Lakeshore Hosp Authority DUO of Berry & Adams foiled by FL Governor and Legislature
Public comments must be allowed, but Authority bans photos
Posted September 16, 2013 03:20 pm
File Photo: Koby Adams (left); Jack Berry (right)
COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – One of the many anti open and transparent government activities of the Lakeshore Hospital Authority duo of Jackson P. ("Jack") Berry, and representative Elizabeth Porter's chief legislative aide and Authority Board member, Koby Adams, was finally foiled by the passage of FL Senate Bill SB/HB 50, which mandates public participation at Lakeshore Hospital Authority Board meetings. The Lakeshore Hospital Authority, whose board members are appointed by the governor and who many believe should have disappeared years ago, banned photos of it doing its official business. Unable to ban photos before or after their meetings convene, new Board Chairman, Dr. Waseem Khan quipped, "We'll pose for them."
Governor and Legislature Overrule the Authority
Both as an Authority Board member and as Authority Manager, Mr. Berry has claimed he wrote the 2007 approved Rules of Procedure. The Authority minutes of April 8, 2013, state."Mr. Berry stated that he had written the existing policy in 2007." +++ Enlarge graphic to compare
Even before there were written rules of procedure the Lakeshore Hospital Authority's governor appointed board allowed questions and comments from members of the audience. There was an assigned time at the beginning of each meeting for such comments. The minutes in 2007 read "Audience of Any Citizen" and was later changed to read, "Public Comments, 5 minute limit per person."
On November 12, 2007, the then Authority Chairman, Jack Berry, announced to the Board that he had not found any previous policies or meeting procedures for the Authority. Authority Attorney Feagle then distributed a draft of the LSHA Meeting Rules and Procedures for review.
On December 12, 2007, without any dissent, the Authority unanimously adopted meeting rules and procedures, which were presented at the previous meeting and which were an exact copy, except for changing the name and the numbering sequence, of the rules recently put in place by the County Commission.
The rules stated the following:
No citizen shall be unreasonably denied the right to address the Authority. Citizens not placed on the agenda shall be given the opportunity to address the Authority at a specified time during the regular scheduled meetings.
For the next 5 years, from December 2007 until May 14, 2012, item IV on the Authority agendas gave any member in the audience 5 minutes to address the board.
Representative Porter's Chief of Staff nixes public comment
Koby Adams on the job for Rep. Porter
On June 11, 2012, one of Columbia County's biggest political insiders, Representative Elizabeth Porter's Chief of Staff and Authority Board Chairman Koby Adams, by autocratic executive fiat, had the public's right to address the Authority Board removed from the agenda.
At the conclusion of that meeting, Mr. Adams announced "that in the future there would be no further public comments ... as long as he was Chairman."
In November of 2012, Dr. Khan, owner of Cancer Care of North Florida, took over the position of Authority Chair and continued the Koby Adams authoritarian practice of ignoring the lawfully approved and still in effect 2007 Authority Rules and Procedures.
On April 8, 2013, the issue of the Authority Meeting Rules and Procedures came up again, this time at the request of Board member, Bruce Naylor. Mr. Naylor has since resigned.
Authority Manager Berry put it this way, "Bruce had requested to review all the policies and the dates they were written and stuff..."
Mr. Berry told the Board, "It's always been that the Chairman sets their own rules, but this just happens to be the only one that's ever been written and approved by the Board."
A few moments later, Mr. Berry continued, "Before I was Chairman and when I was Chairman I just felt like we needed to have a written policy for the term I was Chairman. And everybody would be on the same page. Because I wrote the policies out in 07, and since that date it's been left up to the Chairman. When Marc [Vann] was Chairman he done his own deal."
Board member Naylor asked, "What good is a policy if the Chairman gets to make their own policy?"
Mr. Berry explained that the Board approved Rules and Procedures were, "... kinda a basic guideline... the Chairman can change any part of it he wishes to change."
Sue Fraze, who has been with the Authority since the mid 90's, advised the Board about the 2007 policy, "It's the only one that's ever been officially approved."
Board member Douglas pointed out that the changes made by Mr. Adams and Dr. Khan weren't in the policy that was given to the Board members to review.
Berry explained that he could go over the policy with the Chairman. "Any changes, I can tweak it. And just write a new one for each board meetin."
Mr. Douglas pointed out that the changes made by Mr. Adams and Mr. Khan weren't in the policy Mr. Berry gave to the Board.
Mr. Douglas said, "You know -- changes aren't in here."
Mr. Berry said he would get out a policy with the changes before the next meeting. It was not clear if he did, as that policy never made it to the next meeting.
The Governor and the Legislature, in HB/SB 50, made Mr. Berry and the Board put the public comment back into its meeting.
No more photos: Jack Berry misrepresented the record - again
During the September 11, 2013 meeting the subject of photographing the Board came up, as the new rules prepared by Attorney Marlin Feagle banned photographs of the Authority Board in action.
The Observer asked, "You can't take pictures at meetings any more of you guys in action? Whose suggestion was that?"
Mr. Berry responded, "That's always been in the rules."
The Observer responded, "It's not in the Senate Bill. That's not what the governor signed."
Mr. Berry said, "It's been in our rules."
There is not one word in the Board's officially approved Rules of Procedure, nor is there one word in the minutes of the Authority mentioning the banning of photographs.
There was silence on the Board.
Then Mr. Douglas asked, "That's always been in the rules?"
Mr. Berry replied, "It has."
Mr. Douglas, who has never had issues with photographers on any of the boards on which he sits, asked for an explanation.
Mr. Berry explained, "Because it's very distractin if you are up here on this Board and somebody's layin down on the floor takin pictures and walkin around just generally bein a nuisance and interruptin the train of thought of everybody on the Board."
Chairman Khan quipped, "You can take pictures in the beginning or the end. We'll pose for them."
Read about Authority ADA compliance here:
• LSHA Berry nixes ADA compliance (August 28, 2009)
• New LSHA boss refuses to comply with ADA wheel chair requirements (January 11, 2010)
• LSHA & Shands at Lake Shore ignore ADA; Physically challenged are 2nd class (January 19, 2010)
The Governor appointed Lakeshore Hospital Authority has become a rogue organization and is the only municipal agency in Columbia County that continually refuses to make its meeting material available on the internet before its meetings.
The Authority land deals are a legendary mess and have cost the taxpayers dearly; it is almost impossible to know which board members and former board members are doing or have done business with Shands and HMA. This Governor appointed Board does not require disclosure.
The lack of ADA compliance throughout the Authority property is a total disgrace and has had a blind eye turned on it by Lake City.
It is time for the Authority to be disbanded by the Governor and the Hospital sold.