The Sunshine Laws apply to members of the City Council

The Sunshine Law, s. 286.011, F.S. Requires that ALL MEETINGS OF A PUBLIC BOARD OR COMMISSION BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.  An investigative HEARING is within the scope of the law, so long as the members of city council discuss any matters on which foreseeable action may be taken by the council.   Attorney General Opinion 074-84.  The Sunshine Law woud be applicable to such investigative hearings irrespective of whether the city council, the mayor, or an outside party or parties precided.  In AGO 074-294, this office expressed the view that A SINGLE MEMBER OF A COMMISSION TO WHOM THE AUTHORITY TO ACT ON BEHALF OF A BOARD OR COMMISSION HAS BEEN DELEGATED IS SUBJECT TO THE RESTRICTIONS OF THE SUNSHINE LAW.

In the case of S.H.E. Spencer Lofton was told he may see if the School Board would approve leasing the building to the Town, BUT IT DID NOT ALLOW FOR CONTINUED NEGOTIATIONS, of which Lofton did not provide information to the Public nor the Council at meetings and will not provide his notes from his phone to the Mayor for transparency to the public.   In the case of John Davis, Spencer Lofton made his own investigation of Tonja Brown, and said it was taken care of without giving details and subsequently Davis was forced out of his employment as a police officer.  The council did not approve Spencer Lofton to approach the School Board to eliminate the reverter clause so a community center could be built on the Carver Property.  Whether, such may be requested by the Town Manager is irrelevant because it was not provided in accordance with the Sunshine Laws to the publicNo notice was given to the public relating to the School Board Meeting which related to Town Business.

In so holding, this office was guided by the following views of Judge Mager as enunciated in I.D.S. Propertiew v. Town of Palm Beach, 279 So. 2d 353 (4 D.C.A. Fla., 1973):

 

“The Sunshine Law does not provide for any government by delegation  exception:  a public body cannot escape the application of the Sunshine Law by undertaking to delegate the conduct of public business through an alter ego.”

 

See also Jones v. Tanzler, 238 So. 2d 41 (Fla. 1970) Adkins, J. concurring)

 

 

Joe E. Griffin

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