He says you have spent years telling us that Times v. Williams and Neu v. Miami Herald were controlling on this matter. Meagan Logan, a trusted advisor said tonight, and I quote, there is no obligation for the council members to answer your questions. Okay, assume she is right, just for a minute. Can’t a legal argument change its focus in mid stream? Of Course they can. Meagan did it during her case (the town’s case) against us.
So here is my change of tactics. The town has a 30 mile per hour speed limit yet on Woodpecker route I know of people who got a ticket for going 36 MPH. Why???? Because the town has decided that that particular portion of Woodpecker has a dangerous curve and the town has decided that a 25 mph speed limit is warranted. Giving the 10 mph cushion to speeders a person going 36 mph gets a ticket. Does the state law speak to this issue, not to my knowledge. But the town can always follow an ordinance or state statute with a more restrictive ordinance of its own. And there isn’t any thing wrong with it.
White Springs is woefully short on following the State Statutes on Public Access via the Sunshine Law and the Public Records Law. I say make the Council and staff have to abide by a Municipal Resolution that requires them to answer questions about their thinking on Government issues. Just like resolution 99-03, the resolution that give citizens the right to speak for five minutes on any issue presently being discussed by the Council that is on the agenda. No where in State Law does such a reading exist but we, White Springs, has such a Resolution on the books. I know because I used it tonight to get my five minutes in the middle of an argument over Spenser’s objections.
So we we impose upon ourselves for certain things that are not in State Law. As a remedial activity for OPEN GOVERNMENT, OR LACK THERE OF, we can impose upon ourselves a condition, a more restrictive condition, which is not on the state law books. And it happens to be the exact same language is Times v. Williams and Neu v. Miami Herald just that we are applying the restriction to ourselves. Why not? The old adage that if your friends jump off a cliff are you required to jump off the same cliff? We can impose on ourselves anything that is not PROHIBITED BY STATE LAW, ACTUAL OR CASE LAW. If we have a problem letting the public know what the council or staff’s thinking is, MAKE A LAW THAT TELLS US, COUNCIL AND STAFF, THAT OPEN GOVERNMENT IS THE LAW OF THE LAND HERE IN WHITE SPRINGS. I say make the staff and the council tell us what their thinking is. It will make for a more informed electorate.
Again the quote out of Times v. Williams and Neu v Miami Herald “It is the how and the why officials decided to so act which interests the public, not merely the final decision.” As the court recognized in Times Publishing Company v. Williams, 222 So. 2d 470, 473 (Fla. 2d DCA 1969), disapproved in part on other grounds, Neu v. Miami Herald Publishing Company, 462 So. 2d 821 (Fla. 1985):
“Every thought, as well as every affirmative act, of a public official as it relates to and is within the scope of his official duties, is a matter of public concern; and it is the entire decision-making process that the legislature intended to affect by the enactment of the statute before us.”
Why not make a law for White Springs only that obeys the reading of these two court decisions? What could it hurt if citizens knew what the staff and the Council are thinking prior to or just following a vote?
This is my way of changing White Springs to a more open government. What can it hurt Spencer, Tonja, Helen, Walter and Tom?