Posts Tagged ‘sunshine law’

Grand jury ‘could indict them all’ soon for Sunshine law violations at Broward Health

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

By Dan Christensen
A state grand jury investigation of alleged Sunshine Law violations at taxpayer-supported Broward Health appears to be wrapping up, and sources familiar with what’s happening say one or more indictments are likely.
The post Grand jury ‘could indict them all’ soon for Sunshine law violations at Broward Health appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Broward Health: Lawyers, lawyers everywhere and taxpayers to foot the bill

Monday, November 13th, 2017

By Dan Christensen
Lawyers for fired Broward Health chief executive Pauline Grant filed a pair of public records requests on the district in May that they believed might shed light on her sudden dismissal last December. Six months later, Broward Health hasn’t produced a single requested document in response.

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Broward Health’s ‘independent’ probe led by law firms with undisclosed ties to Gov. Scott

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

By Dan Christensen
When Broward Health General Counsel Lynn Barrett started an “independent” investigation that led to last December’s ouster of popular hospital district President/CEO Pauline Grant, the two law firms she retained to investigate and advise about Grant had deep, undisclosed ties to Gov. Rick Scott.
The post Broward Health’s ‘independent’ probe led by law firms with undisclosed ties to Gov. Scott appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Broward grand jury hears first witnesses in criminal probe of Broward Health

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

By Dan Christensen and Buddy Nevins
A Broward grand jury has begun hearing about alleged criminal conduct at long-troubled Broward Health, the taxpayer-supported public medical system for the northern two-thirds of the county.
The post Broward grand jury hears first witnesses in criminal probe of Broward Health appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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EXCLUSIVE: Miami’s Top Prosecutor Busted Censoring Darren Rainey Protesters

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Miami-Dade County’s State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle is censoring at least 100 of her critics on Twitter, including a dozen accounts either named Darren Rainey or with the deceased man’s profile image.
We have pictures to prove it.
It all started when the prosecutor sent a tweet about freedom.
This exclusive report is based upon public records requested from the Miami-Dade SAO’s office under Florida’s Sunshine Law, including their social media policy, which as it turns out does not specify that a public official in their office has any allowance to censor citizens by blocking access to their public posts.
Miami residents are in an uproar after the veteran prosecutor decided not to charge Rainey’s captors at a state prison rife with abuse.
When government actors block critics on social media, it may violate both the state of Florida and federal constitution, both of which protect the right to petition the government.
State Attorney Fernandez-Rundle is facing intense public criticism after she declined to prosecute the four Florida state prison guards who left Darren Rainey – a non-violent offender – locked in a scalding hot shower with external temperature controls for over 90 minutes until he was found dead.
Rainey’s post-mortem body temperature was estiamted at 109 degrees.
The prosecutor’s office didn’t  initially wish to respond to our records request, writing, “We have no responsive records to your second request.”
But we shared an image provided by Navy Corpsman Daniel Suarez proving that Miami’s top prosecutor was censoring citizens, so they relented and delivered a dozen images, which may not even be the complete list.
“Florida public officials should always turn over these kinds of lists if they do in fact exist because they’re a matter of serious public interest,” says Faudlin Pierre, a Florida attorney who has filed suit to obtain social media records, “I commend the State Attorney for promptly releasing this critical document.”

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Florida Man Fights Extensive Public Records Request Abuse

Friday, May 26th, 2017

The City of Homestead has a torrid reputation, and a pattern of willfully refusing to comply with the public records law. Homestead is a little town at the southern end of Miami-Dade County, rarely receiving the scrutiny it deserves as a cesspool of public corruption and maleficence.
I have used the records request process, as a pre-discovery method for investigating my civil rights claims. Homestead has failed to comply with the public records law on the majority of the nearly one hundred requests I have filed.
Homestead has a pattern and practice of unlawful noncompliance as it relates to the records law including but not limited to: excessively overcharging for records, claiming inapplicable exemptions, creating automatic and/or unreasonable delays in production, claiming incriminating records do not exist, falsifying records and destruction of records.
Florida has some of the strictest public records laws in the nation. The records law is thoroughly explained in the Government in the Sunshine Manual (GSM), and the city owns several copies. Yet, you could be easily fooled into thinking otherwise, based on the behavior and actions of Homestead and their attorneys.
I hope the information provided herein, while extensive by nature, will educate the readers on the public records law and how some public entities create costly issues.
PINAC published the original story of my abuse by Homestead officer Alejandro Murguido, beginning in 2012. I was falsely arrested in April 2013, after attempting to file a complaint, and charged for simply asking my neighbor to not speed and recklessly drive his city owned police car, in our community. Children regularly play in the street, and Murguido had previously asked me to contact him directly versus filing a formal complaint with his department.
I met with Homestead Chief of Police Alexander Rolle to file a complaint in February 2014. All false charges against me had been dismissed shortly

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Missouri Police Association Sues Missouri Police Department Over Public Records Violations

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

A Missouri police association filed a lawsuit against the city of Columbia, accusing its police department of violating the state’s public records law by refusing to provide records in a timely manner, then charging an exorbitant amount for the requested records.
Last summer, the Columbia Police Officers’ Association requested two months worth of email correspondence between Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton Deputy Chief of Police Jill Schlude.
But the emails were not produced within three days as required by state law nor did the association receive a detailed explanation providing “reasonable cause” of the delay as outlined in Section 610.023 of the Missouri Sunshine Law.
And when the department finally responded to the records request, it was charging the association $893.59, claiming it will take several high-ranking officers to spend hours compiling the records.
Evidently, they’ve never learned how to use the search function in their email system, which would allow the lowest paid clerk to compile the emails within an hour.
The police association was asking for emails from the months of June and July of this year. And it filed its lawsuit in October, which can be read here.
The Columbia Police Officers’ Association is a private organization that is not part of the Columbia Police Department although the majority of the department’s officers are members.
However, the organization is not a police labor union, even though it is lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Missouri is a right-to-work state and thus does not have collective bargaining. Instead, the police association provides legal services to officers of the Columbia Police Department in the event that an officer is sued or is on trial in need of a defense attorney.
On September 22, the police association submitted a records request for copies of all completed morale questionnaires submitted to the city manager by Columbia Police Department officers.
Earlier that month,

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Open government office goes behind closed doors

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

According to the Associated Press, the governor’s office just got a $153,000 makeover. Well, technically it was to the reception area outside the place where Gov. Rick Scott conducts the weighty affairs of state.
There was new carpet to replace the 13-year-old stuff that covered the floor. That’s good. We want visitors to think we run a classy joint here in Florida.
There was what AP called “bulletproof material” in the reception desk. No problem there. I don’t make jokes when it comes to protecting the chief political officer in the state and his staff. People who know about security said that was important. So be it.
But …
Wait for it …
The “upgrades” included putting the Florida Office of Open Government under lock and key and restricting admission to just the working staff. That’s the place where worker bees respond to those pesky open-records requests that can cost a lot and take forever to complete, although the state says those things are expected to be filled “in an expeditious manner.”
Creating the office also was one of the first official acts by Scott after he was inaugurated in 2011.
Anyway, here’s how the state’s web page describes the mission statement of that office:
“The Office of Open Government is charged with providing both the Executive Office of the Governor and each of Florida’s agencies with the guidance and tools to serve Florida with integrity and transparency.”
That always has been the issue since Scott was first elected. That’s why the lock-and-key and admission restrictions on the “Open Government” room is dripping with symbolism.
I checked his ballyhooed “Project Sunburst” website. That’s the place where Scott’s executive staff emails are supposed to be available to the public to, as the webpage says, “increase transparency in government.”
There are a lot of emails on there, but nothing that looks like anything

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Chicago Tribune Sues Mayor Emanuel for Refusing to Release Private Emails About Corrupt Red Light System

Friday, October 30th, 2015

The Chicago Tribune is suing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for not complying with public records requests after the mayor refused to release communications about city business conducted through private emails and text messages.
The lawsuit states that the mayor uses private phones and private emails to conduct city business as a way to avoid the public release of his city related correspondences and activity.
The Chicago Tribune seeks to receive emails and electronic communications pertaining to a controversial red light camera system in Chicago, a system mired in controversy and corruption.
The yellow lights were timed shorter with an intended outcome to catch more people running red lights, resulting in more traffic ticket money for the city, according to an investigative report by the Tribune last year.
More than $500 million was generated from the Chicago red light traffic system, the largest in the nation, according to the lawsuit filed last month, which can be read here.
City officials boasted the red light system would make intersections and driving safer, but an uptick in injury-related crashes occurred as a result of the red light system because of the shorter duration of yellow lights.
Because of these crashes, 50 of the cameras were removed at 25 intersections within the city.
Redflex Traffic Systems was the vendor that created the system along with former Chicago city official John Bills. It was quickly discovered that Bills and Redflex CEO David Kidwell were involved in a $2 million bribery scheme to implement the red light system in Chicago.
Kidwell and Bills were both relieved of their duties.
It is common for officials to use personal email to skirt Freedom of Information Act requests.
Recently, Phyllis Wise who is the Chancellor of The University of Illinois used personal emails to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests.
The Chancellor has since resigned from the university. Additionally, it was brought

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Florida Superintendent Recorded Falsely Accusing PINAC’s Jeff Gray of Being “Dangerous Man” With “Extensive Criminal Record”

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Have you ever wished to be a fly on the wall and could hear the things government officials are saying behind your back?
Using a digital audio recorder, that’s exactly what PINAC reporter Jeff Gray did at a recent St. Augustine school board meeting.
The recording was made after Gray had stepped out the room, capturing a Florida school district superintendent saying he wishes he could change the state’s Sunshine Law that allows citizens to ask for public records without presenting identification.
“I think we need the law changed for public records,” St. Johns County Schools Superintendent Joseph Joyner can be heard saying on the recording.
“You can’t ask someone to identify themselves. You ought to be able to ask someone for their ID.”
State law also allows citizens to attend public meetings without presenting identification, but that did not stop these officials from demanding Gray’s identification upon entry, which he refused to do.
But that’s not where things get interesting. The fireworks begin once the video goes dark, but the audio continues after Gray steps out the room.
It should be noted that Florida is a all-party consent state for audio recording. However, the wiretapping law does not apply to public officials who have no expectation of privacy while acting in their official capacity as agents of the government.
In the audio portion of the video, the officials can be heard remarking that Gray is part of a group called “Photography Is Not a Crime”, that he’s sued the school board and won, and that if they’d barred him from attending or photographing the meeting, that he’d “be down to the courthouse.”
They even said that “it’s cheaper to settle” than to fight Gray.
But wouldn’t it be cheaper to simply abide by the public records law?
Let’s not forget these people educate our children.
The whole reason for Florida’s Sunshine laws is to

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OPINON: Private Prisons Turn 25, Why Do We Need Them At All?

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Over the past year, MuckRock has been filing nationwide requests for the hard materials that connect the powers­ that ­be to their parasites.
It’s as much about what we can know as what we can’t know. And it requires putting money behind requests and feet on the ground.
That’s why MuckRock took the opportunity to launch its first project page with the Private Prison Project – a place to gather, contextualize, and follow the requests and stories that will help provide the data and dirt to have a real conversation.
Private Prisons in America Are Turning 25 Years Old
Winn Correctional Center opened its doors 25 years ago as the first privately­ run medium security prison in America.
And, soon, its life cycle as one of the country’s oldest for­profit facilities will come to an end, when
the handoff from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections is completed.
Kissimmee, FL, August 25, 2004 — An Osceola County inmate transfers vegetables he cooked for the Red Cross into a serving container. The Red Cross is providing free meals to residents affected by Hurricane Charley. FEMA Photo/Mark Wolfe
For the first time in the facility’s history, a new ability to scrutinize its inner workings will exist.
Until then, Winn Correctional, just like all privately­ run prisons, will maintain its legal right to secrecy.
Private prisons in America hold 150,000 of America’s incarcerated population. They were born of Reagan­ era privatization policies and lauded as a quick, cost­ effective way to build and staff facilities. They only operate in some states but are popular with agencies of the federal government.
These major corporations are publicly­ traded– albeit as real estate investment trusts aka REITs.
REITs pay no taxes, passing the responsibility for that to investors, and using them for prisons turns our incarceration system into a glorified hotel chain whose

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