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Lake Shore Hosp Auth News
Columbia County News

Lake Shore Hosp Authority's Berry Attacks 1st Amendment & Observer. FL Southern Christian Leadership Conference: "We will stand by you."

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Recently, the Columbia County Observer, the online news source of Columbia County, North Central Florida and Florida news, came under attack by the Lake Shore Hospital Authority's General Manager, Jackson P. Berry, a quintessential public figure, former head of the republican party, Jeb Bush appointee to the Lake Shore Hosp Auth Board and its past chairman, and present LSHA General Manager. Zurich Insurance, the global insurance carrier, denied Mr. Berry liability insurance and Mr. Berry is threatening a defamation law suit, blaming the Columbia County Observer for his woes. The FL Southern Christian Leadership Conference told the Observer: "We will stand by you."

stories are here.

Where it began

If you care about decency, you should begin reading where the coverage of Jackson P. Berry, the LSHA and Columbia County's good ole boys began; when Jack Berry's racist remarks disgraced all Americans.

If you are contemplating the real reason that Mr. Berry is threatening to sue and at the same time working to have the Columbia County Observer removed from the Internet, this is where it began: Racist Remark Proves Chairman Jack Berry Unfit For Public Office. Then ask yourself this question: Would you insure this public official?

How much does this tell you about Columbia County, Florida, and the governor appointed board that allows Mr. Berry to represent them while he is uninsurable?

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference: "We will stand by you."

On Friday evening, the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of the state of Florida, Pastor R.L. Gundy told the Observer.

"You are authorized to release a press release from the SCLC state of Florida that states we will not allow any political entity to interfere with the Columbia County Observer releasing information that is the truth about anybody. That violates the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States."

"We will stand by you. We will stand by your report. We will stand by and support you legally and in any way we can." 

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On September 11, 2012, DD of Lake City wrote:

Yay Observer!  You rock, SCLC! 


On September 11, 2012, Mr. Buzz C of Lake City, wrote:

Columbia County Observer-- I'd like to offer my two cents about the lawsuit filed by The Hospital Authority against you folks. This proposed action is frivolous in nature and of an un-sound basis. It screams out that Freedom of Speech is what is at stake here. If this lawsuit is allowed to proceed forward then we might as well just proclaim that the First Amendment which is "suppose" to allow the free discourse of ideas is plain old DOA (dead on arrival) in Columbia County, Florida... Sincerely, Buzz Carey ~ Lake City, FL


On September 11, 2012, citizen49a of Lake City, wrote:

Reviewing the Lake City Reporter article on this lawsuit, it looks to me like Mr. Berry has made a little mistake here. He's going to have to prove in court that the statements he cited from the Observer are false, and that they are defamatory.  Have fun trying to prove your case Mr. Berry, but maybe you forgot Mr. Lilker gets to mount a defense. I would not be surprised if his attorney decided to depose you, and ask you a number of wide ranging questions, while you are under oath. Who knows what might come up?

Mr. Berry's got another little problem here. He's a public official, and quite a vocal and opinionated one.  He's even got his picture and is quoted in the Lake City Reporter on the same day as the report of the lawsuit.

Here in Florida, Mr. Berry, public officials don't get to hide in the dark. You work for us.  And we like to keep an eye on people like you. We want to know if it starts to look like you might be up to some funny business. We depend on journalists to do that for us, and we protect their right to tell us what kind of job you're doing with the First Amendment.

And make no mistake about it, Mr. Lilker is a journalist, not a "blogger" as the Lake City Reporter inaccurately described him. He's published a regular online newspaper and done the only serious investigative reporting on government in this area for years. If anybody around here gets to claim the title of journalist, it's Mr. Lilker. Just because you don't like what he writes doesn't make it "malice."  What it is, Mr. Berry, is the fundamental exercise of First Amendment freedom of the press to inform the people.  Nobody did much of it around here for a long time, but that doesn't mean our right to know what you're doing went away.  If you don't like that maybe you need to look for another job.


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