Florida First Amendment Foundation: Texting blitz to save firefighters from demotions violated spirit, intent of Sunshine Law

When it became clear Monday the Jacksonville City Council would not spend $320,000 to prevent fire department demotions, the firefighters’ union president sent out a flurry of text messages to council members in a last-ditch, real-time — and private — lobbying push for a second vote.

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Bills could make state government less open

The Florida First Amendment Foundation is tracking more than 80 bills in the Florida Legislature, some of which it says would hide important government records from public view.

The independent watchdog group released its list of bills Monday. It labelled some of the bills neutral in their effect on government openness but said it would oppose others. Those include a bill by Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, to allow identities of applicants for top state university offices to remain anonymous.

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Florida League of Cities President says Keep Florida Government in the Sunshine

When it comes to having an open-and-transparent government that is accountable to the people, Florida truly leads the nation. Since the Florida Government-in-the-Sunshine Law was enacted in 1967, Florida has served as a model for other states.

In a world where technological advancements have introduced even more material into the public record, we continue to be on the cutting edge of reforms.

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Editorial: Bolster public confidence in government

For decades, Florida’s best leaders have embraced open, accountable, ethical government as a fundamental right of the state’s residents.

But others aren’t so sure. Open-government rules are seen as stumbling blocks to efficient action, and inquisitive members of the public cast as annoying gadflies. Trust us, these officials say. We know what’s best. These warring points of view play out in nearly every session of the Legislature.

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City of Jax website, most transparent in Florida

Mayor Alvin Brown says he's beefing up the city's website to put more information about city government at the fingertips of citizens.

Earlier this week, the City of Jacksonville was recognized by the First Amendment Foundation for having the most transparent city website in Florida. Meanwhile, on Thursday, Brown announced the launch of www.coj.net/transparency.

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Editorial: Help us champion open government

Why do Florida's government-in-the-sunshine laws matter so much? Because when nobody watches government closely, bad things happen.

Because democracy depends on an informed citizenry, and it's impossible to know what's happening without access to records and meetings.

Because how else would we know about the dangers of speeding cops in South Florida, or the prevalence of bear attacks in a Central Florida town, or the enormous number of sexual predators who attack again after their release?

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Why Freedom Of The Press Should Matter To You, And Other Tenets Of The First Amendment Foundation

When Florida media groups are concerned about freedom of the press and open government, they turn to the First Amendment Foundation for help.

Pete Weitzel, former senior editor of the Miami Herald, founded the non-profit 30 years ago.

The foundation is funded through contributions. It provides training, legal aid, and the annual Government in the Sunshine Manual as a guide to Florida’s open meetings and public-records laws.

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Florida Times-Union wins First Amendment Foundation award

The First Amendment Foundation’s James C. Adkins/Sunshine Litigation Award goes to The Florida Times-Union and Editor Frank Denton for recent success protecting and defending open government laws through litigation in three recent cases.

The award was created to recognize the importance and continuing value of the late Florida Supreme Court Judge James Calhoun Adkins Jr. The award has been presented only twice since 2009 and is normally given to a Florida attorney who made a significant contribution to the cause of furthering open government through litigation.

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