Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

City Council Going Virtual Tonight: Is the City IT Staff & Management Up To the Task?

Observer Graphic: photos: meeting room, Joakim Honkasalo; Covidman, Pete Linforth

LAKE CITY, COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – As of Sunday evening there were almost 340,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, with deaths approaching 10,000. Florida had 12,350 cases. Tonight, Monday evening at 6 pm, the City, following various guidelines and plain common sense, will attempt to hold a virtual meeting.

Last Thursday, Lake City, disregarding common sense, held a meeting in City Hall. Fortunately, only one member from the public attended. The reason the meeting was not virtual was the City was not prepared and didn't know how to do it.

Councilwoman Melinda Moses attended via conference call, as did Councilman Chris Greene.

Those over 65 are at higher risk for serious consequences and possible death from the coronavirus; long-time Councilman Eugene Jefferson attended the meeting in City Hall. He is retired and over 65.

There was supposed to be citizen participation by call-in, it didn't work. The City had different excuses for this foul-up.

More Excuses

The excuses last Thursday for not going completely virtual were astounding: people were on vacation; Zoom doesn't work; Ocala had trouble with Zoom; the City decided to use Webex; no one was sure how to use Webex; not enough time to arrange a virtual meeting.

Ocala Zoom meeting, March 30, 2020
Last week the City of Ocala used Zoom for it City Council meeting. It was virtually flawless. To expand the image click here.

The City's complaints about Zoom, which is a virtual meeting platform, were untrue.

Ocala used Zoom for its March 30 meeting and the platform worked perfectly. As the meeting came to order, a small glitch regarding feedback was experienced and Mayor Kent Guinn easily solved the problem by going into another room.

All Ocala City Councilmen were on line in their own window, as well as the city manager, the city clerk, and the two city attorneys. When there were questions about voting, the Supervisor of Elections came online to the meeting without a hitch.

Tonight’s Lake City Meeting

Tonight's meeting is already off to a bad start as once again the City agenda packet is not available on line. This situation has been going on for over a year and a half.

The City's IT department is responsible for tonight's online or virtual meeting.

While the City could have chosen a toll free number for phone dial-in to the meeting, it chose instead a California long distance number. The City website does not announce that without long distance, this is a toll call.

The City also calls this evening’s meeting a CMT meeting. The general public does not know what “CMT” means, while everyone knows what online means.

Buried in the City’s website are the links for this evening’s meeting.


To access the City Hall video/audio feed via Webex, go to this link, and click Join Meeting (City provided link):


To access the meeting via telephone for AUDIO ONLY, call 1-408-418-9388.  

Enter access code 713891429 #  

When it asks for attendee number just press #

According to the City website, "The public may participate at the appropriate time via video by utilizing the chat function and raise hand function to request to speak or telephonic when the chair requests public comment.  The Chair will allow for sufficient time for lines to clear and all calls to be heard.  

Audio participation did not work at the last meeting. It is not clear if it will work at tonight’s meeting. The City website does not give clear instructions if connecting by phone.


The upside to the last broadcast City meeting was that for just about the first time in years Councilman Eugene Jefferson could be heard.

Tonight’s meeting will be a test of the City’s new IT Director and Assistant City Manager Vince Akhimie, under whom the IT Department resides.

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