Florida Crown remains in the lurch
Columbia County still playing
Columbia County, FL
(posted April 21, 2010 09:03 am)
From left to right: Com Dewey Weaver, County Manager
Dale Williams, FCWB Chairman, Larry Thompson, Florida
Crown Executive Director, John "JC" Chastain
Over a year after Columbia County Commissioner Jody
DuPree tried to wreck the Florida Crown Work Force
Board, the Florida Crown Affair dragged on yesterday
afternoon, this time in the lap of outgoing Columbia
County Commissioner, Dewey Weaver, who came to
yesterday's meeting unprepared to divulge Columbia
SOP in almost everything in which the good old boys
of Columbia County get involved.
Florida Crown Workforce Board (FCWB) Chairman, seven
year veteran Larry Thompson, upset that the meeting was
open to the public and the press, began the meeting by
telling Com Weaver, "You and me is the ones that are
supposed to be the ones here to start with."
Weaver agreed, "That’s right."
Com Weaver began by playing possum, asking Mr.
Thompson questions which anyone, who had been following
the Florida Crown Affair and had done their homework,
would know the answers.
Com Weaver: The current board is not recertified? ...
Can you give me the reason it was not recertified?
Mr. Thompson explained that the wording put into the
four county interlocal agreement was not valid and did
not meet the Federal guidelines.
Left unsaid -- the invalid wording was inserted into
the agreement by Commissioner Stephen Bailey and
approved by Columbia County Attorney, Marlin Feagle.
Jay Barber, the acting head of Workforce, came from
Tallahassee to attend the meeting. He said that Mr.
Thompson's explanation was accurate and "all the reasons
that have been given for non certification, except for
the agreement, have been corrected."
Com Weaver asked: "What happens if you’re not
Mr. Thompson: ... I don’t think it has ever
happened... I really don’t know... It’s unchartered
territory. They keep saying it is at the Governor’s
discretion... Anytime you put our business in the hands
of Tallahassee the outcome is not going to be what you
Com Weaver: The board has appointed me for just that
-- to resolve these things. I’m just trying to get a
For the past three years, the good
old boys of Columbia County have put the award
winning region 7 workforce board and the
commissioners representing the people of Gilchrist,
Dixie and Union counties through the ringer.
At every opportunity that Columbia
County has had to explain its problems, it has
shirked the issue.
About a year ago the Observer was
involved in a discussion with a high ranking
Columbia County official. This official having had
experience with Florida Crown and knowing people
that had, explained that he/she was puzzled by
Columbia County's issues with Florida Crown. He/she
said, "I asked Dale [Columbia County Manager – Dale
Williams] what the problem was with Florida Crown."
The Observer asked, "What did
The Official answered,
"He just smiled and walked away."
Mr. Thompson: I’ve tried to have this meeting
several times ... It hasn’t happened... The expectations
of the Columbia County representative go beyond what we
can do. The dollars that the Workforce Board receives
comes from a number of channels.
Mr. Thompson explained that there are specific
guidelines on how "that money" can be spent, telling Com
Weaver, "Our executive director and his staff have done
an impeccable job making sure those funds were spent
Mr. Weaver then brought up the Workforce Board in
Tampa and said that he thought the county commission was
going to have to repay funds that were misspent by that
FCWB Executive Director, John Chastain, explained
that the funds disallowed by the state would have to be
paid back by that Workforce Board.
Com Weaver, still not in the hunt for a solution
asked Mr. Thompson, "Larry, in your opinion, what would
happen if Columbia County didn’t rejoin [the
Mr. Thompson explained that the Governor would step
in and added that at this time he didn’t believe the
Work Force Boards would be realigned into super regions.
Mr. Thompson told Com Weaver that the discretionary
percentage of the Fl Crown budget is a very small part
of the overall budget.
Still not looking for a solution Com Weaver asked:
If Columbia County doesn’t rejoin would the region lose
Com Weaver asked Mr. Thompson, "We’ve been told that
the current consortium members really don’t want
Columbia County back in the consortium and really don’t
want us to rejoin. Do you believe this to be true?"
Mr. Thompson answered, "No sir, I do not."
Executive Director Chastain said that the other
consortium members are local people who just want to
serve their communities. “They want you back.”
Com Weaver: It is my job to work out any
misunderstandings and come to an agreement.
Com Weaver reverted back to the possum: Larry,
what is your understanding of the problems between
Columbia County and the Consortium?
Mr. Thompson explained that after seven years of
dealing with Florida Crown on a daily basis he has
learned that it is a very complex operation. "To my
knowledge, nobody from Columbia County has been in there
seeking information about what goes on with Florida
Crown and how the money is spent."
Com Weaver: ... It’s time for me to meet face to face
with the consortium members and get it resolved... How
would you suggest we approach the Consortium members and
how would you suggest we resolve any outstanding issues?
Mr. Thompson said that as far as regaining your seat,
all you have to do is show up. "As far as issues go,
I’ve been wondering about that for a long time. I have
asked the question, 'what are your issues' and I’ve
always heard the answer, 'I’ll get back with you on
Mr. Thompson: Give me some specifics that I can
respond to... If you had a list today, I’d be glad to
address it one by one.
Com Weaver then went into the legendary Columbia
County shuck and jive: I understand that, but our issues
are really not with the board, they’re with the
Com Weaver did not explain why he turned down the
opportunity to have the Consortium members present at
After three years, still playing ignorant and doing
one of the things that the legendary good old boy
Columbia County does best, keeping the real issues out
of the public's eye, Com Weaver explained that he has
authorized the County Manager to play post office.
Com Weaver: I’ve asked Dale to meet with the other
commissioners individually and give me an in-depth list
from each commissioner. They won’t be Dewey Weaver’s
issues; they will be the Board’s issues. And I’ve also
asked Dale to meet with the County Attorney and any
issues that he has and include those and I’ll address
them one by one with the Consortium and we’ll resolve
them hopefully that day and move forward.
The meeting adjourned and as the Observer was leaving
the building, Columbia County Board Chairman Ronald
Williams was heading in.