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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007

Lake Shore Hospital Authority

LSHA: Gov's Bd Squandering Public Funds. Pt-Time Auth Mngr Sees Nothing Wrong With Going Into Business With Defunct Business – Chaos

Part I: In the civilized world of government, silence is acquiescence.

Modern Art with headline: Lake Shore Hospital Authority. Lately, chaos is the name of the game.
Photo: Dan Cristian Pădureț via Pexels | Columbia County Observer graphic

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The Governor’s Lake Shore Hospital Board, along with Part-Time Authority Manager Dale Williams, continues to operate without benchmarks as it squanders millions of taxpayer funds keeping the illegally constituted Lake Shore Hospital Authority alive.

Background

In 2005, the Florida legislature rewrote the enabling legislation which formed the Lake Shore Hospital Authority. The Florida Legislature required that one member of the Hospital Authority board “shall be a physician engaged in the practice of medicine at the Lake Shore Hospital.”

Having a physician on the Board who is also a resident of Columbia County is not discretionary. The Gov.'s Board has taken an oath to follow the law, as has Governor DeSantis.

To date, Gov. DeSantis, who appears to be on the trail of running for president, has ignored requests from community members to look into the statutorily required makeup of the Authority Board.

Board Chairman Brandon Beil has refused to ask the Authority Board to request an attorney general opinion regarding the illegally constituted Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board.

The Board's attorney, Fred Koberlein, Jr., who soon may be a judge, continues to refuse to weigh in on the issue.

In May 2020, the Authority was aware that its tenant, CHS, was abandoning the hospital.

Two years and six months later, under the leadership of part-time manager Dale Williams, and Board Chairman Brandon Beil, millions have been spent keeping the vacated hospital habitable. At the same time, the Governor's Board and its Part-Time Manager have been foot-dragging and unable to find someone to operate the hospital.

Part-Time Manager Williams claims to be transparent, but has not made public the actual amount of money spent keeping Shands Lake Shore Hospital alive.

 A full rundown on the history of the Authority since May 2020 is here.

Since 2019, Meridian Behavioral Health Services has shown an interest in the Authority's hospital.

Florida Gateway College briefly showed interest in the hospital, but college President Barrett never received support from the College Board.

Hope Bridges & Willie Peacock

As reported on November 1, Willie Peacock, aka Hope Bridges, had not been vetted by the Authority, even though he had been part of a $33,000,000 federal court settlement for wrongfully obtaining millions of dollars in illicit profits by exploiting Gilead Sciences’ charitable program, which provided qualifying uninsured with free, life-saving HIV drugs.

During the November 1 Authority meeting, Willie Peacock of the now-defunct Hope Bridges made another presentation, this time coming up with another partner, Madhukar Sharma of Ace Medical. It was thought Mr. Sharma would somehow be the financial backer in a Peacock deal.

Authority Manager Williams seemed to be running cover for Hope Bridges and Willie Peacock, completely ignoring the $33 mil judgment against Mr. Peacock et.al.

Manager Williams told the Board, “We've done this a pretty good while now. I don't think I've pulled anybody up involved in medicine, or medical services, that don’t have some liens or judgments. I mean, it's pretty common in that field -- some more than others, some more serious than others.”

Most folks are not involved in $33 million federal judgments which don’t go their way.

Too Much For the Chairman

Silent Acquiescence

It is common practice that when someone is silent when a vote is taken, their vote is counted with the majority. For example, if a voice vote is called for in a board meeting and some directors say “aye” and other are silent; the president then asks if there are any “nays” and no one responds. The president then announces the vote to be unanimous. If no one objects to the president's announcement, the vote is properly deemed as unanimous in favor of the motion.

This was too much for Board Chairman Beil.

Mr. Beil said, “I think if I'd said tonight that I wanted to see a Ferris wheel at the hella pad, Ringling Brothers would be partnering at the next meeting [with Peacock]. So, in that case, I'm going to make a motion that we discontinue talks and negotiations with Hope Bridges. I'll entertain, or I'll ask for a second from anybody.”

The motion was seconded.

Board member Chancy said she disagreed.

Board chairman Beil asked for any other comments. 

Authority Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., weighed in. “Mr. Chair, when there's a discussion of financial security, you have to be more specific; there's no guarantee that an entity will be here 36 months from now, or less or more. The security needs to be in some type of percentage. And I'm not even sure what the agreement would look like. For example, how many months? How much would the payment be? And what would be secured? We're not close to an agreement with Hope Bridges. So I don't know how you can conclude as to how much security would need -- would be sufficient. Because the terms and conditions that speak to monetary obligations and conditions are not close to being solidified.”

Attorney Koberlein did not mention that he and his firm had billed the Authority [read taxpayers] $2651.91 for working on the lease agreement with Hope Bridges. This was work that included adding exhibits to the lease and formatting it.

Again, Mr. Beil asked for any further comments before the vote. There were none.

Mr. Beil said, "All in favor signify by saying, Aye.

Ayes were heard.

Mr. Beil said, “All opposed.”

There was silence.

Manager Williams commented, “All right, Mr. Chairman, just to make sure we understand, the Bridges-Ace proposal is now off the table, completely.”

Board member Chancy had nothing else to say about the Hope Bridges issue or vote.

The Board moved on to other business.

Epilogue

This is Columbia County, home of the infamous County 5 and the City of Lake City.

Part II covers more of the craziness of the Governor’s illegally constituted Lake Shore Hospital Authority.

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