Is it legal for elected officials to text during public meetings? Virginia FOIA Council may soon weigh in

Elected officials secretly texting each other during public meetings may or may not become a problem requiring a statewide fix. But it’s happening enough that a Virginia transparency panel may soon issue guidance to city councils and county boards on the legality of politicians tapping out messages on their phones while conducting public business. On…

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Reporters eye access to text messages during Sunshine Week

When Florida’s public records law was approved 40 some years ago, people were still using typewriters and rotary dial telephones.

If you wanted a public record, you got a piece of paper or maybe lots of pieces of paper. Technology has changed all of that and has presented a challenge for members of the public who want to know what their government officials are up to and local governments that want to avoid violating the law.

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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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Texting during public meetings raises questions

Drivers caught texting in Tennessee face fines up to $50, while those who use cellphones in classrooms or courtrooms may be forced to hand them over. Texting during church service is generally a no-no and considered down-right rude while dining with friends.

So, is it proper for lawmakers to converse with one another, their family or constituents via text during a public meeting? The answer appears to depend upon the message, open government proponents say, although getting to the message is quite another problem.

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Jacksonville (Fla.) plans to start saving text messages

From The Financial News and Daily Record:

The City Ethics Commission Subcommittee on Transparency and Open Government met Monday to discuss how to capture and preserve text messages.

"The first area of concern was whether or not text messages, which are public record if they are discussing City business on either City or personal phones, are being kept," said James Young, a member of the City Ethics Commission.

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R text messages a loophole in Florida records law?

From SunSentinel.com:

Florida public records laws are often called among the toughest in the nation. But that was b4 txt msging.

The state updated its public records rules last year to advise that text messages, Facebook comments, Tweets and other communications on "emerging communications technologies'' might be public records, depending on their content.

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