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Lake City Mayor Stephen Witt: How Much Did He Know About the City Attorney Resignation & When Did He Know It?

Mayor Witt's comments do not jive with the facts.

Lake City Mayor Steve Witt with caption: How much did he know; when did he know it

LAKE CITY, FL – Tuesday evening’s January 2, 2024, City Council meeting was notable in that, once again, Lake City Mayor Stephen Witt kept vital information from the public and the City Council. City Attorney Todd Kennon resigned earlier in the day and was notified simultaneously with City Clerk Audrey Sikes and Interim City Manager Dee Johnson.

According to Lake City’s mainstream media, Mayor Witt said, “I had just found out about it [Mr. Kennon’s resignation] late, a few minutes before the meeting. It was too new to me..."

Mayor Witt’s Comments Do Not Jive With the Facts

The Mayor's comments do not jive with the facts.

Alysha Jenkins, City Attorney Kennon’s legal assistant, emailed Mr. Kennon’s letter of resignation to Mayor Witt at 12:58 pm. The e-mail, along with the letter, also was sent to the City Clerk, Folds Walker, Lake City Interim City Manager Dee Johnson, his secretary, and the Deputy City Clerk.

Ms. Jenkins also emailed Councilwoman Chevella Young, and Councilmen Jake Hill and Ricky Jernigan.

Midday on Tuesday, the City Clerk informed Mayor Witt of the City Attorney's resignation.

The  Mayor’s purportedremarks to the mainstream media, “I had just found out about it late, a few minutes before the meeting…” ring hollow.

The rest of the City Council were also e-mailed; it's not clear if any of the elected officials of Lake City check their e-mail.

Recently, your reporter sent an e-mail to Interim City Manager Johnson, and it was returned with a message "mailbox full."

City Attorney Kennon's resignation letter was also placed in front of the Council members before the Tuesday meeting.

Plans To Negotiate With Folds Walker
Does Mayor Witt Read City Contracts?

Mayor Witt reportedly told the mainstream media that "the City plans to negotiate with Folds Walker."

Mayor Witt added, “As far as I know right now, this is just him. We’re going to negotiate with the other firm and see where we’re at.”

It's not clear if Mayor Witt understands anymore that he is part of the City Council and not the Lone Ranger or if he reads contracts before or after he signs them.

link to city attorney contractThe contract is clear, Folds Walker was “appointed as assistant City Attorneys.” (pg. 1 of contract). When RKK resigns, Folds Walker will also be out in 60 days. (pg. 2 of contract).

A review the City Resolution and contract between the law firms of Robinson, Kennon & Kendron (RKK) and Folds & Walker do not give Mayor the unilateral authority to decide to negotiate a contract for legal services with anyone.

The issue needs to be brought before the City Council, and it is the Council that decides whether or not to negotiate with Folds Walker. This is done the way it is done in the rest of the civilized world: by a motion and vote.

According to City Clerk Audrey Sikes, the issue will be placed on the next City agenda.

This will give the City Council time to review the billing of both RKK and Folds Walker, when they can look for double billing and billing for crossed conversations between attorneys of the same firm and billed attorney consultations between the firms.

The Council members can also look for bundling, the grouping of many different tasks in one time slot, making it impossible for the Council, aka the taxpayers, to know how much time each task took and how much it is paying for each task.

Former City Attorney Fred Koberlein, now a judge, was noted for this. Bundling is frowned upon by legal auditors and others.

It is unknown if Folds Walker is interested in becoming the City’s sole Attorney.


Lake City, Florida:  Who knows what’s next?

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