These files are made possible because Susan Baird was elected to the Alachua County Commission. Had Sue not told me the commissioners polled the vote on the Sheriff’s budget in an Informal Meeting on December 7, 2010, we would never have stumbled across the behavior you are about to hear.
Keep in mind that the commissioners talking are all Democrats. Their Informal Meetings have been going on for years.
I want to thank Star 99.5 FM for their staff assistance in preparing these audios, and I want to thank Jake and Ed for airing the audios on “Talk of the Town.”
Kudos also go to the unnamed “research assistants” who made public records requests for documents and recalled details about Alachua County Commission meetings.
Democracy functions best in transparency. In Florida, the Sunshine Law ensures that citizens are fairly informed and that their petitions before their government entities are afforded due process.
Now sit back and listen to “the meetings before the meetings.” You will hear the dress rehearsals for the theater that takes place during the public meetings. It is as if we have pulled back the curtain on the stage and revealed the actors rehearsing their lines.
Warthog Command Center
PO Box 144
Alachua, Fl 32616-0144
Click on any of the links, below, to play the audio file (mp3) or right-click the link to get options to download that mp3.
Listen as Ward Scott talks about citizen frustration with trying to get public records from the Alachua County Tourist Development Board, only to find that this county board, which makes recommendations on allocating taxpayer dollars, hasn't been keeping minutes for years. How about that for government in the sunshine?
Ward's latest investigation takes on the county and the county's codes board for railroading a citizen and blatently trampling his rights. This set of four audo files is a must listen. You won't believe your ears. These are big audio files, so give them a minute to queue up.
Actually, Ward calls it the Best Of, but we like calling it Ward's Greatest Hits, because Ward and the Research Team have done great work pulling this together.
Third Degree Felony
Listen as Ward details how some of the actions of the commission could be construed as a third degree felony.
Today, Ward exposes the conflicting stories from the County Commission about whether or not the public is invited to participate in the "meetings before the meetings". On the one hand, Mark Sexton, the county spokesman, says that the public is invited to participate. On the other hand, the Commission Chair, Lee Pinkoson says that these are their meetings, and they just don't want to hear from us.
In this fraud file, Ward Scott shines a light on Mike Byerly's attempt to push the County Commission into modifying the plan for NW 16th Avenue to widen the bicycle lanes and reduce the automobile lanes to unsafe levels, despite the fact that the road engineers are saying that they can't sign off on such a move.
The Next Step
Ward discusses case law and a previous Florida Supreme Court ruling regarding Sunshine Law violations, and makes the case that the Alachua County Commission's informal meetings (not secret meetings) are being used in violation of the intent of the Florida Sunshine Law, and are being used to stack the deck against community stakeholders.
In this latest audio, Paula DeLaney expresses that she will get peace when she has figured out how to slow down growth while Mike Byerly, once again, manipulates the commission to shift impact fee money to more bicycle lanes and away from autombile transit.
In this fraud files, Ward Scott gets to the bottom of the bad policy behind the cat sanctuary fiasco. Listen as Mike Byerly even refuses to answer questions for other commissioners about his conversations with attorneys, but then still strong-arms the other commissioners into giving the zoning variances.
In this Fraud File, Ward explores how badly the county government performs when letting the public know what is going on, including audio that just isn't there.
In this latest Fraud Files, during a "meeting before the meeting", Mike Byerly strong arms the commission into crystallizing a vote on a gas tax. During the discussion, Rodney Long primary concern seems to be that, later - during the actual meeting, that they get through that vote as quickly as possible because he has a conflict in his schedule. A party that he wants to go to conflicts with a commission meeting.
In the minutes of this "meeting before the meeting", there is nothing that reflects that discussion was had on a gas tax.
In edition of the Ward Scott Fraud Files, Ward uncovers the Alachua County Commission converting an informal meeting into a formal meeting at which a vote was taken. Also in this audio, Paula DeLaney seems to take a cavalier and comedic attitude toward by joking about the "rape and plunder" of the citizenry.
In this latest audio, listen as a "meeting before the meeting" morphs into an official meeting with an official vote taken, with completey inadequate notice before the meeting and inadequate minutes of the meeting.
Busses For No One
In this “meeting before the meeting”, we hear all kinds of interesting themes. The county commission is discussing implementation of a bus rapid transit system without ever having seen an operational analysis.
Worse, Mike Byerly is pushing for bus rapid transit on the west side, where it is funded, but no one will ride it. Chestnut and Long want it on the east side, where hearsay tells them that people will use it.
The end product is a bus rapid transit system that no one will use.
In this audio, the commissioners are being warned by the county attorney that the informal meeting has been morphing into a formal meeting, and that even though there is no formal agenda, there appears to be an agenda for what they want to accomplish. The commissioner then talk about how to get around the law. Mike Byerly suggest creating an agenda, but not putting anything on it. Paula expresses her disdain for the process of public input by claiming that this is their meeting and that even if people show up, they shouldn't be allowed to speak.
Byerly's $3.5 Million
In this audio, Ward points out that even after county attorney, David Wagner, warns the commissioners that they have been and can be sued for what takes place at the "meetings before the meetings", Commissioner Mike Byerly is lobbying the rest of the commission and attempting to crystallize a vote to raise the property tax rate to the maximum.
Commissioner Paula DeLaney then proceeds to express the idea that us property owners are too stupid to pay attention to the millage rate, anyway; only caring about the total amount that we pay.
This audio file is a little bigger than the others. Give it a few seconds to download and start.
Listen as the Alachua County Commission polled the vote for without taking citizen comment and discussed using that vote to put pressure on an outside interest group.
Listen as the Alachua County Commission crystallized a vote to pass a gas tax to 2019 in an informal session without citizens’ comment. Commissioner Mike Byerly was then successful in getting a provision that future commissions could not rescind the ordinance without a 4-1 vote.
Listen to this “meeting before the meeting” as the discussion on the county’s guiding vision is in utter chaos despite the fact that amongst most of the commissioners, the county manager and the county attorney, there are a dozen years of experience in the room.
Listen to Wards comments on the arduous task of the detailed, meticulous records requests that are getting to the bottom of what has been going on with Alachua County government.
Sheriff - Audio 1
This is the audio that started it all. Listen as the Alachua County Commission used a “meeting before the meeting” to crystallize their vote on the Sheriff’s budget request and then decide that they did not need to hear the Sheriff’s testimony in a public hearing because their vote had already been crystallized.
Sheriff - Audio 2
Listen as Commissioner Mike Byerly uses an intern to make phone calls to other jail facilities around the state to ask questions. From that limited, anecdotal evidence, Mike Byerly and other commissioners attempt to draw conclusions about whether or not the Sheriff’s budget requests are valid.
Springhill - Audio 1
Listen as the Alachua County Commission engineered a denial of due process to the Springhill developers. They crystallized their vote to throw obstacles in front of the Springhill development, then went on to hold a large public hearing that proved to be nothing more than a farce, because the vote had already been crystallized.
Springhill - Audio 2
In this "meeting before the meeting" audio, Cynthia Chestnut cavalierly discusses providing refreshments to keep the audience calm during the Springhills public hearing, and Mike Byerly express concern that his personal computer could be subpoenaed.
This audio is all of the Fraud Files reorganized with some new commentary added. It is a "must listen!"