I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sunshine Law=Trouble

I was accused of violating the State of Florida's Sunshine Law about 18 months back--and even though I did not violate the law it was never the less distressing. It sucks to be accused of things publically that you have not done.

Here was the accusation against me.

Of course there was no merit to the accusations, I had our attorney present during my discussions with Mrs. Brown-Curry, and I specifically addressed the Sunshine Law "fear factor" before our conversation. But I knew, and I was right, that I was not violating the sunshine with the discussion I had with Mrs. Brown-Curry. I never discussed anything that would or could come to a vote---it was a PERSONAL conversation. Having the attorney present did not preclude accusations from being made, though.

It did not matter, because the mere appearance of a meeting between two members of the same board together could and did induce a rush to judgement that "a sunshine law violation" had occurred.

Now a city council member and a county commissioner are being accused of violating the sunshine law.

I certainly hope that something that is coming before a commission that both of these individuals are members of and will vote on was not discussed during their alleged meetings. I hope they do not get dragged through the mud wrongly as others, (and I) have in the past.

To me it seems beligerant to be accused of violating a law when no evidence has been presented that you did, in fact, violate a law.

But many people, especially the press, do not understand the Florida sunshine laws.

Two people can meet and talk about subjects without necessarily talking about subjects that would constitute a violation of Florida sunshine laws.

Around here though, at least in the local "press", it seems to be fashionable to assume public officials are guilty until proven innocent.

What a shame.

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