Monday, August 26, 2013

Barbara Peterson Appointed by Don Gaetz

There are times that I like Florida Senate President Don Gaetz. I hope appointing Barbara Peterson leads to the Florida legislature doing a better job of complying with the Sunshine laws.

“Barbara Peterson is Florida's respected guardian of open records, open meetings and open government," Gaetz said. “Her leadership of the First Amendment Foundation gives credibility and reliability to this important work. Her expertise in advising public officials, the media, courts and citizens about access to records will lead to more transparency and user-friendliness through a consolidation of many complex and duplicative websites.”

The mission of the First Amendment Foundation.

The First Amendment Foundation believes that government openness and transparency is critical to citizen trust and involvement in our democratic society – without Government in the Sunshine, civic engagement cannot bloom. Through ongoing monitoring of the state’s public records and open meetings laws, and the education of government officials and the citizens they serve about those laws, the Foundation promotes the public’s constitutional right to oversee and to participate in the governance process.

Services: Sunshine Monitoring: The Foundation monitors the Legislature, state agencies, the courts, and, when possible, local governments, for actions and issues related to open government, alerting its members through periodic reports of all open government activity.

FOI Hotline: The First Amendment Foundation runs the FOI Hotline, where callers to our toll-free number (800-337-3518) can get information and assistance with their questions about the application of the Sunshine Law and the Public Records Law. Currently, the FOI Hotline is averaging about 200 calls a month, with almost half coming from the general public. The Foundation also responds to emailed questions about open government. Contact us by email.

Let's hope that the Florida legislature listens to Peterson's recommendation. The Rick Scott administration has used private emails to avoid the Sunshine law. Unfortunately, the legislature hasn't challenged Scott for the lack of transparency. That needs to change.

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