Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Asst. Lake City Manager Daniel Sweat Resigns. His Resignation Letter Will Live as His Legacy About His Views of Lake City and His Co-Workers

Daniel Sweat attending his first City meeting, with copy: Daniel Sweat, LC Assistant City Manager, left no stone unturned in his resignation letter
Former Assistant City Manager Daniel Sweat at his first meeting.

Mr. Sweat’s resignation letter is 2,229 words. It is his opinions and observations over the last few months he spent as Assistant City Manager. The Observer has handled this as an Op-Ed. It does not reflect the views of this publication. The Op-Ed version has been edited for length and redundancy. Mr. Sweat’s complete letter is linked. Stew Lilker, publisher-editor.

Mr. Helfenberger [Joe Helfenberger, Lake City, City Manager],

It is with great regret that I must tenure my resignation. Coming to work for the City of Lake City, my hometown for the past fifty years, was a great honor for me. I was hopeful that I could do well in this position and was looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead. I was not aware of pitfalls that are associated with working for the City of Lake City.

Utility Mafia

Daniel Sweat's complete resignation letter.

I was not prepared for the aggressive behavior of some of the departments I was assigned, which are known to me now as the Utilities Mafia. This is a very strong group, and although they would say otherwise, it is not loyal to the City of Lake City but rather to the Executive Director of Utilities Paul Dyal.

After numerous city and county meetings, I have seen why this clique is called the Utilities Mafia. They huddle in the back of the rooms; they listen closely for any misstep by me or [City Manager] Helfenberger or the [City] Council to use to their advantage.

I had been warned of Mr. Dyal and his efforts to derail anyone in this position or anyone who would like to build a working relationship with our County counterparts. Although I had heard this, I tried to build a relationship with him as a team.

Mr. Dyal disapproved of my input and my presence and made no effort to hide this.

I consider Mr. Dyal to be the master puppeteer and a manipulator of those working for him.

I asked about his back after he told me he had hurt it and was having an issue getting around. I found out later that he reported me to HR for asking.

He also commented to HR after I mentioned that my son-in-law was of mixed race.

This comment was not made in a bad way, but Mr. Dyal said it made him “uncomfortable” because he had grandchildren.

Since then, he has leaked this to the so-called media and has used this to attempt to ruin my name in Lake City.

Since I have begun working with our county counterparts, I realize that if there were one person responsible for the ill feelings between them [City/County], it would have to be Paul Dyal.

I have been informed that Mr. Dyal was the person making the choice not to supply water to the Ellisville exchange and who has had issues working with Fort White to resolve their water problems. I thought these were decisions made by the City Council.

I have been repeatedly told that Mr. Dyal has issues with Glen Hunter, the County Economic Development Director, and Chad Williams, the County Engineer. I have been told that Mr. Dyal was instrumental in running off the last two City of Lake City Assistant Managers -- now this one, making life so difficult for the previous Executive Director of Utilities that he requested to be moved to City Hall as the Safety Director.

I know that Mr. Dyal has approached you several times about resigning if he was not reassigned to serve under you. Although you have come close several times to do this, you did not.

Public Works Director - Thomas Henry

The City of Lake City’s Public Works Director Thomas Henry threatened to quit the second week I was with the City.

It seems every time Mr. Henry is assigned a new manager, he becomes aggressive or spends more time in the City Manager's office complaining than at his assigned area. I have come to understand that if a job is difficult, Mr. Henry does not want to do this work. Only when something is in his "wheelhouse," or is something he wants to do, is he is engaged.

Another issue I have with Mr. Henry is his total and complete disregard for his employees' safety. After listening to Mr. Henry at several meetings, it has become clear that he has no desire to do anything new, regardless of whether it could save a person’s life or not.


I want to discuss the grievances filed against me.

Not only was a grievance filed against me for attacking Christians and people who are struggling with weight issues, but a grievance was also filed upon the delivery of a cake to the Utilities Group to celebrate 200 safe workdays. This grievance was filed because the person was diabetic. Seriously?

City Council Meetings & Mayor Witt

I point out the way City Council meetings have become since my time with the City of Lake City.

Where does it say that citizens are allowed to bully and harass employees of the City of Lake City? Being an employee with the City of Lake City does not mean you are open game for everyone to take potshots at. Nor does it say anywhere that we have to put up with a Mayor who seems oblivious to what is going on around him or chooses to let citizens devolve into animals!


I want to thank those employees that have made my short time with the City of Lake City a good experience.

Ms. Sikes is a gem for this city, and I am glad she received her long-overdue pay increase.

I want to express my thanks to the men working at the airport, both present and past, who have been so kind to me and aided me during my learning curve.

To the individuals working at Distribution and Collections and those with wastewater, I would like to express my thanks for your hard work and dedication to your job.

I want to thank Terry Phillips for her kindness and support for me, as she has firsthand seen the issues I have had to deal with since I came to this position.

I want to say thank you to the IT department, who does a wonderful job in all aspects and works to ensure the security of the City's assets.

Finally, I would like to thank you for this opportunity, but I am afraid this is not a good fit.

The good people with the City of Lake City are far outweighed by the bad personnel in charge.

Maybe at another time and culture, I could have been successful in this role, but there is no way with the way it is now.

I wish you luck with your time at the City of Lake City and hope you are able to withstand the onslaught after I leave.

Signed, Daniel Sweat

March 22, 2021

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On March 25, 2021, Joan (a retired GRU employee) wrote:

Dan sweat is a very good person who deserved more respect than what some of his staff have shown him. I worked many many years for and with him and he is a very honest and good Christian man. I think you've made a huge mistake losing his employment and allowing people to intimidate your employees.

I stand with Dan Sweat.


On March 25, 2021, Susan wrote:

Next time you publish a resignation letter from a public official, please do not edit it so radically or at all.  If you want freedom of information, don’t give us half truths that tell us nothing.  This was a mean spirited attempt at discrediting Mr. Sweat, and shielding the actors who worked to sabotage this individual from being successful.  The public needs to hear the truth and in this time of media relativism, each side should be given total access to inform the public.  Let these individuals rebut the charges and see what happens.  I doubt that they will, or are able to write with integrity as Mr. Sweat did.  I appreciate his honesty and would like to hear what the other side has to say.  I rarely read your blog and now I understand why.  I never like half truths and your editing job left out a lot, and I think that you did it on purpose.  Susan

(It was pointed out to Susan that a link to Mr. Sweat's resignation letter is included above. ed.)

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