Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

Lake Shore Hosp Authority

Lake City Reporter: A Newspaper You Can't Trust
Handmaidens to Columbia County's Good Ole' Boys

Jack Berry and LSHA get another free pass

This is the handicapped ramp Mr. Berry referred to and the Lake City Reporter didn't check out. It is not a handicapped ramp, but a driveway for cars to drop off their passengers.

COLUMBIA COUNTY/LAKE CITY, FL – For decades, Columbia County/Lake City's daily newspaper, the Lake City Reporter, has been known as the Lake City Repeater; the Lake City Distorter; or simply the Mullet Wrapper, although the late Superintendent of Schools, Sam Markham, used to say, "I wouldn't insult my fish in that."

On Monday night, Governor Scott's Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board met for its monthly rubber stamp Board meeting. According to an article by the LCR's Megan Reeves, "The Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board of Trustees addressed recent criticism in the Columbia County Observer." The Observer article published Monday morning was: LSHA's Berry and LC's Johnson Ignoring the Needs of the Handicapped on the Authority Campus.

The Governor's Board discussed the article.

Ms. Reeves, or the Publisher/Editor team of Todd Wilson/Robert Bridges manufactured the news and made up much of the quoted material in its reporting.

Sometime before the meeting Hospital Authority Manager Berry handed out something to the Board. Referring to the handout, Board member Tim Murphy asked Manager Berry, "Are we under ADA compliance?"

Mr. Berry (from the audio) answered (as spoken):

We are. This ain’t the first time this has happened. I attached a couple of letters in there, where some unknown person wrote the Justice Department. I think we all know who wrote it, but I’m not goin’ to mention any names. But, they sent two investigators down here and (unintelligible) nothin’ to it. [There's] a copy in your notebook, Ron. And they determined there weren’t nothin’ to it. It’s been inspected by the City, by the County, by the State, by the Feds."

On that one picture on there, where the disabled Mr. Kitchens is in the wheelchair -- lookin’ over the steps -- they forgot to take a picture that 40 ft. behind him was the ramp for that buildin’ for the handicapped. But him not bein’ handicapped probably didn’t notice it."

The LCR wrote: "Jack Berry, executive director of LSHA, said the building meets all legal and regulatory requirements, including those of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

The pitch (angle) on Berry's "handicapped ramp" far exceeds the legal limit, if it was a real handicapped ramp.

Mr. Berry answered Mr. Murphy's ADA compliance question with a simple, "We are." Mr. Berry did not mention "all legal and regulatory requirements, including those of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

The LCR reported Mr. Berry's remarks: "We have been investigated by the city, the county, the state and the feds," he said. "We are in complete compliance with the law."

Mr. Berry did not say "investigated." He said inspected. The County and the state do not inspect the Authority HDQ. That is the jurisdiction of the City, as are the roads and sidewalks on the Authority Campus.

Regarding the photo of Mr. Kitchens looking over the steps in his wheel chair, the LCR wrote: "I guess they forgot to take a picture of the handicapped ramp about 40 feet from those steps," Berry said. "But him not being handicapped he probably didn't notice it."

The newspaper didn't fact-check Berry's claim of a "handicapped ramp about 40 feet from those steps."

Fact-checking would have been simple, as the purported ramp is a minute walk from the Authority meeting room.

The fact is, there is no handicapped ramp. There is a driveway for cars to drop off their passengers. According to ADA rules, the ramp would need approved handrails and would have to be 48 feet long to meet the pitch requirements. The photo, taken last night, speaks for itself.

More: Lake City Refuses to Address the Handicapped

This is the raised roadway that the LCR reported was a "bump in the road." The City has just ignored this.

The LCR reported: "The photos, taken by Lilker, show Kitchens struggling to enter the front door of the headquarters building, trying to roll over bumps in the road and sitting at the top of a set of exterior stairs."

The newspaper got one out of three. Mr. Kitchens was not trying to roll over "bumps in the road." In one photo, Mr. Kitchens' wheel chair is sitting in a pool of water in traffic due to the lack of sidewalks. In the other, he is trying to enter the street from the sidewalk at the handicapped cross walk when his wheel chair was stopped by Lake City's raised roadway. Both of those issues are issues that City Manager Wendell Johnson has refused to address.

The LCR failed to mention the continuing problem of handicapped spaces at the hospital flooding during even moderate rainfall.

Good Ole' Boy, Mark Vann: The LCR Works For Him, Too

During Monday's meeting, long time Authority Board member Marc Vann said few words.

Responding to Board member Janet Creel's "What's the purpose of this?" "Sensationalism?" Mr. Vann responded, "To make us look stupid." "He’s [Kitchens] posing to show what it would be like... Bringin’ up mess again for the sake of tryin’ to criticize."  "Basically. We went through the whole process. Ramps that comin’ in the door."

The LCR reported: "Board member Janet Creel said she would just like to know what the purpose of the article is. Board member Marc Vann answered her by saying Lilker is just out to make the board look bad. “They're just bringing this mess up again to damage the reputation of this authority," he said.

Mr. Vann never said, "They're just bringing this mess up again to damage the reputation of this authority."

The LCR: Put words in Jack Berry's mouth

Jack Berry, at the official opening of the LSHA admin building.(file photo)

A few years ago, Lake City Reporter Publisher, Todd Wilson, wrote a letter of reference for Mr. Berry when he was a candidate for the part time Authority Manager position. They have history.

Tuesday's Lake City Reporter article began, "At a meeting Monday, the Lake Shore Hospital Authority addressed recent criticism..."

Other than Mr. Berry's remarks quoted at the beginning of this article, at the meeting Mr. Berry said, regarding his reported intimidation of Mr. Kitchens and Ms. Lemley, "And by the way, I can assure the board that I didn’t intimidate Mr. Kitchens or the other one."

Mr. Berry opined on the reason for the article, "It’s harassment on this board. That’s all it is. Pure and simple."

That is all Manager Berry said at the meeting.

The Lake City Reporter, reported the following: "Berry called it harassment of the board and the people of Columbia County."

Clearly, Mr. Berry never said "and the people of Columbia County."

The LCR followed up with a made-up meeting quote:  "Anything [Lilker] can do to try and slander this authority and the people of this city and county is what he will do," he said. "I just think the citizens deserve to know that this is just false."


The "citizens" and everyone need to know that the Lake City Reporter, Columbia County's daily newspaper, makes up the news, can't be trusted, and has earned the moniker, "Hand Maidens to Columbia County's Good Ole' Boys."

This article was reported using two independent audio recordings and eye witness reports.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On April 21, 2015, Disgusted in Fort White wrote:

It is common knowledge that the Mainstream Media, whether it's the national news or local news, is basically a propaganda machine for the ruling elites or in the case of Columbia County, The Good Old Boys.

Only brave investigative reporters, like Greg Palast and our own Stew Lilker, dare challenge these entrenched elements that have insinuated themselves into every level of our government.

The wise Founders of our Constitution guaranteed freedom of speech and the press in order to hold us all to a higher moral standard and ensure accountability to the Citizens of this nation those who would seek to abuse the power entrusted to them. It is not only the right but the duty of Citizens to be informed and dissent and criticize all agents of the government, whether elected or appointed, if they do not exercise their power honestly and responsibly in the best interests of the Commonweal.

Humorist, Dave Barry once commented that they should just go ahead and indict the elected officials of Miami when they administer the oath of office to save time.

A good idea and a remedy that would work just as well in North Florida's infamous Columbia County.

Disgusted in Fort White


This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.


More LSHA stories are here.