Pay Attention before it’s too late! Ask your representatives to “Do The Right Thing” for those they represent…
Recently, The Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel and Palm Beach Post all wrote articles and/or editorials alerting the public to legislation speeding through the approval process in both the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives that would damage the rights of individuals in the political process by amending existing law. All three of the local newspapers spoke against passage of these amendments as written. You can add The League of Women Voters Florida to the growing list that opposes this misguided measure (see news links below). In discussions with officials at BocaWatch, they also strongly oppose the overreach by government to make it a potentially expensive endeavor for individuals to obtain information from our government that they are legally entitled too.
What’s It All About?
Currently, you have the right to obtain information from your local and state government through a public records request. If the information requested is not provided or not forthcoming in a timely manner you may also have the right to sue the government entity and are then entitled to reimbursement of attorney fees if your claim is successful. The new law would place the question of reimbursement in the discretionary hands of a judge.
The obstacle of facing sizeable legal costs may discourage even the most forthright citizens from pursuing legal avenues to receive timely information they may need in objecting to issues that are being considered by their local government. Worse yet, it may also encourage local officials to withhold, or further delay, this timely information if they feel it is to their benefit.
The choice to sue a government is a costly endeavor. The sad irony is the fact that the government uses taxpayer money, your own money, to fight your claim.
Where Is Boca Raton In All of This?
The key proponent and lobbying force behind the new measure is the Florida League of Cities. This powerful group is comprised of local elected officials throughout the State of Florida and exerts its influence in Tallahassee on an ongoing basis. At the very top of this group is the Mayor of Boca Raton – Susan Haynie. Mayor Haynie is currently the First Vice President and incoming President and serves on the 2015-2016 Florida League of Cities Legislative Policy Committee.
Yes, it appears your Mayor, through the Florida League of Cities, would like to further stymie your rights. Add this to the fact that Ms. Haynie was an active supporter of the legislation that deprives citizens of the right to referendum on development issues in our state. Add this to the mistruths of her past mayoral campaign effort when Ms. Haynie brazenly lied on her campaign literature and related TV commercials when she claimed she voted “No” more than yes on development issues. The voting record states the exact opposite. The facts are the facts.
The Power of Networking
Ms. Haynie has mastered the art of networking within powerful developer and political groups that continue to provide financial support for her political aspirations. As the public will find out in the not too distant future, these aspirations go beyond her current title of Mayor. There is no crime in seeking a career in politics. However, when the building blocks of future campaigns come at the expense of taking away citizen rights, the votes are not deserved.
An Action Plan
This is a request to Mayor Haynie to publicly withdraw her support of this legislation and actively campaign against it. This is an opportunity to determine exactly whom she represents.
As citizens you may also make this request to not only Mayor Haynie but your state representatives in Tallahassee by asking them to vote NO on Florida HB 1021 and Florida SB 1220. Sample language is provided below.
Susan Haynie – firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Hager – Florida House of Representatives District 89 http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/emailrepresentative.aspx?MemberId=4518&SessionId=80
Joseph Abruzzo – Florida Senate District 25https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s25
FLORIDA LEAGUE OF CITIES BOARD OF DIRECTORS: http://www.floridaleagueofcities.com/LeagueInfo.aspx?CNID=557
RELATED NEWS ARTICLES ALL OPPOSED TO POSSIBLE LEGISLATION:
Due to your position as a high-level member of the Florida league of cities and member of the legislative committee, I request that you,please, publicly withdraw your support in favor of HB 1021 and SB 1220 as these bills do more harm to your constituency than good. This bill effectively diminishes the right of citizens to participate in the political process through public records request. The possibility of carrying the burden of legal expense even when a claim is justified is unjust. Further, while this bill may be intended to thwart those that attempt to “game” the system upon passage, it may also serve to encourage local government officials to now “game” the system by instituting undue delay in record requests.
Do not harm the many in the attempt to punish the few.
Please do not vote in favor of HB 1021 as this bill does more harm to your constituency than good. This bill effectively diminishes the right of citizens to participate in the political process through public records request. The possibility of carrying the burden of legal expense even when a claim is justified is unjust. Further, while this bill may be intended to thwart those that attempt to “game” the system upon passage, it may also serve to encourage local government officials to now “game” the system by instituting undue delay in record requests.
Do not harm the many in the attempt punish the few.