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Columbia County Observer

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Lake City

City Manager Looking Into Gutting City Workers Packed Utility Committee to hear Last Minute Info


    Wendell Johnson

LAKE CITY, FL – In a maneuver designed to gut the City's waste water (sewer) utility workers from the City payroll, City Manager Johnson, along with the City Council, gutted and packed the Utility Advisory Committee. Now the Committee is looking into privatizing the City utility worker's jobs. The Utility Committee discussion begins at 5:30 pm tonight.

Background

It appears that early in September, 2015, City Manager Johnson began maneuvering to gut and pack the Utility Committee when he had Utility Director Steve Robert's add the restructuring to the Utility Committee agenda for the scheduled September 15 meeting.

A City source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, told the Observer, "Johnson wanted to do this when Dave [Clanton] was the Utility Director. He knew Dave wasn't for it. Dave was honest. He was for the City, the residents, and for the workers."

City Manager Johnson's reorganization included the disappearance of the City's popular Public Works Director Thomas Henry and longtime local businessman Walt Graham from the Committee.

At the last minute, on September 14, at 2:41 p.m., City Manager Johnson had the Utility Department send out its meeting agenda. Included were two pieces of information that would change Lake City. The first was the previously mentioned recommendation to gut and pack the Utility Committee with Mr. Johnson's picks. The second was the recommendation to send out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to privatize the City Waste Water Department.

At 3:26 p.m., without any reason, the Utility Committee meeting was cancelled.

Five days later, on September 19 during its regular Council meeting in a resolution that went unnoticed, the rubber stamp City Council, without one word of discussion, gave the City Manger his packed Utility Committee.

Mr. Johnson briefs the Council members before the Council meetings.

Tonight

Tonight, at 5:30 p.m., the Utility Committee is scheduled to meet to discuss the privatizing of the City's Waste Water Division. The RFP is part of the agenda.

The City is having difficulty with the name of its Utility Committee, whose name wanders between the "City Advisory Utility Board," and the "Utility Advisory Committee."

The Utility Committee makes recommendations, which must be approved by the City Council. Three City Council members including the Mayor are on the Committee, as well as City Manager and the Assistant City Manager. Also included are the Director and Assistant Director of Utilities and the new City Engineer, Leroy Marshall, who came to the City from the Suwannee River Water Management District.

Epilogue

It has been reported that Utility Director Steve Roberts is "collecting information" for tonight's meeting.

Director Roberts and the City Manager have been working this scheme since at least early September.

Like the Blanche and the other projects the City Manger controls, the last minute 12th hour presentation of material is his modus operandi, a pattern of behavior that the rubber stamp City Council continues to endorse.

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