Florida Open government watchdog group announces award

A north Florida woman and a Lake City newspaper publisher are being honored by an open government watchdog group.

The First Amendment Foundation said Tuesday it is giving its 2015 open government award to Barbara Jeffords Lemley of Lake City and Columbia County Observer publisher Stew Lilker.  Continue…



Editorial: Bills threaten to dim Sunshine (Florida)

Although Florida is widely considered to have among the strongest open-records laws in the nation, that reputation is imperiled every year when lawmakers in Tallahassee seek to pass exemptions that nibble away at the public’s right to know how its government operates.

The latest attempt to amend the statutes, though, represents a potentially big bite.  Continue…


Experts: New bills in Florida would harm public-records law

Bills filed this week would gut the public's right of access to the government by making it harder for citizens to take records disputes to court, First Amendment experts say.

Two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah and Rep. Greg Steube of Sarasota, are sponsoring the legislation (SB 1220 and HB 1021), which has the backing of the powerful Florida League of Cities.  Continue…


EDITORIAL: Pitbull’s secret Florida contract a slap to the public

Mr. Worldwide is living up to his name by bringing some global attention to Florida's latest snub of the public's right to know.

The International Business Times noted in a story last week that the state's tourism agency, Visit Florida, is refusing to say how much it's paying rap artist Pitbull to promote the state as its new "ambassador."

Welcome to Florida, the land of sunshine, sand and secrecy. Continue…


Florida lawmakers seek transparency in college funding, donations

Florida lawmakers are calling for more transparency at state colleges and universities funded with donations.

Florida law allows public schools to keep secret the way they spend private money, one reason the University of Central Florida and coach George O'Leary faced criticism for not releasing terms of his contract. They didn't have to because O'Leary was paid with private money.


Text messages from Jacksonville council members deepen questions over Sunshine Law violations

New text messages from Jacksonville City Council members obtained by The Florida Times-Union reveal the president of the firefighters’ union relayed communications between council members during a meeting last month as he worked behind-the-scenes to sway a vote, which is prohibited by Florida’s open government law.