Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lakeshore Hosp Auth Chief Leads County Charter Review Commission Back To The Time Of The Flintstones

Another Columbia County meeting where not one member from the public showed up. This time it is the County Charter Review Commission.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Columbia County's Charter Review Commission (CRC) played to an empty house last night when not one member of the public showed up to listen or participate. The CRC, handpicked by the infamous Columbia County, County Commission, seemed hell-bent on turning back the clock on the one item that put Columbia County on the map as one of Florida's civilized counties – Enhanced Public Notice.

 Enhanced Public Notice was added to the charter in 2006 after the last review cycle.  After a 12-1 CRC vote to put the amendment on the ballot, Enhanced Public Notice was approved by the County residents with the largest majority, 82%, of anything ever to come before the County's voters in modern times.

Enhanced Public Notice required the County staff to post on the Internet the supporting documents and backup material used by the County Commissioners in their decision making process, something that today is routinely done in other counties.

Former Columbia County Tax Collector Ray Walker claimed that the county could not get things on the agenda at the last minute because of the Enhanced Public Notice. Mr. Walker said that County Manager Dale Williams was supposed to come up with language that would eliminate the problem. Mr. Walker said the County Manager did not come up with that language.

Who Benefits, The General Public Or "Four Or Five People?"

Attorney for the CRC, Mark Watts, told the Commission, "This is a section that is intended to make sure that information gets out in a timely and convenient method to the general public." His counsel fell on deaf ears.

Quintessential Good Ole Boy, Jackson P "Jack" Berry patiently waits for his chance to turn back the clock on the charter.

Lakeshore Hospital Authority General Manager and former Republican Chieftain, Jackson P "Jack" Berry told the CRC, "This was put in to satisfy four or five people in this county. It's caused a burden on our county employees – pure and simple."

When the Enhanced Public Notice was before the last CRC, the only person to vote against it was the now Florida Representative Elizabeth Porter's Chief of Staff, Koby Adams, who is also the Board Chairman of this CRC and the Chairman of the Lakeshore Hospital Authority, where he is Mr. Berry's boss.

Mr. Berry said the information could be acquired by making a records request. "Some people don't want to go to that trouble, they want you to spoon feed em – and I'm tired of spoon feedin two or three people – enough. I would like to see this whole thing taken out [of the Charter]."

Mr. Berry, in his capacity of Hosp. Auth. GM, refuses to make Authority information easily accessible before Authority meetings and even though the Authority purchased a $1500 scanner and has been requested by at least one Authority board member to e-mail the information to him, he has refused. Instead, Mr. Berry loads the information in his car and drives around town at tax payer expense dropping it off to each individual authority board member.

Mr. Berry moved that the Charter Amendment giving the residents of Columbia County and the world enhanced notice of its meetings on the internet be removed from the County Charter. The motion was first seconded by Kim Skinner. When clarification was asked for by your reporter, former tax collector Ray Walker said he seconded the motion. The audio quality at the school board administration building remains so pathetic that it is impossible to tell from the County audio who seconded the motion first.

The entire Charter Review Commission voted in unison to remove the section of the county charter calling for enhanced public notice, the act of informing the world of the details of Columbia County's public business.


Columbia County's Good Ole Boys – moving the county back to the time of the Flintstones? The people will decide. 

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On February 25, 2012 CA of Columbia County wrote:

It is obvious to most readers of what is going on in this county that the good ol boys are in control and most have never lived outside Columbia County, to see how things should operate for the good of the people living here.  It smells like self-centeredness to the tenth power!  This is why we have elections and if some are working for the county and not serving in an elected position then the charter should be changed and the bonified voters given the chance to make the necessary changes to get us into the 21st Century.


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