Friday, May 29, 2009

Darkness at Noon in the 'Sunshine Law' State

If you want to know how poorly Florida politicians and other public officials obey the state's Sunshine Law, take a look at what has surfaced long after the St. Pete Times politely requested all documents and correspondence relating to Hangar-gate. The St. Pete newspaper's blog now has the email. [Is This Willie Meggs' Smoking Gun?]

Eye on Miami, a truly excellent blog, isn't surprised the evidence surfaced only after grand jury indictments were handed down against state representative Ray Sansom, college ex-president Bob Richburg, and Destin developer Jay Odom. EOM writes:
The issue of government failing to provide accurate information requested under Sunshine Act requests is not a new one to me. Having followed environmental issues in Florida as a writer and an activist for many years, I have found that even when Sunshine Act requests are highly specific, it is not unusual for government staff to "scrub the record" when complying with Sunshine Act requests. This game of cat-and-mouse never gets reported in the press and is rarely litigated. Who has the money to sue over records that are hidden in files or on computers?

This is particularly bad in areas of public policy-- like the environment-- where corporate interests count more than the public. * * * Your government's attitude: screw you.
In a number of other states we have seen public officials scrupulously observe their open records laws. Make a request, and they not only respond with everything relevant, but actually help you by suggesting additional sources where more can be found.

But not in Florida. Here, it's always dark under the Sunshine Law.

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