and the City Council members an out.
City Manager Johnson emailed the Clerk and the City Council members:
Good afternoon all. “Public records” means all
documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes,
photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing
software, or other material, regardless of the physical
form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or
received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection
with the transaction of official business by any agency.
I do not have, nor am I aware of, any public records pertaining to this request. We are not required to create “new” records to comply with a request such as this.
As a public official, the City Manager works under the direction of the City Council (his boss) and his contract. Neither requires Wendell Johnson to answer questions.
The members of the City Council are elected by the people (their boss). While some may argue that answering questions is part of their job, there is nothing to say that they must.
Listening to the public and answering questions about the Lake City logo and the future of the Stars & Bars on that logo is an issue of great public concern.
The City Fathers are waiting until the very last minute to inform the public if Glynnell Presley's, "Something needs to be done" or Bruce Borders, "That Confederate flag did not cause him [Dylann Roof] to kill nine people," will be on Monday night's City Council agenda.