Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hosp Authority

Lake Shore Hospital Authority Chieftain Shot Down Trying To Score Republicans a Free Room

"Don't shoot Paul Revere. I don't see anything wrong with it."

Authority Manager Berry unexpectedly found himself without allies last night.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night at the Lake Shore Hospital Authority, Authority Manager Jackson P. "Jack" Berry, former Republican Party Chieftain and operative, ignored long standing Authority policy when he attempted to score a free room for the Columbia County Republican Executive Committee's monthly meetings at the Authority's Headquarters.

According to Mr. Berry, LSHA Board member Lory Chancy's husband, a Rep. Executive Committee member, came to Berry looking for the room.

With the completion of the monolithic million dollar plus Authority Headquarters in 2009, for its then two employees, there were extensive discussions regarding who would use the Authority's meeting rooms.

By unanimous motion, on January 11, 2010, the Board approved allowing only use by health related organizations, either profit or nonprofit during normal business hours.

Chairman Khan remained stone faced while listening to the sudden request.

Mr. Berry told the Board, "I have a request from Mr. Joe Chancy, with the Republican Executive Committee, who would like to use the upstairs meeting room for their meetings and they have function set up for Congressman Yoho here in the next couple of weeks and they would like to use it for that."

Your reporter asked, "Is there a charge for that?"

No one responded. The Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board doesn't answer questions.

Chairman Waseem Khan surprised by the request, asked, "How often will they use it?"

Manager Berry didn't know the day of the week.

Manager Berry answered, "Once a month, which would be the second Monday of each month -- no -- first Monday -- or third Monday -- whenever."

Authority Board member Tim Murphy, who is also a member of the Republican Committee advised the Authority, "The third Monday."

Manager Berry added, "And two of the [Authority] board members are on that committee, anyway."

Marc Vann balked at Mr. Berry's attempted end run around Board policy.

Authority Board member Marc Vann said, "I think we ruled out any of that kind of stuff." Mr. Vann explained that a few years ago the Board discussed that the room would only be used for public service -- health related events.

Representative Liz Porter's Chief Legislative Aid and Authority Board member Koby Adams quipped, "It's good for healthy politics."

Manager Berry volunteered, "If the Democrat Party wanted to use it, they certainly could."

Mr. Vann stood fast, "I don't think that's a good use of taxpayer money."

Manager Berry told the Board that the City Hall in Live Oak allows it. "They allow the Democrats and Republicans to meet there. It's up to the Board."

The topic of fees came up and it was explained that a deposit "is needed for a cleaning fee."

Manager Berry said there was no problem with "these folks keeping it clean."

Mr. Vann was not persuaded, "I thought we made it very specific. It had to be for health related stuff."

Board member Tim Murphy volunteered to foot the bill for the Republicans, "As long as the grant doesn't exceed $100, I'll donate $100 to the Republican Party for the rent. Stephen [Douglas, Auth. and Rep. Board member] can pay the other 50."

Chairman Khan asked, "Do we need a motion?"

Mr. Adams answered, "Yeah, if you want to have it approved."

Chairman Khan inquired, "Is there further discussion, or do we have a motion?"

Mr. Vann dug in, "I don't think we need a motion until we see what the rules say. We spent hours discussing this."

Mr. Murphy spoke about the fee, "Without a fee, I think it opens the door wide open."

Manager Berry ignores public records request, again:

At 8:56 am, the Observer requested the document from which Mr. Berry read. At 10:52 am, the Observer requested the Room Use Agreement.

Mr. Berry ignored the requests.

Sue Fraze, the Authority's long time Administrative Director left the room and came back with a piece of paper.

Manager Berry, "Let's see what this says on this thing here." No one identified the document.

Mr. Vann, "It's toward the top. She underlined something."

"Don't shoot Paul Revere"

Manager Berry continued, "It's normally used for health related purposes consistent with the mission of the Lake Shore Hospital Authority -- and normally -- like I say, it's up to the board -- I'm just a middleman. Don't shoot Paul Revere. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with it. I think it would give us more exposure... I think these folk's tax dollars helped to build it."

Mr. Adams quipped again, "I'm almost certain that Congressman Yoho is going to mention the Affordable Care Act, in some way or other."

The Board laughed.

Chairman Khan to the Board, "It sounds like you already made the decision a few years ago."

There was a pregnant pause. Mr. Berry was getting red faced. It is unusual when this Gov. appointed board bucks up against him.

Manager Berry broke the silence, "I just want a yes or no."

Chairman Khan told the old Republican chieftain, "Sounds like a no Jack. If someone wants to make a motion, second it and vote, we can do that."

No one did.

After the meeting concluded, Ms. Chancy told Mr. Berry, "Thanks for trying."


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