Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

Lake Shore Hospital Authority

Call it a manager - call it a director
Call it another LSHA way to squander taxpayer dollars

Former Chairman Jack BerryIn August of 2009, Lake Shore Hospital Authority Chairman, Jack Berry, began laying the groundwork to establish the position of a part time Hospital Authority executive director. He told the Authority Board, at least the two who showed up at the budget work shop, "You would probably want whoever does that position to actually physically be in control of running the day to day operations -- of the store. That's really what it is... and to supervise the employees." He continued, "I think it's maybe over steppin a little bit to put an executive director in a full time position. You could probably get by with a part time deal." Mr. Berry failed to mention that the Hospital Authority staff was two (2) people, both of whom were working well without supervision.

At the conclusion of the meeting Mr. Berry announced that he was resigning from the Authority Board. One word on the street was that Mr. Berry was resigning so that he could take the newly created position.

For years Mr. Naylor's been asking "Where is the plan?"

Dr. Waseem Kahn
LSHA Board member Dr. Waseem Kahn, making a point about the director position.

On October 12, 2009, LSHA board member, Dr. Waseem Kahn told the board that the Hospital Authority needed some continuity and direction. He said they needed an executive director "to see where we're headed as an Authority and what the direction is." Dr. Kahn wanted to go right out and advertise "getting an executive director."

Board member Bruce Naylor, President of Columbia Bank, told the Board, "Before I see that I'd like to see a plan. We buy real estate; we build a building; we have fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayer. I've got to see a plan. Once I see a plan, I can develop... performance criteria for the executive director."

Columbia Bank President, Bruce Naylor
LSHA Board member and Columbia Bank President, Bruce Naylor.

Mr. Naylor has been complaining about the lack of a business plan for the Authority for at least the two years that your reporter has been covering the Authority.

Dr. Kahn: "We have to identify goals... Without someone who is trying to put together a plan... we won't have any direction... I don't think it should be something permanent. I think it is something we should try with clear cut goals and expectations and if those aren't met then we don't keep doing it."

Many people in the community feel that it is the Board's responsibility to determine its direction.

Mr. Naylor said, "An aggressive executive director will be able to provide for public education and provide to the taxpayer why we exist and what we do. Our image is everything."

The Authority Board has never asked the folks, the taxpayers of Columbia County, the ones who fund and own the Authority, what they want. Indeed, at every opportunity they have refused to ask.

Against increasing government – doing it anyway

LSHA Board Chairman, Marc Vann
Mr. Vann was against increasing government, but is recommending doing it anyway.

Chairman Marc Vann added his comments to the conversation:  "I'm always leery of increasing government... I'm in agreement that at some point we would need one, but right now we've took on another staff member, so basically doubled our administrative expenses. I don't know that at this point in time we want to take on that additional expense, with the idea they could bring something to the table for the indigent care.... I would like to give ourselves time to see if Sue (Sue Fraze -- 14yr LSHA veteran) and Jose (since replaced) can handle it"

 Mr. Vann continued and explained that the Authority just spent $15,000 on computer equipment to help the Authority "integrate and work with Shands."

Mr. Vann concluded: "I don't know that right now is the time to consider bringing on other staff for a job that we are going to figure out what they need to do or they don't need to do."

Dr. Kahn again mentioned hiring someone to establish goals and that he hoped that an executive director could help clarify the goals of the Authority.

A few minutes later, Dr. Kahn changed his mind and said that the executive director is not the one who makes the plans, but he is the board's liaison "for what we want and what we hope is the direction that we want to get this board."

In January, the LSHA advertised for a part time or full time manager. After seven months of discussion they still weren't sure. They also took out the salary range and dumbed down the qualifications to eliminate the need for a college degree. This is a practice that is common in Columbia County.

Who is running the show?

Marlin Feagle and Richard Powell
Marling Feagle and Richard Powell were two thirds of the secretly convened selection committee.

At the February 8, 2010 LSHA board meeting, Chairman Vann announced that he, along with the outside contractors, LSHA attorney Marlin Feagle and the inside – outside internal and external auditor and financial consultant for the LSHA, Richard Powell, selected five finalists for the Authority members to consider.

Nowhere in the record did the Authority Board ever authorize Mr. Vann or anybody else to cull through the applicant's resumes and come up with the five they thought were the most qualified, but they did.

Former board member and Authority Chairman, "good ole boy" Jack Berry was obviously not selected based on his resume. (go to resumes)

The finalist interviews will be held on Wednesday, February 17th at the authority headquarters at 5pm.

This special meeting was not advertised in the Lake City Reporter, nor is it announced on the LSHA calendar as of 8:30am today. The Lake City Reporter did run a small article on page five of Sunday's newspaper about the interviews.

On February 8th, when the Authority Attorney Marlin Feagle was asked if there was sufficient time to advertise the meeting, he responded: "We need to do it right away..."

Floating on a sea or working families' taxpayer dollars, it's business as usual at the LSHA.

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Find out more about the LSHA
 • go to Index of stories
 Authority Manager job descriptions
• Go to October 12, 2009 job description
• Go to January 11, 2010 job description
• Go to January 26, 2010 job description
All the applicant's resumes can be found here, with the finalists marked "finalist."