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Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hosp Auth: Righting a Listing Ship, Part II: Koberlein Confused, Beil Wants Transparency


Bd. Chairman Brandon Beil

Columbia County, FL – Parliamentary procedure is the building block of good government. For over a decade the Lake Shore Hospital Authority was run by a manager with questionable credentials, no respect for the process or members of the public, and complete and uncompromising disregard for Florida's public record law. One of the last holdovers from that era is Authority Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., who is also the Lake City attorney.

The Emergency Resolution

As mentioned in Part I,  the emergency resolution on the agenda gave Board Chairman Beil the authority to approve change orders for the roof/envelope construction project being undertaken by the Authority. If approved, the resolution would have given the chairman the power to approve unlimited change orders up to $25,000 each.

Executive Director Williams explained to the Board that no action was required on the emergency resolution giving the Chairman emergency unilateral change order powers.

"After we published this it became obvious that even though we wanted you to consider this, we will probably not have any of those before the next meeting... and I think we should put it on the regular agenda, have a full board with the opportunity for the public to be present... I don't think there will be any issue between now and then [the next meeting]."

Board member Lorry Chancy, a long time holdover from the Berry era, balked, "If somethin' comes up, what do we do?"

Exec. Dir. Williams responded, "I spoke to our consultants and I don't think they can get that much done. I really don't."

Ms. Chancy said she agreed, "But they should be like boy scouts and be prepared" and continued harping on the subject.

"Sonja [the Authority's Administrative Assistant] could survey the board and then make a decision in that three week period. Whatever you wanna' do, but I think -- somethin' major may happen next week. Then what do we do?"

While it is not clear what kind of survey Ms. Chancy was talking about, polling the board is against the law.

Board member Janet Creel, another Berry holdover, came to Ms. Chancy's aid, "What's the harm in passing this now?"

Ms. Chancy doubled down, "I don't see any reason."

Exec. Dir Williams explainer further, "I don't know that it meets the definition of emergency. This is an emergency meeting. I would not want to sit here as Director and say this meets the definition of an emergency. That's my issue... I don't want to sit here and tell you that the resolution is an emergency under law... after having spoke to the engineers, I could not do that in good conscience."

Chairman Beil asked Mr. Koberlein to weigh in.

Attorney Koberlein Weighs In
Makes a Comment About the Sunshine Law

Attorney Koberlein told the Board, "I concur with Mr. Williams. I remind you that the emergency has to be eminent or upon you... Taking action on it would not be proper at this time, even though one could anticipate an unknown emergency arising sometime, but unfortunately the Sunshine Laws would require you to reconvene."

In the civilized world of law abiding citizens and responsible public officials respect and abiding by Florida's Sunshine law is not seen as "unfortunate."

Parliamentary Procedure
Attorney Koberlein Gets it Wrong Again

Board member Mark Thompson asked, "Do you need a motion to place it on the agenda for next week?"

Attorney Koberlein responded, "A motion to table it with a date certain of the next meeting would be the most proper motion."

Dr. Thompson said, "I'd like to make a motion to table Resolution 2018-005, with the anticipation of placing it on the agenda for the next meeting."

The motion passed unanimously.

Parliamentary rules, either Robert's Rules or Sturgis are clear and uncomplicated when it comes to tabling an item: in order to table something it has moved into action (the Board had to put the motion on the floor and somebody had to second it). Then, and only then, could it be tabled.

If he was paying attention, Attorney Koberlein would have realized that the motion to approve the resolution was never made. 

If Attorney Koberlein was aware of basic parliamentary rules, all he had to recommended was that the Board do nothing.

If Exec. Dir. Williams thought the resolution was still necessary and Chairman Beil agreed, it just could have been put on the next agenda, or not.

Epilogue

After the meeting your reporter spoke with both Executive Director Williams and Chairman Beil.

Mr. Williams told your reporter, "We are working on straightening this [the Authority and maintenance issues] out. I am still in discovery. CHS is claiming that things like roofs and air handlers have a useful life span and once they reach that point it is the Authority's responsibility to do the work. They have a point."

Chairman Beil told your reporter, "I may be appointed by the governor, but I consider myself a representative of the people. Anyway we can be transparent and straightforward, we will be. I believe Florida's Sunshine laws are for the people. While I am chairman, this will be the new standard."

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