Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007

Lake Shore Hospital Authority

Lake Shore Hospital Authority: Currently Bleeding $50,000 Plus a Month of Public Money – The Bleed Goes On

From a high of over a thousand clients, the Governor's dysfunctional Authority is down to 27.

Water Well with headline: Governor's Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board - Unaccountable
Photo: Omer-Faruq Khan via Pexels | Columbia County Observer graphic

More LSHA stories are here.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – For almost three years, Governor Ron DeSantis’ illegally constituted LSHA Board has dragged its collective feet filling the vacated Lake Shore Hospital. While some progress finally seems to be being made, its efforts to subsidize an emergency care clinic, for which it has not established a need, drag along at a snail's pace.

Cynthia Watson
LSHA veteran staff member Cynthia Watson has seen Authority clients dwindle down to almost nothing.

From a high of over a thousand clients in 2010, the Authority is now down to 27. That is not a typo. The ACA or Obama Care, Medicaid, Medicare, and plain local mismanagement have been the cause of the Authority’s declining enrollment.

Sitting on a stash of approximately $20 mil in cash, the Governor’s Board feels no discomfort in paying down the public’s bank account to the tune of $81,500 a month (average from 2020 to Feb. 2023). For that, the public gets secured empty buildings and mowed lawns.

Monday Night At the Authority: But First a Little Background

Dale Williams
Part-Time Authority Manager and North Florida legend Dale Williams is calling most of the shots at the Authority. Here he listens to Attorney Todd Kennon

In 2009, Dr. Joseph Charles, an OB/GYN practicing at Shands Lake Shore Hospital, proposed the Authority convert one of its buildings into a clinic and “furnish the building with $91,000 worth of equipment.” (board minutes)

At the time, the Authority had plenty of clients, a demonstrated need, and millions in the bank. The clinic would have been close to the hospital on what is now considered the “Hospital Campus.”

Then Board member Dr. Wassem Khan was chosen to negotiate with Dr. Charles. At the Authority’s next meeting, Dr. Charles withdrew his request. There was no explanation.

EM Pals: Doctors Mike & Molly White

Stephen Douglas
Board member Stephen Douglas of Columbia County's "Douglas Clan" no longer shows impatience with the slowness of the process.

On November 1, 2022, Dr. Molly White made a presentation to the Authority Board. Board member Don Kennedy wasted no time in moving to negotiate with Doctors White. The motion was passed unanimously.

Five months later, with the April 10, 2023, meeting just around the corner, on April 4, the Authority was looking for a lease from its attorney, Todd Kennon. Sonja Markham, the Authority’s administrative assistant, inquired.

Alysha Jenkins, the assistant to former Authority Attorney Fred Koberlein, and now working for Todd Kennon, emailed back advising, "I will have it to you shortly. I am making some revisions now."

Two days later, on April 6, the day before Good Friday, Ms. Jenkins sent over the lease. The lease did not indicate who prepared it. It was titled a "Commercial Office Space Lease Agreement.” The building represented in the lease was a Medical Office Building – a big difference.

On April 10, Part-Time Authority Manager Dale Williams introduced the “Mike & Molly” lease, “Most of this is for Todd (Todd Kennon-the Authority's main attorney from RKK Law) to comment on. He did prepare the lease as you directed him to."

It is unclear who prepared the lease.

Mr. Williams said he was trying to set up a meeting between the White’s attorney and Mr. Kennon. Mr. Williams said, “There are some legal issues that only they can discuss.”

Todd Kennon
LSHA Attorney Todd Kennon of RKK listens to Manager Williams.

Attorney Kennon told the Board: "As you recall, Pals submitted their own proposed lease. It had a lot of carry-over language related to the financial assistance agreement… They tried to start bleedin’ one into the other. I decided that instead of using theirs as a template, I would use a standard commercial lease much like the ones we've used in the past.”

Mr. Kennon did not say if he had ever prepared a lease for a medical office building.

LSHA board member Don Kennedy
Board member Don Kennedy, the last Gov DeSantis appointee, listens to Attorney Kennon.

A few meetings ago, it was established that Attorney Kennon, along with RKK Attorney Bruce Robinson, would work around the limitations of Article VII, section 10, of the Florida Constitution, thus enabling Doctors Mike & Molly to be subsidized by the Authority. Mr. Kennon did not explain what he meant by carry-over language. It is established law that it is not legal for a governmental agency to go into partnership with a for-profit company.

Mr. Kennon explained, “The lease is going to be completely separate from any financial services or assistance agreement. And so we just drafted it as a standard commercial lease. There are no exhibits. We sent one over -- exhibit B -- TBD (to be determined) because they had a two-page list of equipment with an estimate within their proposed lease with an estimate of $650,000.” The Whites are looking for the Hospital Authority to provide the equipment for them to be in business.

Brandon Beil
Board Chairman Brandon Beil.

Mr. Kennon spoke about the hospital inventory: “We don't yet have an up-to-date good inventory on what we have in the hospital that we could bring over. And certainly haven't gone out to price the other equipment they've requested. So, there was no reason to retype their list because it's going to change. It probably has changed dramatically.”

Attorney Kennon pooh-poohed the ramifications of a lease agreement with Doctors White. He said, “We do and are within our rights to own equipment and lease it. So it will just be a matter through negotiations determining what we have that we can provide that they're willing to use. And then what the trustees are willing to provide on top of that, that probably would have to be purchased.”

After a conversation about maintenance, Chairman Beil inquired, “What would be the next steps with EM Pals?”

Lory Chancy
Board member Lory Chancy, the longest sitting board member, was around when the Authority had clients. She never publically instuted corrective action for its disappearing client base.

Mr. Kennon replied, “Get their comments. Then we should have, hopefully, by the May meeting, that meeting done, and then we could get their feedback on the analysis on what we can and cannot do. I want to confer a little more with Mr. Powell [the Authority's long-time financial consultant]. I've gotten a lot more legal research done on the constitutional prohibition, and the more you read, the more limited it gets. So, I started a little list -- so I'm going to get with him and essentially -- I think it's going to be easier to say what we can do, then all the things we can't do relative to what their request (unintelligible), because, it's pretty limited.”

Mr. Kennon continued, “Then I'll see by then we should have a revised draft of the lease, and by then they should know kinda what our parameters (unintelligible) the second aspect of it, and that may cause them to make a decision on the lease.”


By next month, the Authority will have gone through another $50,000 plus maintaining its empty campus as Governor DeSantis's Board drags its feet while empowering its attorneys to come up with a scheme to evade the restraints of the Florida Constitution.

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.