Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Curtain Comes Down on Berry Era: Governor Scott's LSHA Bd Will Select a New Auth Manager

It Will Be a Horse Race

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The Lake Shore Hospital Authority, reestablished by the Florida Legislature in 2005, has been a backwater contentious institution since the appointment of Republican Operative, past Republican leader and well known "Repo Man" Jack Berry to the Authority Board in 2005. That era literally comes to an end tomorrow night when the Authority Board chooses a new manager.

More LSHA stories are here.

Three candidates will be interviewed by the Authority Board beginning at 5:30 pm tomorrow night, April 12, at the Authority Hdq. on Franklin Avenue in downtown Lake City. Look for the gaudy $60,000 signs that mention the hospital, but not the Authority where people can apply for benefits. You can compare the Authority signs to the Lake City Medical Center signage here.

The Candidates
A Horse Race Between 2 Front Runners

(Alphabetically: the front runners) David Kraus is scheduled be interviewed at 5:30 pm.

Mr. Kraus, well known in Columbia County, is known not to be a member of the infamous Columbia County good ole' boys club, is known in economic development circles as a grant writer and a manager. He has almost 30 years of experience in County and City government.

Mr. Kraus has been the Lake City, City Manager and Assistant to the County Manager, Safety Manager, and presently County Risk Management Manager and County Grant Writer. He is on the Shands Lake Shore Hospital Board, which gives him firsthand knowledge of the operation of Shands at Lake Shore, the Community Health Systems Hospital which the Authority owns. He had a life before he relocated to Columbia County/Lake City to take the job as City Manager in 2007.

You can read Mr. Kraus' submissions to the Authority here.

Dale Williams, scheduled to be interviewed at 6:20 pm, is a legend in North Central Florida and well know throughout Florida. He was County Manager of Columbia County for over 30 years and when he retired, the County had over $40 million in reserves, which the current crew in the County is running through like water.

Both Mr. Kraus and Mr. Williams are experienced with Florida's open meetings law and public records law, municipal finance law and governance. Past issues on the Authority would be expected to evaporate with either of them in the spot of Authority Manager.

You can read Mr. Williams' submission to the Authority here.

The third candidate, Blaine Wheeler, is unknown to the Observer. The Observer has been told that he comes from a well known local family. His submission to the Authority demonstrates that he meets the education qualifications and that he is presently working as a private consultant.

Mr. Wheeler's interview will be key for him and he is scheduled to be interviewed at 6:55 pm.

You can read Mr. Wheeler's submission to the Authority here.

The Questions

At 3 pm today the questions were finalized by Chairman Beil. There are 11 questions. 9 are the same as they were in February 2010.

Questions 9 and 10 are new.

Number 9 is a house keeping issue: "Would there be any conflict of interest working with other governmental agencies within Lake City and Columbia County?"

Number 10 was added earlier today by new board member Dr. Mark Thompson: "How would you resolve conflict with the LSHA Board?  As the Executive Director of LSHA do you feel you work for the Board, or do you feel the Board works for you?"

The public never had an opportunity to suggest any questions.

All the questions are available here.

Rankings & Ratings

The rankings and ratings of the candidates were designed by Michele Greene, the HR Director of Lake City. Ms. Greene is an HR professional of the highest order.

If you would like to score along with the Board members, Ms. Greene's score sheet is available here.


By the end of tomorrow evening the Jack Berry era of the Lake Shore Hospital Authority will be over.

A professional in municipal government will most likely be chosen by the Governor's Board to manage the Authority.

The race should be close, and unlike the last one (see: Good ole boy and former Republican Chief gets Hospital Authority Nod) and many rankings and ratings in municipal and county government, this race appears not to be fixed.

Stay tuned or show up and see how you match up the Governor's Board.

*added lead graphic; three grammar changes

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