The Sunshine Law Spencer and Tonja broke today

This is the Sunshine Law which Councilors Spencer Lofton and Tonja Brown broke today, May 28, 2019.

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 inTimes 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.


Thus, two members of a civil service board violated the Sunshine Law when they held a private discussion about a pending employment appeal during a recess of a board meetingCitizens for Sunshine, Inc. v. City of Sarasota, No. 2010CA4387NC (Fla. 12th Cir. Ct. February 27, 2012). Similarly, the Attorney General’s Office advised that the following gatherings are subject to the Sunshine Law: a public forum hosted by a city council member with city council members invited to attend and participate in the discussion, Inf. to Jove, January 12, 2009; “executive work sessions” held by a board of commissioners of a housing authority to discuss policy matters, AGO 76-102; “workshop meetings” of a planning and zoning commission, AGO 74-94; and “conference sessions” held by a town council before its regular meetings, AGO 74- 62. Cf. AGO 04-58 (“coincidental unscheduled meeting of two or more county commissioners to discuss emergency issues with staff” during a declared state of emergency is not subject to s. 286.011 if the issues do not require action by the county commission); and Inf. Op. to Spencer, April 23, 2003 (where city charter provides that special meeting of the council may be called by three members of the council, Sunshine Law is not violated if three members call a special meeting; “[t]he members must, however, be mindful not to discuss substantive issues which may come before the council in their consideration of whether a special meeting is necessary”).

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