Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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County Econ Dev Chief: The Lake City Reporter Should Keep Writing - One Day It May Get It Right

I read with interest the Sunday opinion in Columbia County’s print paper, “Williams’ smokescreen isn’t fooling anyone.” In short, their opinion is I keep Economic Development Advisory Board members in the dark; long time commissioner Ronald Williams blamed the board for leaking, but it wasn’t the Board members that were leakers it was as they wrote, “Everybody knows the leaks come from econ chief Glenn Hunter.”

Further, the paper wrote that Commissioner Williams’ “feigned outrage” was an intentional “smokescreen meant to divert attention from the “poor job” I have done because Commissioner Williams “helped” put me in the director’s position.

Finally, the paper said the only solution for capturing the good quality jobs that need to come to the county is to fire me.

Once again, the paper has demonstrated that it knows nothing about economic development, and little more about county government.

Beginning with the last item: “firing me.”

My roots and dedication to this community run long and deep. Anyone that knows me knows that if I thought for a minute that I was the reason for the lack of economic development in Columbia County, I would have quit. The reason for any claimed lack of economic development began long before I came on board as the Economic Development Director. Where was the newspaper, then?

Commissioner Williams had nothing to do with my appointment as Economic Development Director. There were three final candidates. One wanted too much money. One dropped out. I was left. Then County Manager Dale Williams made the decision to hire me. It was not Ronald Williams. If Dale Williams didn’t think I was qualified to run the County Economic Development Department, he could have hired someone else. And if the present County Manager Ben Scott didn’t think I was qualified, he has had ample opportunity to fire me and find someone else.

The newspaper’s claim that I had nothing to do with the economic development on U.S. 90 is just plain wrong. In both the Gleason Project on the west side of the interstate, and the Hutton Project on the east side, I was negotiating with those folks for quite some time.

When it came time to vet those projects, they were fully vetted in open meetings where the Economic Development Advisory Board and the public had opportunity to ask all the questions they wanted. The questions were asked – and answered -- and that is the way it should be.

As far as keeping members in the dark “on items on which they are expected to deliberate,” that is not true.

Recently, when one member of the board was contacted, admittedly on the day before the meeting, and complained, the entire board at Commissioner Williams’ request will meet again this Wednesday to vet the project. What is the newspaper complaining about?

Finally, I am a true believer in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees “freedom of speech, or of the press.” I don’t believe public officials should sue the press while they are in office and doing the public’s business. Indeed, I encourage the newspaper to keep on writing. One day, it may actually get it right.

I will continue working for the people of Columbia County. You need a thick skin to be in this business. It may get a little hot from time to time, but as President Harry S. Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On June 12, 2017, VR wrote:

On Your Side Glenn

Just because you are editor/publisher, BIASED politics written about in a small town paper should not be fodder to get someone fired!
Why not discuss what you will do about that great PARKING LOT now known as Duval or HWY 90, because all those businesses that have been allowed egress into the ONLY major thoroughfare through Lake City.
The Lake City Observer needs to start hunting commissioners/councilmen who CAN THINK AHEAD.


On June 12, 2017, sls of Lake City wrote:

Mr. Hunter was right to call them to account on his own behalf. It is incredibly difficult to fight uphill in the mud or to see a multifaceted project to fruition when political or personal gain take precedence. I have noticed for years that many of the development projects in this county are mired in special interests and targeted misinformation---Mr. Hunter is not responsible for that! When you combine those problems with a lack of due diligence and full facts finding on projects(see rights of way and environmental credits research) you have a muddy morass of incompetence---but again that was not Glenn Hunter's responsibility!


On June 11, 2017, CH wrote:

Lake City Reporter should get act together and report facts which are true. If they can't post accurate, then, we don't need a paper which doesn't get the facts right.



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