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Columbia County Observer

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Gas Tax Redux: Lake City Reporter Bails Out Nash, Blames Williams for Talk of Gas Tax Increase

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Thursday's first budget hearing of the year was ill attended, with one non government employee in attendance. Missing from this important meeting was the County's mainstream media, its own version of Pravda, the Lake City Reporter.

On Friday, May 17, the Observer ran an article titled: Com's. Nash & Williams Looking to Raise the Gas Tax, Com. Witt "I will not support a raise in taxes."

This was a cut and dry article, which left out both County Manager Ben Scotts observation about the cheapest gas in town (he reported 20 cents gal. cheaper at Walmart) and Commissioner Nash's remarks about the Lake City Reporter.

Recap: May 17 Workshop

After Count Manager Scott reviewed the different kinds of gas tax he explained the County could levy an additional 1-5 cents a gal on gasoline.

Commissioner Nash wasted no time and announced, "I'm in. Any of you other guys in?"

Without hesitation, Commissioner Williams said, "I'm in."

Com. Nash: "Well, I've got two."

Com. Murphy joined the conversation. He said something about a fishbowl.

Nash: "You can say what you want to, the paper ain't here."

Com. Nash announced, "You can say what you want to, the paper ain't here."

The County 5 and the staff laughed.

Com. Nash looked over in this reporter's direction.

Your reporter said, "That's right, you've got two."

County Manager Scott explained the finances of the tax and there was no more discussion about the gas tax. Neither Com. Ford, nor Murphy weighed in on the gas tax.

The Lake City Reporter Weighed in on Sunday

The Lake City Reporter's Carl McKinney wrote: "a proposal to raise gas taxes has resurfaced right on cue."

Fact: this was not true. There was no proposal.

Reporter Carl McKinney wrote: "Year after year, County Commission Chairman Ron Williams, who could not be reached for comment Saturday, champions a gas tax increase as a means to creating a dedicated source of money for road work. This budget cycle is no different other commissioners say."

It seems that Mr. McKinney is claiming the other commissioners said Commissioner Williams brought this up on Wednesday.

Fact: Commissioner Williams did not bring up raising the gas tax, Com. Nash did.

Mr. McKinney wrote: "But the idea has been met with outright opposition from two commissioners and stiff reluctance by the other two."

Fact: Other than Commissioner Witt's remarks about not raising taxes, this did not happen at the meeting. The Lake City Reporter did not say where or when this happened.

Fact: On Thursday evening, County Manager Ben Scott told this reporter that he was leaving for Ireland on Friday.

Mr. McKinney said he spoke with Mr. Scott on Saturday. This is questionable.

Walking It Back, Another Bite of the Apple

Mr. McKinney wrote: "Commissioners Tim Murphy and Bucky Nash say they won’t take it off the table entirely, but are not in favor at this time."

Fact: The Lake City Reporter barely, if ever reports when it speaks with those it interviews.

Fact: Com. Nash was in favor of increasing the gas tax on Thursday. Com. Murphy was in a fishbowl.

Com. Nash's change of heart from "I'm in" may have caused whiplash based on the speed of his purported reversal.

Mr. McKinney wrote: "Nash said it’s too early in the budget process to take a firm stance one way or the other on a gas tax increase, but expressed reluctance."

Mr. McKinney continued with a direct quote from Com Nash: “We’ll approach the gas tax wisely, and nobody wants to raise taxes if possible."

Fact: That was not the Nash position on Thursday morning.


The Lake City Reporter did not divulge it did not attend the budget workshop, giving no explanation for its out of the blue coverage of the Nash-Williams agreement to raise the gas tax. If the newspaper would have listened to the meeting audio, it would have known what happened at the meeting. They didn't.

Continuing the practice of not stating when they speak with people and blaming Commissioner Williams for bringing up raising the gas tax was not only wrong, but irresponsible and unethical; nothing new for the "hometown" newspaper, paper of Columbia County's infamous good ole' boys, the Lake City Reporter.

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