On Monday morning August 3rd at 9 AM there will be a special town council meeting called for the purpose of closing out the Tropical Storm Debbie Grant.
Here’s what I want to know and will ask the following questions at the meeting. Does this mean that we, the Town, still have money due us from the FEMA Grant to repair Jewett Street and 1st Street? Why was it reported differently in the Newpaper attributable to the Interim town manager Mrs. Heath? Do we owe the County still $90,000 plus dollars? Why was this debt overlooked by Pam, our supposed excellent bookkeeper and Powell and Jones our purportedly even better auditor? I believe neither one of them is worth what we are paying them for.
I will not stop until I get the answers to these questions. You listening Rhett?
Is the people’s business. Heard a rumor today that Shirley, the erstwhile Christian lady, that what gets said in town hall stays in town hall. I am ready to take her to court for such a saying, if it is true. I have asked her to confirm that she said such a stupid thing. But since she is a consummate liar I doubt she will tell me the truth.
Town hall is the people’s hall and the Town’s business is the people’s business. It is that simple. And if the Christian Liar, Shirley, wants to dispute such then let us go to trial. I’m ready.
For Megan. This is exactly the type of BS your client believes is right. Don’t want more suits, stop the BS.
I cannot believe that it was stated in the Jasper News by our interim Town Manager Shirley Heath that duplicate payments had been made by FEMA (One to Hamilton County and one to White Springs) for street reconstruction in White Springs. It was stated that we may have to return money back to FEMA. Bob Farley was blamed for not closing the account and there was an excuse that this happened to other cities due to the Government shutting down. I could find nothing where FEMA shut down and find the information again to be a fabrication.
Although we are showing the original bids Hamilton County secured below, Joe contacted Hamilton County and found that the Town of White Springs still owes Hamilton County $92,661. The Total bill was $112,661 but Hamilton County forgave $20,000. What did the Town do with the money they received from FEMA? Did they place it in the General Fund? Who will pay Hamilton County?
|Subject: FEBRUARY 5, 2013 Hamilton County Commissioners’ Meeting WHITE SPRINGS STREETS – Mr. Bailey presented the Board with the bid tabulations for the flood repairs in White Springs. The bid results are as follows: 1 st Street – Fl Fill & Grading, Inc. $62879.40 and Curt’s Construction, Inc. $92,424.62 Kendrick – Fl Fill & Grading, Inc. $91,123.22 and Curt’s Construction, Inc. $144,330.63 Jewett – Fl Fill & Grading, Inc. $167,904.31 and Curt’s Construction, Inc. $219,599.90 Cauthen – Fl Fill & Grading, Inc. $62,878.70 and Curt’s Construction, Inc. $99,732.80 The Board discussed the bid details and costs for each street as well as the NRCS and FEMA amounts. After a brief discussion Engineer Greg Bailey made the following recommendation: award bid to Florida Fill & Grade for 1st Street, Kendrick and Cauthen which is covered by NRCS funds and allow staff to discuss Jewett Street with FEMA. Motion by Commissioner Burnam to accept the recommendation from Engineer Greg Bailey and award the bid to Florida Fill & Grading, Inc. for 1st Street, Kendrick and Cauthen. Second was made by Commissioner Oxendine, motion carried with a unanimous vote. Mr. Bailey presented the Board with the different models of backflow enclosures for the Board to review in regards to the backflow pipes and valves at the White Springs Library. After reviewing the different types and prices of the backflow enclosures, the Board agreed by unanimous consent to purchase model #110 (Rock) in the amount of $151. 3 12th AVENUE SE – Commissioner Brown discussed a water problem on a small portion of 12th Ave. SE that according to Road Superintendent James Bell can be rectified with approximately ten (10) tons of asphalt. Motion by Commissioner Brown to approve for approximately ten (10) tons of asphalt to be placed on 12th Ave. SE and for County Coordinator Danny Johnson to issue a letter to Mr. Bell stating the approval of the Board. Second was made by Commissioner Oxendine, motion carried with a unanimous vote. 107th BLVD. (BAISDEN LAKE ROAD) – Commissioner Smith advised the Board that the bridge report for the bridge on 107th Blvd. will require extensive repairs. The Board stated that hopefully the bridge repair can be coordinated with the FDOT Scrap program. SE 113TH BLVD. – Commissioner Smith also advised the Board that the new milling that was placed on SE 113th Blvd. needs to be reworked. Mr. Bailey advised the Board that the issue appears to be the compaction of the existing ground and that tack should be added to the milling surface.
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
The more I read responses from our interim Town Manager, and the more I have read various items of paperwork, I do not know how our Town Officials can say they are true “Christians”.
They complain about Rev. Joe Griffin because he believes in transparency in government; they lie continually to protect their former lies; they do not care who they hurt whether by large unfounded charges to the citizens because of their mistakes they need to cover; They breed various stories to others which are outright lies and fabrications; they discrimination against certain people and commit fraud against others. These are some of the Christians in White Springs who are your officials.
Per Mr. Tipton, transparency leads to integrity and integrity is enough. Where is the integrity in White Springs?
The way it stands, who with integrity or those who abide by the law, would wish to work in White Springs. The ditch keeps getting bigger and the Town Players more corrupt each day. You might as well make Shirley Heath a full town manager because I do not expect there will be change. There will never be transparency and that is why we have our blog and request 119’s for because there is a tendency to discriminate against certain people and keep others out of the loop of transparency in order to cover up your lies.
Keep Shirley Heath as your interim Town Manager because she has been proven to be the Town’s description of a Christian. And who cares about efficiency, Pam can remain as she is and sooner or later if the State does not catch what is going on in White Springs, God surely will.
Karin for the blog.
It doesn’t look as if the council will be taking any hiring action soon, at least not me. I have been following your blog and noticed some disturbing news. At this point (being powerless to help) I will say this: the next town manager will have his/her hands full; however, the very first thing that needs to be accomplished is the establishment of a citizen oversight committee made up of members of the community and representative (diverse) of the population. The committee should have direct access to the town manager and the council; it should have access to all town business and records, and its members should have the right to speak at council meetings as a group, or as individuals. Remember, transparency is the first step to integrity, and integrity is enough.
R. Scott Tipton, MPA
AMEN BROTHER, PREACH IT…..
With much blaming of others, Shirley told the council that the front office of the Town of White Springs screwed up again. That the already spent money for the repair of Jewett Street will probably have to be returned to FEMA. The town and county got paid twice for the same work with the county doing the work.
It is a shame that our Front Office is so inept so as to blame Farley, Lawrence and others (including teh county) when the real blame rests with those that hired those town managers, the Council. I tell you we are as despicable as they come spending money that isn’t ours and then blaming others for our greed.
Maybe we can get the BP money stopped as well since we told a lie to get it. Name me one tourist who didn’t come to White Springs because of the oil spill off the Louisiana coast. They can’t do it and shouldn’t get the $30,000 for it. Time to write a letter to BP.
I’M FIXIN’ TO WRITE A STORY….
About the incestuous and race relationship in the hiring practices of Town Hall Staff, meaning you. Twice now you have picked Andrew to do something when he is patently not the “best and the brightest” candidate. You can’t hire Anita because she is black and you can’t hire outside of of your “family of corruption” because you might lose control of the corruption.
Here is what I want to know by the end of business today. Have you hired Andrew, even at his present salary, to be a town clerk or a town bookkeeper in training? Why Andrew when he is moving to South Florida to be with his beloved, unless the honeymoon is over? Why not open ALL job openings to all people, white and black?
I’m giving you this opportunity to comment because I am going to call the town, and specifically you, a racist if you don’t respond.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
TOWN PREPARED TO OKAY TRACY AND ANDREW TO TAKE THEIR GOVERNMENT VEHICLES HOME WITH THEM.
In response to a 119 request we learned yesterday that the town is all set to approve allowing Tracy, the Chief of Police, and Andrew, town Sewer and Water guy and Bookkeeper in training guy to take their town vehicles home with them for emergencies. What a pile of hooey.
Mayor Rhett Bullard may, and I say may, fight the issue.
Dr. Phil states: “Past practices are a good indicator of future behavior.” Therefore do not expect changes in White Springs.
I am quite impressed with Town Applicant Scott Tipton’s latest comments. One quote specifically stuck out. “Transformational change is more “coarse tuning” and is necessary where organizations are in a “ditch” so to speak”
We are in the ditch and the Town officials love the ditch where they may be King. Let’s face it, Willy Jefferson complained that there have been no changes in 30 years and the rest of the council complains as well. Walter McKenzie complains the town is broken and there never seems to be a fix even though during the time I have lived in White Springs, we have produced various options and solutions which you have flatly ignored. If you are not open to changes or even open to consideration of something you have not tried before, then there is no reason to complain; just remain in the ditch.
I will bring forward some of the points we have suggested over the years and then also bring forth insight into what went wrong from my viewpoint.
- First and foremost a serious manager with the appropriate education including operating and financial leverage, capital budgeting, organizational skills and the knowledge to bring forth solutions to the problems we have faced for decades and assisting with economic development must be hired.
- If the council is serious about fixing White Springs they must allow such a manager to make drastic changes if it assists White Springs.
- Budget cuts need to be made where there currently is inefficiency. The council consistently has chosen staff and volunteers who agree with the council members and salaries and benefits are given not based upon performance but rather because they are really nice people. This is the difference between the Public and Private sector and White Springs has run their government operations quite differently than the surrounding municipalities. In other words, to the outside, we sometimes have been the laughing stock.
- Review the efficiency of staffing. Out of the Staffing, there is only one person with longevity that we cannot afford to lose and that is Kenny Hutcherson. He not only knows where all the pipes are buried but he is fundamental to the public works of White Springs. He also operates a backhoe like an artist and is readily available to the public for backhoe work at $75.00 an hour making additional funds for the City of White Springs.
- Allow the Town Manager to speak and to provide you alternative solutions to problems. You can agree to disagree but you must explain why a solution will not work rather than basing your decisions on biases such as loyalty or personality. Government is a business and if we base it on other biases, we cannot go forward, grow and appease our citizens who ultimately are faced with the costs of our mistakes. . . Our prior town manager was not allowed to speak at council meetings, until it was brought up to Willy Jefferson by his spouse. He was asked to assist our bookkeeper clerk with her job taking away from his own job. The bookkeeper showed anger and dissention at another staff member and I understand not only was that Staff member yelled at but Bill as well. The Town was more interested in taking down the Griffins than seeking solutions to everyday problems. I remember the first time Bill sat on our porch when we presented a framed art satire of him. He said he ignored our blog because he thought it was just a “good ole boy” situation but found that the entire situation was far worse than what the blog described. We hired a professional in Bill, who knows what he was doing and we did not listen to him. Shame on you council! And you wished for him to contact Farley, who followed Helen Miller and Walter McKenzie ideas, and Bill refused because it was not his first rodeo. He found multiple mistakes by Townsend and Farley and could work only with what he had with the council not budging from their own ideas. Just how do you expect the Town to be in the black financially and again have retained earnings? The last of the retained earnings was used in Farley’s tenure because our town has spent, spent and spent. And it is obvious the council will always remain in the ditch because they will not allow a Town Manager to do his job or they would fire him if he disagreed. That is not looking into the future. If the Council does not change, we are looking towards un-incorporation and bankruptcy.
- Full council approval is necessary for checks to be issued – Our former manager was at wits-end relating to the spending, especially by Helen Miller without council approval. All of her interests such as UF and FLOW and whatever else she had a reason to spend on including trips, seminars and meetings, came out of our budget. You already have heard how money was spent by her seeking our City attorney’s advice on a continual basis. Well there was more and we have kept this a secret until now. But how can a Manager stick with the budget if the Mayor or council people have no respect for the budget or monthly reports relating to spending.
- Decrease in Police Staffing – Believe me when I say, I realize we have some good officers and we have been very impressed with Detective Brownfield especially. But there have been questions by our candidates as to why we allow the council to be the sole superior of the Police Department rather than giving all the responsibility to the Town Manager. Some of our candidates were police officers/patrolmen, as our former manager was a police chief. There should be only one officer for every 1,000 citizens. Currently our budget for officers is over $200,000 plus uniforms, liability insurance, and health benefits as well as payroll taxes, etc… Yet many times we hear complaints by citizens that no one answers the phone especially on weekends and no police staff is available at Town Hall. One citizen stated that the Sheriff’s office responds to, I believe, 72%, of the calls in White Springs and we have, I believe 4-5 officers and reserve officers, which are not paid but for which we are responsible from a liability standpoint is far too many police officers for a small town whose budget increases but which budget still remains in the red. We gave three options in our prior blog and why don’t we pay one good police officer well and help the other officers find alternate employment since they all have experience. Our Police officer(s) could also use the IMS system for their incident and arrest reports so that we become paperless like the State of Florida and Jasper.
- Quit picking on the fire department – . We pay Mr. Stith virtually nothing to be the fire chief. Andrew has assisted and I understand so has Officer Cecil. The council complains but even though we are finally complying with ISO with a new building, we do not treat our volunteers well. I found that our housing in White Springs is virtually lighter wood to ward off termites but should a fire ever start, and become out of control we could lose the entire town. Many of our residents cannot afford insurance because especially with the Hurricane Windstorm charges. Our citizens are hurting from the water and sewer increases and are asking for help. We need to provide the volunteers (because they are volunteers) with training, meaning all coursework and housing fees for the time they are in class and an amount of money each time they go on call (flat fee). It would at least pay for their time away from work and their own fuel costs. We need to retain our protection class otherwise our insurance costs will increase and some will lose their insurance coverage. We need a full time Fire chief in my opinion. That means instead of the Wastewater personnel flushing out hydrants, it would be the responsibility of the Fire Department (like in other cities)
- We need to assess office staffing and use the new IMS system for efficiency. We learned from an officer, Steve Rohmeyer, at t IMS Software that he was impressed with Ms. Anita Rivers. In his opinion, Anita is quick at grasping the computer system and he feels that she would be an excellent candidate as the bookkeeper at White Springs. He feels she can learn the process in four hours. After her thirty day probation, which should be a breeze, Anita would be due for a substantial raise. Right now with benefits Pam is making approximately $50,000. If the Town wished to retain Pam, they would have to lower her salary and .she could serve customers and answer the phones. .Pam told Mr. Rohmeyer that she was too old to learn new things. So obviously she didn’t even try. There is a chart for the State including all accounting codes in the IMS system and Rohmeyer not only assisted Pam with the Chart but also Margaret from the City of Jasper and Pam will not use it. Yet it is required by the State of FL. If the council wishes to wear blinders and take the advice of Pam and Shirley Heath, so be it. Then don’t try to hire a manager and certainly do not expect to benefit but expect the State to come down on you. Pam could assist Anita with 119’s and general office items until Anita becomes a Certified Municipal Clerk.
- Honesty needs to be the best policy as does Transparency – I agree with the candidates that there needs to be more transparency on the web site. Even Joe said there should be a place where there can be comments by citizens. What would be wrong with a comment section and a way to reach the town by internet and by more than one phone number? Koberlein did not wish a full account of our meeting minutes, meaning comments made by council members and the attorney(s) by reason I believe that comments previously made in minutes were used against them in the meeting minutes we secured which were provided by me to our Federal Civil Rights Attorney. There should be equality to all citizens not just a special few chosen by the council
- The Charter, the Constitution of Florida and the United States, the ordinances, the State Ethics Laws and the Sunshine Laws should all be followed. The Citizens should have the rights to redress their grievances and receive an answer from the Council Members. The municipal ordinances need to be reworked and codified and I am certain there could be volunteers to go through these ordinances and to assure that they do what was intended and submit those which are ambiguous to the council and attorney for approval or changes.
- The Sewer and Water Rate must again be addressed. We need to use the General Fund for all expenses other than the Enterprise Account. We continually use the Enterprise account for our general expenses and that is not right. So when spending is done which is not assisting the citizens, the citizens are taking the brunt in their sewer and water rates. That is totally unfair and as aforementioned; we need to cut our expenses. We need to look into the cost to have an independent contract handle our sewer and water facility. This would mean we would pay no benefits and be in control of the manner in which our facility and functions are handled. Andrew Green has done a marvelous job but the State only requires 4 hours a day at the Sewer Facility; therefore a full salaried employee with benefits is not required and we understand now why he can assist Pam in his spare time. Also Townsend handled both the Manager and Facilities job at one time even if the former job wasn’t handled well per comments made to me by both Farley and Lawrence.
Bill Lawrence was very kind in his termination letter. He was sought after by municipalities in Maine because they knew of his superior and professional qualities which he could not use in White Springs. And he and Kathy missed their grandchildren who they would not have visit. The Council did not wish change and I can understand why he could not leave White Springs fast enough. We even offered him a room for the night and dinner; yet he elected to drive 400 miles and stay at a motel to leave Town.
He tried bringing up what he thought was right to Walter McKenzie who shut him down and stated he should listen to Helen Miller; I am certain he brought up other items which he felt should have been changed. Yet no one listened to him and allowed him to make changes. Finally, in an article in Jasper News, it was finally shown how Helen Miller wished to use any account available including Grant Money for the Eco Heritage Center. This has been going on for a long time and that is the reason we say that the books are cooked in White Springs. We also need to secure bids from new accounting firms, as Columbia County is currently doing. I would suggest getting a bid from Kenneth Daniels, CPA in Jasper, the CPA for the Town of Jasper and Hamilton County. White Springs has had the same accounting firm as Columbia County and we are of the opinion that it is time to have an accountant who will not cover up our mistakes but give us the advice we require to be in a better place.
I have only been in the private sector so you may say you do not have to listen to a Griffin. However, it is pure logic that the reason we have not gone forward is because of the council members themselves. You feel you are right and no one else has the right to make suggestions. You base your associations and staff on biased opinions, not efficiency. And I fear that if you hired an excellent Town Manager who wished to make some of these changes, you would just fire him or her, .because you would not wish to show that you are wrong. There is no right or wrong; only changes which may better White Springs. Yet someday, the citizens will not be able to afford the hikes and they will realize that they have made a mistake in electing you. I do not believe that the voter box has not been tampered with and I have spoken to one older black gentleman who said he saw it being tampered with before. That is why we asked Bill to secure a lock and hold the key this year. You can do this type of thing for only so long before it will catch up with you.
A DITCH IS NOTHING BUT A COFFIN WITH THE ENDS KICKED OUT.
Karin for the blog