To a Better Franklin County

on Friday, 01 April 2022.

Dear Readers:

I want to tell you a tale today of why you must continue to be suspicious of government. This is true, be it Franklin County, our School System, State or Federal government. I know I am not alone in this thinking. The demands for ever more money will almost always outstrip any increase in your income. The first part of today’s message is some history. Then I’ll get more specific.

The US government spends money it does not have like a drunken sailor on its first liberty in six months. Whether hearing numbers expressed in the millions, billions or trillions, the numbers are too large for most of us to comprehend. Large numbers of people tune out as they can’t understand those incredibly large numbers continually being thrown around. The problem is it's just not our national government, but every level of government is spending money beyond their means. This runs the gamut from inflated county budgets to over-the-top state budgets, to finally, the United States budget itself. This later, is no longer a budget at all, just a make-believe set of numbers that is supposed to comfort us that somewhere, somehow, the green-eyeshade people are keeping the numbers in check and balancing the budget.

No such luck.

The problem we are confronting is that government runs its own Ponzi scheme. Al Capone would see through the scam right away. He’d see the various transfer of monies from the Mob (US Government) to Judges, Police Departments, and Politicians (state and local governments) as nothing more than the price of doing business to achieve a certain level of protection through association. It wasn’t always this way. Something happened along the way that made all of this sleight-of-hand possible.

I believe it was four things:

  • The absence of term limits
  • The 17th Amendment
  • Federal Revenue Sharing
  • The lack of a Balanced Budget Amendment

I go into much more detail on the above in my weekly blogs at if you are interested. But, back to Franklin County.

Like many things in life, there are governing principles that help you understand the how and why of all the moving pieces that at first are just baffling. But, if it is, understand that government exists principally for those who have jobs and political positions within those entities and that the term ‘Public Servant’ largely no longer applies, then things start to make sense. It must be said that many people working in Franklin County government want to believe they are real Public Servants and work hard in their vital roles. But they are sucked up, like so much dust in a whirlwind into a system that promotes internal loyalty to each other –even more than to their constituents- and onto a path that can lead to higher levels of comfort and security, not available to the majority of the citizens who live here.

Strong words. Let me put some meat on the bone so you can decide if my assertions are nothing more than hyperbole:

  1. Weems Hospital. The definition of a hospital is:

    • “An institution which is managed, staffed and equipped for providing healthcare services, including inpatient care, surgery, emergent, and urgent care, and has facilities for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.”

    • Weems provides basic emergency services utilizing a contracted Emergency Medical company that also acts on occasion as the hospitalist. Most of these Doctors, if not all are just General Practitioners, not Emergency Medical specialists. Weems performs no regular surgery, has no specialists like a Radiologist on staff or providers for any other services expected at real hospitals. Weems loses millions of operating dollars a year and depends on sales tax money and many, many undependable grants to fill in their extensive financial gaps, while still providing only minimal services to patients. That economic fact that has not changed in the past year is that high-priced Alliant consulting has been involved. We believe your chances of dying at Weems under many life- threatening scenarios are much greater than at other full-service hospitals.

    • Why does it exist then? Weems averages less than one inpatient per day, by their own statistics. The facility has become a very expensive county jobs program for well over a hundred people. Commissioners have traded a jobs program vs. better healthcare and positive outcomes in Franklin County. Don’t let them fool you on that point and the even bigger lie that a long-promised new hospital will turn anything around. That will just cost more.

  2. County Pay

    • The average county employee received a 10-20 percent raise this year on average with built-in increases coming next year and the year after to reach “parity” with other similar counties. At least that’s the story. Franklin County employees, especially Constitutionals are in some cases, overstaffed and overpaid for the number of hours worked and the benefits packages they receive. Plus, for many, their jobs are essentially lifetime employment.

    • It’s great if you can get it, but what have we done? Everyone can’t work for the county or the similarly highly paid failing school system. The average pay of a County employee is well over $40,000 a year, plus a benefits package equal to another $10-$15 thousand a year on top of that. In a supposedly poor county

  3. Transparency:

    • This is the drum that the CCFC bangs loudly and continually. Three of our Commissioners strongly frustrate Open Government. Frankly, I believe they should call their Public Engagement Policy the ‘Allan Feifer Disengagement Policy’ instead since it was designed to effectively silence appropriate public discourse. The county commission often pursues anti-constituent policies and decisions that don’t make sense or may even have a whiff of corruption. Yet now, hardly anyone speaks at county commission meetings. Compare and contrast that to Gulf and Wakulla counties that frequently have 10-20 speakers during their Public Comments section of a meeting vs. the typical 0-3 at ours. This Franklin County's Public Engagement policy stinks and all of us are losing out when the county conducts business with minimal citizen input or oversight. It is evident that the Florida Attorney General’s policy on public access is not being followed here, at least in spirit.

    • “Every meeting of any board, commission, agency or authority of a municipality should be a marketplace of ideas, so that the governmental agency may have sufficient input from the citizens who are going to be affected by the subsequent action of the municipality.” 10-910_JurisIni_ada PDF

I could go on, but space does not allow it. The Franklin County budget now stands at over $77 million a year. Franklin County's finances are no longer quite so poor and stretched thin as it once was. And yet, Poverty in Franklin County is on display for all to see. Just drive a street or two off of 98 and prepare to be shocked if you haven’t already.

I have been head of this Association for more than 20 years. There have been real improvements in some policies thanks to a couple of good hires recently. What has not changed is that our county is still run inefficiently, with too strong a dependence on the personalities of sitting Commissioners and Constitutional Officers who run their own fiefdoms instead of doing what is right for all county citizens and taxpayers.

A firm example; with all the rhetoric commissioners spout about Alligator Point being such a drain on the county, would you believe that the reality is the county has not paved a single road with organic county gas tax money in over 45 years? Similar problems exist on St. George Island and other less politically powerful, but high taxpaying areas of the county. SGI, Alligator Point, and a couple of other areas where “outsiders” sometimes live, provide the vast majority of tax revenues to Franklin county. Isn’t it time that the county willingly spends some of the incoming Ad Valorem money in A manner fairer to taxpayers?

I often state we get the government we deserve. I hope you will take the time to become more involved. Support good government and good candidates. From Franklin County to the world at large, the evidence of our disengagement stares us in the face.

We must do better!

If you have any questions, concerns, or we can help you in any way, please reach out to us! And please help support the CCFC as it continues the battle for a better, more representative, and transparent government

Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer

Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Commissioner Bert Boldt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 519-4966

Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Chairman Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner Jessica Ward - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-9783

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