Since we have a Cadillac of Web sites why don’t we put a way for people to write the town and the Council so that everyone can see their their and other people’s post. The statements could be attributable or allowed to be anonymous. That way we could have truly transparent government and everyone could see what the story is about the alleged corruption. It would give everyone a voice PLUS it would give all citizens the opportunity to redress their government for grievances. It could be sorta like a Town Blog for the Citizens to TALK to the town management and leadership. Joe Griffin
Three months ago I did ask to have a copy of each and every citizen complaint filed by me since January 1, 2000, some 14 and a half years ago. Initially Pam came back and said that some of the Citizen Complaints had been lawfully destroyed in 2009 and produced the paperwork to prove that fact.
All well and good. I knew however that the Citizen complaints were in the Minutes Books and had not been destroyed. I tried to explain that simple fact to both Pam and to Bill Lawrence, Town Manager, for two full months, all to no avail. They still contended that there were no more citizen complaints.
Then I asked for the minutes and all documents in the April 2008 Minutes folder. Remember the town said that all of them prior to 2009 had been destroyed. After three weeks that set of documents was finally turned over and low and behold, there was a citizen complaint that was handled in the April 2008 Council meeting.
This means two things. #1 I was lied to by Bill and Pam. #2 there must be more complaints in the months preceding April 2008 and in the months following 2008. I again asked for all of the complaints.
No having any luck with the complaints I asked for a copy of any minutes where the town “handled” a citizen complaint, an agenda item or a legal action by me since 1 January 2000 since I know that the town has not destroyed the minutes. So far, after 1 1/2 months this too has been not forthcoming.
Now you may ask why these sets of documents are so important to me. While not required to be stated, the reason for my asking, I will tell you. I want them to prove that in 15 plus years that of the 100 or so citizen complaints I have filed that not a single one of them has been deemed to have any validity at all. Said another way, there is no Redress of Grievances allowed for the last 15 years and apparently none available now since two citizen complaints filed so far this year have not been deemed to have any value either.
For fifteen years, you have heard the town complain about Joe Griffin’s requests for public records; asking that the Town do business in the Sunshine and provide transparency to its citizens and that the Town Charter be adhered to. The Town’s friends the Camel Club who Walter McKenzie knows well, decided after Ed Miller’s letter offering a reward of up to $10,000 to have Joe arrested, to harass Joe. Hate Mail mainly calling Joe names went back and forth on the internet until I moved here and Joe started his blog. It was a way to redress grievances to the Town, while the Camel Club called him names and me names on the Town’s behalf. After all, the Town received copies of all the Camel Club News as did the Police Chief and no one wanted to stop the harassment. It was Joe’s fault for asking for 119’s, 280.11’s and the like. They tried lying about him assaulting people and he would never hurt anyone. They said he is a racist and he has helped others no matter what their skin color or nationality. But what both Joe and I despise is a corrupt town where certain people are favored while the others are harassed and treated poorly while using their positions of authority to go after those that do not concur.
Civil Rights are the rights of a citizen and include the right to vote, equality under the law, the right to go to school, to have a driver’s license, to use bridges and other public infrastructure and facilities. You have the right to police and fire protection although we were told we may have to wait and wait for help, you can understand why being told that violates our civil rights.
You have the right to be left alone in your house without being harassed by having police cars park in front watching your every move. You have the right to apply for any job and get it if you are the best applicant without being arrested for an employment application or in my case being ignored and not interviewed while the Mayor called everyone else that she wished the administrative assistant she has not because of the usual reasons like qualifications but because she favored her.
You have the right to not be hassled because of your gender, religion, accent, sexuality and national origin. Joe and I have been called names. They have besmirched both our names. They have made remarks about his disability when the Town was the proximate cause by having him fired from the firm he worked. I have been criticized as an author, that I am fat and ugly and both Joe and I are idiots. And what you have read about him lying about his schools you found out, he does have all his diplomas and what the paper said was wrong. But you have heard enough about what the Town has done to us. We understand you have had problems also but have had a fear to vocalize. For instance, some are picked up by the police but are not charged because they can do special things for the authorities, while others are arrested or hassled on the streets because they are black and not from a family the Authorities approve of. We understand your pain because they have even laughed at me because I came from the mid-west and the Camels love to do these things to me because I believe in Joe.
If you are accused of a crime you have the right to refuse to incriminate yourself; the right to refuse warrantless searches; the right of a speedy public fair trial; the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty etc. You know that is not what happens in White Springs and I was told by two bail bondsmen that White Springs is the most corrupt of all towns and if one gets arrested once, they will be arrested again.
And here we have two attorneys; The Town Attorney Koberlein and Councilman Bullard. There was no problem making Joe Guilty immediately because he had to lose an election and they did not want him anywhere near town hall. No instead, like many of you, he was guilty before presumed innocent and no one even tried to get a statement from him to find out that I put the application together myself; not Joe. In fact they must have known or presumed to have known that the second criminal complaint made against Joe and I (The reason was to have another criminal charge to take away his PTI agreement) were essentially our Civil Rights.
In fact Koberlein stated in the meeting and it was in the Jasper News that we would have more criminal charges against us and placed it in the paper again. More than one of you know that this has happened to you. One should not be treated in this manner. If one doesn’t like you in the town they will make certain bad things happen to you and if you do not have thousands of dollars to spend on attorneys, you will spend your time in Jail and it appears they are happy to oblige.
This is the reason we are still fighting for our civil rights in the Town of White Springs. We want a town where there is transparency; where a citizen’s complaint is taken under consideration or discussed rather than dismissed as “frivolous”. We wish a town where it does not matter what type of job one has or if you are retired or disabled but a town where everyone is able to live a peaceful and wonderful life as they wish as Citizens.
It is time we had officials who stood up for the rights of citizens and I cannot see where this has transpired in the last three plus years I have lived here. Instead they act like deity, giving their friends only benefits, doing what they wish with money knowing no one will show up at meetings to complain and if anyone acts as a town activist to attempt to change things, one can expect anything including criminal charges for using our civil rights.
The US was founded as an expressly -democratic- country. That means we don’t have classes of citizenship. ALL citizens have exactly the same rights, the rights of citizenship.
A government or set of rules that are not prejudice nor favor any type of race, religion, creed, gender, social class, and sexuality.
WHY THE TOWN IS IN TROUBLE AND WILL BE SUED AGAIN…
Florida Statute 119 is Florida’s Public Records Law. It allows any citizen to get access to any public document he or she desires to get access to. It is a Right outlined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the right of Redress of the Government for Grievances. Screw with 119 and you are screwing with the Rights of Citizens. It is that simple.
I am a Citizen Activist. I like to know a lot about the workings of our town. I especially want to know why I have been LIED to by our Government Officials. Since I can’t go to Council Meetings for fear the town will carry through with its threats to arrest me if I show up, I must, if I desire information from the town, file 119 requests.
As many of you know, I was arrested for FIVE counts of fraud and was threatened with arrest for stalking by the Town officials. Now that the actual investigations to my knowledge are concluded with the second dead for lack of sufficient probable cause I asked to see all of the paperwork that the town sent in to either the State’s Attorney or the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office. Such is my right under the Federal and State Constitutions and the Florida Statute 119.
When a Government entity, like White Springs, denies a public records request they are required by law to state the reason for such denial in the form of a State Statute. As an example, the town could say “Florida Statute xxx.x exempts this material from disclosure.” They must say something like this statement listing the exact Florida Statute that makes the information one is seeking exempt from disclosure. Such is outlined in the Statute itself and in the Government in the Sunshine Manual. I gave to Bill Lawrence his own copy of the 2014 Edition of the GISM and have quoted him the exact page where such a statement about denying public records is found in the Book.
But White Springs, in the person of Bill Lawrence, says he “Respectfully Disagrees” (his exact words, not mine) with the Statute and the Manual. Let’s see. Bill thinks he knows more than the Attorney General of the State of Florida, who authored the Sunshine Manual. He thinks he knows more than the Legislature, the Governor, more than multiple Courts of Appeal in the State and more than the Supreme Court of the State of Florida. And most important he thinks he knows more than the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The town has already admitted that a citizen has virtually unfettered access to public records in its response to the first Federal Civil Rights suit’s response.
Bill is either the smartest man in the State of Florida or completely not following the law. I vote for the latter. He has let his ego get in the way of his obligations. And I am going to call him on it,
Joe E. Griffin
Should Poor People be Allowed to Vote? – The Last Resistance
Recent proposed legislation concerning Voter IDs has led some critics to claim that such laws restrict the poor from voting. In an article in the Atlantic, this restriction on the voting rights of the poor is called a “hoary American tradition”:
In 2010, Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips observed that “The Founding Fathers … put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote … one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community.” In 2011, Iowa Representative Steve King made a similar observation, noting approvingly, “There was a time in American history when you had to be a male property owner in order to vote. The reason for that was, because [the Founding Fathers] wanted the people who voted—that set the public policy, that decided on the taxes and the spending—to have some skin in the game. Now we have data out there that shows that 47 percent of American households don’t pay taxes … But many of them are voting. And when they vote, they vote for more government benefits.” In 2012, Florida House candidate Ted Yoho remarked, “I’ve had some radical ideas about voting and it’s probably not a good time to tell them, but you used to have to be a property owner to vote.” Yoho went on to win the election.
It sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Telling poor people they can’t vote? But is that what Voter ID laws are all about? I thought it was about making sure that potential voters, rich or poor people, actually have the right to vote. The problem with Voter ID laws is the fact that the civil government stands to make more money off of them. That’s lame.
But don’t all ID laws fall into the same category? You could say that requiring someone to have an ID (or car insurance) before they drive unfairly restricts poor people from driving. Are you telling me that the requirements for driving should be less strenuous than the requirements for voting? Think about that. How can it be the case that you are not legally allowed to steer a car, but it’s perfectly legal for you to steer a country?
And honestly, it seems perfectly reasonable to stipulate that a person should be allowed to vote only if they pay taxes. Otherwise, poor people who don’t pay taxes could structure the government so that taxpayers give them money they never earned. Oh, wait. That’s what is happening. And this is a good thing because?
Read more at http://lastresistance.com/8106/poor-people-allowed-vote/#vdiT2rmOqXs9gaWs.99
The Town finally came across with some public documents. It had been two and a half weeks since the town provided any public documents. Any way, here is the letter.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Mr. William Lawrence
Town of White Springs
P. O. Drawer D
White Springs, Florida 32096
Attached to this letter is a copy of a letter my Federal Civil Rights Attorney sent to the Town and its employee’s Defense Attorney.
What I fail to understand is why you, as the Town Manager, and respondent superior to the Keeper of the Public Documents, have NOT instructed Ms. Tomlinson to provide the requested Public Documents. Just for refreshment of your memory here are the documents requested and not yet provided.
1. All citizen complaints by me in the town’s possession.
2. April 2008 minutes and all documents in that minutes file.
3. All minutes which mention citizen complaints, agenda items or lawsuits.
4. Any proof that the “investigations” that concern me or my bride are still on going.
5. All documents provided to the State’s Attorney or Mr. Koberlein (town attorney) with regard to any investigation, criminal or civil, of my wife or me.
6. State statute that allows the town to claim that the documents that they provided to the State’s Attorney are not public records that are required to be produced upon request.
Some of these requests are over two months old.
My attorney, plus your copy of the Government in the Sunshine Manual, clearly and unambiguously points out my right to ask for and receive requested public documents in the “limited reasonable amount of time” that it takes to locate the documents requested, excise them of any state exemptions and provide them to the requestor once the statutory fees have been paid. Two months is well beyond reasonable. Add to that that you have received a check to help fund the requested documents and have not told us if more funds are needed. As of this writing you have failed to negotiate that check.
Additionally I have even gone so far as to tell you where the citizen complaints are in your office and have even requested an example of their location (April 2008 minutes). Such assistance has apparently fallen on deaf ears.
Yet you and your staff apparently are refusing to provide any public documents upon request for some unknown and, I would contend, an unlawful purpose. I’d like to know who is dictating that you not respond to public records requests in a timely manner or not at all. Is it a State Agency, Ms. Logan, Mr. Koberlein, the Mayor, yourself, Pam or the Council?
I thank you for your attention to this final request from me for the above requested documents.
Joe E. Griffin
16589 Mill Street
White Springs, Florida 32096
What they say they have provided to me “in the mail” is the complete list of item two, the minutes of April 2008. All other items have yet to be fully provided and 4, 5, and 6 haven’t even been addressed yet. But it is heartening to know that a certified letter actually gets Bill Lawrence and his faithful sidekick Pam to follow THE LAW.
You probably were the one who prompted Robert Townsend to call Joe’s trucking employer to tell him that Joe was arrested, so he lost his job a few years back. Since Joe had to make a living, the only job available was one with a tanker truck company. That is how he had his fall which shattered his hip a few years back which warranted eleven and one-half months in the hospital.
Yes it was the town who is the proximate cause of Joe’s disability. If you would have left him alone, there probably would have not been an accident of that magnitude where he could have died…but you all didn’t care.
The Town received a reprieve in Joe’s case (FDLE) but just think about it. We don’t have a voting machine but we have a box with a lock, which one or more officials may have a key. How easy would it be to tamper. There is no voting machine which tallies the votes, only the counters who may be friends of the officials. Some of you have said you never voted for two of the three running and voted for Joe. When we looked at the vote copies we requested from the Town, we found where the vice mayor and mayor were on the ballot with Joe. With the malice they have for Joe and I, which everyone knows, no one in their right mind would have voted in that manner.
You told us how easy it would be to change votes or cast new ballots. It sort of makes one think, “Why vote”. It made Joe and I concerned enough that we sent in absentee ballots in for the upcoming election. I will take my chances outside of White Springs to make certain my vote counts.
We have heard interesting stories in the news about a voting machine that would not allow a Republican candidate vote for himself. Interesting. It happens all over but this is an act against one’s civil rights.
Joe’s previous article relating to the mileage and cost for fuel going to and from Jacksonville was never responded to by Chapter 119. Nor was there a response to an inquiry as to why mileage logs are not kept.
The footnotes of the budget state “Fuel is based on 700 gallons a month at $3.50 per Gallon. The electrical Utilities for $40 is the boat launch. The police Vehicles repairs and maintenance are estimated at (1) 2008 Dodge Charger 601 Average Condition; $72,839 miles 16 oil changes, fluids & transmission (2) 2008 Dodge Charger 602 Poor condition 42,955 miles Tires on all vehicles for $3,265.”
Although our local garage is paid on time for maintenance, it appears other contractors have to wait for their money (i.e. fixing air conditioning) so hopefully the Town will consider paying all of their indebtedness for all services. But we know Steve Jeffers does a wonderful job at very low cost which is a benefit for the Town as well as for us.
Let’s look at the General Revenue Account under which the $124,626 from the Sewer/Water enterprise account was absorbed: By the Way, Bill Lawrence has a very professional outlay of the budget…one of the best ever, I believe, in White Springs.
$ 68,000 AD VALOREM Taxes
$19,025 Charges for Services
$ 33,000 Franchise Fees
$ 5,375 License Permits
$ 4,760 Miscellaneous Revenue (i.e. 119’s lol)
$ 18,315 Public Safety Revenue
$198,350 Sales and Use Tax
$ 46,150 Utilities & Service Tax
$ 21,106 Transportation
$131,729 Estimated Beginning Cash
$124,626 Transfer from Enterprise
$ 20,788 Transfer from Police Sinking Fund (Really? now robbing the police department, after trying to rob the Fire Department)
$691,224 Total General Revenue
$ 13,077 Legislative Expenses (Mayor, Vice Mayor and councilpersons salary, FICA, council travel and training and election expense.)
$373,901 Government Expense (Salaries, travel and training, General Insurance, office supplies, $14,000 Legal Council, $5,000 Electric Utilities, $18,000 repair and maintenance, etc.)
$ 11,000 Planning Expense
$ 196,107 Police Expense ( Sheriff’s expense would be approximately $150,000 as per previous notes. They also have a Police Car sinking fund of $6,960 – amazing money set aside for a new police car)
$ 30,422 Fire Department Expense
$ 1,500 Animal Control – Charles Williams the Jasper Animal Control Officer for stray dogs has not responded. Live Oak was also contacted – we have a problem with finding someone for Animal Control.
$ 64,117 Streets (and maybe if there is a problem like there was on Jewett Street, the County will have to do the work and pay the tab for poor White Springs)
$ 1,100 Utilities (If the Town is paying this little for utilities, they obviously are not paying for sewer and water from the General Fund – Who would have thought it?)
$691,224 Total General Expenses