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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Opinion
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Lake City Reporter Disrespects Public. Gives Lake Shore Hosp Authority Another Free Pass

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The Governor signed the bi-partisan Senate Bill 50 into law last week. It gives the public the right to be heard at public meetings. While not perfect, after Florida courts ruled that the legislature had never recognized that right, State Senator Joe Negron did. The Florida House followed suit.

Sunday's Lake City Reporter, the perennial mouth piece of Columbia County's infamous good ole' boys, made mention of the event by insulting the general public, stating, "That right is not absolute... you still won't be able to rant at will."

If the Lake City Reporter's top brass, Publisher Todd Wilson and Editor Robert Bridges,  spent more than an occasional few moments at the County Commission; City Council; or School Board, they would know the public doesn't "rant." Members of the public have genuine concerns and make an effort to come to public meetings to express those concerns. The County Commission during the reign of terror of Commissioner Jody DuPree taught the Columbia County public a lesson: speak up – speak out and you will suffer the consequence.

If Publisher Wilson or Editor Bridges thought investigative reporting was more than rewriting police reports and regurgitating the pabulum of some public officials, they would do real reporting, instead of suspending their reporters for doing it, and maybe even find out why regular folks just stopped showing up and asking questions at the County Commission.

The Lake City reporter went on to say, "The new law won't have any effect on our county commission, city council or school board." That is absolutely true and Lake City under Mayor Steve Witt is an example to elected officials across the state.

The Publisher left out the Lake Shore Hospital Authority, the fourth public body in Columbia County. The Authority eliminated the public's right to speak by edict and then made it official by removing from its bylaws the wording giving the public that right.

This happened since the creation of the unnecessary and overpriced position of Hospital Authority Manager, a position that was established not that long after Hospital Authority Chairman Jack Berry resigned from his unpaid board chairmanship.

One of the three references (see references) for Jack Berry as the first Hospital Authority Manager was from the Lake City Reporter's Publisher Todd Wilson.

It is hard to say why the Lake City Reporter didn't mention Columbia County's Lake Shore Hospital Authority along with the County Commission, City Council, and School Board.

Maybe we just have to give the boys at the Lake City Reporter a break, as it is well known by now that if Jack Berry doesn't like what you ask; what you write; what you say; or what you do – the quintessential public figure will just sue you.

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