Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007

Lake Shore Hosp Authority

Procurement Mayhem at Gov Scott's LSHA May Give Lake DeSoto Hawk Habitat a Reprieve

Berry's Drug Claim: Bogus

Mid April photo of hawk in tree scheduled for demolition by Manager Berry and the Gov's Board.     (courtesy)

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Events that began in February may have Governor Scott's Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board and the public questioning republican operative and Authority Manager Jackson P. "Jack" Berry's desire to clear cut a Hawk breeding habitat on property leased from the Authority.

Questions remain regarding whether or not Manager Berry followed Authority procurement policies; facilitated an unfair bidding process; or told the truth about drug dealing in the little park which is home to the trees and the hawks.

During the February Authority Board meeting, Manager Berry announced that there was a "problem" with a 50 year old stand of pine and other trees on the south end of the hospital property. Even though the trees had been standing there for over 50 years, Manager Berry claimed "if a hurricane comes through [it] would blow some of em' down and hit the hospital. I think as a safety measure we ought to seriously look at cuttin' those trees. There's 23 pines and nine hardwoods... we need to get those pines out-a there... I'll get some bids on it and bring it back to the Board."

As reported earlier, Scott appointee Dr. Ron Foreman, owner of North Florida Eyecare, asked no questions and wasted no time sending Manager Berry out on his mission. "Get on the hill," he told Mr. Berry.

Berry's Drug Claim: Bogus

Bd. member Ron Foreman (file)

During the March 14 Board meeting, Manager Berry claimed there was an "illegal drug store over there [the little park with the trees] at night."

Board member Foreman was the only Board member to comment on the drugs. "I understand," he said.

On March 18, your reporter spoke with the Lake City Police Department and was told there were no records of drug or any criminal activity in the little park with the trees. The information was then requested in writing.

Fifty eight minutes later the LCPD responded: I find no records for the requested address.

Bollixed Procurement: The Board Looks the Other Way

Manager Berry did not advertise the tree demolition; he did not mail a notice to prospective tree people; he did not post a Request for Proposals (RFP) or any kind of Scope of Work on the Authority website.

The Scope of Work produced by Manager Berry was of limited value. The Authority destroyed the Word file that produced the Authority's Scope of Work.

Definition: Scope of Work:

The Scope of Work (SOW) is a formal agreement document that specifies all the criteria of a contract between a service provider (vendor) and the customer. It clearly documents the project requirements, milestones, deliverables, end products, documents and reports that are expected to be provided by the vendor. It helps in the smooth functioning of a project/work contract wherein both parties can avoid ambiguities and situations leading to dispute. It is the first step to building a mutually beneficial collaboration between a vendor and his customer. (emphasis added)

Manager Berry's Scope of Work. There is neither a date nor the address of the project.    ++Enlarge

On March 14 Manager Berry told the Board, "We called all the tree people in Columbia County. And there were four come to look at it." The spreadsheet of whom Manager Berry called.

The tax collector's website clearly shows more Columbia County tree businesses than Mr. Berry admitted to finding. (See the current list here).

The Board did not ask why Manager Berry did not contact business from any of the surrounding counties.

"Did You Do a Scope of Work?"

The material provided to the Board members and public.      ++Enlarge

Board member Tim Murphy, who has thrown his hat in the ring for County Commissioner, shuffled through his papers while asking, "Did you do a scope of work when you sent the bids out?"

Mr. Berry replied, "Yes, there it is. Right in front of you there."

Mr. Murphy examined the purported Scope of Work and bid compilation.

The bids ranged from $14,000 to $34,300.

It is not clear how the bids were received by the Authority. Manager Berry has claimed that Authority bids do not have to be sealed.

Manager Berry did not have a group pre-bid meeting with all the interested parties. He claimed he met them at the site individually and gave each one instructions.

Board member Tim Murphy

Mr. Murphy, referring to the low bid and the next bid, said, "I mean it's 10,000 bucks."

Board member Janet Creel added, "That's a lot."

Mr. Murphy followed up, "I don't want to put anybody on the spot, but I notice we got one of the tree guys here that's actually got a bid here... (to the tree guy) You got any input?"

The tree guy was Josh Glackin of Glackin Tree Service. His bid was $10,000 above the low bidder, Complete Tree Service. No one asked him to identify himself.

Mr. Glackin addressed the Board, "I did get a phone call from the winning bidder asking if we looked at the same project, because there was a substantial difference between the two."

Mr. Glackin continued, "There's an 8 foot chain-link fence there. I was under the impression that we were going to crane those trees out to keep them off of the power-line and obviously dropping the fence. He was not under that assumption. Obviously, you'll check into that."

Manager Berry responded, "Well Josh, I told all of y'all that we would remove the fence and I would have the power lines dropped...."

Mr. Glackin answered, "I wasn't under that assumption."

Mr. Berry: "I told ya."

Mr. Glackin: "It wasn't very clear."

Mr. Berry: "Well, I'm sorry it wasn't clear enough for ya."

Board member Foreman: "Well the question that arises is: does that affect his bid with the change in knowledge about the removal process?"

Ms. Chancy added, "I'm sure it does."

Mr. Foreman followed up, "Would his bid then become more competitive?"

Manager Berry said, "It probably would if he didn't understand it."

Mr. Glackin had his final word, "It definitely would..."

Board member Koby Adams            (file)

Board member Koby Adams, who is Rep. Elizabeth Porter's Chief of Staff asked, "Well, what's the process for rebidding, anyway?"

Ignoring the incomplete Scope of Work and the inappropriate individual meetings with the bidders, Mr. Berry answered, "Do the same thing we did this time."

Mr. Adams addressed the Authority Attorney, Fred Koberlein, "Mr. Attorney, is there any kind of a liability if we rebid from the low bidder on this? I mean -- he complains that (Mr. Koberlein cuts Mr. Adams off)."

Attorney Koberlein was oblivious to the bid documents
There was never an RFP

Authority Attorney, Fred Koberlein                  (file)

Mr. Koberlein spoke, "If we have a provision that's similar to reserving a right to reject all bids, we can reject that at all times. But to give you a definitive answer I would have to look at the RFP that went out."

Mr. Koberlein had billed the Authority to prepare for the meeting. It is not clear why he did not know that a Request for Proposals (RFP) never went out.

Mr. Berry opined, "I don't think it's fair to rebid it if the guy can do this job at this price. I took everyone over there. Walked through what we wanted to get done. I said, 'Now ya all count these trees.' Each one counted em."

After some brief conversation, Mr. Adams, ignoring the inconsistencies, moved to take the low bid. The motion was seconded by Ms. Creel.

Board member Brandon Biel asked, "Would there be any harm in voting this down until we can find out the words in the RFP to see if there would be any leeward course for us not accepting the low bid and rebidding it?"

Mr. Adams responded, "We could table it until he [Berry] gives us that information."

No one on the Governor's Board knew there was never an RFP written for the tree removal.

Ms. Creel added, "Complete could come back with a higher bid?"

Manager Berry opined, "It's not fair to Complete Tree Service to let everybody know what the bids are?"

Shortly thereafter, without a discouraging word, Governor Scott's Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board unanimously awarded the tree removal to Complete Tree Service.

The hospital is on the left, the park area is next. This is a hawk habitat and the last stand of trees accessible to the public around Lake DeSoto.                                                         (file)


Two weeks later it was discovered that the tree stand that the Authority Board voted to clear cut was the home of a family of nesting Hawks which had been nesting there every spring for the past five years. It was reported that they may have missed one year.

Jacqui Sulek, Conservation Chair for Four Rivers Audubon, told the Observer that the birds do not necessarily nest in the same tree every year, but come back to the same area.

The area ordered to be clear cut by the Authority Board is that nesting "area."

The Authority meets at 5:15 pm tonight.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

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

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

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

More LSHA stories are here.

LSHA 8 (clockwise from top):
Koby Adams - political operative and Liz Porter's Chief of staff
Brandon Biel - latest Scott appointee and a young republican on the move
Dr. Waseem Khan - a board member who
lives out of the county
Janet Creel - real estate broker
Ron Foreman - father of the County Atny
Tim Murphy - a nice guy, talented welder, clueless about government
Board Chairwoman Lory Chancy - her main job appears to be not to answer questions and to protect Columbia County's legendary political operative, Jackson P. "Jack" Berry (in the middle).


Related Articles: