Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County/Lake City

City Manager Johnson's Thursday Appearance At the County 5: It was not to address the Board

The Lake City Reporter Got It Wrong

COLUMBIA COUNTY/LAKE CITY, FL – Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but it is good when it is based on reality. The Lake City Reporter besides "misreporting" Thursday's Board-Blanche vote, which was a heartbeat away from having The 5 deep-six the Blanche/IDP/Johnson Downtown Project, got the reason wrong why City Manager Johnson attended the County 5's Thursday board meeting and ignored how he came to address The 5.

The Lake City Reporter wrote in "Our Opinion" this Sunday, "For the first time in recent memory – perhaps ever – a current city manager appeared in person to address commissioners on a matter of real importance."

Not True

This would be nice if it was true, but the record clearly demonstrates otherwise.

The Rules

While The 5's Rules of Procedure, the rules worked out behind closed doors by County Attorney Joel Foreman and the County 5 chairman, Rusty DePratter (yes, they were approved by the other 4 of The 5) are clearly deficient in many areas, they are clear and specific regarding the procedure(s) on how one addresses the County 5: one is approved to be on the agenda; one fills out a card and hands it in to the staff "not later than 5 minutes" after the agenda is approved; one hands in a card after the agenda has been approved; or one waits to the end of the meeting and gets two minutes to address The 5.

Before the Blanche/IDP/Johnson Downtown Project was put on the May 7 agenda, the decision had already been made that Assistant County Manager, Ben Scott, would be the one doing the presenting. The City Manager was not being invited to talk.

It was clear that City Manager Johnson had not handed in a completed card at any time to the staff.

After Lake City/Columbia County resident Sandra Buck Camp made her comments regarding the Blanche, Chairman DePratter asked, "Does anyone else wish to make a public comment on this discussion item on the agenda?"

City Manager Johnson, a resident of Columbia County/Lake City, did not ask.

King – Queens – City Managers

There are no special contingencies for Kings, Queen, or City Managers to jump up out of their seats and ask to address the Board as Mr. Johnson did.

If Chairman DePratter decided to waive the rules for City Manager Johnson, due process, common decency, fair play, and respect for all attending demanded that every other person in the room be granted the same right as Wendell Johnson to address The 5 before it voted on whether or not to give, grant, loan, or guarantee at least $1,000,000 of Columbia County taxpayer money to Lake City or the Blanche Developer.

If the elected County Attorney, Joel Foreman, saw anything wrong with the process, he wasn't talking. Mr. Foreman was endorsed by the Lake City Reporter.

Both of the head honchos of Columbia County's print newspaper, the Lake City Reporter, publisher Todd Wilson and editor Robert Bridges were in the audience.

Next time they should pay attention.

The public and the process were the losers.

The Lake City Reporter got it wrong.

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The CRA Master Plan is available here. (25Mb)

Links to more Blanche stories:

• May 9, 2015  Frisina Swings the Vote, Blanche Ducks a TKO – Lake City, County, Developer Regrouping (Part II)

• May 8, 2015  Last Night The Blanche Ducks a TKO – Lake City, County, Developer Regrouping (Part I)

• April 21, 2015  Blanche Hotel Developer Equity Skyrockets 850%: What is The Real Investment?

• March 11, 2015  Blanche Hotel: 6 Months & Counting – $14,000,000 Letter of Intent May Be Next Month

• Feb. 24, 2015  Blanche Hotel Train of Advisors Pulled into City Hall Last Night: Lots of Pictures - Not Much New

• Feb. 21, 2015  Blanche Saga Continues: $14,000,000 financing remains unexplained

• Feb. 3, 2015  Blanche $15 mil Renovation: CM Johnson Playing it Close to the Vest, "You'll know when I know"

• December 18, 2014 (Part II)  The Blanche: Johnson & Decker want inclusion "Anybody that wants a seat will have one"

• December 17, 2014 (Part I)  Lake City's Blanche Hotel: $15,000,000 Renovation Discussion Off & Running

• December 4, 2014  Renovation of Blanche Hotel on the Launching Pad:  Will everyone have a chance to participate?

• November 7, 2014  Lake City's Last Chance Hotel, the Blanche – Plans On the Way to the Columbia County 5

• November 4, 2014  City Manager Johnson: Working on a Plan to Raise the Blanche Hotel From the Dead

• March 4, 2010 The Blanche Hotel - The seventh inning stretch

 • Mar 1, 2010 The Blanche Group Bailout
Who are they? Where are they?

 • Mar 1, 2010  A Blanche Investor Interview

 • Feb 27, 2010  Structural Evaluation of the Blanche Hotel Now in the hands of the City Council

 • Oct 21, 2009 Conversation with Steve Smith -Blanche Investment Trust

 • Oct 21, 2009 City steps up • Councilman Hill wants slow down

 • Oct 21, 2009 The visit • The fire inspection

 • Oct 21, 2009 Go to Photo Gallery

 • Oct 9, 2009 City Steps Up To The Plate
Offers to buy Landmark Blanche Hotel