Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

Lake City: Tonight’s Council Meeting –  A New Beginning For LC & the End of the 'Dead Zone'?

The LC "Dead Zone." During the meeting patrolled by LCPD flack jacketed officers.
The 'dead zone' in LC City Hall. During Council meetings – the area is surrounded by armed, flack-jacketed LCPD.

LAKE CITY, FL – After years of turmoil, tonight, Lake City begins a new chapter with new City Manager Don Rosenthal. Mr. Rosenthal comes to Lake City with a real education from real schools, with an undergraduate degree from Loyola University and an MBA from Regis University.

Mr. Rosenthal also has real experience from the bottom up, beginning his career in code enforcement and building and electrical inspector duties.

Rosenthal infoParlaying his code enforcement and building inspection credentials, Mr. Rosenthal became the Director of the Office of Buildings in Atlanta, managing a team of 115 with a $6 mil operational budget.

As Assistant County Administrator of Pasco County, Mr. Rosenthal managed over 285 employees with an overall financial footprint of $347 mil serving 550,000 residents.

The Assistant County Manager job involved a combination of growth management, economic development, metropolitan planning and management, stormwater management, blight control, and other stuff.

Lake City Chambers, an Armed Encampment

Mayor's view of the barricade in place during LC Council meetings
Mayor-eye view of Lake City's Council chamber and the 'dead zone'.

Even though Lake City Council meetings have at least four armed and ready members of the LCPD in the Council Chambers, two or more outside the Council Chamber entrance by the metal detectors, and an unknown number of LCPD outside the building, the Council Chambers are an armed encampment with a literal wall to keep the public away from the Council members.

The only thing missing is the moat filled with Florida alligators.

No other meeting room in Florida has the up-front and in-your-face security that surrounds Lake City Council meetings.

LC Council Chambers: an audience view of the barricade.
The audience view of the 'dead zone'. No one has taken responsibility for the 'dead zone'. Mayor Witt said it aided the handicapped. But the tables and the rearrangement are not handicapped accessible.

The broadcasting quality of Council meetings – (the County 5 across the street is no better) – half the time sounds like the meeting is being recorded in the woosh of giant fan motors, which it actually is. There is a not-too-difficult cure for that, but nobody in the LC government has cared.

When it was pointed out to a City IT person running the audio at the meetings that the microphone batteries at the podium should be checked, as they have had a habit of going dead, the response was simple: “I don’t give a shit. If they go dead, I’ll change them.” 

PASCO County Commission Meetings: Not an armed encampment

A recent Pasco County Commission meeting -- audience view.
A recent Pasco County Commission meeting. No armed guards visible; no barriers against humans; microphones and an audio system that works. (image via YouTube)

Pasco County Board meetings, unlike Lake City meetings, are not an armed encampment with police everywhere.

There is no barrier between the people and the Commissioners. You don’t see police in flack jackets stationed at the meetings.

A presenter at a recent Pasco County Commission meeting.
Addressing the Pasco Commission. A microphone that works and a camera angle that is not disrespectful to the presenter. (image via YouTube)

Epilogue: A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Don Rosenthal, the new City Manager, comes to Lake City from a different world.

Lake City has the opportunity to become the epicenter of economic development, utility management, commerce, transparency, and good governance.

Does Don Rosenthal have the ability to move Lake City from 1856 into the modern world?

This depends on the people and the City Council.

Time will tell. Everybody is watching.

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