Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County Charter Amendments:
Just Vote No

On the ballot are four proposed amendments to the Columbia County Charter. The Observer recommends a no vote on each amendment. 

Amendment #1 Establishes A Citizen Advisory Committee To Make Recommendations To The Board Of County Commissioners Regarding Redistricting. There is no indication of how many members; if these are paid or volunteer positions; or if the committee will need a staff, a demographer or its own attorney. The final redistricting decisions still remain with the County Commission and it has the authority to fully reject any and all recommendations made by the Committee. If the County Commission feels it needs an advisory committee, it can just appoint one. Vote no for Amendment 1.

Amendment #2 Provides an Additional Method For Removal Of The County Manager By The Board Of County Commissioners. Currently, the Board may only remove the CM by a simple majority vote in two successive regularly scheduled meetings. The proposed amendment gives the Board the authority to remove the CM in a single meeting. This meeting may be a regular meeting or it can be a special meeting. Special meetings have less advertising and public notice time, or none at all.  The proposal calls for all County Commissioners to be present and the motion must pass with a majority plus 1. Amendment #2 protects neither the rights of the County Manager nor the Citizens of the County. Vote no for Amendment 2.

Amendment #3 Removes A Department Heads Option To Appeal Termination By County Manager To The County Commission. This removes what has been established by the Charter as an employee right. The appeal option provides for a second review of the facts of the termination. This only applies to Department Heads. The appeal must take place in a public meeting, in the Sunshine, before the Commissioners. The present Charter protects the rights of the employee. The Amendment removes transparency and employee rights. Vote no on Amendment 3.

Amendment #4 Provides For Appointment Of A Qualified County Attorney By the County Commission and  Abolishes the Elected Office Of County Attorney. This Amendment removes the public's right to chose and have oversight over a county official.  It removes the independence of the office of County Attorney. Vote no on Amendment 4. 

Like the Berry Amendment, which finally went up in smoke, these four ill-founded amendments should go the same way. Each amendment either takes away the right of an employee or the Citizens.

The hand picked Charter Review Commission ended up being the hand-maidens for a power grab by the County Commission. This makes the public's choice a simple one: On each proposal, "Just Vote No."  

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

Posted on Nov 5, 2012, DD of Lake City wrote:

Thank you so much.  Once again, your clearly stated facts have helped me understand what’s being proposed.


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