What once was free and open is now behind a gatekeeper.


Bring transparency back to Port Orange

Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 5:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 5:05 p.m.


Open government should not be viewed as a hindrance. Rather, officials should treat it as a fundamental obligation on their part.
So it was extremely disappointing to see that one of the first acts of Port Orange’s new city manager was to end the practice of posting his office’s emails on the city’s website daily. That practice was started by then-City Manager Ken Parker in 2010 and proved to be popular. The News-Journal’s Casmira Harrison reported that the manager’s emails were the third-most visited link on the city’s website, behind the home page and customer service, from Sept. 24, 2014 through Sept. 23, 2015.
However, Jake Johansson, who took over for interim City Manager David Harden in August, complained that his staff was spending too much time managing the emails and requests for information. Now, anyone who wishes to view the emails must submit a request to the city clerk, under the Florida public records law. The city will charge $15 per hour for the staff time to provide them when requested, with no charge for the first half hour of staff time.
Johansson’s move doesn’t violate any laws. Cities aren’t required to post emails online, and Port Orange was believed to be the only one in Florida that did so daily. That made it a leader in transparent government, one others should have emulated. Clearly, though, Port Orange’s new policy is a step back.
Not only is access to public records being restricted, but charging $15 an hour for people to exercise their rights under the Sunshine Law imposes a burden and creates a disincentive to request information. What once was free and open is now behind a gatekeeper.
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Read more via:   Bring transparency back to Port Orange | News-JournalOnline.com

One thought on “What once was free and open is now behind a gatekeeper.

  • October 1, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    public access is not being restricted at all, it just not free for you and all laws are being followed. you should pressure your Florida government to make all records free and not bash the people following the rules. What you want is to not follow the rules and get your way. You want open government and it is available to you as the law is written. Please stop complaining when the city follows the laws set forth to them by the state.


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