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City Manager Straightening Out City Meeting Scheduling Mess: City Attorney - Zero Direction

Graphic: Fred Koberlein, Jr. and Chris Greene

LAKE CITY, FL – Once again, a lack of legal advice leaves Lake City lurching, with City Manager Helfenberger and the City Clerk scrambling to re-notice Monday's January 13 City Council meeting.


Legendary City Attorney Herbert Darby was Lake City's City Attorney for 64 years. The City Code requires City Council meetings to be held on the first and third Monday of the month, unless that day is a holiday, in which case the meeting is held on the next day that is not a holiday.

Related City Articles:
Councilman Greene:  Vacations-Work Should Not Determine Lawful City Meeting Schedule
January 21, 2020
City Manager Straightening Out City Meeting Scheduling Mess
City Attorney - Zero Direction

Jan 7, 2020
New City Atny Fred Koberlein: What Did He Say? Mayor Steve Witt:  We Will Get a Transcript
September 20, 2016
City Attorney Interviews – Flatlined – Completely Inaudible: City Violates Statute
September 19, 2016
City Atny Slot Goes to Koberlein, Councilman Elect Hill Ignored, Public Records Issue

September 1, 2016

Mr. Darby never had to explain the rules to the City Council. It just followed them.

In 2016, Fred Koberlein, Jr., was hired as City Attorney. His tenure began on the wrong foot, as the recording of his interview, contrary to the law, was mostly unintelligible.

The City knew it was having trouble with the recording system and still refused to hire a court reporter.

Attorney Koberlein: Problematic

For years, Koberlein Law has been problematic. Many times, Attorney Koberlein ignores the Sunshine Law and is unintelligible at public meetings, an issue very pronounced at the Lake Shore Hospital Authority down the block, which he also represents.

This is a major conflict of interest, which is ignored by both the City Council and the Governor's appointed Board at the Authority.

Koberlein Law has had trouble getting material to the City Manager in time to meet deadlines and poor advice has caused at least one meeting to be redone because of notice issues.

December 16, 2019
Where is the City Attorney When You Need Him?

City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr.
City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr.

While never explained to the public, the City's most recent addition to the City Council, Chris Greene, has some sort of problem with the City Ordinance requirement that if a Monday City Council meeting falls on a holiday, it be held on the next day that is not a holiday. This means Tuesday.

The City management and the Council, contrary to its rules, worked to reschedule a bunch of meetings to fit Mr. Greene's personal schedule, completely disregarding the City Code, which requires that Council meetings be held on the first and third Monday, unless Monday is a holiday, in which case the meeting is on Tuesday.

The December 16 meeting schedule discussion was kicked off by City Manager Helfenberger who said, "We just got done kind of rearranging January to make sure we kept it on a Monday."

It wasn't clear when or who the "we" was that "just got done."

There was no discussion during the meeting regarding the rescheduling of January.

The City Manager's rescheduling the Council meeting for the second Monday in January, January 13, was in conflict with the LSHA meeting and in violation of the City Ordinance, which required Council meetings to be on the first and third Monday.

City Councilman Chris Greene
City Councilman Chris Greene

Regarding the other meetings, (Feb 17, May 25, Sept. 14), which somehow didn't meet Councilman Greene's requirements, the City Manager explained, "Would revert to the next day according to City rules, or you [Council] would have to vote for an alternate.

The City Ordinance has no accommodation for voting for substitute days.

During the conversation regarding the changing of the other three dates, much of which was inaudible in the audience, City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., did not mention the City Ordinance and did not say one word.

The Council agreed to change the three dates for Mr. Greene, as all three fell on a Monday.

The law required the meetings to be on the next day, Tuesday. Mr. Greene did not want to take Tuesdays off to attend the meetings and the Council agreed to change the dates, without any vote, to a Monday.

City Clerk Sikes said she would run the notice.

The Remedy

On Sunday, City Manager Helfenberger told the Observer, "I recognize the problem and am working to get it straightened out."

Late Monday afternoon, City Clerk Sikes told the Observer that she had just returned from a meeting regarding the meeting schedule.

Ms. Sikes said, "The City Council meeting scheduled for Monday, January 13, is being moved to 7 p.m. The workshop is being cancelled. The City Council members will be attending the Lake Shore Hospital Authority meeting on the 13th before the Council meeting."

It is not clear what is happening with the rest of the "Greene" schedule.


City Councilwoman Melinda Moses
Compliance with the City meeting ordinance had never been an issue before Ms. Moses.

Complying with the City meeting ordinance had never been a problem.

In the past, when a council member couldn't attend a meeting, they didn't attend.

This issue began in recent time when Councilwoman Melinda Moses discovered she was vacationing in Paris and then had both the City and County cancel and reschedule a joint City-County meeting so she could attend.

Councilman Jake Hill has missed workshops because he works. He has never complained and never asked anyone to reschedule anything to accommodate his schedule.

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