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LC City Council Gives City Manager Paul Dyal Three Free Passes: Turns Down Investigations Into Violations of City Policy

City Council ignores its responsibility to its employees and the public

Graphic of the circling of the wagons with City Manager Paul Dyal in the center of the circle, with the headline: ...Dyal gets a free pass
Columbia County Obserever graphic

LAKE CITY, FL – Monday night in City Hall, three of the four members of a hobbled City Council gave Interim City Manager Paul Dyal three free passes: one on authorizing four hours of pay to all City employees without authority; another on ignoring established City Personal Policy; and finally, a pass on the alleged unfair treatment of some women directors.

Background & Monday’s Council Meeting
A Three Ring Circus, One Ring at a Time

In ring number one: Interim City Manager Dyal and the closing of the City for four hours in a non-emergency.

City Manager Dyal closed the City for four hours on the Friday before the three-day Labor Day weekend. During the September 6 Council meeting, Mr. Sampson complained that Mr. Dyal, without any authority, authorized the payment of four hours of pay for all City workers.

After the City Council blew Mr. Sampson off, he requested an investigation by the Council of Mr. Dyal’s “unilateral closing of the City for four hours." He asked that the City Attorney prepare a resolution to that effect.

City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr.
City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., the man who would be judge. He refried Councilman Sampson's resolutions to the point of unrecognizability.

The resolution made it to Monday evening’s agenda. However, it was almost unrecognizable after City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr. refried it. Mr. Koberlein's resolution said, "Councilmember Sampson has requested that the City Council inquire about and investigate the closing of those certain offices on September 2, 2022.”

That is not what Councilman Sampson requested.

Community Activist Sylvester Warren, who appears to be a proxy for City Manager Dyal, injected some humor into the proceeding, approaching the microphone with sunglasses, a referee cap, whistle, and a penalty flag.

Mr. Warren blew the whistle, dropped the flag, and called a foul.

Mr. Warren said, “I agree with the statement of Councilman Jefferson that givin’ our city workers an [sic] half-a-day off is a show of great gratitude… but for Councilman Sampson to have this on the agenda is disrespectful to our city workers … Councilman Sampson is ripping apart the fabric of our city manager form of government and demonstratin’ that our city workers, many who are underpaid… it should have been a whole day off… Councilman Sampson needs to be amonished [sic] for even bringin’ this forward.”

Community Activist Sylvester Warren
Community Activist Sylvester Warren, calls a foul on a Sampson sponsored investigation.

In ring number two: the wholesale violation of the City’s Personnel Policy & Procedures Manual

Mr. Dyal promoted a purchasing clerk to Assistant City Manager. The Assistant City Manager position requires a four-year college degree, and the Personnel Manual requires that the position be advertised internally for three days to allow qualified City employees to apply for the job.

Interim City Manager Dyal ignored Personnel Manual, as did Personnel Director Hubert Collins.

Councilman Sampson articulated his request for what he wanted to be investigated: "The failure of both the City Manager and HR Director… by not advertising and requesting applications for the vacant Assistant City Manager position, and not having the newly hired assistant city manager fill out an application or have his background checked.”

Mr. Sampson's requested investigation may seem clear to someone with average intelligence. However, Attorney Koberlein added vagueness to the equation. Mr. Koberlein's resolution put Mr. Sampson's request this way: "Councilmember Sampson has requested that the city Council inquire about and investigate the implementation of the personnel manual relating to the offering of the assistant city manager position."

Mr. Warren returned to the microphone and blew his whistle: "We have another flag on the play, your honor… Mr. Sampson is interferin' with the business of the city-managed government. We have a process through which the city manager gets with HR, and the city attorney, to work through these matters if there is such an issue -- not Councilman Sampson. Perhaps, Councilman Sampson should have run for County Commissioner or move to a communist or totalitarian country, where such things that he is attemptin' is allowed.”

Councilman Sampson spoke to the issue, “I believe it's the Council's purview to make sure that the personal policy passed by the Council is being followed by the employees, which it's not. We need to investigate to make sure it is, and I put that in the form of a motion."

The Motion failed for lack of a second.

City Councilman Todd Sampson
Councilman Sampson explains that the City Charter gives the Council the power to investigate.

In ring number three: the inappropriate treatment of subordinate women by their male supervisors

The final resolution was Mr. Sampson's request for a Council investigation of "the treatment of certain female City employees by the Interim City Manager and HR Director."

Councilman Sampson balked at the wording of attorney Koberlein's resolution.

Mr. Sampson said, “At the last meeting, I said, “It also appears that the Interim City Manager and others may be attempting to cover up the inappropriate treatment of subordinate women by their male supervisors. This inappropriate treatment creates a hostile workplace environment, is illegal, and is unacceptable by contemporary standards.”

City Attorney Koberlein, the man who would be judge, removed the heart and soul from Mr. Sampson's request, making the resolution so vague that it extinguished what Mr. Sampson was asking for.

Mr. Koberlein wrote, “Councilmember Sampson has requested that the City Council inquire about and investigate the treatment of certain employees by the administration.” Nowhere in the resolution are the words “female” or “cover-up” mentioned.

Lake City Mayor Steve Witt
Lake City Mayor Steve Witt has played a big part in the spectacle which Lake City has become.

Mr. Warren came to the microphone, blew his whistle, and threw another flag. "Your Honor… To have Councilman Sampson usurp the process breaks all protocol and go against the charter. Councilman Sampson can't be HR, City Manager, Attorney, Mayor, and Councilman. Perhaps, if he does not like the way our charter is set up and the great way our City is being run, he has the option to resign. Otherwise, he needs to focus on the policy matters in the scope of his elected position… Councilman Sampson may have it his way home, but not the Council.”

Councilman Sampson made a motion to approve the investigation of the alleged mistreatment of certain female employees.

Mr. Sampson added, "The charter does call for this body to be able to look into items. This item I think is going to be quite interesting to see what happens in the future. You're opening us up to lawsuits and allegations of abuse. It's going to happen. I think it's a big mistake if we don't second it and move forward on it."

Mr. Sampson's motion to investigate the alleged unlawful treatment of the female employees died for lack of a second.

Epilogue: "Remove this number from this fu*king circus bull shit blog!"

City Councilman Jake Hill
Councilman Jake Hill said he didn't condone Dyal's behavior at the last meeting.

City Manager Paul Dyal has demonstrated that becoming unhinged is part of his "MO."

Mr. Dyal's remarks to your reporter up until now have gone unreported. His most recent remarks were shared with City Councilman and Mayor and speak for themselves.

For quite some time, the Columbia County Observer occasionally sends text message updates of current and important articles. Mr. Dyal has been receiving these updates.

After receiving an update of the last Council meeting, Mr. Dyal wrote: "Remove this number from this fu*king circus bull shit blog!"

Mr. Dyal represents the City 24-7. Councilman Sampson was the only council member who took exception to the City Manager's language.

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