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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City

City Hall Shutting Down Mid-Day: No one admits to giving the order - City Manager Cason - Silent

LAKE CITY, FL – Lake City City Hall is shutting down from 11am to 1pm, during lunch time for many who do their business with the City. No one knows who gave the order. Last night, City Councilman Eugene Jefferson thought the building was being shut down for maintenance. It's not. It is being shut down for a publically funded dinner for the City's woman workers, some of whom with their benefits, cost taxpayers over $100k a year. The event is voluntary.

Yesterday, May 9 around noon, the Observer received a call that there was a sign on the entrance to City Hall stating it would be closed on Thursday. The notice did not give any reason.

Your reporter was advised that a worker said City Hall was closing for a employee appreciation lunch.

At 2:12 pm yesterday, your reporter filed a records request with City Manager Grayson Cason which stated the following:

Public Record Request

Background:

It has come to my attention that there is a sign on the door of city hall announcing that City Hall will be closed tomorrow for a period of time. (I don't have a copy of the sign)

Pursuant to the public record law of FL, please forward a copy of that sign.

Additionally, I have searched the City Charter and Ordinances looking for the codification of such an event (Employee Appreciation) and the finding of the City Council that this is for a public purpose.

I have also not found anything in the ordinances which allows the shutting down of City Hall in the middle of the day for such an event.

If you have that information available, please forward along with the sign.

(This does not seem to be appreciating the public who might take off time to visit city hall during their lunch hour)

There is also no posting on the city website that city hall will be closed down.

Is the City using public funds for this event, or is the Acting City Manager donating a portion of his recent raise to fund it?

Finally, are City employees forced to attend this event, or can they take a pass?

The City Clerk responded in short order with a copy of the sign. There is no reason for the shutdown.

So far City Manager Cason is not talking.

Shortly after yesterday's special City Council meeting your reporter asked City Clerk Sikes the reason for the shutdown. She said it was to "celebrate the Year of the Woman," adding that this is the third year of the event.

Ms. Sikes explained the event was for the City's woman workers.

The City Charter and City Code

There is nothing establishing a public or City Council or approved holiday to celebrate the City's woman workers.

For an event like this, the FL Attorney General has found that the Council must approve the expenditure as one for a "public purpose."

This approval would have to occur at a public meeting and the public would have to be given the chance to weigh in on the expenditure. The City Council has not done this.

Woman's Day

There are two Woman's Days celebrated throughout the world. One, in South Africa, is celebrated on August 9, and the other, International Woman's Day on March 8. These are yearly events.

National Women's Day is a South African public holiday.


The sign reads, "Violence on us does not solve problems." This is not the plight of Lake City's woman workforce.

"The day commemorates the 1956 march of approximately 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the country's pass laws that required South Africans defined as "black" under The Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport, known as a pass, that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanization, and manage migrant labor during the apartheid era. The first National Women's Day was celebrated on 9 August 1994. In 2006, a reenactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary, with many of the 1956 march veterans."

This is not what Lake City's women workers are celebrating.

International Women's Day

"International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year. It is a focal point in the movement for women's rights.
After the Socialist Party of America organized a Women's Day on February 28, 1909 in New York, the 1910 International Socialist Woman's Conference suggested a Women's Day be held annually. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.
Today, International Women's Day is a public holiday in some countries and largely ignored elsewhere. In some places, it is a day of protest; in others, it is a day that celebrates womanhood."

This is not what Lake City's women workers, workers in the heart of Trump country, are celebrating today, May 10.


The closure of City Hall didn't make it to the City calendar until yesterday afternoon. It is not announced on the City home page.

May 9, 2018

After last night's City Council meeting, your reporter caught up with City Councilman Jefferson and asked, "Do you know why City Hall is being shut down during lunch tomorrow?"

Mr. Jefferson answered, "Nobody told me about it. I guess it is for maintenance: maybe having to do with the building or the water."

Your reporter responded, "No, it is to have a lunch for the women workers celebrating woman's day or something. Do you know how tax money can be used to pay for this?"

Mr. Jefferson responded, "I can't answer. I don't know anything about this. Nobody said anything to me. I have to find out about it."

It is not clear if any other Council member knew about or approved this. No one mentioned it during the evening's Council meeting.

Epilogue

It is now 9 am, two hours before the unapproved and unscheduled shutdown.

City Manger Cason has not weighed in.

While no one would go on the record, there are some women in the City's workforce that are not happy about both the tax payer supported woman's day lunch, on the wrong day, and the shutting down of City Hall. 

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