Turning Sunshine on its head in Port Orange

News Journal  Editor
Daytona Beach,  FL
ted0Your 08-14-14 editorial ” Keep Sunshine strong in Port Orange “  noting  my distain regarding City policy requiring volunteer board members to use  city-issued accounts “when conducting city business “   fails to inquire as to the motivation for that  policy,  its practical consequences, or indeed even what  constitutes  city business.
This  policy was put in place by an administration that was receiving  intense and legitimate  criticism for  incompetence across multiple departments,  in an effort one could argue,   to  silence its critics.
It  exceeds State Public records law by requiring  volunteer board members to deliver to the City Clerk on an ongoing basis ANY records  that could  be alleged are  public records.   Unlike State law it places the City in potential legal jeopardy of having to compel production of its volunteers   every time anyone alleges  a public record has not been delivered to the City  Clerk…..irrespective of whether that  record can be named or proven to even exists.
Indeed your  paper reported on 08-12-14  “ Public records fight rages “ that after examining the Audit & Budget binders he had requested from me the former Manager “ expressed his concerns that Noftall is not providing all public documents in his possession”    He cannot name  which documents have not been produced or  if such  documents even exist,  but this policy which he helped craft and pass compels the City to assist in his production demands none the less.
You note that I will fully comply with the former Manager’s records request and in so doing you should understand I will be providing  hundreds of  personal e-mails from my personal computer which the former Manager alleges are public records.  Many of these e-mails were sent to various media outlets and  many more are already on the City’s servers as they were sent or copied to Council and the Manager or City Attorney.   While  that production does not bother me beyond its  inconvenience  because my intent all along has been  to publicize  managements incompetence,  that may not be the case with others  who may choose to either not volunteer,  Or  not express their opinions knowing that searches could be demanded of their personal phones and computers  should anyone ever  allege they may contain a public record that has not been forwarded to the City Clerk.
The practical effect of this policy has turned Sunshine on its head in Port Orange from one where citizens may inquire and demand of government, TO  where defeated candidates  or  disgraced  officials  may now avail of City policy to inquire and demand of its citizens or at least those citizens who  serve on volunteer boards.
The potential chilling effect of that prospect  on volunteer participation, and on public discourse should be of concern for all lovers of the  First Amendment and most certainly  for  any  paper that proudly places John Milton’s famous quote on its masthead, as does the Daytona Beach News Journal.
Ted Noftall
Port Orange

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8 thoughts on “Turning Sunshine on its head in Port Orange

  • August 15, 2014 at 5:03 am

    (Sent this morning)
    Dear Mayor and City Council,
    I just read Ted Noftall’s letter to the News-Journal in which he says he will be turning over many of his personal emails to you. I believe your intent is to then send those emails to your former City Manager, Greg Kisela, or at least read them and decide if they should be given to Mr Kisela.
    I have sent emails to Mr Noftall in the past and have always considered them to be private communications between two individuals. The same can be said for any replies from him to me. Now it turns out these may all become public, without my consent, simply because you allege Mr Noftall has not turned over to you certain unspecified records that may or may not be considered City business. Keep in mind that my communications with Mr Noftall have all been via personal email accounts from personal computers and cell phones and have not been about City business of any kind.
    This is a serious invasion of my privacy. I do not know what, if any, legal rights I might have in this matter but I will know soon. Please consider this a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act for copies of all emails that Mr Noftall turns over to the City in the same format they are received.
    Threats and intimidation have been used by City officials against Mr Noftall in this matter for some time and a new low was embraced by vice-Mayor Don Burnette in his use of hearsay and innuendo at the last regular Council Meeting. I’m afraid now you may have even gone a step further and are threatening not only Mr Noftall but anyone who talks to him. It’s obvious Big Brother doesn’t like it when you don’t talk nice to him.
    Most publicly,
    Mike Gardner
    618 Ruth St
    Port Orange, FL 32127

  • August 15, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I don’t mind saying I am confused. I do not know if Ted is a saint or sinner in all of this but what I do know is that if only half of what he is saying is accurate then this City is in deep trouble. If most of what he is saying is accurate then we really have been electing and employing a bunch of overpaid clowns.

  • August 15, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    I have also exchanged private e-mails with Ted. I guess I going to get a lawyer too. Maybe everyone that has exchanged private e-mails with Ted should get together and file a nice big lawsuit.

    • August 15, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      This sunshine issue is much bigger than any abrasiveness by Ted.
      I would like the city council to publish a record of whom they speak to on phones.
      Publish any letters sent to them regarding Port Orange City issues.
      Publish any e mail to or from their city e mail address.
      Publish a record of any face to face meetings with people regarding city issues.
      Publish any phone text messages to and from city council people regarding city issues.
      A record of any kind of communication from city employees to or from a city councilman.
      When I say records I mean the names of individuals, the time and date, and a brief description of the nature of the communication. For instance, personal, riverwalk, Ted Noftall, blogs,Greg Kisela, LaCour.
      Now that would really be a sunshine law.
      The city under the direction of Mayor Allen Green is getting itself deeper into issues and problems.
      Why has it been that the city could not find a way to work with Ted and the activists? My opinion is because they have been use to being elitists and to not discuss that which disagrees with their vision of themselves. –They are certainly not like Bob Pohlmann who is willing to at least discuss the issues. hank springer

  • August 15, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I hope you realize that one on the hoots of all of this is that Council has exempted themselves from the very public records policy they are forcing volunteer board members to comply with.
    The hypocrisy doesn’t get much larger than that.

  • August 15, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Do you think there is enough sun block to keep Burnette from getting sunburn over this. I think when he finally comes out of the shade he will end up with sun poisoning. Other than special interests do you think anyone with one iota of integrity will ever vote for him in a future election? Don Burnette seems to be an enemy of transparency and open governance as well as being a hypocrite.

    • August 20, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      Revenge of the Nerds III “Nerds At Dias”, coming to a theater near you.

  • August 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Mr Noftall is all about open government and transparency i am.sure he has no problem shareing emails. I am sure he would tell you that it would be totally wrong for him to want every city employee and council person to ne open and not expect himself to be open, god bless you ted share everything with every person thats what i think!!!


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