May 2011: Local governments in Florida fared much better in a statewide public records audit this year, with most of them complying with the Public Records Law.

  State Issues

List of Counties


 

 

Florida County & State Access

Issues

2011-2014

published in The Brechner Report


Florida Marion County Putnam County Flagler County St. Johns County Clay County Bradford County Duval County Nassau County Union County Baker County Gilchrist County Columbia County Dixie County Lafayette County Suwannee County Hamilton County Taylor County Madison County Jefferson County Wakulla County Leon County Franklin County Liberty County Gadsden County Gulf County Calhoun County Jackson County Bay County Washington County Holmes County Walton County Okaloosa County Santa Rosa County Escambia County Alachua County Monroe County Miami-Dade County Monroe County Broward County Collier County Hendry County Lee County Palm Beach County Martin County Highlands County Glades County Charlotte County Sarasota County De Soto County Hardee County Manatee County Okeechobee County St. Lucie County Indian River County Orange County Osceola County Polk County Hillsborough County Pinellas County Pasco County Hernando County Citrus County Sumter County Lake County Brevard County Seminole County Volusia County Marion County Volusia County Levy County

*The following information is based on stories reported in

The Brechner Report each month during 2011-2013*

*Full stories available upon request from The Brechner Center archive*

 

Alachua

  • Alachua County:

 

  • Alachua:

  • June 2012:A former city of Gainesville employee who filed an employement discrimination lawsuit against the city has been told she cannot receive records from the city related to the case unless she pays nearly $40,000.00. Erin Friedberg made a record's request in late 2011 and was told it would cost the city more than $39,000 to review the records to determine if they contained exempt information.

  • February 2012:The Florida State Attorney's Office found that the Alachua County Commission's long-held informal meetings were not a violation of the state's Sunshine Law. County Attorney Dave Wagner said that the meetings, which date back to the late 1990s, have been held as an opportunity to discuss and build concensus without taking a vote or final action.

  • February 2012:The University of Florida has been order to comply with a Wildwood-based animal rights activist group's request for records relating to 33 primates mentioned in a federal inspection report. The lawsuit was filed by Camille Marino, founder of Negotiation is Over.

November 2011: The national environmental organization Sierra Club filed suit against the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Services for allegedly violating Florida's Public Records Law by refusing to release records relating to a 2009 study.

August 2011: A circuit judge ruled in favor of a citizen who sued the city of High Springs after she alleged they took too long to hand over a job applicant's polygraph results. Judge Victor Hulslander ruled that the city unlawfully withheld the polygraph results of a police officer for 12 days.

  • February 2011: A University of Florida graduate has prevailed in his public records lawsuit against his alma mater, with a trial court ruling that he is entitled to copies of recordings of Student Government meetings. Frank Bracco filed suit against UF in August 2009 after being denied access to copies of video and audio recordings of Student Senate meetings.

Gainesville:

September 2013: Alachua County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson has suggested the county create blogs for each commissioner as a new platform to post their views on complex issues and links to related data.

April 2013: A three judge panel for the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee unanimously reuled that the University of Florida cannot redact the locations of its animal research labs in response to public records requests

November 2012: The city of Gainesville did not violate the state's Public Records Law by requiring a former employee to pay nearly $40,000 for public records.

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Baker

  • Baker County:

    Macclenny:

    April 2014: The Macclenny City Commission recently held a curative vote to affirm a secret ballot vote of a new city commissioner, according to the Baker County Press.

 

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Bay

  • Bay County:

July 2012: Following a public records request filed with the Bay Area Economic Development Alliance (EDA), it was discovered that former Bay Area EDA official Janet Watermeier deleted all of her emails prior to her departure from the agency.

January 2011: Former candidate for city commission John J. Molone is suing the City of Callaway for allegedly violating the Public Records Law. He said he never received a response to his request for a written policy on charges for records requiring extensive resources.

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Bradford

  • Bradford County:

    November 2012: Bradford County officials approved a social media policy for its employees that governs the use of websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

     

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Brevard

  • Brevard County:

  • September 2014: Several media organizations filed a legal brief in the appeal of the Brevard County Economic Development Commission public records case, according to Florida Today.

  • June 2014: Both parties to the Economic Development Commission for Florida's Space Coast public records case plan to appeal parts of hte recent ruling, according to Florida Today.

May 2014: A circuit court judge ruled that most records of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) for Florida's Space Coast are subject to Florida's Public Records Law, according to Florida Today. Circuit Judge John Moxley Jr. ruled that the EDC's documents are public records because the commission performs the government function of developing the local economy. Certain exemptions still apply to the EDC's documents, the paper reported.

March 2014:The Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space coast argued that it is a private agency at a hearing regarding whether EDC documents should be considered public records, according to Florida Today

December 2013:.Brevard County Clerk of Courts Mitch Needleman was charged with official misconduct, a third degree felony, for using his personal email for official business according to Florida Today.

  • September 2012: A circuit judge ruled that Clerk of Courts Mitch Needelman's office fulfilled most of the public records requests filed by politcal opponent Scott Ellis.

     

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Broward

Broward County: 

July 2012: A Southwest Ranches resident filed a public records lawsuit against the town, accusing it of withholding town officials' personal email addresses. A presvious lawsuit filed by the same resident was dismissed in March and the town plans to recover $20,000 in legal costs following that dismissal.

February 2012:The Florida Ethics Commission found no probable cause to pursue complaints against one current and four former Deerfield Beach officials. Separate complaints were filed against each of the five officials over allegations that they had broken state ethics rules for accepting and not reporting gifts.

December 2011: An audit of the Hallandale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency showed that the city has failed to properly track city land acquisitions, developer agreements and loans to businesses. City officials ordered the audit in August 2010 after suspecting that there were problems with records contained in the files.

December 2011: Lauderhill Mayor Richard Kaplan pledged that he would not speak with journalists unless they register as lobbyists, according to a new code of ethics enacted in Broward County, which requires elected officils to record the names of lobbyists with whom they meet.

 

  • Coral Springs:

  • February 2011:The City of Coral Springs has agreed to pay $90,000 in attorney's fees for two commissioners accused of violating the Open Meetings Law. They were suspended from office but later reinstated after a judge dismissed the charges during trial. City Commission members Tom Powers and Vincent Boccard were charged with misdemeanor counts of violating the Open Meetings Law. The two allegedly secretly met with police union leaders to talk about city business.

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    • Deerfield Beach:

    • November 2011: Officials for the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority rescinded a new policy allowing its officials to deny any public records request made using profane or vulgar language. The policy was enacted weeks earlier in response to a request containing derogatory and abusive language.

       

    • Hollywood:

    February 2011: A witness in the 1981 murder of 6-year-old Adam Walsh is appealing his public records lawsuit to the 4th District of Appeal. Willis Morgan, who contends he saw Jeffery Dahmer at the Sears store in Hollywood, is seeking a report prepared by retired detective Joe Matthews.

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Calhoun

  • Calhoun County:

 

 

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Charlotte

  • Charlotte County:

 

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  • Citrus

    • Citrus County:

    December 2012: A negotiating session between Port Citrus County officials and Martin Associates, the contractor selected to complete a feasibility study on the economic vialibity of building a port at the Cross Florida Barge Canal near Inglis, was put on hold, following the filing of a lawsuit by an Inverness resident.

    March 2012: The Inverness County Board of Commissioners settled a pubilc records lawsuit out of court for $1,450. Inverness resident Robert A. Schweickert Jr. originally filed suit against the county, alleging that commissioners violated the state's Sunshine Law when they met individually with an attorney hired to lobby the Legislature to add Port Citrus to Florida's recognized list of ports.

    July 2011: A public records request has prompted Citrus County to disable the text messaging feature on county phones. A few months ago, the county implemented text messaging as a way for senior staffers to communicate.

    July 2011: Citrus County commissioners are facing a lawsuit by a resident who says the handling of a lobbying contract violated the Open Meetings Law. The suit stems from individual meetings between commissioners and a lobbyist.

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Clay

  • Clay County:

  • April 2014: The State Attorney's Office for the 4th Judicial Circuit in Jacksonville closed an investigation of allegations that the Clay County Development Authority may have violated the Sunshine and Public Records laws, according to The Florida Times-Union.

    March 2013: The Clay County Commission has agreed to settle a public records lawsuit that was filed against the county by Joel Chandler.

    January 2012: According to Clay County School Board's attorney, the flagpole prayers occurring at Clay County schools violate the U.S. Constitution and are a clear case of endorsement of religion and Christianity. A secular rights group sent the district a leter asking for the prayers, which occurred on campus just before school began at 8:15 a.m., to stop.

 

Collier

  • Collier County:

June 2014: A circuit judge set a trial date in a public records case between a reporter and a county clerk of court, according to the Naples Daily News. The clerk of court requested a trial and evidentiary hearing to determine how the records should be classified.

April 2014: A circuit judge ruled in favor of a reporter who challenged the Collier County clerk of court for imposing an excessive fee for public records, according to the Naples Daily News.

November 2012: Three residents of the city of Marco Island filed a public records lawsuit against the city for refusing to comply with a request for building records.

April 2012: Commissioners voted 3-2 to keep Immokalee Regional Airport;'s security plans secret. The plans are restricted to the airport manager, the Dept. of Homeland Security, the Collier County's Sheriff's Office, the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement and the Florida Dept. of Transportation.

October 2011:Collier County Circuit Judge Frederick Hardt ruled that cameras would remin in the courtroom in the trial of a 15-year-old charged with two counts of manslaughter with a firearm, despite concerns of an adverse impact on the defendant's fair trial rights. Alexander Crain, who is being tried as an adult, allegedly mudered his parents, Thomas and Kelly Crain.

July 2011:The use of written ballots by the Collier County School Board to narrow a list of superintendent candidates has raised questions of how the practice fits with the Open Meetings Law.

June 2011:The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing Collier County School Board for records related to a 2009 "Kick-a-Jew-Day" incident at a middle school. The ACLU alleges the school board failed to comply with repeated requests for public records related to the incident.

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Columbia

  • Columbia County:

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Dade

  • See: Miami Dade

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    Desoto

    • Desoto County:

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    Dixie

    • Dixie County:

      October 2012: The 11th Cirucit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that a monument of the Ten Commandments can remain in front of a Dixie County courthouse.

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    Duval

    • Duval County:

    •  

    • Jacksonville:

    October 2014: A judge ruled a State Attorney's Office violated Florida's Public Records Law, according to The Florida Times-Union. Judge Karen Cole ordered State Attorney Angela Corey's office to pay Curtis Lee's legal fees fo rhis lawsuit against the office.

    September 2014: A Jacksonville judge will not reconsider his ruling that the Jacksonville Police and Fire pension fund violated the Sunshine Law, according to The Florida Times-Union.

    June 2014: A search committee choosing Jacksonville's new chief medical examiner will hold a public meeeting to recreate the deliberations previously done in private, according to The Florida Times-Union. The serach committee's legal counsel said the meeting should have been open to the public.

    June 2014: The city of Jacksonville an the Police and Fire Pension Fund will now discuss potential reforms at public meetings, according to The Florida Times-Union.

    February 2014: Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace ruled that the city's private discussions involving police and fire pension refrom were subject to the Sunshine Law, according to The Florida Times-Union. Wallace granted summary judgement for The Times-Union saying that the negotiations between the city and police and fire unions should have been open to the public, according to the paper.

    October 2013: A judge denied the city of Jacksonville's challenge to a lawsuit brought by The Florida Times-Union alleging that the city violated the state's Open Meetings Law, The Florida Times-Union reported.

    August 2013: Attorneys for the city of Jacksonville and the mayor filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by The Florida Times-Union alleging violation of the Sunshine Law. They threatened to pursue attorney's fees and court costs if the lawsuit is not dropped according to The Florida Times-Union.

    April 2013: A judge has declined to grant a request to seal the records of a man on trial for the slaying of a Chicago Bears fan at The Landing the night before a game.

    September 2012: Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown's office will pay The Florida Times-Union $15,000 to settle a lawsuit over access to public records.

    July 2012: A federal judge ruled tha tthe media should have more immediate access to court motions filed in the case against 13-yr old Cristian Fernandez.

    March 2012: Circuit Judge James H. Daniel ruled that Curits Lee, a Duval County activist, is not entitled to recover the more than $3,000 he spent on legal fees when he sued the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund over public records violations. Daniel ruled, however, that Lee was entitled to $1,245 for other expenses he faced suing the city pension fund.

    March 2012: A Jacksonville judge ruled that state shield law protects a newspaper from being forced to hand over an imprisoned woman's letter. The State Attorney's Office supoenaed the leter, written by Bianela Susana, after The Florida Times-Union incorporated various statements from the letter in news articles. Susana is the mother of 12-year-old Christian Fernandez, who was charged with first degree murder in the death of his 2-year-old brother.

    January 2012: A U.S. District Court judge for the Middle District in Jacksonville has ruled in favor of a challenge to the Florida Bar's regulations on advertising, making it easier for Florida lawyers to advertise freely. The law firm Harrell and Harrell filed suit in January 2008, claiming that some of Florida's Bar regulations were in violation of the First Amendment.

    December 2011: A federal judge has reopened a 32-year-old case, which barred government access to names and incomes of Medicare providers contained in medical records. Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and Real Time Medical Data, a medical marketing firm, filed a Motion to Intervene, after the Department of Health denied Dow Jones' request to access a database containing Medicare billing and reimbursement information.

    October 2011: The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office removed its handheld scanners from local media and outside law enforcement agencies, citing budget cuts and public safety. Since 2005, media organizations have leased its police scanners, which cost about $4,600, from the Sheriff's Office for $70 a month.

    September 2011: A Duval County activist has prevailed in his public records lawsuit against the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund. Curtis Lee, director of the Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, took the fund to court over $3,000 in charges for public records. Circuit Judge James H. Daniel ruled that although the fund didn't act willfully in breaking the Public Records Law, it still attempted to overcharge Lee for accessing its records.

    August 2011: The Ethics Commission for the City of Jacksonville has decided to consider developing a policy on texting in hopes of preserving government transparency. City Ethics Officer Carla Miller said that text messages can be problematic if they are also public records.

    January 2011: The 1st District Court of Appeals has ordered the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to stop its longstanding practice of opening police shooting review meetings to the public. The Fraternal Order of the Police challenged the openness of the deliberations, citing Florida statues that provide for confidentiality of invesitgations of complaints against officers or when an officer is subject to disciplinary action. The 1st DCA determined that because the officers could be subject to disciplinary action, the confidentiality provision applied.

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    Escambia

    • Escambia County:

    • June 2014: The State Attorney's Office in Pensacola determined that it will not take action after investigating a potential violation of Florida's Public Records Law by an Escambia County Commissioner, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

    • February 2014: The 1st District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Escambia County Clerk of Courts Pam Childers in a public records case.

    • October 2013: The city of Pensacola held three presentations on state Sunshine and Public Records laws in late August following an investigation by State Attorney Bill Eddins that some public officials were behaving inappropriately, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

    • March 2012: The State Attorney's Office cleared three members of the Escambia Tourist Development Council of violating the Sunshine Law. Allegations that members of the tourism board met privately with a group of Pensecola area hoteliers prompted investigations by the State Attorney's Office, which began in October.

    • December 2011: The State Attorney's Office opened an investigation to determine whether the Escambia County Tourist Development Council violated Florida's Sunshine Law. Alegations arose after details surfaced regarding the council's plan to restructure the tourism business.

       

    • Pensacola:

    August 2013: Two employees in the Pensacola mayor's office have been charged with non-criminal violation sof the Public Records Law.

      February 2013: A pastor of Smyrna Baptist Church has filed a lawsuit agianst the city of Pensacola alleging officials violated his First Amendment free speech rights by prohibiting him from passing out flyers near the Pensacola PRIDE Festival in June.

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      Flagler

      • Flagler County:

       

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      Franklin

      • Franklin County:

       

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      Gadsden

      • Gadsden County:

       

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      Gilchrist

      • Gilchrist County:

       

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      Glades

      • Glades County:

       

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      Gulf

      • Gulf County:

       

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      Hamilton

      • Hamilton County:

       

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      Hardee

      Hardee County:

       

      Wauchula:

      April 2011: Gov. Rick Scott removed a Wauchula city commissioner from office for violating the Sunshine Law by attending secret meetings. Another four members have resigned.

       

      Hendry

      • Hamilton County:

       

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        Hernando

        Hernando County:

         

        • Brooksville:

        June 2011: Meetings between Hernando County Commissioners and constitutional officers to discuss next year's budget were canceled after the commissioners balked at the idea of conducting an interview in private. The meeting, which was scheduled to take place at an attorney's office, would not technically be a violation of the Sunshine Law, but there could be a problem if the constitutional officers passed one commissioner's comments to another.

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        • Spring Hill:

        September 2011: A Spring Hill man filed an emergency petition in circuit court after being asked to fill out a form before receiving public records. Ian Norris asked to see all emails sent and received by the Spring Hill Fire District during most of the month of April 2011.

         

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        Highlands

        • Highlands County:

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        Hillsborough

        • Hillsborough County:

        • January 2013: The city of Sarasota paid $10,000 to settle a lawsuit filed against them by activists alleging violation of the Sunshine Law.

          November 2012: The mother of a Hillsborough County elementary school student is asking a federal court to overturn a school board policy banning the distribution of religious material at school.

        • Tampa:

        February 2013: The Tampa City Council voted to place limits on how police use new downtown surveillance cameras. In a unanimous vote, the council moved to safeguard residents' privacy by expanding what has been known as the city's window peeping law.

        June 2011: Hillsborough County commissioners unanimously approved recommendations from a team led by county Tax Collector Doug Belden for more consistent practices in regards to public records requests.

        May 2011: A 16-minute video of the shooting deaths of two Tampa police officers was released to the public after attorneys for the media challenged a move to block the footage's release. The video was captured by a dashboard camera in officer David Curtis' cruiser.

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      Indian River

      • Indian River County:

       

       

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      Jackson

        • Jackson County:

         

        Jefferson

        • Jefferson County:

         

      • Lafayette

        • Lafayette County:

         

      • Lake

        • Lake County:

        • Groveland:

          March 2014: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement determined that allegations of violations of the Sunshine and Public Records laws were serious enough to warrant an investigation. The investigation was concluded and there wasn't enough to support criminal charges, according the The Daily Commercial (Leesburg). .

        • January 2014: Groveland Mayor James Gearhart resigned in the midst of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation of city officials, The Daily Commercial (Leesburg)reported.

        • October 2013: The city of Groveland and two public officials are facing a lawsuit filed by a community organziation for allegedly violating Florida' s Open Meetings Law, according to The Daily Commercial (Leesburg).

  • Mt. Dora:

  • May 2011: James Homich, a former member of the Mount Dora City Council, faces two non-criminal infractions for allegedly violating the Public Records Law. He is accused of taking an unreasonable amount of time to fulfill a public records request and attempting to charge an unreasonable amount.

     

    • Lee

    • Lee County:

    •  

      • Cape Coral:

      February 2012: Cape Coral rescinded its public records policy, restoring the threshold for "extensive" requests to an hour. City Manager Gary King originally amended the policy in October. As a result, the city had been charging fees for public records taking longer than 15 minutes for about one month.

    • May 2011: A proposal that would have required organizations holding public meetings on property rented from the city to allow anyone to film the meeting won't proceed after a 4-4 vote on the issue. The motion stems from a meeting of a private organization, the Cape Coral Civic Association, which rented property from the city to hold its meetings and would not let a private videographer film the meeting.

     

    • Ft. Myers:

    July 2011: The Naples Daily News revealed a dearth of records related to workshops of the Edison State College Board of Trustees, causing concern about potential Open Meetings violations.

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      Leon

      • Leon County:

      • Tallahassee:

      October 2013: The Tallahassee Police Department released different versions of police reports to media and non-media requesters according to an investigation by the Tallahassee Democrat.

      November 2012: A contractor hired by the city of Tallahassee must discolose red light camera ticket information, including the names of those who received a violation.

      June 2012 A lawsuit against the Leon County Sheriff's Office claims officials destroyed records related to a shooting investigation following the filing of a public records request.

      June 2012: Five of the seven members of the Florida A&M University hazing committee, convened to provide recommendations to the university on hazing prevention, have resigned following a Board of Trustees decision not to allow the panel to meet privately. This reverses an earlier decision to turn the panel into a fact-finding body so that committee members would be exempt from Florida Open Meetings and Public Records Law.

      March 2012: A database tracking billions of dollars in public spending in Florida on state and local levels is available on FloridaOpenGov.org. Visitors can access payroll data, including salaries and benefits, and state payments to public and private vendors.

      March 2012: The Lake Helen and Sanford city commissions recieved the Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award for passing local laws that ensure people's ability to speak at city meetings. The awards were given by the First Amendment Foundation at a luncheon in January.

      March 2012: Judge Kenneth L. Williams, of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Tallahassee, ruled that 911 operators can record incoming emergency calls and call-backs to the same number but cannot record outgoing calls to other numbers without consent.

      February 2012: Florida needs an additional 71 trial court judges and one judge for the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Lakeland, due to an increase in mortgage and civil cases and demands on staff due to a growth in the number of cases filed pro se.

      February 2012: Legislation introduced in the 2012 legislative session would make it clear that all records, including emails sent and received by newly-elected officials, would be public records, even if the person has not yet been sworn into office. Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Niceville)filed the legislation after email accounts of Gov. Rick Scott and as many as 50 transition officils were erased by a private company providing email service.

      February 2012: Gov. Rick Scott named four new officials to his cabinet, including a new public records director. Bonnie Hazelton, former director of the Office of Ombudsman and Public Services, took over as director of Scott's Office of Open Government in January.

      January 2012: Gov. Rick Scott's job czar defended the state's economic incentive programs, saying Florida would go after companies that failed to perform. He also said he supports quicker release of information about the secret tax incentive deals the state gives some of the largest companies in the world.

      January 2012: A state panel concluded that Florida's massive pension fund did nothing wrong when it hired a company with ties to the fund's executive director. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater asked an advisory panel last month to look into a decision by the state to invest $125 million with a firm that specializes in shaking up or breaking up companies in order to make money for investors.

      December 2011: Records showing the salaries of 52,000 state employees from Florida's 11 public universities have been posted on Florida Gov. Rick Scott's website, floridahasarighttoknow.com. Salaries of state employees are public record; however, faculty leaders questioned Scott's motive for posting the salaries.

      December 2011: Legislation recently introduced in both houses of the Florida Legislature would protect the right of Florida citizens to speak at public meetings. The proposed law is a result of a 2010 Florida Supreme Court decision that citizens have a right to be seen but not necessarily to be heard.

      November 2011: The Pinellas County Business Technology Services Board said it would make public meeting agendas that had been hidden on the county website for the last eight years accessible beginning with its Oct. 27 meeting. The board, which oversees Pinellas County's multimillion-dollar computer network and digital records, previously had the agendas accessible only by a password given to government workers.

      November 2011: A Florida resident has filed a class-action lawsuit in Tallahassee against the Florida Highway Patrol and state traffic agencies, arguing that issuing tickets for headlight flashing violates the First Amendment right to free speech.

      November 2011: Florida Gov. Rick Scott awarded $15 million to 16 companies as a way to lure new business into the state. Eight of those companies remain unnamed under a Florida law that allows the names of potential employers to remain confidential for up to one year.

      November 2011: Sen. Mike Fasano is pushing to have the Florida State Board Administration subpoenaed because according to a three-page invoice from the agency's officials, it would cost $10,750.13 to produce records relating to its $125 million pension fund investment.

      November 2011: Emails to and from Florida Gov. Rick Scott were deleted from his iPad and BlackbBerry. This is a possible violation of the state's Public Records Law.

      October 2011: A private Texas company, Rockspace, erased the email accounts of Gov. Rick Scott and as many as 50 transition team employees. Scott ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate in August; however, documents show that Rockspace, which provided email service, may have notified the Scott administration as early as January.

      October 2011: A video depicting the death of 18-year-old Eric Perez will not be released due to a new law that bans public access to photos, vidoes, and audio recordings related to deaths. Perez died on July 10 while in custody of the Palm Beach Juvenile Detention Center in West Palm Beach.

      October 2011: The Florida Supreme Court has adopted new rules regarding information that can be kept in online court documents. The rules, which take effect Oct. 1, specify that minors can only be idnetified by their initials; only the year of the person's birth can be included; no portion of any Social Security number, bank account, debit card or credit card can be entered unless allowed by another statue or exception; and only the last four digits of a phone number, driver's license number or passport can be included.

      September 2011:The City of Tallahassee denied a public records request for individual red-light camera citations, citing resistance from the company that handles the citations. The contractor, Virginia-based ACS State & Local Solutions, will not even give the city the citations without redacting names and addresses.

      September 2011: After months of complaints from the media and open government advocates, Gov. Rick Scott has eased his fee policies for public records requests. Scott's policy was to charge the statutory maximum of 15 cents per page for all public records requests. The new policy will include lower charges for the time taken to fulfill requests.

      July 2011: Gov. Rick Scott's administration continues to draw criticism from transparency advocates, most recently after Democrats were ordered out of a budget signing and a top Scott staffer admitted to rarely using email to avoid the Public Records Law.

      May 2011: Gov. Rick Scott's office will charge the statutory maximum of 15 cents per page for all public records requests.

      March 2011: Venice City Manager Issac D. Turner requested the opinion of the Florida Attorney General's Office after the media asked for notes he took in connection with a police chief's resignation. The AGO opinion states that "public employees' notes to themselves which are designed for their own personal use in recollecting certain matters are not public records."

      January 2011: Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady has ordered trial judges in the state to keep forclosure hearings open, after media groups and the American Cvil Liberties Union wrote a letter to Canady describing closed hearings across the state.

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    Levy

  • Levy County:

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    Liberty

    • Liberty County:

      December 2013: A jury acquitted Liberty County Sheriff Nick Finch of official misconduct and falsifying public records charges according to The Associated Press.

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    Manatee

    • Manatee County:

    May 2013: State prosecutors declined to file charges against Manatee County School Board member Julie Aranibar over a potential public records violation, citing insufficient evidence that the school leader knowingly withheld text messages.

    April 2013: A lawusit filed aainst Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino and Manatee County alleges a violation of the Public Records Law.

    January 2013: The Manatee County Sheriff's Office is investigating a complaint that School Board member Julie Aranibar violated the state's Public Records Law. Activist Christine Sket filed a complaint with the Sheriff's Office after it became apparent to her that board members were texting during a Sept. 10 meeting at which Superintendent Tim McGonegal's resignation was announced. Sket claimed Aranibar failed to comply with her request for copies of the text messages sent during that meeting.

    February 2012: The Manatee County Commission reaffirmed its practice of beginning its meetings with a prayer, despite contensions by a non-profit organization that the practice violates the nation's constitutional principle of separation of church and state and should be halted.

    January 2011: Circuit Court Judge Janette Dunnigan ruled in favor of Trailer Estates, a mobile home park, in a Sunshine lawsuit. Trailer Estates residents Mary Lou Smith and Sharon Denson alleged the park's board of trustees violated the Public Records Law by not responding to all requests and the Open Meetings Law by discussing park business outside of public meetings.

     

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    Marion

    • Marion County:

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    Martin

    • Martin County:

    July 2013: The Martin County School Board unanimously approved a settlement, ending a lawsuit stemming from an alleged violation of the state's Public Records Law.

    April 2011: The Martin County Business Development Board spent approximately $288,000 on an open government suit that resulted in the board agreeing to open its records and meetings to the public.

    April 2011: Members of the Martin County School Board explained their May visit to a local high school at a September board meeting as a "cure" for their alleged Sunshine Law violation. The State Attorney's Office in Fort Myers is still investigating whether criminal charges can be brought against the board members for knowingly violating the Sunshine Law.

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    Miami-Dade

    • Miami-Dade County:

    December 2013: The state attorney's office determined that the Hialeah City Council did not violate Florida's Sunshine Law, The Miami Herald reported.

    January 2012: Taxpayers, county commissioners and 10,500 workers were not allowed to attend a meeting at which seven board members met privately to discuss a plan by Jackson Health System's executive team to turn around the financially distressed public hospitals. The public hospitals have lost over $400 million over the past three years.

    May 2011: Local governments in Florida fared much better in a statewide public records audit this year, with most of them complying with the Public Records Law.

    April 2011: After filing a lawsuit for Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado's phone records, The Miami Herald and the mayor reached a settlement that will allow access to records. Regalado has agreed to provide the records, though his personal calls will be redacted.

    April 2011: The Miami Herald has sued the Department of Children and Families for records related to an abuse hotline call made just days before twins were found, one dead and the other covered in chemicals, along Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach. In a statement, the DFC said that law enforcement had requested details of the abuse investigation be kept confidential to protect the integrity of the criminal investigation.

    December 2011: A Miami-Dade Circuit judge ordered 33 Department of Child and Families employees to appear before her privately to sign statements swearing they did not leak information about a controversial child custody hearing the The Miami Herald after details about the custocy case, which had been closed, were leaked to the newspaper.

     

    • Miami Lakes:

      July 2011: Facebook posts by two members of the Miami Lakes City Council have prompted one resident to ask prosecutors to investigate whether the posts violated the Open Meetings Law.

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    Monroe

    • Monroe County:

    August 2011: A member of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has pleaded guilty to a non-criminal violation of the Open Meetings Law. Joan Lord-Papy, a five-term commissioner, will pay a $250 fine along with $270 in court costs. The charge stems from an email Lord-Papy sent on April 27 in response to an email from a fellow commission discussing interview dates for district director applicants.

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    Nassau

    • Nassau County:

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    Okaloosa

    • Okaloosa County:

    September 2012: A judge ruled that hte city of Valparaiso violated Florida's Sunshine Law on two separate occasions when it conducted a private meeting and failed to provide public notice.

    May 2012: Each of five Crestview City Council officials are being fined $500 for violating Florida's Sunshine Law. Emails released as part of the investigation indicated that council members had discussed matters through email that were required to be discussed at public meetings. County Judge Jim Ward found no evidence of "ill will, malice or intent," and withheld adjudication of guilt.

    February 2012: After reviewing more than 5,000 emails, the State Attorney's Office filed subpoenas for additional records held by council members, expanding its investigation into alleged Sunshine Law violations committed by the Crestview City Council.

    November 2011: The State Attorney's Office launched an investigation to determine whether the actions of several Crestview City Council members violated Florida's Public Records Law. Several media organizations filed the complaint leading to the investigation after receiving several emails indicating that public officials were discussing city issues outside of properly noticed public meetings.

     

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    Okeechobee

    • Okeechobee County:

     

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    Orange

    • Orange County:

    • July 2014: A grand jury issued three more indictments in the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority investigation, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

      June 2014: A member of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority was indicted on bribery charges following an investigation by the State Attorney's office in Orlando, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

      March 2014: State Attorney Jeff Ashton asked the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority to delay hiring a new executive director due to a pending investigation from his office, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The office is investigating whether some of the toll agency's board members violated the Sunshine Law by discussing the dismissal of the former director in private.

      February 2014: Several Orange County officials accused of violating Florida's Public Records Law have agreed to enter settlement discussions in a pending civil lawsuit, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

      October 2013: State Attorney Jeff Ashton determined that Mayor Teresa Jacobs and four county commissioners violated the Public Records Law when they deleted text messages about government decisions according to the Orlando Sentinel. Criminal charges were not filed but a fine of $500 was imposed on the officials the paper reported.

      April 2013: A study found that leaders of some of Central Florida's largest governments have been deleting text messages that would likely be considered public records under Florida law, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

      March 2013: the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating a controversy surrounding text messages sent and received during an Orange County Commission meeting.

      January 2013: Officials in Orange County will consider banning cell phones at public meetings.

      July 2012: The 5th District Court of appeals ruled that a county was responsible for paying attorney's fees to a successful records requester where the county failed to comply with the request for 45 days.

      March 2011: The Wall Street Journal's parent company is suing for access to Medicare information that has been kept private for the past 31 years. In 1979, The American Medical Association won a federal lawsuit in Florida banning the release of how much Medicare funds individual doctors receive.

       

    • Orlando:

    September 2014: The state dropped one charge of violating Florida's Sunshine Law against Rebekah Hammon, the girlfriend of former state Rep. Chris Dorworth. She had been charged with acting as a "conduit" and passing information between board members.

    August 2013: Citizens for a Greater Orange County sued Orange County in October, claiming officials violated open government laws by exchanging text messages with lobbyists during a public hearing at which commissioners overturned a sick-time measure, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

    June 2013: LGBT activist writer and blogger John Becker filed a public records lawsuit against he University of Central Florida Board of Trustees and President Dr. John C. Hitt.

    March 2013: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is invetigating a controversy surrounding text messages sent and received during an Orange County Commission meeting.

    November 2012: A grassroots organization filed a lawsuit against Orange County over allegations that county officials violated Florida's Sunshine Law.

    December 2011: A judge has released the names of the 12 jurors and three alternates in the Casey Anthony murder trial after a three-month "cooling off" period, during which the names of the jurors were withheld. Judge Belvin Perry ordered the names to remain private to proect the jurors' safety and well-being.

    November 2011: U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell denied a motion to enjoin the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration from publicly releasing videos and photographs depicting the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau. Brancheau died in February 2010 after being drowned by Tilikum, the park's largest killer whale.

    November 2011: Orlando County Superior Court Judge Belvin Perry Jr. released a grainy jailhouse video depicting 25-year-old Casey Anthony reacting to the news that her daughter's remains were found. The seal, which had been in effect since June 2009, was reversed on grounds that protecting Anthony's rights to a fair trial was no longer and issue.

    September 2011: A television station is trying once again to obtain video footage of Casey Anthony captured while reacting to the news that her duaghter's body was found. In 2009, Circuit Judge Stan Strickland ordered that the tape be sealed "until further order of this court."

    March 2011: The Orlando Sentinel prevailed in its efforts to obtain the names of witnesses who would testify in the penalty phase of Casey Anthony's murder trial.Judge Belvin Perry rejected the argument that releasing the names would affect Anthony's right to a fair trial.

    February 2011: Video and photographs related to the death of a SeaWorld trainer killed after being attacked by a whale will be permanently sealed from the public. The family of Dawn Brancheau, who died during a February 24, 2010 show at the Orlando theme park, sued the Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Medical Examiner to prevent them from releasing photos or videos related to the incident.

    January 2011: The judge in Casey Anthony's capital murder trial denied her request to keep her jail records from the public. Defense attorneys requested the closure after a South Florida appeals court ruled that personal jail records were not public records. Judge Belvin Perry denied the defense motion by reading from the Florida constitution and stautes, both of which establish a right of access to government information.

    Windermere:

    May 2013: In a final judgement, Judge Robert Egan of the 9th Judicial Circuit awarded the town of Windermere $90,435 in attorneys' fees and other court costs in a lawsuit for alleged Sunshine violations.

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    Osceola

  • Osceola County:

  • March 2014: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state attorney's office cleared Osceola County Clerk of courts Armando Ramirez of criminal wrongdoing, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Ramirez was accused of several pubic records violations but State Attorney Jeff Ashton said there was insufficient evidence to charge Ramirez with any of hte criminal charges alleged against him.

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    Palm Beach

    • Palm Beach County:

    June 2013: Joel and Robert Chandler, brothers who pursue open government and operate and open government blog called fogwatch.com filed four lawsuits in Palm Beach County, alleging violations of the state's Public Records Law.

    April 2012: A nonprofit government watchdog group has filed suit against tax collector Anne Gannon, alleging that her office violated the Public Records Law by refusing to release a copy of a settlement agreement her office reached with more than a dozen online travel companies

    January 2012: A Florida court official has filed a class-action lawsuit against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, a national mortgage registry firm. Duval County Clerk of Court Jim Fuller claims the firm operates an "unlawful scheme." The company has been the target of ire nationwide due to a scandal and also faces challenges related to its business practices.

    January 2012: U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley, for the Southern District of Florida, is asking why records should remain sealed in the case involving the death of a Florida man in the 2001 anthrax attacks. The sealed records include personnel records of Army scientist Bruce Ivins, who is blamed by the FBI for the attacks that killed five people.

    January 2011: A local inspector general charged with rooting out corruption in Palm Beach County wants an open government exemption for her work. Sheryl Steckler, who was hired by the county to lead its ethics reform efforts, wants an exemption that would allow her office's work to remain confidential until finalized by presentation to local government. But Jim Rhea of the Florida First Amendment Foundation noted that there was a risk of information never seeing the light of day if it was never formally reported.

     

    • Boca Raton:

    July 2014: Florida Atlantic University officials announced the winner of student government after the election board met privately, which raised questions about Florida's Sunshine Law, according to The Boca Raton Tribune.

    • Boynton Beach:

    February 2013: Open Government advocates Joel and Robert Chandler have each sued the city of boynton Beach after making public records requests.

      • Riviera Beach:

      May 2011: City council members have decided not to televise the public comment portion of council meetings in which speakers can use three minutes to make general comments. The decision was the result of concern that this portion of the council meetings was being used for city candidates to campaign.

      March 2011: Fane Lozman, vocal critic of the City of Riviera Beach, has filed another open government lawsuit against the city. The suit alleges the city council members violated the Open Meetings Law when they met in a closed meeting to discuss whether questions would be placed on the March ballot.

      February 2011: The City of Riviera Beach agreed to pay $85,000 in legal fees to activist Fane lozman in an open meetings lawsuit. Lozman sued the city in 2007 for failing to keep written minutes of its agenda review meetings.

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    Pasco

  • Pasco County:

  • September 2014: A trip by Pasco County School District officials may have violated Florida's Open Meetings Law, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

    January 2011: The Pasco County Commission cancelled a private meeting, after the county attorney advised commissioners against the closed meeting. The meeting was to discuss Sheriff Bob White's budget appeal to the Florida governor and cabinet.

    June 2011: A man is suing the city of Zephyrhills over a book Zephyrhills A to Z, claiming the city is overcharging for what he considers a public record.

    August 2011: Brothers Joel and Robert Chandler have filed 30-40 public records lawsuits in recent years, pitting them against medical examiners, police departments and other governments agencies in Florida.

    November 2011: A new fee schedule, which was unanimously passed by city council officials, will increase the costs of making public record requests in New Port Richey.

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    Pinellas

    • Pinellas County:

    October 2014: The Pinellas Tourist Development council decided to remain a public agency, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

    December 2011: Four members of the Pinellas County Commission have been accused of repeatedly violating Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine law for meeting one-on-one with city staffers

    October 2011: Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch "unfriended" several colleagues on Facebook after County Attorney Jim Bennett warned against using social media sites to communicate about public policy.

    October 2011: Pinellas County school superintendant Julie Janssen was fired following an ethics complaint that accuses Janssen and members of her staff of ignoring legal advice and "deliberately" withholding public records. Janssen and her attorney said she did nothing to violate

    September 2011: The Knight FOI Fund will assist a resident in filing an Open Meetings suit against St. Pete Beach city commissioners for allegedly meeting in private.

    September 2011: Against the advice of the city attorney, Dunedin commissioners scrapped a plan to permanently shut down a terminal that provided access to city emails and instead require formal requests.

    June 2011: A circuit judge has declined to force Darrell Irions, the former director of the Pinellas County Housing Authority, to turn over his personal hard drives, after he allegedly forwarded public emails to his private email address and deleted the emails form the government server. He was initially given 20 days to turn over his hard drives and the user name and password for his Yahoo email account or explain why he should not have to.

    May 2011: At least two lawsuits against the City of St. Pete Beach allege that the city commission violated the Sunshine Law during meetings with its attorneys. In the first suit, resident Bruce Kadoura sued the city, claiming that a settlement offer was rejected and a counter offer made during a private meeting. A separate lawsuit focuses on subsequent meetings not included in the Kandoura case. The city maintains that it did not violate the Sunshine Law.

    March 2011: A circuit judge has ordered Kenneth City and its red-light camera company to hand over names of violators to the St. Petersburg Times. Judge Anthony Rondolino noted that the Drivers Privacy Protection Act specifically exempts information about violations.

    February 2011: The St. Petersburg Times has filed a suit against the town of Kenneth City and its red light camera company, seeking access to names of people suspected of running red lights. American Traffic Soultions Inc. maintains that it would not release the information for fear of violating the federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act. Anne Arsenault, attorney for the Times, said that federal privacy law does not apply to lawbreakers and that the names are public under Florida's Public Records Law.

     

    St. Pete Beach:

    October 2014: The 1st District court of Appeal ruled the City of St. Pete Beach must disclose records from a closed meeting.

    • St. Petersburg:

    August 2013: The Florida First Amendment Foundation has joined a lawsuit against the St. Pete Beach City Commission alleging commission members violated the state's Sunshine Law when it held private meetings.

    April 2011: A circuit judge has ordered the leader of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority to hand over his personal computer hard drives in connection with a public records dispute. Darrell Irions, chief executive officer of the city housing authority and former head of the Pinellas County Housing Authority, was given 20 days to turn over his hard drives and the user name and password for his Yahoo e-mail account.

     

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    Polk

    • Polk County:

    September 2013: A retired appellate judge found no problems with the Lakeland Police Department's public records request procedures.

    September 2013: The Davenport City Commission agreed to change the public comment format at regular meetings. The change allows the public to comment via comment cards on individual agenda items

    October 2012: A lakeland man filed a lawsuit against the Polk county School Board alleging a violation of Florida's Public Records Law.

    October 2012: The city of Winter Haven is playing catch-up to ceate meeting minutes for 34 commission workshops for which no minutes had been kept.

    April 2012: The Lakeland Fire Department changed its practice of requiring citizens to fill out a form when making public records requests. The practice came under scrutiny when an individual challenged it and called The Ledger (Lakeland). The Ledger then called the department and complained.

    October 2011: Lake Wales Housing Authority official Booker T. Young Jr., 81, was charged with violating the state's Sunshine Law when he and two other board members walked outside during a housing authority meeting. Young, who pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges, had invited board members outside to look at cracks in the asphalt allegedly caused by garbage trucks.

    August 2011: A judge dismissed an Open Meetings suit against Haines City Commission. The suit, filed by two local business owners, stemmed from a meeting where the Commission voted to give departing city manager Ann Toney-Deak severance pay of $312,430. Circuit Judge Michael Raiden found that the Opens Meeting Law did not require the Commission to only act on matters placed on the agenda and that the public had no right to speak at the meeting.

    • Lakeland:

    February 2014: Police chief Lisa Womack resigned following the release of the grand jury presentment and a no-confidence vote by Lakeland Police Department employees, according to The Ledger (Lakeland).

    November 2013: The Lakeland Police Department was investigated by a grand jury regarding their public records policy, according to The Ledger (Lakeland). The grand jury did not bring any criminal charges but released what is called a presentment. The presentment is still under seal.

    July 2013: Lakeland City Commissioners discussed a proposed ordinance at a public meeting that would change the way public records are available. The ordinance would allow the city to charge people if employees spend more than 30 minutes on a public records request according to The Ledger (Lakeland).

    June 2013: The Lakeland Police Department blames its "antiquated" computer system for its inability to find records related to a newspapers's request for records, according to a statement by the department.

    February 2013: Lakeland resident Joel Chandler and the Polk County School Board have come to an agreement regarding the settlement of a public records lawsuit Chandler filed against the Board in August.

    May 2011: Two members of a search committee in charge of vetting candidates for the chief academic officer posiiton at the University of South Florida Polytechnic were removed from the group for possibly violating the Sunshine Law. The allegation stems from a Nov. 30 email from Richard Plank, director of USF Polytechnic's division of innovation, to William Armitage, director of the information technology division, in which the strength of the candidates and the reference checking process were discussed.

    Lake Wales:

    December 2012: The State Attorney's Office in Bartow launched an investigation after a complaint alleged a potential Sunshine Law violation of the Lake Wales Charter School System trustees' meetings.

    Winter Haven:

    May 2014: The state Attorney's office in Bartow determined that the Winter Haven Economic Development Council is not subject to Florida's Public Records Law, according to the Ledger (Lakeland).

    October 2013: State Attorney Jerr Hill informed Winter Haven city officials that a 13-month delay in recreating meeting minutes violated the law, according to The Ledger (Lakeland).

    May 2013: Winter Haven officials have refused to release a letter from officials of The Landings, a mixed-use development in Winter Haven, even though lawyers representing The Ledger say the letter is a public record.

    May 2013: People who may have wanted to comment or hear the discussion related to two issues before the Winter Haven commission had no way of knowing they were being taken up by the commission. Commissioners at a Winter Haven public meeting terminated all contracts with a mixed-use development called The Landings and rejected all bids in a proposal to privatize the city's garbage collection without placing the items on the meeting agenda.

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    Putnam

    • Putnam County:

     

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    Santa Rosa

    September 2013: The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed suit against the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) alleging the DOC violated the state's Public Records Law by failing to hand over records.

    May 2012: The Santa Rosa Schoold Board is now posting videos of their meetings online. They can be accessed immediately following the meeting as well as other materials online.

        December 2011: According to a policy adopted by the Santa Rosa County Commission during its Sept. 22 meeting, the first person or organization to request records related to a wide-ranging grand jury investigation will pay $11,658,90.

      • Orange County:

       

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    Sarasota

    • North Port:

      May 2014: The City of North Port filed a lawsuit against paralegal Michael Barfield in response to a public records request amidst an investigation into police misconduct, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

    • Sarasota County:

    December 2013: After open government advocates raised questions about possible Sunshine Law violations by the Development Review Committee, it was determnned that the Sunshine Law applies to them and all future Development Review Committee meetings will be open to the public according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

    December 2013: Citizens for Sunshine filed another suit against the city of Sarasota according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The group claims two city commissioners met with local business owners in private to discuss homelessness, the paper reported.

    March 2012:The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has denied a public records request for a video depicting the shooting and killing of a Port Charlotte man, citing a Florida law that prohibits such recordings from being released. The law was passed in June and signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in July.

    July 2011: The North Port City Commission has voted to order staffers to revise the city's public records policy. The revision was prompted by a Sarasota Herald-Tribune request for two weeks of the city attorney's emails.

    • Sarasota:

    October 2014:A judge dismissed a public records lawsuit seeking a former city commissioner's emails, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

    July 2014: The American Civil Liberties Union wants to stop the city of Sarasota and the Sarasota Police Dept. from disposing of cellphone records gathered from cellphone monitoring devices, according to the ACLU's motion for temporary injunction.

    January 2014: The city of Sarasota settled its lawsuit with Citizens for Sunshine admitting to violating Florida's Open Meetings Law and agreed to pay $17,680 in attorney's fees to the government watchdog group, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

      July 2013: The city of Sarasota admitted violating Florida's Sunshine Law and entered into an agreement with Citizens for Sunshine. In the agreement, the group voluntarily dismissed is lawsuit over the selecton of a contractor for the $7.3-million State Street public garage project.

      July 2013: The threat of litigation related to a task force to address homelessness cost the city of Sarasota a $100,000 donation as well as $15,000 in legal fees.

    June 2013: A judge granted a temporary injunction in response to a complaint filed by the government-watchdog organization, Citizens for Sunshine. The organization filed the complaint claiming the task force meetings on homelessness in Sarasota are subject to Florida's Open Meetings Law.

    November 2012: Sarasota City Commission members agreed to settle a lawsuit over allegations the steering committee violated the state's Open Meetings Law.

    February 2011: Citizens groups who sued Sarasota County for allegedly violating open government laws while negotiating a multi-million dollar spring training deal have been ordered to pay $20,000 in litigation costs after losing the suit. Citizens for Responsible Government and Citizens for Sunshine appealed their case all the way to the Florida Supreme Court, and while some violations were acknowledged, the county prevailed in the case.

    • Venice:

    July 2013: The city of Venice settled a lawsuit claiming a violation of a previously settled lawsuit according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. As part of the new settlement agreement, Citizens for Sunshine will drop the motion to re-open wth the previous lawsuit and the city will pay $2,607 in legal fees to Citizens for Sunshine's attorney, according to the paper.

     

    Seminole

      • Seminole County:

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    St. Johns

    • St. Johns County:

     

     

    St. Lucie

    • St. Lucie County:

  • Port St. Lucie:

    October 2014: Port St. Lucie City Councilman Ron Bowen filed a lawsuit against the city for reimbursement of legal fees, according to Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers.

    October 2014: The State Attorney's Office has determined the Port St. Lucie City Council did not violate Florida's Sunshine Law during an attoney-client session, according to Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers.

    July 2014: The charges against port St. Lucie Mayor JoAnnFaiella for allegedly violating Florida's Public REcords and Sunshine laws have been dismissed.

    July 2014: The Port St. Lucie City Council voted against paying for Councilman Ron Bowen's defense against allegations that he violated Florida's Sunshine Law, according to the Port St. Lucie News Tribune.

    April 2014: The St. Lucie County Commission has proposed a policy to ban the use of text messages or instant messages to conduct count buiness unless the message can be properly stored, according to Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers.

    March 2014: Transparency for Florida has filed a lawsuit against the city of Port St. Lucie alleging city officials violated Florida's Sunshine Law according to the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers.

    January 2013: Three Port st. Lucie city officials have been charged with violating Florida's Public Records Law, the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers reported.

    December 2012: A lawsuit filed by six former Port St. Lucie police officers and employees, alleging violation of their constitutional righs for wrongful termination and a Sunshine law violation was partially dismissed. The judge ruled that the protion of hte lawsuit claiming that officials violated Florida's Su nshine Law for allegedly meeting with the city manager before the employees were fired to give him guidance on the dismisslas could be refiled.

    October 2012: Four Port St. Lucie police officers and two civilian employees, who were terminated from their positions, have filed suit against the city of Fort Pierce and its city manager, claiming hey were denied access to public records.

  • Fort Pierce:

  • April 2011: The City of Fort Pierce will change its public records policy after one man's request for salary information was met with a $3,000 bill. Assistant State Attorney Ryan Butler investigated the case and found that the city unintentionally violated the Public Records Law. He declined to pursue any fines against city officials.

     

    Sumter

    • Sumter County:

    Suwannee

    • Suwannee County:

    August 2013: A judge ordered the Suwannee Valley Transit Authority to release records in response to a lawsuit filed by Steward Lilker, publisher of the Lake City based Columbia County Obeserver for failing to respond to a January records request.

     

    Volusia

    • Volusia County:

      October 2014: A judge ruled Volusia County officials could not withhold public records in a County Council investigation, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

      September 2014: Recent conflict has shed light on a statewide program that allows students to attend private shcools with state money but does not require the same level of tranparency as public schools according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

      July 2013: The West Volusia Beacon filed suit against a county department for failing to provide public records. The newspaper made a request of McDonald Transit Associates,Inc., operator of Votran, the county's bus system, for payroll information on Votran officers and directors according to The Beacon.

    • April 2012: The Southeast volusia Hospital District board of commissioners voted unanimously to file suite against its former attorney for faulty legal advice. Attorney Jim Heekin had advised the commission to keep the public out of dicussions regarding a merger between Bert Fish Medical Center and Adventist Health Systems The merger was thrown out by Circuit Judge Richard Graham of the 7th Judicial Circuit in Daytona, after it was found that the 21 closed meetings that resulted in the merger, violated Florida's Sunshine Law.

    • March 2012: Deltona's city atorney drafted an ordinance that would require local businesses to obtain permits to hire sign spinners and restrict the activity to no more than 10 days in a calendar year. This was done in response to complaints made by Deltona city commissioners.

    • November 2011: Board members for the Southeast Volusia County Hospital District declined to pass a motion to record the board's proceedings for the second time, citing the cost of maintaining public access to the recordings.

    • Daytona Beach:

    September 2014: An Orlando television station is suing a public hospital claiming that the hospital violated Florida's Public Records Law according to The Daytona Beaach News-Journal.

    April 2011: A circuit judge has overturned an $80 million hospital merger due to Sunshine violations and an inadequate attempt to cure 21 closed-door meetings.The hospital board had planned to merge publicly owned Bert Fish Medical Center with the private Adventist Health System.

    March 2011: The State Attorney's Office will not pursue charges against hospital board members who held 21 meetings improperly closed to the public. The five-month invesigation by State Attorney R.J. Larizza resulted in a finding that Bert Fish Medical Center board members unintentionally violated the law.

    • Deltona Beach:

    July 2014: The Florida Supreme Court refused to hear a case regarding public comments at a Deltona City Commission meeting, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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    Wakulla

    • Wakulla County:

     

    Walton

    Walton County:

    September 2012: The FBI is investigating whether Walton County Commissioners violated Florida''s Open Records Law by sending emails from thier personal email accounts.

    April 2012: A judge recently ruled in favor of a public records requester, holding that an attorney acting as the county's legal representative was required to comply with the public records request related to a controversial Walton County land deal in which the attorney served as special counsel. The judge gave attorney George Ralph Miller 48 hours to fulfill the records request and has also ordered Miller to cover Harris's legal costs.

     

    Washington

    Washington County:

    November 2012: A judge ruled that the city of Vernon will have to pay $3,900 in attorney fees and costs for violating the state's Sunshine Law.

    August 2012: A judge ruled that the city of Vernon must turn over records about a meeting held in violation of hte state's Sunshine Law.

     

    State Issues

    October 2014:The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Jacksonville Electric Authority violated Florida's Public Records Law, according to The Daily Record (Jacksonville)

    October 2014: A circuit judge ruled against Gov. Rick Scott and granted attorney Steven Andrew's request to subpoena records from Google and Yahoo to get information from private email accounts he believes were used to circumvent Florida's Public Records Law, according to The Associated Press.

    September 2014: A coalition of media organizations asked permission to file a court brief on the voter redistricting case, according to The Gainesville Sun.

    September 2014: Recent conflict has shed light on a statewide program that allows students to attend private shcools with state money but does not require the same level of tranparency as public schools according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

    September 2014:. A Florida law restricting doctors' speech about guns was upheld by a federal appeals court, according the The Associated Press.

    July 2014: State officials filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veteran's Affairs alleging that the VA blocked their access to inspect hospitals and failed to respond to FOIA requests, according to The Associated Press.

    July 2014: An emergency lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of politcians' use of blind trusts for their financial assets was filed with the Florida Supreme Court, according to the Bradenton Herald.

    July 2014: The Florida department of Transportation is facing a lawsuit for allegedly failing to respond to a public records request, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

    July 2014: A judge closed a trial to the public concerning Florida's voter redistricting plans on the eighth day of the trial, according to the Orlando Sentinel

    June 2014:The Florida Deptartment of Business and Professional Regulation lost a public records suit against a Collier county couple, according to the Tallahassee Democrat

    May 2014: The Florida House of Representatives adopted an amendment to Floirda's "stand your ground" law to limit access to court documents for those who successfully invoke the law, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

    February 2014: The 1st District Court of Appeals refused to rehear arguments regarding the release of information used in teacher evaluations, according to The Florida Times-Union.

    May 2013: Legislation aimed at protecting voters' email addresses has been proposed in the Florida Legislature.

    May 2013: A judge ruled in favor of the Tallahassee Democrat in a public records lawsuit in which the newspaper was denied access to lists of employees, salaries, and benefits of a state contractor.

    May 2013: Attoneys for the state's teachers union, the Florida Education Association, have joined forces with the state to prevent disclosure of controversial teacher value-added data.

    May 2013: A report by Florida TaxWatch said the process by which people injured by the government collect damages in the form of claims bills passed by lawmakers is arbitrary, political and lacks transparency.

    May 2013: Nearly two years after Gov. Rick Scott posted the salaries of most state workers, the two Republican leaders of the Florida House of Representatives and the Floirda Senate added links on legislative websites that allow people to access legislative employee salaries, according to the Associated Press.

    April 2013: A three judge panel for the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee unanimously reuled that the University of Florida cannot redact the locations of its animal research labs in response to public records requests.

    April 2013: The Associated Press and 31 newspapers throughout the state visited the clerks of court offices in each of floirda's 6 counties to determine if the county clerks were complying with new Florida law.

    April 2013: A Florida legislator has proposed a bill that would require websites to delete arrest photos if a person is not found guilty or if the charges are dropped

    March 2013: A Florida Highway patrol trooper has filed a federal privacy lawusit against more th an 100 police officers and agencies including the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, claiming unauthorized access to personal infomration in the driver's license database.

    September 2012: The state of Florida will release a list of 180,000 names of potential noncitizens currently included on Florida's voter registration rolls afer a decision by a federal judge that hte state's practice of removing ineligible voters from its rolls does not violate federal law.

    May 2012: Florida earned a C- grade for transparency on the national State Integrity Investigation (SII) report, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Forty-three states received grades of C or below. The report was released shortly after the nonprofit Sunshine Review gave Florida a B rating in website transparancy.

    April 2012: Two environmental groups have filed suit against the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission accusing the commission of violating the Sunshine Law. The lawsuit alleges a technical advisory committee held closed door meetings to draft a plan for cutting off public boating access to part of Fisheating Creek in Glades County.

     

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