Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

County Commission News

County Commission ignores rule of law
The Florida Crown Affair continues

Com DuPree ponders the Florida Crown Affair
Com DuPree started the Florida
Crown Affair in February. He has yet
to produce any information to
support his 12th hour motion.

The Florida Crown Affair took another twist in Columbia County at the May 21, 2009 County Commission meeting. Operating on the fringes or outside the law is nothing new for Columbia County and they did not disappoint at the May 21st commission meeting, proving once again that operating in the shadows and surprising the public is what they do best.

The Florida Crown Affair began three months ago on February 19th, with Commissioner Jody DuPree’s twelfth hour motion to withdraw from Florida Crown. Three months later, after Com. DuPree and the rest of the Columbia County Commission have caused the waste of tens of thousands of dollars in time and the production of thousands of pages of documents, Columbia County remains in a fog regarding the functions of Florida Crown.

On March 5th the County Commission unanimously passed a resolution, Resolution 2009R-9, stating that they had determined that Florida Crown “has been both ineffective and non-responsive to the employment and job needs of Columbia County ... and it is no longer in Columbia County’s best interest to remain a member of the consortium or party to the Interlocal Agreement.”

Resolution 2009R-9 went on to state, “This resolution shall be effective May 15, 2009, unless rescinded by action of the Board of County Commissioners prior to that date.”

Florida Crown is one of the top performing work force boards in the state. Columbia County has never produced any information to support Commissioner DuPree’s motion, other than six purported letters of complaint which suddenly appeared at the county under questionable circumstances.

On May 13th, in order to evade the Florida Sunshine Laws, Commissioner Stephen Bailey, County Manager Dale Williams, and their unlawfully retained counsel, Greg Stewart of the high profile Tallahassee law firm, NGN, met with representatives of Florida Crown and their attorney two days before the County Commission’s self imposed deadline of May 15th to rescind their resolution withdrawing from Florida Crown was to go into effect.

At the conclusion of the May 13th meeting it was reported that County Manager Dale Williams pointed out that there was “still the matter of the resolution hanging out there.”

Mr. Larry Thompson, the Chairman of the Florida Crown Workforce Board, replied that withdrawing the resolution would be a gesture of good faith, but ultimately this appeared to him to be a Columbia County problem.

At this point, Columbia County had one day to withdraw its resolution or, by their own words, they were out of the Consortium that represents the working families of Columbia County.

Columbia County failed to act. On May 15th, at 12:01am, Columbia County was officially withdrawn from the Florida Crown four county Consortium.

Everyone the Observer spoke with was relieved and it appeared that the final chapter in the Florida Crown Affair had played out. Columbia County was gone from the Consortium and the folks at Florida Crown could get back to what they were supposed to be doing as the employment agency for the four county region, helping folks find jobs and training.

In a county that believed in the rule of law, the story would have been over, but in Columbia County, the saga continued, as the county schemed, once again, to evade the rule of law.

As the days counted down toward the May 21st County Commission meeting, the county was silent about their plans and when, on May 15th and again on May 20th the county manager posted the Commission agenda on the internet, all that was written about Florida Crown was “Stephen Bailey, Chairman -- Florida Crown Workforce Board Withdrawal Update.”

Chairman Bailey reads from a
prepared statement.

It appeared that the update was going to only be three words, “We are gone,” but, this was not to be and in a carefully choreographed minuet, Commissioner Stephen Bailey read from a prepared script and claimed that “Mr. Thompson has asked that we withdraw the resolution based on a good faith effort that we will resolve all the issues at hand.”

Hanging the whole affair on Florida Crown Board Chairman, Larry Thompson, Commissioner Bailey went on to say, “So at this time for the update, I am bringing to the board Mr. Thompson’s request that we withdraw our resolution based on the good faith effort.”

After the meeting the Observer spoke with Chairman Thompson and asked him, “Did you mean the County should withdraw their resolution whenever they wanted, or by the fifteenth, as the resolution stated.”

Chairman Thompson answered, “I meant by the fifteenth.”

The Observer asked, “What do you plan to do now?”

Chairman Thompson answered, “We will have to see how this plays out. Right now we have to do what we are supposed to be doing, helping the people out there that need our help.”



Florida Crown Affair:

  County gives up battle to destroy Fl Crown - Good old boys play possum to the end (posted October 11, 2010 05:00 am)
 • Florida Crown remains in the lurch
(posted April 21, 2010)
 • Florida Crown on top again (posted April 14, 2010) 
Florida Crown - Columbia County -Time for a little mercy (posted March 19, 2010)
 Florida Crown Invitation Com Langford steps up – it takes a woman (posted March 15, 2010)
Florida Crown Soars $402,000 Wings Grant Awarded (posted Oct 28, 2009)
 Difficult economic times - Florida Crown stretched thin and working overtime (posted Nov 26, 2009)
  Florida Crown Affair • Search Continues For Columbia County Issues (Part II) (posted June 18, 2009)
  Florida Crown Affair • Search Continues For Columbia County Issues (Part I) (posted June 17, 2009)
Florida Crown Affair moves to Gilchrist County (posted June 2, 2009)
  County Commission ignores rule of law
(posted May 26, 2009)
 • The Observer responds to County Manager Dale Williams (May 21, 2009)
 Florida Crown Receives Florida Literacy Award (posted May 20, 2009)
 Florida Crown's harassment continues
(Part II)
(posted April 16, 2009)
 Columbia County Commission leaves Florida Crown in the lurch – again
(Part 1)
(posted April 15, 2009)
  Florida Crown Gets Clean Bill of Health (posted March 23, 2009)
  George Skinner, former Columbia County Commissioner, weighs in on the Florida Crown controversy. (posted March 16, 2009)
  Florida Crown Workforce Board -- To good to leave (Posted March 12, 2009)