Sunday, May 4, 2008

Everywhere but Cooper City

With the impending Workshop we present the Following:

Just food for Thought
The courts of the state of Florida on construing the law have read into the concept of an open meeting the right to be heard. In Board of Public Instruction of Broward County v. Doran, supra at 699, the Florida Supreme Court stated:

"The right of the public to be present and to be heard during all phases of enactments by boards and commissions is a source of strength in our country. . . . "Regardless of their good intentions, these specified boards and commission, through devious ways, should not be allowed to deprive the public of this inalienable right to be present and to be heard at all deliberations wherein decisions affecting the public are being made."

(e.s.)And even more expansively, in Town of Palm Beach v. Gradison, 296 So.2d 473, 475 (Fla. 1974), the Supreme Court expostulated:
"Every meeting of any board, commission, agency or authority of a municipality should be a marketplace of ideas, so that the governmental agency may have sufficient input from the citizens who are going to be affected by the subsequent action of the municipality. The ordinary taxpayer can no longer be led blindly down the path of government, for the news media, by constantly reporting community affairs, has made the taxpayer aware of governmental problems. Government, more so now that ever before, should be responsive to the wishes of the public. These wishes could never be known in nonpublic meetings, and the governmental agencies would be deprived of the benefit of suggestions and ideas which may be advanced by the knowledgeable public."

(e.s.)The Court in Gradison at 475 went on to state:
"The taxpayer deserves an opportunity to express his views and have them considered in the decision-making process." See also, Krause v. Reno, 366 So. 2d 1244 (Fla. 3d DCA 1979), describing this public participation as the "citizen input factor" and stating that this public input was an important aspect of open meetings. And see, AGO 73-170, noting that the purpose of notice of a meeting subject to s. 286.011 is "to apprise individuals or the public generally of the pendency of matters which may affect their . . . rights, and afford them the opportunity to appear and present their views."

(e.s.) Thus, the right of the public to participate in open meetings, to present their views and to have some input into the decision-making process has been recognized by the courts of this state and by this office.

This informal advisory opinion was prepared by the Division of Opinions in an effort to be of assistance to you; it should not be considered a formal opinion of the Attorney General.Division of Opinions
Craig Willis Assistant Attorney General


Anonymous said...

Make sure you read the comments!

Anonymous said...

From Bob Sands...corrected version of email with date. Thanks!!


Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 11:17 AM
To: 'Elliot Kleiman'
Subject: RE:

Dear Elliot,

Thus far, I have tried to steer clear of all the political maneuvering in which you and others are participating. But I can no longer be silent while this city continues to be ripped apart. For you to issue a recall of John Sims is the height of hypocrisy. You, yourself told me at the Davie-Cooper City Chamber that you did not think that the picture was “meant to be anti-Semitic”. While the picture was distasteful and reprehensible, it is not a hate crime like that which was perpetrated on Mr. and Mrs. Green. Yet we hear more about the picture than we do the Swastika that was etched in Ms. Green’s car. Where is that outrage? I think that needs to be given equal investigation time, don’t you? You are correct that you have the right as a citizen to participate in a recall. I agree. I also agree that all of us have the right to free speech no matter how vile we may think another’s is. I will defend the atheist right to free speech because if he looses his rights I can also loose mine. Let’s just call this what it is, Elliot. This is nothing more than another group of opportunists that have taken this horrific picture and turned it into a personal and political vendetta because they don’t like Commissioner Sims. That’s fine, you have that right.

Elliot, I must remind you again (you seem to have forgotten this!) that you were part of Commission that violated public trust. You got caught and didn’t like it. You spent my money to go out and eat and drink and you did it repeatedly. Did we call for your removal? At one point, a recall for all five of you was being considered, but we decided to wait until the investigation was over and let the FDLE and the Governor have their say. In the end, there wasn’t any further investigation. That is the case with Commissioner Sims. Just as all the evidence, including video and receipts pointed to the guilt of all of the commissioners, so all the evidence is pointing to him, but the investigation has been suspended. Right now, there is a media feeding frenzy but the true investigation is at a stand still. I would urge you to reconsider this. Let the Governor have his say. In the end, the truth will prevail. Or is it that you really don’t care about the truth?

Additionally, as a fellow Kiwanian, I was appalled at the apparent use of the Kiwanis booth to front your agenda. I trust that you will issue an apology to our entire Kiwanis district for your lack of judgment.

Unlike others who want to be removed from your list, I want you to keep me informed every step of the way. After all, we all want what’s best for Cooper City, right?

Bob Sands