Confusion, Whispering, Conflict of Interest: Governor Scott's Lake Shore Hosp Auth in Action
Posted January 11, 2017 07:45 pm | Part I | Part II
COLUMBIA COUNTY/LAKE CITY, FL – Monday night's January 9, 2017 meeting of Governor Scott's Lake Shore Hospital Authority (LSHA) Board was marked by confusion, whispering, conflict of interest, a disappeared motion by Board member Ron Foreman, and a lack of regard for the rudimentary rules of parliamentary procedure by the LSHA outside Attorney, Fred Koberlein, who also represents Lake City. Hospital Authority Manager Jackson P. "Jack" Berry didn't disappoint, as he again turned his back and covered his face when members of the public addressed the Governor's Board.
Jack Berry's de minimis Agenda
Informing the public about the nature of its business has never been a priority of the LSHA. Before Jack Berry's move from the Hospital Authority Board to Hospital Authority Manager the agendas were more substantial. With the retirement of long time Authority Attorney Marlin Feagle; the resignation of former board member Bruce Naylor; and the governor's failure to reappoint board member Stephen Douglas, followed by the hiring of local attorney Fred Koberlein, Authority meeting information has become sparser and much more difficult to obtain.
Monday's agenda listed three items. Today's article deals with the second item: Possible sale of Parcel # 12066.
During the past couple of years, this parcel came to be known as the "Atta" property.
The Atta Property
The story of the Atta property and most of the other downtown real-estate parcels began in 2006 when Mr. Berry was on the Authority Board. See: $4,000,000 spent in real-estate spending spree - still no plan
In 2014, the Atta property again came before the Board. Lake Shore Hosp Auth Replays May 2013: Local OB/GYN Wants Prefab Office Downtown Over a year later, Berry has no plan
In 2014, Mr. Berry balked at the suggestion he offered the land for free.
Dr. Atta never built his medical office and recently the property reverted back to the Authority. Lake City had its eye on the Atta property for some time.
According to the Columbia County Property Appraiser, the Authority, not including fees, appraisals, etc., spent $320,000 for the Atta property.
The market value is listed as $10,174. An appraisal in February 2016 claimed the property was worth $35,000.
Monday Night – The Meeting
City Manager Wendell Johnson was in attendance. He was not on the agenda.
Acting Chairman Jason Beil introduced the agenda item, "Parcel number 12066."
Manager Berry, without being recognized by the chair, began speaking [as spoken], "This is the Atta property. We now have it in our ownership. The City would like to have that partial [parcel]. The City is in the process of giving us partial number. What's that partial number? 'Wendell, do you know?'"
City Manager Johnson didn't know the parcel number. "All I can tell you is that it is the Tunsil property..."
Mr. Berry, fumbling through some papers, continued, "It's the Tunsil property. It's uh -- I don't have it on this I don't think. It would be partial number 12032, which is a half a city block. They're havin' to pay twenty nine thousand dollars in property taxes. They cleared the house off of it."
The Berry Recommendation
"Give the Atta property to the City at No Charge"
Mr. Berry continued, "What I would suggest the Board do. It's Atta property 12066. It's a small partial - quarter of a city block -- if we would have had ownership at the time we gave them the rest of the land it would have probably been given to them then. I suggest that the board give it to the City at no charge."
Your reporter asked, "How much did that cost?"
Board member Lory Chancy answered, "This would be an even swap."
Board member Ron Foreman addressed the Board, "You give it to them in exchange for the property number 12032 which is on Marion Street?"
Mr. Berry responded, "No, it's on Washington Street. Washington and Hernando.
Mr. Foreman: "I got it. I see it."
The documents that Mr. Foreman and the rest of the Board had in front of them were never made available to the public.
Board member Janet Creel said, "If it's going for the benefit of the citizens -period. It's not like we're taking it from the citizens. We are giving it back to the citizens. Candler Appraisers is one of the best appraisers you can get. I saw it and it's fine."
Mr. Berry did not make the appraisal available to the public. None of the Governor's Board members objected to the omission.
City Manager Johnson Recognized
City Manager Wendell Johnson makes his case to the Governor's Board.
There was no material which showed what the City was asking for: no correspondence – no nothing.
Mr. Johnson said, "I want to clear up some misunderstandings tonight. I'm not asking the Board to give the City the property tonight -- to sell the City the property tonight. I'm asking the Board to consider if you would be willing to do that. I'm going to be askin' my City Council if they would be willin' to take it. I think we are gettin' a little bit ahead of things here."
"This board since 2014 has been very cooperative - supportive and very liberal and sharing land parcels that you acquired back in the mid-two thousands - 2006 -- 2007, when the real estate market was really boomin'."
Mr. Johnson explained the development of what the City calls Wilson Park. "The Atta property was the last piece of the puzzle," he said.
"Somethin' for Nuthin"
Mr. Johnson continued, "What I'm askin' this committee to do tonight is to ask and find if you would be receptive to convey an ownership of the Yettman (ATTA) property to the City Council, in return for the appraised value, which at this point is $35,000. The concession that I am askin' you to make (Johnson will ask the City to approve it) that the $29,000 that's due in taxes, that would be discounted off of the purchase price. We're not askin' for somethin' for nuthin."
Board member Foreman: "You're saying that if we convey that at the market value, that that would be deducted, the $29,000 tax liability would be deducted from the purchase price. The City would then owe the Authority the balance to take ownership for that property?" [approximately $5,000].
Mr. Johnson reiterated his proposal, adding that the Authority had already given a lot of other property to the City.