DECEMBER 2000: The Florida Supreme Court ruled that an Escambia County Comptroller, Joe Flowers, acted without proper authority from the county commission and violated the state’s Sunshine laws. Flowers contracted with Unisys Leasing Company for a $4.8 million computer lease purchase deal, which turned out to be for obsolete computers. Flowers pleaded no contest and resigned from office.


DECEMBER 2000: A judge ruled that Martin County commissioners violated the Sunshine law by meeting in closed-door sessions to discuss possible legal action pending against the county. The Palm Beach Post filed the suit against the county, due to the fact that the commissioners met to discuss legal notices threatening potential lawsuits. The commissioners violated the law because the county was not a party to a lawsuit. The judge ordered the county to release written transcripts of the meetings, as well as pay the newspaper’s attorney fees.


DECEMBER 2000: Levy County commissioners admitted that they violated Florida’s Open Meeting Law twice in November. The first violation occurred when commissioners-elect spoke with Commissioner Lilly Rooks about a proposed board action, for which they apologized. The second violation happened at a citizens meeting, when road paving was discussed between citizens, Commissioner Don Foley and Commissioner-elect Tony Parker, for which they too apologized. State Attorney Bill Cervone said no investigation would result, as no complaints have been filed.


DECEMBER 2000: A circuit judge ruled that a Martin County elections supervisor violated election and public records laws when she allowed Republican Party members to take absentee ballot applications from her office. Elections Supervisor Peggy Robbins allowed the Republican Party members to fill in missing information, which is against Florida Statutes.

NOVEMBER 2000: State investigators determined that the late State Attorney Harry Coe attempted to destroy public records and filed false campaign reports. Coe’s attempts to destroy records on his laptop computer were violations of the state’s Public Records Law. The investigation began in July 2000 under the requests of Gov. Jeb Bush, shortly before Coe took his own life.


NOVEMBER 2000: Tampa Palms, a community development group, agreed to pay $40,000 in legal fees after deciding not to appeal a judge’s decision that the group violated the Open Meetings Law.


OCTOBER 2000: Allan J. Egbert, the head of Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, was cleared of allegations of a Public Records Law violation by a state investigation. Egbert was accused of destroying computerized records relating to a net restriction experiment, but there was not sufficient evidence to support these accusations, initiated by attorney J. Patrick Floyd.


OCTOBER 2000: The Indian River County Hospital District Board of Trustees will be paying almost $23,000 to two former board members to help them cover part of the cost of their Sunshine Law cases. Richard Ladrich and Allen Seed were indicted for violating the Open Meetings Law by discussing board business outside a public meeting. Each man had to pay $500. Their criminal charges were dropped, but they agreed to a civil charge.


SEPTEMBER 2000: The Florida Supreme Court ruled that an Escambia county comptroller, Joe Flowers, acted without proper authority from the county commission and violated the state’s Sunshine laws. Flowers contracted with Unisys Leasing Company for a $4.8 million computer lease purchase deal, which turned out to be for obsolete computers. Flowers pleaded no contest and resigned from office.



AUGUST 2000: A Lee County commissioner was charged with violating a county law that requires government officials to disclose private meetings with lobbyists. Commissioner John Manning was investigated for meeting with lobbyists for years without filing disclosures of the meeting dates and times with the clerk’s office. Manning was one of the commissioners to approve this requirement 10 years ago. The commissioner also failed to file a list of his lobby contacts. Manning said he had misinterpreted the requirement, and he thought his executive assistant filed his disclosures. Manning received a 2nd degree misdemeanor charge, and fined $1,000 as part of a plea agreement. He has since retired.



AUGUST 2000: Judge George A. Brescher dismissed portions of a civil lawsuit filed by Sawgrass Mills against the city of Sunrise. The city was accused of violating the Sunshine Law while negotiating the approval of a new mall. City Manager Pat Salerno met with his staff and negotiated privately with the Sunrise Land Group, but the judge ruled that there was sufficient public notice of the meeting and that it is not a violation of the Sunshine Law for executive staffs and private parties to meet.


JULY 2000: A private meeting held by the state Department of Management Services to evaluate competing bids by two telecommunication companies has prompted one of them, Motorola Inc., to file suit. Motorola claims that the meeting violated the Open Meetings Law. The suit aims at invalidating the department’s choice of negotiating with Com-Net over the $300 million contract.


MAY 2000: Allegations that the Monroe County Mosquito Control Commissioners violated the Sunshine Law were dismissed. According to a special prosecutor, there was no evidence backing the accusations that the commissioners broke the law when speaking to a state senator’s assistant.


MAY 2000: A Lee County commissioner was charged with violating a county law that requires government officials to disclose private meetings with lobbyists. Commissioner John Manning was investigated for meeting with lobbyists for years without filing disclosures of the meeting dates and times with the clerk’s office. Manning was one of the commissioners to approve this requirement 10 years ago. The commissioner also failed to file a list of his lobby contacts. Manning said he misinterpreted the requirement, and thought his executive assistant filed his disclosures. Manning received a 2nd-degree misdemeanor charge and was fined $1,000 as part of a plea agreement. He has since retired.

 


Florida Public Records and Open Meetings Laws Prosecutions Database

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