Columbia County Observer by Stew Lilker
April 12, 2017
Monday night’s 26 minute Lake Shore Hospital Authority monthly board meeting again featured Authority Manager Jack Berry turning his back on speakers addressing the Governor’s Board and more whispering by Authority Manager Jack Berry. As usual, the Gov’s Board turned a blind eye, as did Authority Attorney Fred Koberlein, who was also at times unintelligible only 10 feet away.
It is eleven months to the day that the Observer first reported on Mr. Berry’s aberrant behavior of turning his back on citizens he doesn’t like.
Lake Shore Hosp Auth/Lake DeSoto Hawks, Berry Wants People “to Have the Truth”
As Ms. Barbara Lemley came to the lectern to address the Governor’s Board, Mr. Berry pivoted away from her, covering up the whole side his face. As usual, the Governor’s appointees remained silent during this rudeness.
During Ms. Lemley’s presentation she asked a few questions regarding Lake Shore Hospital Authority business.
Manager Berry whispered numerous times to acting board chairman, Brandon Beil.
Hospital Attorney Fred Koberlein looked over his coffee cup during the whispering and said nothing. It appeared he also couldn’t hear what Mr. Berry was saying.
Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law, s. 286.011(1), F.S., provides in pertinent part:
All meetings of any board or commission … of any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision … at which official acts are to be taken are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times, and no resolution, rule, or formal action shall be considered binding except as taken or made at such meeting.
A long history of recognizing the public’s right to hear
In 1971 the Florida Attorney General wrote to the Hialeah City Attorney regarding whether city council members could be heard in a public dining room.
The “open-meeting” requirement of the Sunshine Law contemplates more than just perfunctory approval of matters brought before a board or commission. Oftentimes the most important aspect of a public meeting is not the final vote of the public body on a particular question but rather the discussion period which, under normal circumstances, precedes a vote taken by the public body. As noted by Chief Justice Adkins in Town of Palm Beach v. Gradison.
In October of 2000, Sandra Chance, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida said:
The law prohibits secret discussion about public business. Whispering about public business during a public meeting or discussing public business during a recess of a meeting not only violates the letter of the law, but the spirit of the Government-in-the-Sunshine Laws.
Former Repo Man and Republican Leader Berry’s rudeness and whispering could be stopped by one phone call or email from the Governor to his board, i.e., the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board, a board which he appoints. [READ MORE]