On Sept. 15, 2021, Concerned Citizens of Florence submitted a list of questions to the City of Florence on the dealings of the City and how it let the former City Manager get away with so many atrocities against the city, its employees and its citizens for so long. Here we are a month later and the only answer anyone has received from the City is “No Comment.” One would think that the City Council is here to serve the City of Florence, but that is now up for debate. I mean they haven't even the courtesy to respond openly to the citizens of Florence or really even acknowledge the questions that were asked. Sure we understand that some of these questions may pertain to an active investigation, but many could have easily been answered by them without affecting the outcome of any investigative activity. A simple “Thank You for your questions we are in receipt of them and are working to get you the citizens of Florence an answer once we are done investigating” Or maybe a “Here is what we currently know and the rest is under investigation.” Or maybe “We cannot answer any of your questions at this time, however; we do however recognize that we have a problem in the way that Mr. Patterson's employment was handled and we are working to rectify that now and as soon as we have all this information put together we will address the citizens with our findings?

Instead, we get “No Comment,” which could be read by most as “We the city council don't really care about what you questions you have” or “Oh C**p, we really messed this up but don't know who to blame it on yet so we aren't going to answer your questions” or “we just ignored these issues and let our former City Manager make all the decisions for us, including his 8+ salary and compensation amendments” and while you may find some of these questions ridiculous, the longer the citizens of Florence go without truthful answers from our city council the more rumors and dumb conclusions will spread. We actually have a lot of really good people on council so we are not trying to attack them, but rather get them to open a line of communications up with its citizens that should have been open all along. We actually feel that some of the council would really like to tell us more, but are being directed most likely by the City Attorney to say “No Comment.” This brings up another question Does the City Attorney have any culpability in this situation? Unless we are mistaken the City Attorney is supposed to advise the city and steer them away from any potential liabilities. So in 2019 when the city was yet making another settlement because of Mr. Patterson's actions, did the City Attorney advise the council to cut ties with Mr. Patterson then? If he didn't, then that's a problem! If he did, then that means that council either ignored this advice and voted to keep Mr. Patterson in power or it never even went to a vote, a bigger problem.

So this brings me to the title of this article. We have a lot of good people on council, many that weren't even on city council during Mr. Patterson's previous infractions, and who helped make the vote unanimous to fire him and I hope they can stay and continue to serve, but we also have some new faces running for council that are all about transparency, and have strong financial backgrounds and which have some great ideas on improving not only council but our city. So please do your research, and instead of just voting for a name, one you recognize, reach out to these candidates, ask them questions or attend one of the upcoming debates and make a decision for yourself.

The Concerned Citizens of Florence

Spokesperson Roger Duncan