MIDNIGHT TONIGHT IS THE COURT ORDERED DEADLINE…

For filing a Response to our Motion for a Summary Judgement. It is now 8:45 and still no submission. If the town doesn’t want to dispute our motion for a Summary Judgement they should have said so in the first place. According to the Internet under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party missing a filing deadline maybe gives up their right to make a filing. We already allowed the town an extra week to file their response and they have, like the town, squandered it. No filing we win and we go straight to trial for the MONEY.

Addition: It is now 10:00 and no hint of whether they filed or not.

Addition: It is now 11:10 and no hint of whether they filed or not. Maybe our attorney just didn’t tell us. I hope it is the other way but if they, the Town, Helen, Pam and Tracy, want to fight it out in court we will be very glad to do it. Lots of fun.

Addition: It is now 11:50 and still no word on whether they filed or not. Oh well, we’ll know in the morning. Have a safe sleep, I know we will.

Final Addition: The filing came in literally at the 11th hour and we found out about it this morning.

See article filed this afternoon about how the town has screwed up the timeline to bolster their case. For the life of me I can’t see why the town can’t tell the truth r follow the law.

We, Karin and I, now get what we’ve always wanted. An independent person, in this case a Federal Judge, to look at all of the facts (the facts not the town’s conjectures) and make a decision of whether our rights were screwed with.

 

LEGAL “DEMAND” LETTER.

After 60 plus attempts to get the documents I have sent the town a formal demand for the documents on Helen’s Computer. Here is the letter.

Monday, August 24, 2015
Town Council, in total
P. O. Drawer D
White Springs, Florida

Hand Delivered this the 26th Day of August 2015
Sir(s) and Ma’am(s),
This is a demand letter. I formally am seeking the documents or any legal justification the Town has for denying me one copy in electronic format of all e-mails sent or received from Helen Miller to Fred Koberlein and vice versa. I do not want Fred Koberlein’s e-mails. I want Helen’s copy of said e-mails. I have made 56 requests for these documents using as a legal basis Article 1 Section 24 of the Florida Constitution and Florida statute 119. So far none of my requests have borne fruit.
There is no statutory or constitutional right to aid you in requiring me to purchase the most expensive copy of a public document. It is my intention to hold each of you responsible for this denial of my rights to obtain Public Records for publishing on my Blog. Should I wish to “compare” the e-mails to make sure no one is hiding anything then I will purchase Mr. Koberlein’s copy! Until then I desire Mrs. Miller’s copy.
According to the Town Charter I am to give you 30 day notice of my intent to file legal action in this dispute. Please contact the Florida League of Cities and put forth my complaint to them for further action. Legal action, and I believe Federal Legal Action, is pending. I believe the costs of such action to not be in the best interest of the citizens of White Springs.
Thank you,

Joe E. Griffin

IF YOU WANT TO SAVE $14.32 ON YOUR WATER BILLS…

If we keep the money in the Enterprise account instead of “wasting it” on the General Fund we can reduce Sewer Bills. It is that simple.

The town’s budget “steals” $72828 from the Enterprise account to “float” extra spending in the General Fund. I feel this is foolish.

The $72828 equates to a $14.32 reduction in our sewer bills. If you have a $75.00 water-sewer-trash pick-up bill, it would become a $60.00 bill overnight if we just didn’t move money (the $72828) out of the Enterprise account into the General Fund.

Last year we moved $55,000 from the Sewer Fund to the General Fund That would have been an additional $9.50 savings on Sewer Bills. But we “squandered it” and I can’t get the town to explain where it went.

So I made my own budget. I will unveil it at Thursday’s Council meeting. You all come and see how simple it is to reduce the Sewer portion of our Water bills by $14.32. Maybe, just maybe, the Council will determine that my ideas have a little merit.

If we comply with the State Laws and LDR’s, we will definitely need low income housing first

For years our Town has spent money for non-economic development.  We have a concrete park, an amphitheater that may be used only during the folk festival with no parking and nothing tangible for those who are unable to afford good housing or improvements.  I am thankful for Mayor Bullard’s demand that low income housing be included with Councilman Miller’s request for money for the I-75/136 project.

Our Land Development Regulation Codes have to be revised and inserted into the LDR Code per Mr. Koberlein.  He felt its back to 1998 since the LDR Code has been re-typed.

Joe said he would like to go through the ordinances  and Shirley Heath said she had it coded to the tune of $10,000 when she last was interim Town manager;  It was stated as if he is a criminal for having applied.  It could only happen in White Springs.  However, no one could work with the book the way it was written.  One would expect that there would be a book with all ordinances, those which were repealed and those which replaced them.  Yet she has not made that available to Joe or I to review.

I can’t understand why most of this leg work could not be done by staff, so the scary thing is….I am going to apply as a volunteer of the Planning and Zoning Staff.  Now, even though I have some great organizational and analytical abilities, having been involved with friends who are venture capitalists,  I am not certain I would be considered since the Council has to choose or vote on volunteers.  Even the Camel Club said I did not stand a chance in Hades and I applied for only one position and that would have been temporary because of my age.

The Town of White Springs has made it quite clear even in the last Summary Judgment of the positions Joe has applied for and how he has never been elected or accepted.  LDR’s would be right up his alley, but he would ever be considered.  After all even when logical and factual complaints come before the Town (i.e. Lawyer expense not required if a Federal Attorney is hired   i.e;  Helen Miller’s e-mails on her personal server should be the Town’s property since attorney fees were paid for her responses (See the news on Hillary Clinton)..

Just drive around Town and you will see many homes in disarray.  Broken Steps, no guardrails, no appliances, wood rotting, roofs requiring work, etc. etc.  Some of these homes are resided in by single family income holders who may be on welfare social security or some form of disability assistance.

We need to get involved with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or others where many of us may volunteer by repairing or rebuilding.  We have many young people in town who I am certain can handle a hammer and nails who could assist in this endeavor and it is time that we all helped our neighbors.

There are also many beautiful homes in the the midst of those needing dire repairs.  It is time beautification meant housing which is not falling apart.

I still believe the I-75/136 corridor project is pie in the sky and the more I hear about it, the more that it makes me sick. We are worrying about a Tri-county development, which will bring us no benefit, but rather benefit to Suwanee and Columbia Counties.We wish to provide the funds for academic engineering through the Florida Competitive Partnership and once the work is done, the other counties may just secure our information under a 119.  That may be the only thanks we get. So what if we dropped it! It makes no sense whatsoever and no one will drive the three miles into White Springs to help our economy unless it is a festival  they are coming to see.   Former mayor Miller has made herself known through various organizations and I believe it is her dream to be far more involved in politics.  But what has been done?  How many promises have been broken?   You can’t just start projects and let them drop if there is a need.  

Why haven’t the former mayors and town managers realized our citizens have some needs.  It finally took Rhett Bullard to try and do something for the citizens.  He is the first mayor ever to do something or try, with a council that doesn’t seem to care.

Hamilton County in itself is the poorest county in Florida and White Springs probably the most impoverished.  We have been lucky to have the Potash Corporation but must look to much more than economic development.  But even the economic development we have done and are considering is pie in the sky to the needs of the citizens.  We need some low income housing if the LDR’s are ever enforced..  And if they are enforced, there can be no special treatment for some and no special treatment for others.

We need to then contact businesses which may consider moving into White Springs….not the I-75/136 Corridore.  We need perhaps a small factory (whether hydroponics; a printing silk-screening facility; whether a call center or some other development inside of our town or an area next to our town which we may annex.

 Foremost, we need to assist the people of our town by securing low income housing for which HUD has specific requirements and or rentals which would be handled by the Housing Administration.

Let’s watch the Council drop my applications as a volunteer as well as the alternate budget summary Joe has completed.  We will keep you apprised.  I cannot blame Rhett Bullard when there are four others who may outvote him.  Those who are not with him include (1)”I am the only one who can make decisions well, and I will sermonize the hell out of you is you do something I don’t like or complain about Miller”; (2)”The Griffins belong in prison  (3) I don’t keep my word and you can’t hold me to any of my lies and (4) I’m not real smart but I can really fabricate some lies and tell everyone how bad the Griffins are.

If we follow our LDRs and Ordinances, some of the homes in WS may be in for condemnation. We must look for ways to provide housing for those who cannot afford

Affordable Housing

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Watch An Overview of Volunteers of America’s Housing Programs

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About Our Affordable Housing

Volunteers of America has understood the power of housing as a foundation for life since its beginnings in 1896. And since those early days, Volunteers of America has grown into one of the largest and most effective nonprofit housing organizations in the nation. In its 2015 ranking, Affordable Housing Finance Magazine ranked Volunteers of America as the largest nonprofit affordable housing owner in the country in terms of total units owned.

Our network of affordable housing facilities now includes 484 properties in 40 states and Puerto Rico and our nationwide portfolio has grown to 19,522 affordable housing units and includes large urban complexes, small rural developments, elderly housing, multifamily housing and housing for those with disabilities. We house more than 25,000 people each year.

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The nearest facility if in Gainesville:

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Simple, decent and affordable

Habitat for Humanity builds houses around the world according to the same guiding principles:

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Habitat houses in North America

Habitat houses in Birmingham, Alabama, USA.See more house examples in North America »

Habitat houses in the United States and Canada are typically built using wood frame construction, Gypsum board interior walls, vinyl siding and asphalt shingle roofs. Some affiliates also use proven alternative building materials such as adobe or straw bale construction.

U.S. and Canadian Habitat houses are modestly sized by North American standards. Habitat’s guidelines dictate that a three-bedroom Habitat house may have no more than 1,050 square feet of living space.

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Habitat houses around the world

Habitat homeowners tend to their flowers in front of their house in Athiru, Kenya.See more house examples from around the world »

From the tropical islands of the Philippines to the mountains of Chile, Habitat builds houses designed for the local setting. International affiliates build with locally available materials, reducing costs and making it easier for homeowners to maintain the houses. For example, houses in many African countries are constructed with fired clay bricks and tile roofs made of cement or fired clay. Houses in Latin America often are built with concrete block or adobe walls and metal roofs. Houses in the Pacific are often built with wood frames and are constructed on stilts.

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Habitat for Humanity and the environment

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GAINSVILLE, FLORIDA
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ORANGE PARK, FLORIDA
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The Bleeding in our Accounting Department has to stop…Is everyone afraid of doing something?

I know Pam has been great for the past 15 years she has served the boards because most of the previous Town Managers and the Councilmen have not required controls and as long as there was a bank balance, whether or not it was from the general fund, the enterprise fund or grants they could pay the bills.  In fact there were no schedules of Accounts Payable given to the council and Walter would usually make a motion to pay all the bills if we had the money..not the exact words.  No one ever looked at our balances and they have not done so to date.

We asked Pam why we had to move $55,000 from the Enterprise account into the General Account and she cannot understand the question  I guess if one has the money, and it was spent for something else, there are no answers in our accounting.

Furthermore, and this would be an impossibility with quick books which Pam uses, there would be no way to run a report to determine where we spent money and whether these updated budgets make any sense at all.  The financial statements had to be corrected because misinformation was provided to the CPA so there is no order in determining if our budgets from before are in line with what we have actually spent.  No one could run a business like that and the officials are allowing our Town to be run like that because guess what?  They are not responsible; if they need more money they will increase sewer rates or taxes or something else.  There are never sinking funds or the types of retained earnings required for contingencies.  I do not know how two people with GED’s can actually handle the books of a Town without further education and a willingness to learn.

I know our former town manager required accounting schedules which were not available to him.

We have come into an era of computerization whereby if information is inputted, reports may be derived from that information.  That includes spread sheets of various types and kinds so that someone may be aware of what may be necessary to be paid.

I still cannot believe the FEMA fiasco and the fact that neither our interim manager nor our accountant realized there should have been another line item payable to Hamilton County.  And what is more upsetting is that the Pattern never changes in that they are pointing to Powell and Jones as being the culprits that did not handle the financial statements correctly.  Now since Powell and Jones know that our charter basically states we must change accountants every three years, they will be replaced, I hope they will speak the truth.

It is my understanding that Mr. Powell has had to hold Pam’s hand continually throughout the years.  I realize small towns may not have the best accountants, but Pam was paid well and yet she has not assisted her own position.  Mr. Powell needs to tell the truth.  It may seem hurtful, but I cannot see another Town Manager coming into this position to find that we do not keep accurate records.  We have misspent for years and it is amazing that each of the councilmen are not in bankruptcy if they handle their own records in that manner.

We need change and I believe someone like Andrew Greene who is knowledgeable with computer systems and who has had to assist Pam with some of the most elementary information should apply for the Financial Director position.  We need opportunities for those who have grown with the changes.

When I saw Pam at the candidate interviews calculating the ballot sheets she used one or two fingers continually looking at her calculator  For most of us, we use all our fingers for the 10 keys for efficiency.   In fact, I just viewed Joe utilizing Excel, placing in not only the Town’s figures but his own for the alternate budgets   These are simple transactions and for our town to have the correct software which cost $7,500 and it is never used, we need someone who will move into the new age.

The only thing I can think of that would prohibit the Town from doing the right thing would be that Pam has information on the Town that would be detrimental if leaked.  But that is nothing new, because there seems to be a lot of that happening throughout the years and even if someone has not done something, our two GED graduates seem to fabricate some great stories.

 

Karin for the blog

Sewer Contractor may require Railroad Protective coverage

In the event the contractor will be required to fix sewer pipes under the railroad, a Contractors General liability policy does not include indemnification of a railroad arising out of the construction or demolition operations within 50 feet of any railroad property and affecting any railroad bridge or trestle, tracks, road-beds, or crossing.  Although the Town would not be responsible for this insurance, the bid specifications made by Mr. Koberlein would require that he stipulate the need for the contractor to purchase separate Railroad Protective Liability Coverage in the name of the railroad (i.e. Burlington Northern”   The railroads usually have their own contract and usually the limits are $3,000,000 each occurrence with a general aggregate of $6,000,000.

 

IT’S UP TO YOU WHITE SPRINGS. I PROBABLY WILL GET HELL FROM THOSE THAT LOOK TO THE TOWN’S UNINCORPORATION BUT HERE GOES

OPEN LETTER REGARDING SEWER SYSTEM

 

I am not certain the Town of White Springs has received the results relating to the conditions of our sewer system.  Yet from what I have heard, it does not sound good.  We may require extensive repairs.

Currently our Town has a $300,000 per person/$300,000 aggregate limit/policy limit per year, including defense. Unlike most General Liability policies where Defense is OUTSIDE of the Limit of Liability, the Fund only includes one amount per year including General, Police Officer Liability and Defense).  With the volatility of the explosion, collapse and underground hazards which may cause not only property damage, but bodily injury and death, before securing bids from actual sewer and water contractors, Fred Koberlein, City Attorney must prepare a construction contract and these are my suggestions. If this is not his venue, he perhaps can secure such a contract from Hamilton County.

In contractual liability one or more of the parties to the contract may be held liable in connection with a performance.  The agreement is reached as to which party shall bear the exposure to loss and pay for any injuries or damages for which either may become liable.  The party which suffers, then may sue either or both parties to the contract but the contract entered into shall stipulate which party shall bear the loss or the costs of defense. Since the Town has inadequate insurance, I would suggest under the insurance provisions of the contract that the following may be included.  These inclusions would be the responsibility of the contractor(s) and would be included within the bid/price estimate, given to us by the contractor(s)

 

  1. Contractors Protective Liability Insurance to be provided in the name of the Town of White Springs, its employees, agents,  representatives or assigns for not less than a $1,000,000  each occurrence/$3,000,000 aggregate.  A protective liability insurance policy protects you in the event you become legally liable or become implicated in a legal action because of a loss caused by an independent contractor hired by you or because of an action or your failure to act, in supervising the activities of an independent contractor.  Even if the event your potential liability may be remote, you will have defense coverage.  Protective Liability provides only premises and operations coverage and EXCLUDES  Products and Completed Operations liability which the contractor must carry (see 2).  You will have to determine by contract whether the guarantee is for one or two years after the contract is completed.

 

  1. Commercial General Liability Limits of $1,000,000 each occurrence, $1,000,000 Personal and Advertising Injury Liability $3,000,000 Products and Completed Operations Aggregate, $3,000,000 General Aggregate. Coverage must include X.C. and U (Explosion Collapse and Underground Hazard coverage)  If the contractor does not have a general aggregate limit of $3,000,000 one could add the endorsement” Amendment of Limits Of Insurance (Designated project or premises”) however, since this endorsement must increase the products and completed operations aggregate, the contract should request an Umbrella Liability policy to provide liability coverage over and above both the General Aggregate and the Products and Completed Operations Aggregate  (This is the contractor’s problem to fulfill the contract and the contractor should carry the appropriate limits of liability and the Town Attorney may suggest higher limits of liability which would entail an umbrella liability policy. I would suggest the same limits the County would require for safety.)

 

  1. The Town of White Springs shall be held harmless under a hold harmless agreement under the contract

 

  1. Additional Insured – Owners, Lessees or Contractors Completed – The Town of White Springs, its employees, agents, representatives or assigns should be added as an Additional Insured The Additional insured endorsement precludes coverage for professional services of the architect, engineer or surveyor who each must provide their own professional liability insurance. The Town will have to be provided evidence of this endorsement, along with a Certificate of Insurance listing the limits and coverages provided by the contract.

 

 

  1. Workers Compensation and Employers Liability Insurance of $1,000,000 – If  evidence of Workers Compensation coverage is not provided, the employees of the contractor then become the Town’s employees and subsequently the construction payroll would be picked up at audit under the Town’s policy.

 

  1. Builder’s Risk Insurance or Installation Floater covering pilings and piping, Property in Transit or in  storage including TESTING or HOT TESTING  Performance Testing or hot testing is usuall excluded  Such testing is defined as the examination, experiment or trial of covered property such as turbines, pumps, process equipment or similar equipment to prove its ability or functions   The testing of such items as sprinkler systems, piping systems, gas lines, etc. are usually excluded unless done in conjunction with performance or hot testingThe Town of White Springs should be the Insured or as an Additional Insured under the Builders Risk or Installation Floater.  Coverage should be on a risks of direct physical loss except as excluded basis and should cover FLOOD.  Under the National Flood Insurance Plan Flood Insurance includes the Overflow of inland or tidal waters; unusual or rapid accumulation or runoff of surface water from any source; Mudflow; Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water   Some private insurers provide only the rising or overflow of inland or tidal waters, unlike the NFIP    The Town of White Springs would have to make the determination along with their attorney as to whether Flood Insurance is required, and if so, the Contractor would have to secure such under his or her installation floater if available. The Town should be listed as loss payee and additional insured.   All contracts must be negotiated in advance by all parties before work commences

 6.  Owned, Non-owned and Hired auto Liability of $1,000,000

Hamilton County carries much higher limits of liability than White Springs does at $1M/3M limits with perhaps an umbrella liability policy as well.  I know previously when I was speaking with Bob Farley advising him that Vendors at our festival needed to provide Liability insurance, especially those providing food in the event we had a products liability claim (broken tooth, poisoned, fish bones in the trachea, etc.)  We could also have slips and falls because of merchandise or chairs sitting out and the Town would be responsible  The Town already has some of the sidewalks from hell for which they could be sued and continual repairs have never been accomplished and I do not believe anyone worries about it  Bob only mentioned they had policies through the Florida League of Cities and I am not certain he understood that I was trying to tell him the Vendors had to provide Liability Coverage for the Special Event if they did not have General Liability and that the Town of White Springs should be added as an Additional Insured and held harmless.  These requirements are made on the special events applications and I am not certain the Vendors have complied because we have many hometown people providing food instead of insured and licensed vendors.

I am certain with Stacy Tebo’s experience, she has probably dealt with insurance criteria such as this; nevertheless, this is to you as information because I am not certain we follow the loss and safety controls required by the Insurance Trust

If this is something the Town is not interested in or does not feel they would need others’ insurance to protect and hold them harmless….well we will them be closer to bankruptcy and on our way to unincorporation.

Also the Town may require a Performance Bond whereby it guarantees the Town of White Springs will be indemnified for any loss due to a contractor’s failure to perform the work in accordance to the contract, plans, specifications and duration.  If the contractor defaults, the surety has the following options:  Complete the contract using the existing contractor; complete the contract using a replacement contractor; allow the Town to make the arrangements for the completion of the work with any losses payable by the surety up to the penalty amount; Provide financial assistance to the existing contractor so the project may be completed; pay over the penalty amount to the Town.

I know we have been blamed for everything but the non- hiring of Mr. Robinson is not one of them.

I had a lot of hope for a Home Town man that applied for the Town Manager position.  After all he has had a great education and has work experience that coincided with being a Town Manager of White Springs.  I know he was upset when he went past our house yesterday because he had not been chosen.  Like others he may have blamed us partially because of what Willy Jefferson may have told him about us, but also because we are considered the plague.

Yet understand the Griffins had nothing to do with your not being chosen as Town manager.  In fact you received an average of eight points per the four councilmen that could vote.  Ms. Stacy Tebo who had been chosen had an 8.8 average.

You may not wish my take on this Mr. Robinson, but I feel that it is imperative to tell you should you elect to apply or run for council.

The people of White Springs have not been happy for many reasons and although you gave some indication you knew that, you did not tell anyone about the problems, since you should know them, and the strengths that you have to fix them.  You initially came in and stressed how close to Town Hall you lived and complimented the former mayor because you were behind her.  At one point because I am not from here originally, you went into a speech dialect of some kind where I could not understand but every three words you spoke.  I was surprised and concerned because with your teaching experiences you had to have spoken like the rest of us otherwise people like me would not understand you.

Mr. Robinson, they were pulling for you because you were the home town man.  It may have been that you were nervous, but since I am not a council person nor can I vote, my opinion is not important.

Bert Crow also was an excellent candidate who Walter McKenzie very much wanted and I could understand.  His background was stated in full and his answers to various questions were to the point and direct.  He also would have been a good choice and he had a total of 38 points or an average of 7.6 votes per council member.  Since Mr. Crow has had vast experience handling many of the requirements of Town Manager and not being named, I would say that Mr. Robinson, your 8 points for less experience showed that the council was pulling for you.

On the humorous sides of the issue, Walter McKenzie, who you know loves to talk and talk, bless his heart, complained that Stacy Tebo in her interview talked and talked.  I loved it.

Tanja was so unhappy that Mr. Robinson wasn’t hired that she started to mix up her stories relating to Ms. Tebo’s discrimination suit.  Tanja has never worked in her life.  She has never been in business where you excel to be at the top, but are not given the position because there is a favorite man who never had to work as hard as you. Having been a woman of the 60’s, I had to work on my own merits and it was a fight to get to the top.   I believe that Ms. Tebo has something to prove to the world as many strong women do and we are fortunate to have her.

By the way, I am extremely impressed with Mayor Rhett’s interview techniques.  He has good questions, and expresses them in a way that the candidate is talking and not him.  Way to go Mayor

Karin for the blog