Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007

Lake Shore Hosp Authority

Lake Shore Hosp Auth Board Ignores Charter
Berry: "Radiates that he can give out money"

           Jack Berry - 2008.
Nobody tells Jack Berry what to do.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Monday's Lake Shore Hospital Authority (LSHA) meeting demonstrated that Governor Scott's handpicked LSHA Board doesn't bother to refer to its charter or its attorney before backing up the iron fisted and legendary political operative, Jackson P. "Jack" Berry, Manager of the Authority. Absent a legal opinion from the Authority's Attorney, MIA Fred Koberlein, and a purported unwritten opinion from the Authority's other MIA, accountant-external auditor-financial advisor, Richard Powell, the Authority decided to donate $8,094 to the School District and the County for defibrillators, which could have been acquired through grants with the help of the City, and County fire departments, neither of which were contacted.

Indigent Care Funding Story Begins in 2008

In February 2008, Authority Board member Audré Washington requested funds to help two local health fairs, a community health fair at the Richardson Community Center, located in the hood, and the African American Health Summit at the local college.

Jack Berry, then the Authority Chairman, asked Authority Attorney, Marlin Feagle for an opinion.

Attorney Feagle told the Board, "I’ll tell you what the charter says... The charter says 'you are to provide temporary relief for the indigent of Columbia County' ... is this providing direct benefit to the indigent of Columbia County?"

            Marlin Feagle and Richard Powell: 2008

Mr. Feagle continued, "... There’s another provision that talks about, which is more on point, where your millage is for the purpose of maintenance and operation of the hospital facilities and providing health care of the indigent residents of Columbia County."

Mr. Feagle concluded, "You have to ask yourself, is this in keeping with the mission of the charter to provide for indigent health care -- the health care of the indigent of Columbia County?"

The Board unanimously decided it wasn't.

Eight Years Later -- Providing for Indigent Health Care?

Almost 8 years later, on the morning of January 11, 2016, the Florida Auditor General's Office mirrored the findings of Attorney Feagle, referencing the charter in an email, "Regarding provision of services for indigent care, paragraph 8(a), Section 7, of the act provides the following:

(8)(a) To furnish temporary relief to the indigent of Columbia County and study the cause of their poverty; to seek a plan for their permanent rehabilitation; generally, to assist them to support themselves whenever possible to the end that they may cease to be a charge upon the community and, instead, become useful citizens thereof; and to bury the indigent dead of Columbia County and provide cemeteries for that purpose.

AED's (Automatic Electronic Defibrillators) and Columbia County

What is an AED: Read more about AEDs here.

In 2006, the Florida Legislature passed a law requiring AEDs in all public schools with high school athletics. In Columbia County, that means the high school and the middle schools. The grade schools are not required to have AEDs and they don't.

Also in 2006, the Legislature passed the Gordon & Mullins Act, which provides for grants to youth athletic organizations for automated external defibrillator products. It appears that Richardson Community Center, in Lake City, would have qualified had they applied.

On November 17, 2015, the Florida Department of Health in Columbia County held its monthly meeting of CHAP/SHAC (County Health Awareness Partnership/School Health Advisory Council). The minutes of that meeting reflect that Mario Coppock (Columbia County's Recreation Director) advised the group that Richardson was without an AED, something which he had been aware of for years.

Also, according to the minutes, the school district's health coordinator, Kim Allison, "commented that the schools would be in need of several AEDs for their clinics as well."

The minutes continue, "Jack Berry made a comment that they could put in a formal request through the Hospital Authority to see if it is something they could assist with."

The next day, November 18, the school district's Ms. Allison sent a letter to the Authority Jack Berry, which said in part: "Many principals and all of the nurses have expressed the desire to have AEDs in all schools... All we are lacking to be completely safe are the AEDs. As you can see, we need a total of eleven."

On January 11, Authority Manager Jack Berry provided Ms. Allison's letter to the Authority. He presented nothing submitted by Mario Coppock, Columbia County, or Lake City, demonstrating a need for an AED at Richardson Community Center.

Coming in Part II: The Gov's. Authority Board Tackles the AED Issue

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Jack BerryAuthority Manager Berry is a widely known public figure and political operative. He has an interesting track record after four decades on the political map:

Read More Here


More LSHA stories are here.