Dr. Waseem Khan, Chairman of the Gov. Scott appointed Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board, again ignored SB50, the Florida legislation which specifically gives the public the right to be heard before a board or commission makes a final decision.
Last night, when resident Barbara Lemley took exception to Dr. Khan’s refusal to allow public comment on a matter, which was suddenly to come before the board for a vote, he told her, “Keep your mouth closed.” The rest of the Scott appointed board did nothing as he asked her to leave the meeting. Ms. Lemley left and called the police.
2012, laying the groundwork: eviction without warning
On June 11, 2012, two of Columbia County’s biggest political insiders, Representative Elizabeth Porter’s Chief of Staff and then Authority Board Chairman, Koby Adams, and Authority Manager Jack Berry, by executive fiat, eliminated the public’s long standing right to address the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board.
In December 2013, the Authority Board passed new rules. When your reporter asked if the public was going to be able to see the proposed rules, the now Chairman of the Board, Dr. Waseem Khan, sat silent as Manager Berry’s front man, Board member Koby Adams, blew off the question.
Board member Marc Vann, of the Vann Clan, inquired to be certain that a member of the public could be removed from a Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board meeting without any warning. After Manager Berry assured him that this was the case, the new rule passed unanimously.
12:30 pm: the day of the meeting – request denied
Yesterday afternoon, September 15, at about 12:30pm, Ms. Lemley went to the Authority and asked to see the agenda material for the evening’s meeting.
Manager Berry told her that there was no time for her to inspect records. He said, “If you want a copy of it put in a public records request and I’ll make you a copy of it.”
Most of the rooms in the Authority Hdq. have cameras. Ms. Lemley told Manager Berry she would sit down in a room with cameras. She said the material she wanted to see was “a copy.”
Manager Berry told her (verbatim), “You are not going to disrupt the business of this office just to pacify you.”
Ms. Lemley again told Manager Berry she was looking to see a copy.
Manager Berry again asked, “Do you want a copy?”
Ms. Lemley told Manager Berry that she had a right to inspect the records.
Manager Berry again asked her if she wanted a copy.
Ms. Lemley gave up and left the building.
Ms. Lemley told the Observer, “The waiting room was empty. Other than somebody sitting outside on the steps, I could see no one else in the public areas of the building. There was nobody there.”
September 15: the Board Meeting
On the evening’s agenda, which was supposed to be posted to the Authority website 7 days before the meeting, but wasn’t, was a seemingly benign item: “Presentation – FDEP Low-Score Site Initiative – Victoria Richmond, HCR.”
After Ms. Richmond made her presentation, Chairman Khan asked the Board, “What do you wanna’ do?” As it later turned-out, the firm had been meeting in the back room with Manager Berry for some time. HCR was looking to sign a contract with the Authority.
From the audience Ms. Lemley said, “I need to interject.”
Chairman Khan responded, “No you don’t. No you don’t.”
Ms. Lemley replied, “Yes I do.”
SB50, the law, allows the public to comment before a public body takes action.
Ms. Lemley explained, “You’re taking action.”
Chairman Khan replied, “You cannot comment, so keep your mouth closed.”
Ms. Lemley said, “But you’re taking action.”
Chairman Khan responded, “No, no – no, no.”
Ms. Lemley concluded, “On an event, even though it’s not costing the Board any money.”
Chairman Khan, “Barbara, I gotta’ ask you to leave. You gotta go. You gotta go. You can’t do that. I’m asking you voluntarily to leave.”
Manager Berry told Dr. Khan to recess the meeting. He did. Ms. Lemley left. She kept talking, continuing her objection on the way out.
After Ms. Lemley left, Dr. Khan reconvened the meeting and after some discussion, the Board approved the contract with HCR.
Ms. Lemley filed a complaint with the Lake City Police Department.