JANUARY 2007: Two Monroe County commissioners were charged with violating the Sunshine Law. Mayor Mario Di Gennaro and Commissioner Sonny McCoy each face a civil infraction carrying a fine of up to $500. The charges stemmed from a September post-meeting discussion regarding an upcoming mayoral election. Di Gennaro and then-Mayor McCoy allegedly had a brief conversation about Di Gennaro's plans to run for mayor.

FEBRUARY 2007:(Tampa): Former county worker Gary Mitchell was unsuccessful in his attempt to appeal the dismissal of his case. Mitchell claimed he was denied his First Amendment rights when he was fired from his job after making graphic remarks about female genitalia when addressing a former commissioner.

MARCH 2007 (Ocala): A hospital that was indicted on misdemeanor charges for violating Florida’s open government laws during a CEO search has reached an agreement with the State Attorney’s Office. The hospital, which leases publicly owned facilities, did not concede guilt but will pay $2,000 for investigative costs.

MARCH 2007 (Key West):Florida Keys Community College will pay the legal fees of a newspaper company after the two parties reached a settlement in a First Amendment retaliation lawsuit. Cooke Communications, owner of the Key West Citizen, filed suit claiming its constitutional right to publish without retribution from a government agency was violated. The college did not admit any wrongdoing but did agree to pay $9,000 in court fees.

MARCH 2007 (Ocala): A hospital that was indicted on misdemeanor charges for violating Florida’s open government laws during a CEO search has reached an agreement with the State Attorney’s Office. The hospital, which leases publicly owned facilities, did not concede guilt but will pay $2,000 for investigative costs.

MAY 2007 (Tampa:)The Tampa Tribune received $28,106 from the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau to pay the newspaper’s legal fees in connection with a public records lawsuit against the bureau. The bureau said the payment was not an admission of wrongdoing. The payment ends the dispute between the newspaper and the bureau over bid preparation documents for the 2008 Republican National Convention.

AUGUST 2007 (Washington, D.C.): The Supreme Court ruled that a high school principal did not violate a student’s First Amendment rights when she told him to take down a 14-foot banner that read “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” and subsequently suspended him for 10 days when he refused. The decision gives schools wider discretion to limit messages that appear to advocate illegal drug use.

OCTOBER 2007 (Fort Myers): A panel for the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that FEMA must provide The News-Press (Fort Myers) and other Florida newspapers with the addresses of households that received disaster aid between 1998 and 2004. The News-Press found that fewer than one in three received assistance. In opposing the release of the information, the government argued that disclosure would violate the privacy of recipients, stigmatize victims and potentially be used for identity theft.

OCTOBER 2007 (Lakeland): The Polk County Opportunity Council’s effort to overturn a ruling that they violated the Open Meetings Law was rejected by the 2nd District Court of Appeal. Because the 2nd District didn’t issue a written opinion, the PCOC has nothing to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. The civil infractions against the 10 board members stemmed from a September 2005 meeting where the board paused a public meeting to discuss reprimanding its executive director.

DECEMBER 2007 (Fort Myers):The News-Press prevailed in a public records lawsuit against city councilman Warren Wright, winning the right of access to a settlement agreement. Wright sued the city and a developer over the construction of a 14-story tower near a lot he owned in a historic district. The suit was later settled, but the agreement was not made public.

DECEMBER 2007 (Orlando): Orlando television station WKMG-TV prevailed in a lawsuit challenging a trial court’s order which prohibited it from airing stories about a political consultant. The 5th District Court of Appeal ruled that consultant Doug Guetzloe did not prove his privacy concerns outweighed the station’s First Amendment rights.

 

 


Florida Public Records and Open Meetings Laws Prosecutions Database

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