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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City

City Attorney Interviews – Flatlined – Completely Inaudible: City Violates Statute

LAKE CITY, FL – On August 31, 2016, Lake City had a special meeting to interview three finalists for the position of City of Lake City, City Attorney. The position was being vacated after more than six decades of service by the legendary and longest sitting City Attorney in America, Herbert Darby.

Florida law requires the interviews to be recorded. The recordings of the applicants are completely inaudible.

Background

Before the August 31 Council meeting was gaveled to order, your reporter asked City Manager Johnson if anyone had contacted newly elected Councilman Jake Hill and asked him to attend the interviews. Traditionally, newly elected officials are invited to attend meetings when governing body decisions transcend administrations.

This is Lake City. Mr. Johnson said he didn't know if anyone called, and after a while added, "I didn't."

At 5:30 pm, the public was asked to leave the City Council Chambers and the interviews ensued.

Florida Statutes: they are crystal clear

Chapter 286, section 0113 (further section citations omitted) states the following:

Any portion of a meeting... at which a vendor makes an oral presentation as part of a competitive solicitation, or at which a vendor answers questions as part of a competitive solicitation is exempt from s. 286.011 and s. 24(b), Art. I of the State Constitution. A complete recording shall be made of any portion of an exempt meeting. No portion of the exempt meeting may be held off the record.
(emphasis added by the Observer)

Public Record

The audio of the interviews is a public record. On September 6, 2016, your reporter asked for a copy of the recording.

The City Clerk's Office advised that the City IT Department attempted to enhance the audio so that it could be heard.

On September 12, the City produced both original and enhanced versions of the meeting audio.

The responses in the original interviews are completely flatlined. Nothing can be heard. The City enhanced version is barely any better. It is impossible to understand the interviews.

Epilogue

Attorney Fred Koberlein's contract is on the City's agenda to be approved this evening.

His answers and the other attorney's answers to the interview questions are, contrary to the law, unknown.

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