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Florida Crown Affair • Search Continues For Columbia County Issues (Part I)

The June 15th FCWB meeting played to a packed house. In the right foreground is vice chair, Alonzo Philmore.

The June 15, 2009 Florida Crown Workforce Board “FCWB” meeting played to a full house, but the real action occurred during the Consortium meeting which followed.
Shortly after the Consortium meeting began, long time FCWB member and vice chair, Alonzo Philmore got up and walked out as Columbia County’s representative, Commissioner Stephen Bailey, was trying to explain his problems with Florida Crown. The frustration of Mr. Philmore, who told the Observer, “I couldn’t take it anymore because Mr. Bailey had no idea what he was talking about,” has been echoed by many.
FCWB member Warren Downs got right down to it asking Commissioner Bailey, “Where do we stand with this thing with Columbia County Commissioners?  If I understand, you are the guy that is creating most of the problems? What is your purpose?”Commissioner Stephen Bailey
Commissioner Bailey:   My purpose is to do things the way that it’s supposed to be done.”
Mr. Downs:      According to you?
Commissioner Bailey:     According to some of the statutes and stuff. That is what the Board’s intent is...
Mr. Downs:           What is the problem?
Commissioner Bailey:   That’s why our board wants to meet and to discuss that with the full consortium and all of the four county’s boards.
Mr. Downs:           I think you’ve caused the problem with the people here in Columbia County, the people that work here and as a member of this board, I’m disappointed in you.

Mr. Ralph Tyre, a legend in Dixie County and Florida, is still a force to be reckoned with.
Mr. Ralph Tyre, a legend in Dixie County and Florida, is still a force to be reckoned with.

Long time FCWB member, Mr. Ralph Tyre, is a former Dixie County Commissioner and the youngest person ever elected to the Florida State Legislature. He has decades of experience in governmental affairs and is well versed in the political arena. Since 1999, Mr. Tyre has dedicated his time and energy to seeing that the rural counties in Region 7 get their fair share of dollars and training.

Mr. Tyre asked Commissioner Bailey:    Is there any hope of reconciliation, or is it over with as far as Columbia County is concerned?
Commissioner Bailey:             Columbia County, according to the interlocal that we have, has not done all of the steps that the interlocal requires to completely with draw out of the region.
                   “At the last meeting it was requested to have Columbia County ask for an Attorney General opinion. I took that back to the board at the last meeting. The Board said we will discuss that with our attorney also. Our attorney said that is not a matter that requires an attorney general opinion.”
                   “Our board at that point voted to send the Governor a letter and ask him to remove Columbia County out of the region.”
Mr. Tyre:     If you are a home rule county, which you are, why are you running to the state to solve your problem, instead of working it out?
The frustration was evident in Mr. Tyre's voice as he joined the chorus and attempted to find out what Columbia County’s problems were.

Mr. Tyre:     “We can’t get you all to sit down. I know I haven’t been able to and I’ve been on this board for ten odd years.”
Mr. Tyre told Mr. Bailey about Florida Crown. “It’s been a blessing for the youngins and all the money that we’ve gotten from this committee for these situations.
Mr. Tyree asked Mr. Bailey if he knew what was going to happen to the Consortium if Columbia County went into another county.
He asked Mr. Bailey if he knew how much money the region would lose. “The money that helps people.”

 Mr. Tyre:      You mind telling me what your opinion of it is?
Commissioner Bailey:     I don’t know the dollar amount, but I do feel that it would be a – that it’s in the best interest. What it seems to me, the way that Columbia County is headed and the way the rest the region is headed – is in two different directions.
Mr. Tyre:     What are those two different directions?
Commissioner Bailey:   There’s been a whole lot of things said about Stephen that’s absolutely not true.
Mr. Tyree:    By who?
Commissioner Bailey:     By this workforce board and by other folks. I’m not going into any of that.
Mr. Tyre:              But we need to. We need to find out where the problem is.

Part II continues tomorrow


FCWB Chariman, Larry Thompson, presents retiring Bd member, Glynell "the coach" Presley a plaque for distinguished service
Long time FCWB member Glynell Presley, the "Coach," receives a plaque from Bd Chairman Larry Thompson for distinguished service.


FCWB member Warren Downs gives Mr. Presley a hand in recognition of his service.
FCWB member Warren Downs gives Mr. Presley a hand in recognition of his service.