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Here’s The Scoop…Public Records Requests…The Deception…And The Low Down…

THE LOW DOWN ….IS LOW DOWN ON SO MANY LEVELS….

A Public Records Request is counted by the number of Public Record Requests made…as shown below…

A Public Records Request is not counted by what is contained…and is not counted by the number of pages…how absurd!…

To try and clean up this latest deception espoused by the Vice Mayor and Mc-Gang…using such lame criteria as justification…(the numbers still do not add up)…would  further make his assertion on the dais  that other municipalities receive 70 requests per year………untrue also….(can’t have it both ways)…OOPS!…

By the way…did you notice the word PUBLIC…not private…that is the difference that allows the public access …for exactly this reason to make sure the public has access to see what is going on behind the scenes…

With the new Town  Administration… and a myriad of questionable actions …(hiring practices, the hotel, the pavilion,the VFD non-action,the code citations to name a few) …any increase in public records requests…any sudden spike in those asking for the same public records requests should be a “red light”…that something is not right….

Rather than circle the wagons…and point fingers at those who are making the requests…. trying to shut down the process….doesn’t it speak loud and clear that the Vice Mayor…and the Administration have something to hide?….

As far as “going after this administration”…take a good look at the Vice Mayor and his Mc-Gang……with the prior  Town administration they went after and pushed out the door …In fact these actions  are listed as highlights included in his accomplishments…(in the last issue of the BTSTimes…in his comments column)….along with the CIC…(listed on their defunct website also as major accomplishments)…HMMMM….

There is a pattern seen here since the election…with the Commissioner taking on the role of Vice Mayor/de-facto VFD Chief…that is just downright mindboggling…to muzzle the residents…and the press……to divide and conquer with badmouthing fellow Commissioners…while trying to keep the public…the voters from getting information through the proper venue of public requests…

Commissioner Silverstone often uses his Commissioner Comment time…saying he is sick of the negativity…the “words”…and if you want to make a difference run for office …get involved…but don’t sit on the sidelines and criticize…

This writer begs to differ…those who write and voice opinion about their elected officials…their government are a long time part of the process…and part of the “political arena”…on all levels local…state….  national…and global…….always have been….always will…

The way to change what the writers write…is in the actions of the elected officials and the government…

In conclusion…attempts to stop the transparency…shut down the flow of information…by threatening…disregarding it….. stalling it …..and making it more difficult….cannot be tolerated or allowed by the the taxpaying voters living in this town…

DEFINITION OF A PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST….

‘(11) “Public records” means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.’

HOW TO ASK FOR PUBLIC RECORDS…

‘Sample Florida Public Records Request Letter

Dear [Records Custodian]:

I am writing to request [be as specific about your request as possible], pursuant to the Public Records Act, Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes.

This request includes copies of every document related to the matter, regardless of the format in which the information is stored. [If the information you are looking for is on a computer somewhere, remind the custodian that information stored on a computer is as much a public record as a written page in a book or stored in a filing cabinet.]

If you refuse to provide this information, Chapter 119 requires you advise me in writing and indicate the applicable exemption to the Public Records Act. Also, please state with particularity the reasons for your decision, as required by Section 119.07(2)(a). If the exemption you are claiming only applies to a portion of the records, please delete that portion and provide photocopies of the remainder of the records, according to Section 119.07(2)(a).

I agree to pay the actual cost of duplication as defined in Section 119.07(1)(a). However, if you anticipate that in order to satisfy this request, “extensive use” of information technology resources or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance as defined in Section 119.07(1)(b) will be required, please provide a written estimate and justification.

I request these records be available by [pick a reasonable date]. If you have any questions or need more information in order to expedite this request, please call me at [phone number where you or your editor can be reached].

Sincerely,

Your Name’

HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE….

‘The Florida Public Records Act does not compel agencies to respond to requests within a specific time limit, but the courts have held that an agency is required to respond within a “reasonable” time to locate the records and redact exempt portions. Fla. Stat. § 119.07(1)(a), (c).’

WHAT’S THE CHARGE….

‘An agency can charge you either a set fee prescribed by law, or if no fee is prescribed, no more than 15 cents per page or 20 cents per double-sided page. If you request a certified copy of a public record, then the agency is likely to charge up to $1 per page.’

WHAT CONSTITUTES  AN  EXTENSIVE  USE CHARGE….

‘If you make a request of a nature and volume that requires the agency to make extensive use of information technology and/or staff time, the agency is entitled to charge a reasonable service charge which reflects the actual cost incurred. Fla. Stat. § 119.07(4).’

‘Note that the law only applies to existing documents. The law does not require a custodian of public records to create a record in response to your request (but she may do so at her discretion).’

GETTING NO RESPONSE….WHAT TO DO….

‘What Are Your Remedies in Florida

If an agency denies your request, or takes an unreasonably long time to respond, make sure that you have the denial in writing. If the agency has not cited the specific statutory provision under which it claims that the document is exempt, insist that it does so.

You have three options for seeking to have a denial reviewed:

  • seek mediation through the Office of the Attorney General Open Government Mediation Program;
  • file a complaint with your local state attorney (state attorneys are empowered to prosecute suits charging public officials with violations of the Public Records Act); or
  • file a writ of mandamus in court to challenge the agency’s denial of your request and enforce compliance.

Additionally, the Florida First Amendment Foundation invites members of the public to contact it when facing this decision.

If you wish to file a lawsuit to enforce compliance with your request, refer to our section on Finding Legal Help for more information on how to get legal assistance to help you assess the merits of a potential lawsuit against the agency. If you are successful in court, the court will issue an injunction requiring the agency to disclose the records. Additionally, if the court finds that the agency’s refusal was unlawful, it is empowered to require the agency to pay your attorney’s fees. See Fla. Stat. § 119.12.’

http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/florida/access-public-records-florida

THE STATUTES…

http://myfloridalegal.com/sun.nsf/manual/D85CDE087C3A6818852566F3007272EA

more to come….definitely!….

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