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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hosp Authority

Gov. Scott's Lake Shore Hosp Auth Board Chooses an Attorney:  No RFP, No RFQ, No Advertising

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Monday night, Nov. 10, the Lake Shore Hospital Authority hired a new attorney to take the place of the retiring Marlin Feagle, who told the Board he had been the Authority Attorney for as long as he could remember.

During last month's October 13 meeting, Attorney Feagle and Mr. Berry said they would begin the procedures to hire a replacement. Authority Manager Berry did not put out the public word; did not advertise the position; did not post on the Authority website that there was an opening; did not put out either a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) or a Request for Proposals (RFP).

More LSHA stories are here.

Three candidates did find out about the opening; sent different forms of inquiry and introduction to the Authority; and appeared at the meeting.

None of the three candidates had ever attended an Authority Board meeting before Monday night. Manager Berry asked that they be moved up on the agenda. "Could we move hiring the Board Attorney to the front of the thing cause these guys, I knows, got other obligations somewhere."

Chairwoman Lorry Chancy said she thought that sounded fine.

Ms. Chancy began to speak and was cut off by Berry, who announced, "We got three proposals for the attorneys... They submitted their resumes to you and now it's up to the Board."

Two of the Board members were absent from the meeting. No reason or apology was given.

On what appears to have been Wednesday or Thursday of last week, the $109,000 a year Hospital Authority Manager Berry, delivered the Board information. He has steadfastly refused to digitize and email the material to the Board members, as this would make it available to the public. With the meeting material was the information from law firms that discovered the pending Feagle January retirement and job opening: Forman McInnis; Koberlein Law Offices; and Lloyd E. Peterson, Jr. (That information is available here (pg 46-63))

Board member Janet Creel asked, "I think they are all qualified. Does it boil down to the money?"

Berry interjected, "All three of em' are qualified."

Berry explained, "We need to get a contract in place and everything."

The hiring date is January 1, 2015.

Only One Question

There was only one question from the Board. Stephen Douglas asked Attorney Koberlein how much time he spends in Lake City. Mr. Koberlein also has another office in Gainesville.

Janet Creel asked, "Do you need a motion to hire someone?"

When the Board couldn't decide what to do, Berry said, "I could get some paper and you all could grade them if you like."

After some confusion, the Board decided to discuss the applicants without them in the room. The three attorneys left the chamber. Berry did not call the police and have them thrown out of the building, as he did at the last meeting, when he had the LCPD remove two residents and two reporters from the Authority while the Board met.

Attorney Peterson told the Board as they went into the lobby, "If you have any questions we'll be close by."

Manager Berry kicked off the discussion. He did not divulge that he had interviewed and negotiated with them in private before the meeting, "They're very well qualified," he said.

Mr. Douglas asked if Mr. Peterson's rate ($200 hr) was negotiable.

Berry said he's pretty firm.

Board member Vann spoke in reference to Mr. Koberlein's rate ($140 hr), "I don't like the top or the bottom in stuff like this... Mr. Koberlein -- I've never seen him before that I am aware of -- I knew his dad. He's done a lot of government work."

Manager Berry added, "Koberlein was the only one that gave me references."

Ms. Creel asked Board member Adams for his opinion of the three attorneys. "I'll share my nickel when I vote," he said.

Chairwoman Chancy asked if the Board would like a written vote.

Berry was getting impatient and interjected himself in the Board's discussion, "Somebody make a motion."

Mr. Douglas asked that Authority Manager Berry go into negotiations with Mr. Peterson and Mr. Koberlein.

An edgy Berry said, "Well, I've already negotiated with Mr. Peterson - from $250 an hour. I've already hit em' with that and he said that's about as low as he's gonna go."

Manager Berry added, "I like all three of em', but experience wise, Koberlein is by far the most experienced in what we do." Manager Berry gave no further explanation of what the Board Attorney did.

Mr. Koberlein's introductory letter stated that he had spoken with both Mr. Feagle and Mr. Berry.

Koberlein was approved unanimously.

Epilogue

It was Columbia County good ole' boy business as usual at the Lake Shore Hospital Monday night.

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