Jack Berry blows under pressure
Throws Observer out of illegal meeting
Columbia County, FL (posted
LSHA Chairman Jack Berry in a pensive moment during a
previous Authority meeting. (file photo)
Lake Shore Hospital Authority (“LSHA”) Chairman, Jack
Berry, a man who claims that he gets his “orders from
the Governor,” hit a new low in a career of disregarding
the rights of others, when he called the Lake City
Police Department to come to the Hospital Authority to
remove the Observer for listening to a meeting.
Twenty six minutes after it was clear through the
questioning of the Observer that neither Mr. Berry, nor
long time LSHA Attorney, Marlin Feagle, had any
intention of adhering to the meeting notice requirements
of Florida’s Sunshine Laws the Observer was asked to
leave the meeting.
Mr. Berry, a legend in this area, decades ago
established his reputation as a bully and a thug when he
was forced to resign or was fired from the Sheriff’s
Department for beating somebody up. Mr. Berry told the
Observer that it was “self defense.”
In 2004, Berry went after two little old ladies.
In 2004, Mr. Berry, the chairman of the local
Republican Party, went after two little old ladies who
wanted to campaign for President George Bush. Their
crime – they refused to support his candidate for
Sheriff in the county’s non partisan Sheriff election.
The LCPD was also called in on this incident.
Berry claims amnesia.
Last year in his capacity as LSHA chairman, Mr. Berry
made publically racist remarks at a LSHA meeting, while
refusing to answer the Observer’s questions. Mr. Berry
subsequently compounded the insult by claiming some sort
of “amnesia” and then, while campaigning with Sheriff
Hunter, telling a member of the NAACP that he should
“stay away” from your reporter.
In a mystery yet to be explained and nothing new in
Columbia County, where governmental tape recordings are
routinely tampered with or just plain disappear, an
examination of the tape of that meeting showed that Mr.
Berry’s racist remarks had been obliterated from the
LSHA tape, a fact that was not unknown by LSHA and
County Attorney, Marlin Feagle.
Berry's protégé carries Berry's banner
Last year, after the election to the County
Commission of his protégé, Jody DuPree, Mr. Berry, who
takes pride in stonewalling and throwing his massive
weight around, was bragging to a bunch of folks after a
County Commission meeting that at the Hospital Authority
he doesn’t answer questions. Unfortunately, like an ill
wind, Mr. DuPree has brought his mentor’s philosophy to
the County Commission and it has spread like the plague,
but of course that is another story.
This brings us up to yesterday’s August 17th meeting
of the LSHA.
Your reporter, who has had back problems since the
60’s, when he walked off the wing of a B-52, was
suffering some discomfort and got up, got a drink of
water and was standing quietly, almost outside the LSHA
meeting room with his camera at his waist looking at
some recent photos that he had taken of the exterior and
interior of the new Authority headquarters.
Earlier in the meeting, Mr. Berry refused to release
the final estimated cost of this public building.
Then, out of the clear blue, the renegade Mr. Berry
told the Observer to put down his camera. He didn’t say
the Observer was taking photos, which he clearly wasn’t
and certainly in America has a right to do. Mr. Berry
didn’t say the Observer was talking and disturbing the
meeting, which clearly he wasn’t.
Out of the blue: “put your camera down or leave –
one or the other.”
In an embarrassment to himself, the Authority, and
the Governor that appointed him, this relic, a bully who
seems to have been imported from behind the iron
curtain, just looked up out of the blue and told your
reporter to “put your camera down or leave – one or the
The Lake City Police Department arrived and without
any investigation and on clearly hearsay evidence given
over the phone to some yet unknown person, asked your
reporter to leave, which after a the short conversation,
Sometime ago, years ago in fact, when the Observer
began following the LSHA before anyone else, the board
had a discussion regarding the Lake City Master Plan,
which was completed in 1976.
LSHA member Bruce Naylor asked Mr. Berry, also a
board member at that time, if things haven’t changed
since 1976. Mr. Berry remarked that they really hadn’t.
It appears that what Mr. Berry really meant was that
things hadn’t changed for him since 1856.