Editorial: A lesson in open government in Florida

They routinely attract little public attention or news coverage. Yet last week's meeting of aides to the governor and Cabinet illustrates the importance of Florida's public meetings law. Only by requiring that the public's business be conducted in public can Floridians know what elected officials are up to and assess the potential impact.
For example, it became clear at the aides' meeting that Gov. Rick Scott remains determined to fire three more leaders of state agencies that report to the governor and Cabinet. The governor created a firestorm when he ousted Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey, who also reported to the governor and Cabinet, without public discussion or a public vote. Open government advocates and media organizations, including the Tampa Bay Times, have filed a lawsuit against the governor and Cabinet and alleged Bailey's ouster violated opening meetings requirements enshrined in the Florida Constitution and state law.

Undeterred, Scott wants Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Tuesday to approve new performance measures for agency heads that report to them. That's fine, but several important details came out when the aides discussed the situation in public. Continue>>>