Moving to this area, I understand why most people do not trust attorneys. Each attorney seems to have their own tactics and each tactic somehow becomes the detriment of someone else.
Let’s look at how Joel Foreman wins any case. To say he is the greatest manipulator of all times is quite on point. We all know how he actually went over Vanessa George’s contract with White Springs only in brief, without details. The Council has the right to determine salaries like Columbia County will determine Foreman’s. The Council never reviewed the contract or had it in advance except for a few minutes. Foreman explained such things as the COBRA law and severance being limited to 20 weeks, when White Springs did not have to comply with any, if the contract had not been signed by Rivers, because it has less than 20 employees. But the way in Which he got what he wished for Vanessa George was to state that he didn’t know why Vanessa would do it but if the Town hired her for five years she would drop her salary from $65,000 to $60,000. That is manipulation, especially with our weak council who readily thought about the $60,000 as being better for the Town and voting to hire her at that amount. They didn’t even look at the contract, question it or request a stay until they could review it in full.
Then let’s look at what Attorney Foreman did to Columbia County. As an elected official he told Columbia County that he wished to be paid the same salary as a judge, in excess of $151,000. It was stated he already received benefits in excess of $50,000. What Attorney Foreman wished was a County Attorney’s job where he did not have to handle outside clients or handle an office or staff. Essentially he wished to be an employee of Columbia County. By asking for this outrageous salary he got what he wished. The County will be hiring him as an employee,retaining his title as Columbia County Attorney, and on Monday, his wages will be determined based upon County scales. Check the Columbia County Observer for the story after Monday’s meeting. After 60 years, Columbia will have a legal department where Attorney Foreman gets the last say on an assistant of his choosing, his malpractice insurance paid for at least for two years, benefits, etc. And he gets to disperse with all his book of clients. Now that’s manipulation but a heck of a negotiation resulted. With our Council there is never a negotiation.
Now Attorney Frederick Koberlien had an approach of making motions to dismiss and frankly he would lie that Joe was wrong because there was a law. Although he handed paperwork relating to the law to Joe, it had nothing to do with the case at hand. By that time, it was too late and the Council took his advice. But at least he worked for the Council, unlike Joel Foreman who worked for the Town Manager and staff. I felt many times Koberlein was underhanded and only when Helen Miller was in trouble did he handle everything on point. He is an excellent attorney but extremely devient. He never believed in Public Records law and as a result, Stew Lilker of the Columbia County Observer won cases against him, which are in the Florida Sunshine Manual.
Then there was Attorney Meagan Logan. Her main tactic was to Pound on the Table when she had nothing to litigate against. She would take hearsay evidence and make certain it was exposed everywhere so that she would win. Her biggest fault was listening to Helen Miller and making Tommie Jones an independent contractor in lieu of his being an employee. Tommie Jones had no clue of how to be a Town Manager but all the council cared about was that he was Black. She’s lucky with all that happened to White Springs in that year that someone did not report her to the bar.
At least Attorney Foreman managed to get Vanessa George in a place whereby no one would dare to terminate her, unless there was enough money in the coffers to pay for everything in the lump sums prescribed in her contract. And, he managed to get what he wanted which was working solely for Columbia County with his own legal department and assistant. However what neither knew is that White Springs was Broke before either started and this may bankrupt White Springs especially with Ms. George’s lack of knowledge and a council which does nothing. And have you noticed that now that Ms. George is formally under contract as Town Manager, she doesn’t provide reports, and even the agendas are lacking. She might as well give everyone a blank copy because that is what we are virtually receiving. It’s amazing how Ms. George now is lax when she did so well for the three months she was interim manager. But she has this council over the barrel.
I feel badly for Jacqueline Williams who is the brightest star among them. Jacqueline has an amazing profession, actually took her Florida Ethics and Public Records course, and has an excellent education even if it is not in Municipalities. Both Anita Rivers and Nicole Williams have yet to take their required courses.
Karin Griffin for the blog