Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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County Commission News

Columbia County's hit man takes aim at EMS
County looks to bust the union and bust out Lake City

By Stew Lilker

Jacksonville Attorney, Mike Grogan, came prepared to recommend taking out the county's EMS.

Last night, Mike Grogan, the county's long time labor attorney and union busting hired gun, took aim at the county's unionized EMS workers and the City of Lake City. The anti union Commissioner Bailey and the County have been trying to bust up the union and leave City residents unprotected for years.

The county's newest commissioner, Rusty DePratter, joined the silent march to send the county's EMS workers to the gallows and at the same time, leave the county's Lake City residents without County EMS.

Mr. Grogan came to the meeting with a nine minute prepared presentation. During that time, not one positive word passed his lips regarding county EMS workers.

He quoted from a lot of court cases, which showed that the county could privatize EMS.

Mr. Grogan explained that he has been representing Columbia County in labor matters for many years. He failed to mention that between the breakup of his last firm and the joining of his new firm, the county illegally retained his services.

Mr. Grogan told the Board: "My presentation tonight is to offer county officials guidance on achieving high quality, cost-effective EMS services."

Mr. Grogan presented no credentials regarding his expertise in the actual functioning of EMS.

Mr. Grogan mentioned that the union representing the EMS workers has been without a contract since 2009.

Mr. Grogan did not tell the truth about the interlocal or Lake City's willingness to pay its fair share for City EMS services.

Mr. Grogan then mentioned that the interlocal agreement for EMS services between Lake City and Columbia County "had expired a number of years ago in 2005. The City of Lake City has not made past payments and declined to continue making any more payments."

The truth:

There was never any executed interlocal agreement that anyone could find. When the City offered to have a neutral party perform a cost benefit analysis to determine the real costs of EMS, the County balked, Com DuPree went into a snit, the county manager, always used to getting his own way, dug in, and the conversation ended.

Mr. Grogan brought up the well known fact that most calls to fire departments are not for fire but for medical services.

Com DuPree, who many believe has replaced Com Bailey as the County's primary union buster, watches the hangman do his thing.

Mr. Grogan explained that the call ratio was 80% medical to 20% fire.

He said private providers generally combine more advanced technology; better system design and often better billing practices. Private providers must constantly prove themselves if they wish to keep a contract.

In Columbia County this is clearly not true, as the price for Century being granted a Private Ambulance monopoly was a $17,000 tram.

Mr. Grogan recommended that the town of Fort White should continue to be covered by the County.

Not one good word for the county's EMS or its crews.

Without one good word to say about the County's EMS crews and its nationally regarded EMS Director, Rusty Noah, the County's hired gun concluded:

I submit that the time has come to explore another approach to the delivery of EMS services. On the basis of the current facts, I respectfully recommend, that the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners entertain a motion to issue requests for qualifications by the County Attorney and staff as soon as practical regarding delivery and privatization of EMS services.  I have prepared a sample motion to that effect, which reiterates what I have just said.  And that concludes my presentation. 

When the good old boys aren't prepared, the results are disastrous. Go here to listen.

Commissioner Ronald Williams obviously came much better rehearsed than usual: "Based on the advice from our Attorney we have reached a stalemate with negotiations, we're deadlocked. I move that we accept the motion that was rendered by the Board Attorney to ask for requests for qualifications to privatize EMS."

Not one word of discussion was had between the board members and not one question was asked.

The passed unanimously.

It was clear that a discussion was had somewhere else. 

It was business as usual for the legendary good old boys of Columbia County.

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

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