Lake Shore Hosp Auth Manager & Gov. Scott's Board Clamp Down: Built In Fees Imposed To View Agenda Materials
Posted August 12, 2014 08:55 am
Hospital Authority Manager Berry reviews the Board-only agenda material during the meeting.
COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Lake Shore Hospital Authority Manager Jackson P. "Jack" Berry, with a blind eye from the Gov. Scott appointed Authority board, has turned the screws on folks wishing to view Hospital Authority agenda material before its monthly meetings.
Vice Chairman Stephen Douglas seemed surprised when he discovered that Manager Berry wouldn't forward the previous meeting's minutes. Columbia County resident, Ralph Kitchens, was threatened with expulsion when he said he had asked for them.
Anyone who came to last night's Lake Shore Hospital Authority meeting would have been hard pressed to follow the Governor Scott appointed Board and Authority Manager Berry as they wove through the evening's agenda.
Hospital Authority Manager Jackson P. "Jack" Berry has now ramped up his efforts to keep the public from receiving or having the ability to view the supporting documentation which the Board uses in its deliberations and discussions to make it's decisions.
Manager Berry has refused to release prepared minutes; has directed requestors to the wrong Lake Shore Hospital Authority website address; and has taken the Authority monthly agenda off the Authority's calendar of events, where it has been for years, and moved it to a page called "minutes."
On August 11, Columbia County resident Ralph Kitchens sent an email to the Authority:
Dear LSHA, I would like to request a copy via email of the Agenda for the Board Meeting to be held on August 11, 2014. Please include any other electronically available information. Thank you for your response. Sincerely, Butch Kitchens
The Lake Shore Hospital Authority has an advanced copy machine which will copy records into electronic PDF files in seconds, ready for email transmission.
The information, which the Authority provides to its Board members, is generally prepared days before the Board meetings.
Much of the information that the Authority prints out, such as its minutes, agendas, quick books check registers, time clock records, etc, is stored in electronic files, which are available with one or two mouse clicks and a few minutes of time.
The Florida Public Records Law does not exempt these public records from view, nor do they contain items which must be redacted. If a public record request is made for these items, it is as simple as click and send.
Columbia County, Lake City, the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, The Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, and now, even the Suwannee Valley Transit Authority, all make their meeting agenda materials either available on line, or in the case of the SVTA, which doesn't have a web site, by a simple email request.
Manager Berry replied to Mr. Kitchens' request shortly after he received it. After directing Mr. Kitchens to wrong web address of the Authority website, Manager Berry wrote (grammar, etc. as written):
"As for the meeting materials it will take about one hour of my time to research , assemble and review the Cost will be $40.38, when the cost has been paid I will assemble the material and forward it to you."
In the past, Board member Steven Douglas asked for the agenda material to be sent via email. Manager Berry ignored his request.
After the meeting, Mr. Kitchens told the Observer, "It is apparent that the publicly funded Lake Shore Hospital Authority has no intention of granting easy access to Authority meeting materials to anyone other than its Board members. Jack Berry wants to charge the public over $40 for a copy of materials that have been assembled for the public meeting anyway. If you want to get an idea of what is going on, plan on dropping $40 for Jack Berry's precious time. Not only is this absurd and deterrence, but it is an insult to the people of Columbia County."