by Columbia County Observer’s Stew Lilker
December 13, 2016
Last night’s Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board meeting was highlighted by no business and Manager Berry turning his back on the two members of the public that showed up for the Authority’s monthly meeting. Discounting the public comments, the Board breezed through the agenda in 5 minutes and 30 seconds. The Authority’s financial advisor-auditor-account (one person), according to last month’s minutes, was to present the Authority audit. Finance man Powell showed up, the audit didn’t and neither did an explanation.
The Governor’s Board
It doesn’t want to go on the record
At the November meeting, Representative Elizabeth Porter’s Chief of Staff, Koby Adams, a long time Authority Board member, took the helm as Authority Chairman. At that time he announced that questions would not be answered. However, questions could be asked after the meeting or via email.
After Mr. Adams announced that a workshop would be held in January, he invited citizen Barbara Lemley to the lectern to address the Board.
“There was $995 dollars sent to the Lake City Reporter for an ad. Why does the Board feel it’s necessary to spend that amount of money when a half a page or a quarter of a page would have worked? Where in the budget is this amount reflected?”
Mr. Adams responded, “I think it’s under advertising.”
Richard Powell, the 30 year plus finance man for the Authority was sitting with the Board, as was Authority Manager Berry, who had turned his back on Ms. Lemley as she was approaching the lectern.
Neither said a word.
The Authority budget does not include a budget line for advertising and has not for the previous seven years.
Attorney Fred Koberlein
He is not answering questions either
Ms. Lemley followed up with a question about a charge on Authority Attorney Fred Koberlein’s November billing. Mr. Koberlein’s fee was part of the consent agenda to be approved later in the meeting.
Beginning in March 2016, in eight of the last nine months, Mr. Koberlein had billed the Authority for work involving Cintas Corporation.
Ms. Lemley addressed the Board, “In Mr. Koberlein’s legal bill was an item for Cintas legal counsel. I’d like to know what this is for.”
Mr. Adams said, “Send your question to me in an email. I’ll see if I can get it answered for you.”
Ms. Lemley mentioned that Mr. Koberlein was sitting right there.
Mr. Koberlein responded, “That’s legal counsel for Cintas, which is a corporation.”
Ms. Lemley followed up, “In regards to what event? Is the Authority being sued?
There was a pregnant pause.
Mr. Koberlein got back on track.
“I can see you after the meeting,” he said.
Mr. Adams didn’t miss a beat, “That would be fine. Next question or next comment.”
Ms. Lemley followed up, “Why can’t it be addressed here?”
Mr. Adams responded, “Because I said it couldn’t.”
Next Up Your Reporter
What is the Policy?
Your reporter is also a resident of the Special Taxing District known as the Lake Shore Hospital Authority. Round trip driving time to attend Authority meetings is approximately 1.5 hours.
Mr. Adams invited your reporter to the lectern.
Observer: “Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I just have two questions. Regarding Cintas, I don’t believe that’s an acceptable answer. ‘See me after the meeting.’ The question was asked publicly.”
Mr. Adams responded, “Mr. Lemley. During this time — it’s for comments. If you have comments, you’re welcome to make comments. I’m ruling you out of order.”
Observer: “My name is not Mr. Lemley.”
Mr. Adams: “I’m sorry…. but both your names start with ‘L.'”
Observer: “Is it now the policy that you cannot address and expect a public answer from people that are being paid with public money? Is that the policy of the Lake Shore Hospital Authority?”
Chairman Adams ratchets back the no question edict, but maintains questions won’t be answered publicly.
Mr. Adams explains the unwritten policy, “The policy is that if you want to make a comment about our agenda, you’re welcome to make a comment, even if it’s in the form of a question, but we are not going to answer it… If you want to send an email, you’re welcome to. But we’re not going to drag this out, me explainin’ it to you.”
Observer: “I’m just trying to grasp the situation.”
Mr. Adams quipped, “Obviously, it’s a little difficult.”
Observer: “It is.”
Mr. Berry maintained his posture with his back turned and his face covered up. Mr. Berry seemed to bow-up.
Your reporter commented, “Mr. Berry turns his back on me and other people. He’s very rude.”
Mr. Adams interrupted, “Mr. Lilker.”
Your reporter followed up, “That’s not derogatory. That’s a statement of fact.”
Your reporter continued with his question.
A long time ago, folks stopped coming to Lake Shore Hospital Authority meetings. From time to time others showed an interest. It is not hard to understand why folks don’t come to Governor Scott’s Lake Shore Hospital Authority meetings. [READ MORE]