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Lake City News

With the Departure of Lake City IT Director Mandy Rand, Prof. Florida/N. FL Women Not Surprised at Her Treatment

Woman reflected in computer monitor with caption: Gone: women in Lake City IT. Councilman with 5 daughters want a report.

LAKE CITY, COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  The recent departure of Mandy Rand, Lake City’s IT Director, not only speaks volumes about the disarray in the top management of Lake City, but the second class treatment of many women in North Florida. Particulary, those women who are in public management positions in rural communities.

City Councilman Todd SampsonDuring last night's City Council meeting, Councilman Todd Sampson, who has five daughters, expressed concern regarding the departure of Ms. Rand.

"We had a key employee walk out and quit – the IT Director... I'm really concerned when an employee of that level walks out and just quits. I think we should know why she quit. We need to be provided with a full report on this matter, so we understand what went on...I think by next meeting, we need a full report on it.”

As reported earlier, Lake City IT Director Quits - Tells City Manager: “Another attack would destroy my career, jeopardize the City and my family.”  The City’s IT department was put under the direction of Utility Director Paul Dyal.

While researching the story, City Manager Helfenberger told your reporter that Utility Director Dyal had IT experience.

Your reporter asked Mr. Helfenberger, “What is that experience?”

Mr. Helfenberger said, "I will look into it and get back to you.”

Mr. Helfenberger has not, nor has he responded to a request for a follow-up conversation.

Women Understand

While City Manager Helfenberger had gone undercover about the details of the Rand "Adios," women in the professional ranks in Columbia County and Florida have not.

In conversations with many people, no one took the April 19 email from City Manager Helfenberger to “City Officials and Staff” to be other than Ms. Rand was out, and she received a big slap in the face by Lake City’s good ole’ boys.

The following women, all familiar with Florida/N. Florida were familiar with the tune; because many of them are still working in the Florida/N. Florida male-dominated world, some of their names are not included.

Connie Scott, a former Columbia County employee and presently the Town Manager of Fort White, wrote: “The entire county has female executive phobia. I cannot begin to say how many times I have been ignored, interrupted, talked over, not included in major decision-making that I would be responsible for, etc.  I have lived here since 1993 and been in the County workforce as middle and senior management during that time.  Nothing has improved for female executives.”

A IT expert, who goes by the moniker “Federal Sales” wrote: “That's a great article, holy shit I can't believe they paid the ransom. As a woman, I can completely relate to Ms. Rand, being a female. In the IT industry, it’s hard because it's such a male-dominated industry, and on top of that, with dumb male rednecks being *in charge*, it makes it all the more difficult. Unfortunately, many males still have the mentality that women should be in the kitchen. Combining utilities to oversee IT, well, that's a shitty move! Pun intended!"

"True story: I used to dye my hair dark brown when working in IT because being female was hard enough, but being a natural blonde made it even harder to be taken seriously.”

A gal in PR in one of the largest Florida businesses said, “This stinks to high heaven.”

Edith Eudy, a retired N. Florida educator:  “And yes. The good old boy system flourishes and continues. To quote an old adage, “Be careful what you ask for. You might get it.”

A former Columbia County department manager, "And the beat goes on.”

An economic development expert: “Wow! Sounds like the City’s drama continues. I can definitely relate. Many of the rural communities in our area can’t handle women in leadership roles. It doesn't do well for their ego.”

Retired policewoman Kathy DeAntonio: “Not surprised. Idiots. They care about money and nothing else. Oh, and the good old boys' network that exists. When we get hit again, and we will for sure, I hope someone calls her, and you get her reaction. Short sighted fools.”

A former state prosecutor wrote, “I can relate.”

An environmental expert wrote:  “Yeah. As you can imagine, the back story is worse. It's hard to imagine that the city manager didn't know how to get a hold of her. Who could believe that?”

A Florida Workforce professional:  “Ha, Lake City never seems to amaze me.”

Another economic development expert: “Fun continues!”

Finally, a Columbia County public official wrote: “Yes, this is picture-perfect for Columbia County. It truly makes me sick.”

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