Before you read the article in today’s Lake City Reporter, it has come to our attention that Guy Norris is and was a personal friend of Rhett Bullard. In fact Guy Norris is or has been on the Commission on Ethics and we have been told that he has favored Rhett Bullard in that although Rhett Bullard’s actions should have been pointed out similarly to the School Board’s actions for some of the same charges, Norris passed on damaging Bullard’s reputation.
With this reporting in mind, if another pass is given to Rhett Bullard by Mr. Norris for the allegations of my report of similar violations made at the hands of Mr. Bullard, I certainly will appeal to the Commission on Ethics. It is time White Springs Followed the Law!
Karin for the blog
NORRIS: ATTORNEY HUNT CONDUCTED IN THE DARK – SAYS SCHOOL bOARD’S DECISION TO ADVERTISE POST WAS NEVER DISCUSSED IN PUBLIC; MAY APPEAL HIS RELEASE
ATTORNEY: BOARD DECISION IMPROPER by Carl McKinney, Lake City reporter
The Columbia County School Board bid out a legal services contract without ever voting to do so during a public meeting or placing it on an agenda amid other failures according to the board’s ousted attorney.
Attorney Guy Norris is appealing the School Board’s decision to not renew its contract with his firm, Noris & Noris, according to a June 18th letter. Norris cites the board’s failure to comply with Florida’s ?Sunshine laws and the minimum qualifications for the position, as well as impermissible” communications with the competing firm that wone the contract Douglas & Carter.
“The School Board’s competitive solicitation for legal services lacked the integrity and fairness owed to all responding vendors and the citizens of Columbia County” Norris wrote. “This notice is unfortunately necessary in the public’s interest to cast light upon the failure of the School Board to conduct this public business in accordance with School Board Policy and Florida’s public procurement and Sunshine laws, and in the hope of ensuring an effective and ethical process for future bidders. The School Board awarded the contract to Douglas & Carter on June 13th.”
“There was no formal vote to proceed with the bidding process and board members never publicly evaluated the bids following closed-session interviews according to the letter. These actions and omissions occurred without any public deliberation among the School Board members and without any vote by the School Board at a public meeting” the letter states.
“As a result, the competitive solicitation process for the School Board Attorney was permissibly compromised by the School Board’s failure to comply with Florida’s public meeting Sunshine Laws” Norris wrote.
But that was only one of “multiple failures” according to Norris. Under Florida law, such bits have to be fair and competitive. But Douglas & Carter enjoyed an unfair advantage, he said. Douglas & Carter was given a copy of an April 20th renewal proposal from Norris & Norris which contained multiple minor revisions that were incorporated verbatim into the opposing firm’s bid. The School Board received no pubic records request for the Norris & Norris renewal proposal Norris said.
School Board members also disregarded the minimum qualifications for the contract. Firms vying for the contract must demonstrate skill and experience in the relevant field of law.and preference must be given to those with “experience in and knowledge of laws applicable to K through 12 school districts” the letter states.
The proposal from winning firm Douglas & Carter states in the second paragraph, it has not previously represented a Florida School Board.
“Therefore, while a fine law firm of capable attorneys, Douglas & Carter did not present a responsive proposal that confirms in all material respects to the Minimum Qualifications or the Preferred Qualifications of the School Board’s solicitation” Norris Wrote.
Norris, Superintendent Les Carswell, School Board Chairman Keith Hudson and a representative of Douglas & Carter all declined comment or failed to return calls seeking comments.
The Lake City Reporter stated: “This notice is unfortunately necessary in the public’s interest to cast light upon the failure of the School Board to Conduct this ublic business in accordance with School Board policy and Florida’s public procurement and Sunshine laws.