Will Those We Elect Protect Us?  

6

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.

Contact information:

Susan Haynie – shaynie@ci.boca-raton.fl.us

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: 

Sun Sentinel

Miami Herald

Palm Beach Post

League of Woman’s Voters

Sample Emails:

Dear Mayor

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.

Thank you

 

Rep Hager:
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.
Thank you

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you George for pointing this out. The question of who she represents if she supports this legislation is an appropriate inquiry. I do not recall ever hearing the City Council debate this question to determine what the position of the Mayor should be in this legislative maneuver.
    In the past, I have written an article on the “Tale of Two Susans”. One need only compare promises made in her recent election cycle literature to her voting record once elected. Such a comparison leads one to realize the difference. More on this in the months to come leading up to the March 2017 elections but for now….thank you for the heads up….
    Al Zucaro

  2. NEIGHBORS AND FELLOW CITIZENS !!!! PLEASE WAKE UP!!!!

    If all the contentious rhetoric is beginning to get you down, please take a moment and think about the following. The whole concept of freedom of speech, the right to question and the right to vote are being stripped away from all of us. How can this be, you may ask? What Mr. O’Rourke points out today illustrates how politicians serve their own self interest and not work for the voting public. They work for us, right? No, sorry, they work for developers that pay their PAC the most money. And they don’t want the likes of YOU telling them how to behave.

    So Mayor Haynie and a few others went to Tallahassee and successfully lobbied the folks there to deny you and me the right to have a referendum, stole our right to ask them to change things via our vote on any issue. That is pure theft. Now, our Mayor Susan Haynie wants to put road blocks in front of you and me saying that we can’t have public records until they decide to give them to us and potentially make us go to court to get what we ask for.

    So, please wake up – everyone. These people do not deserve our vote or our support. They lie to us to win an election and turn their backs on us once in office and feed off the handouts from special interests.
    Please use the information provided to let our representatives know we do not want this legislation.

  3. My profound admiration for Boca Watch was shaken by your uninformed opposition to HB 1021 and SB 1220–legislation that is intended to protect the integrity of the Public Records Act from con artists who are “gaming the system” for settlements and legal fees. The reason the League of Cities is supporting the bills is that most of the state’s 400 municipalities have been victimized by these outliers, along with schools, libraries, water management districts, NGOs, and particularly contractors who do business with public agencies. Florida Tax Watch, hardly a shrinking violet, has recently published a report on the problem, along with suggested remedies that have been considered in drafting bill language.

    While the bills are still work-in-progress, we see no possibility that courts will fail to award legal fees when plaintiff proves that a public agency unlawfully denied access to a public record,

    Bob Ganger, Vice Mayor, Town of Gulf Stream

    • This is a letter sent to BocaWatch against this legislation. It was sent to elected officials from the “Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press”.
      Letter

  4. Mr. Ganger,

    We all must learn and it is your willingness to contribute to the discussion that helps put things in perspective. Your comments are well taken and appreciated. We in Boca Raton are so frustrated by what goes on around us. The notion we are marginalized by developers and a City Government that uses so many untruths to get its way has us bringing suit against the City on a number of fronts. Please take a spin south and visit downtown Boca. You may see why we are as sensitive as we have become. Please continue to read and voice your knowledgeable observations.

  5. Mr. Hendrey,
    In addition to being Vice Mayor of Gulf Stream, I am also Chair of the Florida Coalition for Preservation, a non-profit whose goals with respect to development closely parallel those of Boca Watch. We share your frustration every time a monster project looms on the horizon (or rather, obliterates the horizon). We have represented community interests on one massive project since 2007–approved in 2008; redesigned in 2011; reapproved in 2013; appealed in 2014; in the courts 2014-15; just recently re-redesigned to improve traffic flows; rejected by planning staff very recently; staff /Board decision will be re-appealed with yet another design by the developer on March 1. Only one planner and the Coalition have been on the case since 2007. It seems that wisdom, patience and tenacity are the only tools that citizens have to balance the conflicting interests of developers and local government. Good luck in your endeavors.

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