Ways To Circumvent The Intent of Florida Sunshine Laws?

Florida_state_sealHank, I am also not a lawyer, but it is my understanding that no violation of the Sunshine Law takes place when one member of a Public Board communicates with another member one-on-one on issues that may come before the board.  However,  a violation would occur if any majority of the board discussed those same issues together in private.   

As a case at point, it appears that this City Manager may be meeting regularly with each Councilman one-on-one to discuss Council issues.   Notwithstanding, the fact this policy may be legal, I feel it somewhat circumvents the spirit of the Sunshine Law.    Moreover, how can we now fault Cory for communicating with Ted on a Board issues, when in a way the City’s CEO is doing the same thing?

from : Hank Springer
to agreen, bford, dburnette, dkennedy, Drew, Gerald, Greg, poan, wmiller, Corry, Mark, Newton, Patrick, Ted

hank4Good Morning Mr. Kisela,

 I would like to comment on some points discussed in previous e mails by you, Ted Noftall and Corey Berman, regarding possible violation of sun shine laws.

 I do think that you as City Manager have a responsibility to bring up your concerns about possible violations of sunshine laws, when a member of the budget advisory board sends out an e mail, and includes the e mail address of  a current member of that board, and the content of such an e mail addresses issues to be entertained by that board.  The sunshine laws are a joke, but nevertheless they are in place, notwithstanding the many ways to hide behind the sunshine laws, or to circumvent the intent of the sunshine laws.  For instance, Corey could have voiced his opinions to everyone in the world, either by way of the manager’s read file, a blog web service, and news media, and although a sitting co member of the board Corey is on, might read such opinion, as I understand it, no violation of the sunshine laws takes place.

 Ted seems to say that although Corey committed a violation, other members of boards are doing worse.  I would like to hear about those specifics.

 It is disheartening that about so an important issue, the city attorney has not after two meetings of the advisory budget board, presented her clarifications about the sunshine laws.

 I wonder Mr. Kisela if  you meant to say, that Corey could name positions which need to be eliminated, but not publicly, because it would make for a threatening work environment for employees?  I hope you did not mean that, because the past secrecy in budget planning and analysis, or perhaps I should say its intentional complexity, has been a serious detriment to transparency in our city government.  I have seen a lot of data released, in various categories and compartments, which I speculate has driven most interested citizens to abandon their quest for information.  Only the persevering and sometimes obstinate pursuer, such as Ted Noftall, can survive to get to the bottom of what all the data means.  Corey on the other hand, gets right to the point and the specifics, and perhaps that is an unsettling way to operate for those accustomed to the old way of doing things in City Hall.

 I think the evidence shows, that although an “intimidating work environment” is not needed, a more “tightening up of the work environment” is needed among Port Orange City workers. The good, dedicated city workers will not mind, but would probably appreciate the new fairness in true work evaluations by the administration.

 It is only right that those professionals in city administration like yourself, point out some of the issues that those taking part in city operations must be careful to abide by.  It is also interesting, that in so bringing up such considerations to citizens such as Mr. Corey, the other side of the coin cannot be ignored, that there are ways to circumvent the sun shine laws, and to ignore sound professional operational guide lines and procedures, which have taken place right here in Port Orange, which have brought into question ethics and legality, possibly violated by some professional city administrators, who nevertheless were happy and eager to follow sunshine laws to the “T”, and to remain even more on the safe and over cautious side in regards to not telling the public what they were thinking, or planning, until it was a done deal.

 I am not a lawyer, but I would not be surprised if the outcome of the questions raised by you is that Corey can state his opinions in public, but not to a sitting member on the board he serves on.  And we all smile, when we know that the co members of Corey’s board can legitimately read his opinions that were not directed towards them. Corey, I suggest you get with the political way to play the game, although your forth righteousness might not be appreciated by the professionals administrators.

 I am interested to see how this all turns out, because the issues touched upon go beyond any communication procedure which applies only to Corey.


Sincerely, hank springer


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