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Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hosp Authority

Rep. Porter's Chief Aid & LSHA Board Enact Secret Rules: Lake City Reporter Whitewashes Story

3 Gov. Scott Appointees Now On Board

File Photo: Koby Adams (left); Jack Berry (right)

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night the Governor appointed Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board continued its secretive practices. Authority Manager Berry refused to release the new meeting rule changes to the public. Rep. Liz Porter's Chief of Staff, Koby Adams, also a LSHA Board member, along with the rest of the Board, also refused to reveal what the changes were. The Lake City Reporter whitewashed the story. There are now three Gov. Scott appointees on the Authority.

The Lake City Reporter, which bills itself as the "hometown newspaper" and "cheerleader" for Lake City/Columbia County showed up en mass at the Lake Shore Hospital Authority (LSHA) last night. The paper's congenial publisher, Todd Wilson, along with its tight lipped editor, Robert Bridges, and cub reporter Steven Richmond took front row seats at the $1,250,000 plus renovated headquarters of the Authority, which was originally built for two employees.

LCR's publisher Wilson.

The Lake City Reporter (LCR) was at the meeting to address the Authority's Board members regarding its recently enacted Rules of Procedure which banned photos of the Board in action. The Authority's agenda gave no indication that there was going to be any change to the rules.

LCR Editor Bridges was introduced by Manager Berry. His presentation was short:

I would call the Board's attention to a letter I submitted to the Board last week concerning item six of meeting rules and procedures. It is our contention that item six is redundant and unnecessary. Item 3a covers disruptive behavior. You can invoke that as you see fit and take care of any problem that might have otherwise been generated by anyone taking pictures. That’s the extent of my presentation.

Did the LCR write a letter?

Your reporter had previously, through Florida's Freedom of Information Law, requested a copy of any correspondence between the Authority and the LCR. Manager Berry refused to release or acknowledge the Lake City Reporter's letter. It is not clear if the LCR wrote a letter.

Before last night's meeting, item 3a of the rules stated in relevant part:

The Chair has the authority, in order to maintain civility, to recess a meeting, adjourn a meeting or have a person or persons removed from the podium and/or building, when necessary, to maintain an orderly and civil meeting. Prior to invoking any of the above action against an individual, the Chair or other presiding officer shall give the individual or individuals, two warnings in a single meeting, and the actions may be invoked on the third or subsequent warning.

Mr. Berry addressed the Board:

After Mr. Bridges and Mr. Wilson contacted us I got with Mr. Feagle [LSHA Attorney] and we tweaked the policy a little bit that I think was acceptable to them and to -- I think it would be acceptable to the Board to solve the problem... And I think if the Board passes that everybody will be (unintelligible).


       Board Chairman Waseem Khan

Chairman Khan asked for a motion.

Board member Adams, "I make a motion we approve the changes to the meeting rules and procedures."

Your reporter asked, "Does the public get to know what's in there?

Mr. Adams blew him off. "I made a motion Mr. Chair."

The motion was seconded and Chairman Khan called the question, "All those in favor?"

"Yeah, let's do it for discussion."

Gov. Scott appointee, Marc Vann, decided he didn't want to vote. The Board goes by Robert's Rules, which opine that once the question is called, discussion ends.


Board member Marc Vann

Board member Vann, "Yeah, let's do it for discussion."

Mr. Vann continued, "I want to clarify a couple of the changes. Make sure everybody knows where this is goin'. Our chairman has the authority at any time to determine disruptions. Is that correct?

Manager Berry, "Absolutely"

Mr. Vann, "That's basically the way it's bein' changed."

Manager Berry, "As per Florida Law, yes sir."

LSHA Feagle sat silent as Mr. Berry fielded the legal questions.

Without revealing one word of the new rule, Mr. Vann continued, "OK. So, it's his call - her call - whoever happens to be the chairman as to what they consider a disruption of the meeting..., whatever the case may be. The chairman can at anytime, no warnin's; no three times you gotta tell somebody somethin'. The chairman deems it. [He can throw you out].

Manager Berry, "That's correct."

Mr. Vann, "OK. That's fine with me."

The new secret rules passed unanimously.

Epilogue

Early this afternoon your reporter emailed Manager Berry and asked, "Last night you mentioned Florida law. What law are you referencing?"

Manager Berry responded, "I am not your legal research assistant, nor your law clerk. A great legal mind such as yours should know the law."

The legend of Columbia County continues, this time with Jackson P. Berry and his Governor appointed board.

 

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