Business

State Attorney says Chamber must follow Sunshine Law

July 11, 2013

We received this mail from State Attorney Bill Eddins: 20130711153920481. I will report more on this later.

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  • George Hawthorne July 12, 2013 at 7:38 am

    CJ,

    In short, the answer is any entity that is funded with public dollars is subject to the Sunshine Law.

    The Sunshine Law applies to “any board or commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision.”

    The statute thus applies to public collegial bodies within this state, at the local as well as state level. City of Miami Beach v. Berns, 245 So. 2d 38 (Fla. 1971). It is equally applicable to elected and appointed boards or commissions. AGO 73-223.

    Florida courts have stated that it was the Legislature’s intent to extend application of the Sunshine Law so as to bind “every ‘board or commission’ of the state, or of any county or political subdivision over which it has dominion and control.” Times Publishing Company v. Williams, 222 So. 2d 470, 473 (Fla. 2d DCA 1969), disapproved in part on other grounds, Neu v. Miami Herald Publishing Company, 462 So. 2d 821 (Fla. 1985). And see Turner v. Wainwright, 379 So. 2d 148, 155 (Fla. 1st DCA 1980), affirmed and remanded, 389 So. 2d 1181 (Fla. 1980) (legislative requirement that certain board meetings must be open to the public does not imply that the board could meet privately to discuss other matters).

    Based upon the specific terms of the statute and the “dominion and control” test approved by the courts, the following are some of the entities which the Attorney General’s Office has concluded are subject to the Sunshine Law:

    interlocal agreement boards–AGOs 84-16 (five-county consortium created pursuant to Florida Interlocal Cooperation Act), 82-66 (regional sewer facility board), 76-193 (Central Florida Commission on the Status of Women), and Inf. Op. to Nicoletti, November 18, 1987 (Loxahatchee Council of Governments, Inc.);

  • CJ Lewis July 11, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Do Florida’s Open Government and Public Records Laws also apply to other private entities that receive all or most of their funding from local governments serving a public purpose? As example, Pensacola proposes to give $75,000 next year to Arts, Culture and Entertainment, Inc. (ACE). I believe that ACE asked for $500,000 from Escambia County but may have to settle for less, perhaps in the neighborhood of $400,000. At a recent Commission meeting, the Commissioners left the door open that David Bear could also seek taxpayer dollars from the Tourist Development Council. You would think that this guidance to the Chamber would also apply to ACE and other groups.