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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Opinion
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Lake City Reporter: Shamed to speak up by former Marine, editorial is half baked and uninformed

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – For years Columbia County's newspaper of record, the Lake City Reporter (LCR), has turned a blind eye on the constant abuse of Columbia County citizens by its infamous good ole boy County Commission. Known throughout the years as the Lake City Distorter, the Lake City Repeater, and the mullet wrapper, an insult to the mullet, the LCR president, Dink NeSmith, was recently contacted by County resident and former Marine, L.J. Johnson. Mr. Johnson finally had enough of watching Columbia County residents being shut out of the decision making process and picked up the phone and called the Lake City Reporter’s boss.

According to L.J. Johnson, he called the LCR's president, Dink NeSmith and told him, "We the people have a right to comment on items as they come up on the agenda, but we are not being allowed to do so."

Mr. Johnson said that Mr. NeSmith agreed. "He told me to speak to the head honcho at the Lake City Reporter." Mr. Johnson said that he spoke with Todd Wilson, the publisher, and explained that the owner had expressed an interest.

Mr. Johnson continued, "All of the sudden he was interested in making sure that I was happy. He had me speak with his editor, Robert Bridges.”

Half baked and uninformed: The Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves

Rober BridgesWriting for the paper, in an editorial titled, Democracy, in all its rough-hewn glory, published in yesterday's Lake City Reporter, Mr. Bridges wrote a half baked, uninformed diatribe filled with flowery nonsense based on unattributed opinions by those purportedly in the know, before finally opining that allowing public comment should be something the County Commission could think about.

Mr. Bridges wrote, "Freedom of speech can be a messy business, and folks may come to wonder whether it's worth all the fuss."

Editor Bridges and LCR publisher Todd Wilson may wish to remember Tiananmen Square, or closer to home, Patrick Henry or Thomas Paine, or in real time our troops that are fighting and serving all over the world to defend the Constitution and the 1st Amendment.

Wondering “whether it’s worth all the fuss?” The Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves.

Editor Bridges went on to write about a time when the Commission allowed the public to comment. “That practice proved cumbersome, we're told, and often threatened to grind things to a halt as debate, often heated, would erupt when someone asked too pointed a question. Or droned on incessantly about the same topic as last time. Week, after week, after week.”

Mr. Bridges concluded his thought, “That was before my time here, but as I understand it, hours-long meetings would generate plenty of heat, but little light.”

News flash

Here’s a news flash Mr. Bridges, maybe you should do your homework before writing about something you admittedly know nothing about. If you wonder why the hometown newspaper is held in such low regard, I suggest you read what you write.

It would not have been difficult to look at Columbia County’s minutes of old to see what people had to say. The people’s remarks, for the most part, were well thought out and literate. Not all members of the public had to compare what they had to say with grandma’s goat or uncle Rhemus’s chicken, as one commissioner is still prone to do.

Mr. Bridges, it was the now Florida Representative, Elizabeth Porter, whose behavior was so outrageous at times that Representative Debbie Boyd used her County Commission screaming meme performance in a series of commercials.

Mr. Bridges, it was and is a long time Columbia County Commissioner who lectures and challenges residents, with whom he doesn’t agree, to go outside and fight, not the opposite.

Mr. Bridges, it is two Commissioners and the County Commission who are being sued in Federal Court for abusing their power and a resident’s civil rights by publicly humiliating her or standing by and watching it happen.

Mr. Bridges, I’ve been going to public meetings for 40 years and have never seen things get so out of hand that the police had to be called in, not counting this place of course. The former Sheriff refused to be the hired Gestapo for the County Commission. The current Sheriff seems at times to have forgotten that his allegiance is to the Constitution and not a commissioner who has lost control of him or herself.

The Observer asked Mr. Johnson, “Did you attend meetings during the time when Mr. Bridges claimed the meetings were unwieldy.”

Mr. Johnson answered, “Yes I did. The only thing that was unwieldy about those meetings was the commissioners.”

Mr. Johnson continued, “I am disappointed in the editorial that Bridges wrote for the Lake City Reporter. I would say that the Lake City Reporter and Mr. Bridges showed favoritism towards the County Commission, and were afraid that we might figure out what in the hell was going on.”

The Observer asked, “I understand that the original purpose of your discussions with the LCR was to impress on them that you thought the County Commission was superseding its authority by restricting public comment when issues came up on the agenda that affected them.”

Mr. Johnson replied, “That is absolutely correct. I feel like I have been double crossed.” 

Photo from the LCR editorial

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On May 2, 2103, a reader wrote:

SB 50 a bill that is being sent to Gov. Scott seeks to make sure that Floridians have the right to be heard-and not just seen- at local government and state agency meetings.

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On May 4, 2013, Rudolph Davis of Lake City wrote:

I have had my issues with the Lake City Reporter about the way they report the news in this community. I thought that the LCR's main focus was to keep the community informed about news worthy events that happen in and around this community, but I found out that Mr. Todd Wilson is more of a politician than a publisher. He shows favoritism to other politicians instead of just printing the truth.

My advice to Mr. Wilson is: if you want to be a good publisher of the LCR, stop trying to be a politician.

Congratulations to the Columbia County Observer for printing more news worthy events in this community than the LCR.

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On May 5, 2013, citizen49a of Lake City wrote:

It's been said that, contrary to popular opinion, the function of journalism is to fill the white space between ads in the newspaper.  I think that's the secondary function. The main purpose is to first minimize the white space between ads.

Newspapers make money off of advertising, not selling the paper to people.  Boycott the LCRs advertisers, or get circulation to substantially decline so that their ad rates go down and maybe they'll pay attention. Otherwise, fuggedaboutit.

 

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

 
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