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Columbia County Observer

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Lake City's Rules of Procedure – Not Problematic For Over a Decade – Background   (Part I)


LAKE CITY, FL – After months of discussing changes to Lake City's Rules of Procedure, rules which had not been problematic for over a decade, the City Council's proposed new rules hit a roadblock of resistance.

City Rules of Procedure:
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Background

The City's Rules of Procedure had not been problematic for at least a decade. While they had changed in 2015 after the passing of what became known as Senate Bill 50, Florida legislation that insured public comments on propositions that affect citizens, the City continued under Mayor Steve Witt to be a model of public access and free speech. If you wanted to talk, were polite and to the point, Mayor Witt gave anyone the opportunity to speak at just about any time.

Other than in rare instances, no one, at least in the eyes of the Mayor and the City Council, abused the process.

Beginning in 2018, community activist Sylvester Warren began attending City Council meetings, along with many other African Americans who actually did live "north" of the tracks.

Mr. Warren, as well as others, began bringing up issues that the City had ignored for what many believed was forever.

Mr. Warren is not a polished politician. At times his style is confrontational and abrasive, and personal.

Some folks think that from time to time, Mr. Warren had crossed the line; others thought he was availing himself of his right of free speech and the right to petition the government.

Sometime after Mr. Warren began attending City Council meetings, the Mayor and some members of the City Council thought it was time to change the City's Rules of Procedure, the rules which enable to public to speak.

Public workshops were promised to allow for public input. There was one workshop. The public was not given effective input. Another workshop was mentioned, but never materialized.

Sometime, in the past couple of weeks, the City staff met with City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr.

Mr. Koberlein cobbled together new Rules of Procedure.

Mr. Koberlein finalized these new rules on Thursday, June 27 and sent them along to the City Clerk.

It is not clear what City or County's rules Mr. Koberlein used as his guide, but they are nothing like anything in Columbia County, including the rules the City now follows which were prepared by Lake City legend, City Attorney Herbert Darby.

This past Friday afternoon, some members of the public were advised that there were new rules on the City Council docket for Monday night.

The proposed rules and ordinance were never posted to the City website. 

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