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On June 6, 2019 the Jefferson County Florida Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in a regular meeting, discussed and voted on a settlement agreement with Kirk Reams, Jefferson County Clerk of Court.  County retained Attorney J. David Marsey was very specific in his description of events that had occurred, up to this point, in the long-running dispute between Mr. Reams and the Jefferson County BOCC.  This is a summary:

  • Mr. Reams was acquitted of all charges in January 2018 and reinstated in December 2018.
  • Marsey noted that TWO separate, independent outside counsels stated that the County owed Mr. Reams his legal fees based on Florida Law and Florida Supreme Court precedent.
  • During a meeting held May 16, 2019, which was closed to the public, Mr. Marsey stated “several Commissioners asked him to pursue settlement discussions with Mr. Reams and his attorney.” 
  • The settlement agreement represented significant savings to the county from the litigation already filed.

The BOCC voted 4-1 in favor of entering into the settlement agreement.  The lone no vote?  Commission Chair Betsy Barfield.  Apparently, Commissioner Barfield was the driving force behind the “shopping” for legal opinions hoping to get an attorney to bolster the case of not paying Mr. Reams’ legal fees. 

County residents should ask the following questions of Commissioner Barfield:

  • Why did you freely spend thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars to hire independent attorneys to just ignore their expert opinions?
  • Why did the other Commissioners have to direct Mr. Marsey to start negotiations?
  • Why was Commissioner Barfield willing to pursue litigation, potentially spending even more taxpayer money to take this case to court?

Lastly, when the BOCC voted 4-1 in favor of the settlement, Commissioner Barfield, conducted herself unprofessionally with a snide look on her face stating to Mr. Reams, “Well, you got your check.” 

Shouldn’t we expect more from an elected Commissioner and current Chair, than petty, sarcastic comments and frivolous and unchecked spending of County resources?

Mike Willis

President, Citizens for Responsible Government of Jefferson County

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