Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - Tavares, FL
Guest column from Richard Riker on the recent July 10th meeting of the Board of the North Lake County Hospital District. I added the images.
It was July 10th 2012, at 5:30 in the county commission chambers in what is referred to as the round court house in Taveres Fl. that the most recent meeting of the North Lake Hospital Special Taxing Board occurred. As agreed in the previous meeting Commissioner Marilyn Bainter, the only member of the board who volunteered to help in any way, arranged for a representative of the WellFlorida Council to speak to the board in order to initiate a dialogue that could result in that group doing a similar study, as they did in '93, of the health needs of Lake County.
The presentation was well worth listening to, but it seems the board chairman Ken Carpenter thought it was well worth ignoring because he jumped right in where he left off at the last meeting. Like Chicken Little who ran around worrying that “the sky is falling” Commissioner Carpenter continued to run around, if only symbolically, worrying “how do we find an auditor”. He examined this subject for the next hour and a half, making the total amount of time spent on this one issue in the neighborhood of four hours.
During the hour and a half of this excruciating examination of who and how the audit would be done Commissioner Carpenter offered what he called his ideas on the subject in the form of a written document which he read. My polling the audience after the meeting found many were of the opinion he had not written it, he probably depended representatives of the hospitals to write it for him. This was quite evident when he didn't even know what the acronyms in the statement stood for.
When he called the meeting to order his first order of business was to state that no comments from the audience would be accepted. This did not turn out to be the case for time and time again during the meeting he called on hospital administrators and employees in the audience to give their opinions. If you did not represent the hospitals you were not allowed to speak.
Here again we find this board representing the hospitals not the tax payers of Lake county. Instead of implementing the legislation and requiring the hospitals to conform to it, the board is doing everything in its power to see to it that the hospitals get the lions share of our taxes by attempting to tailor the legislation to the hospitals requirements.
The hospitals say they need our tax dollars even though each year they show large multi-million dollar profits on their 990 forms. Their claim that they need our tax dollars is repudiated by this fact but what of the smaller clinics in the county. The new legislation governing the District opens the door for our tax dollars to be put to work financially helping the smaller clinics who are not part of multi-million dollar private corporation like the hospitals.
Further, if this present board were truly working for the betterment of the residents of Lake they would have jumped at an opportunity to engage with the WellFlorida Council but maybe doing so isn't in the best interests of the hospitals.
(Richard attends many local government Board meetings including the School District Board and the NLCHD). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .