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Columbia County Observer

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Lake City

"Lie of Omission": City Manager Johnson Fires Back at Lake City Reporter Editor, Robert Bridges


Robert Bridges gives City Manager Johnson the cold stare during Mr. Johnson's remarks.

LAKE CITY, FL – Monday night, October 2, was a tough night at City Hall. After being criticized by citizens; asked to resign by Councilman Hill; and being skewered by Lake City's mainstream media the day before: being called a "liar by omission" by the paper's editor Robert Bridges, City Manager Wendell Johnson vented. Nothing got out of control and Mayor Steve Witt, as he does with everyone, did not intercede, allowing Mr. Johnson to speak his piece.

The following is what City Manager Johnson had to say on Monday night, as he said it. Mr. Johnson's lead-in came after he told City Councilman Hill he was not resigning.

The Observer has added links to stories and articles as they come up during Mr. Johnson's remarks. Click the speaker to hear Mr. Johnson's remarks through the end of the meeting.

Mr. Johnson: I like my job. I've been cussed at. I've had chicken crap dumped in my yard. I've had my house egged. I've had my tires cut. I've had my vehicle egged.

This man sitting right here, Mr. Robert Bridges, put a first for me in Sunday's opinion, where I was accused of lying by omission. That's a first for me. I've been accused of lying before, but never by omission.

This man promised me somethin' about three months ago. I went to him, and I'll look in your eyes when I say this Robert, I said about this complaint that I had not too long ago -- that I was cleared from, at a cost of about $30,000 to the taxpayers. Very thorough investigation, initiated by Mr. Koberlein, through a firm out of Tallahassee called Adam, Norton & Blue.

Mr. Bridges said. 'Yeah. Wendell. I'll keep the secret if you'll give me the story.' That's what I told him I'd do.

About four days later, young Mr. Taylor [Lake City Reporter cub reporter] here comes over with a records request wantin' the complaint. I called Robert. 'How you goin' buddy. You callin' this. I said well I don't need to - you lied to me Robert and he said, 'I'm G.D. tired of you. I'm G.D. sick of you. I'll be G.D. glad when you're gone.'

That's the character this man has. And I'm sick of it Robert. You can beat me up in the paper, and I'll beat you up here tonight. I think we can do better with you and somebody at that Lake City Reporter. That's all I got to say to that.

Robert Bridges:  (Bridges calls out from the audience) You gonna' let me respond to that?

Mr. Johnson: No, you're not respondin' to me.

Mr. Bridges: (turns toward Mayor Witt) You're not goin' to let me respond to that?

Mr. Johnson: You're gonna' lie to the Mayor too? You lie to me all the time.

Mayor Witt: Briefly. I think this is over night (Mr. Johnson cuts him off)

Mr. Johnson: Put it in the paper, Robert. -Unintelligible- what I said to you. Your a lyin' -- You've lied about the Chief [Police Chief Gilmore]. One time you said you wanted her fired. You told Jeff Siegmeister [State Attorney], 'I want her fired. She's incompetent.' Jeff Siegmeister told me and the Chief that. You said you didn't do it.

The Chief might remember this when I said, 'I'm puttin' my money on the Chief.'

Mr. Bridges: (from his seat in the audience) I sure went on the record about you yesterday, didn't I?

Mayor Witt: OK. Let's have (Mr. Bridges cuts him off)

Mr. Bridges: You gonna' get him under control Mayor?

Councilman Ward: I move we adjourn Mayor.

Mr. Johnson: -unintelligible- sick of you too, Robert.

Mayor Witt: There is a motion we adjourn.

Mr. Johnson: I got a right to speak my piece about you.

Mr. Bridges: We got a new lead story in tomorrow's paper.

Mr. Johnson: Good. Put more lies in there Robert.

(the meeting ended)

Epilogue

Mr. Bridges was true to his word, "We got a new lead story in tomorrow's paper."

Without the Lake City Reporter's commentary, the exchange and the end of the meeting look a little different.

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