FSNE logo

Editorials

Cartoons

Columns

Related stories


Florida 'sunshine law' violations since 1977 at a glance

By The Associated Press

Violations of Florida's "sunshine" law that resulted in criminal or civil penalties:

1977

• Two Glades County commissioners and a former chairman fined and given suspended 60-day jail sentences after a judge convicts them of conspiring to meet without public notice.

1978

• Former Indian Harbor Beach Mayor Jerry James fined $500 and placed on probation after pleading no contest.

1979

• Five present and former Redding Shores city commissioners fined a total of $1,150 for holding a secret meeting and interfering with an election.

1980

• Two Waldo City Council members fined $10 each after a jury convicted them of illegally meeting.

1984

• Former Bradenton City Clerk Wallie Eyeman sentenced to three months probation after pleading no contest to destroying public records.

1987

• Ten members of Auburndale's Police Pension Retirement Board fined $25 to $125 each after pleading no contest to meeting without public notice.

1988

• Former St. Augustine City Commissioner Mary Stallings placed on probation for six months after pleading no contest to discussing city business with now-former Commissioner Valerie Kroll, who was fined $500 and costs after pleading no contest to civil sunshine violations.

1989

• Former Longwood Mayor David Gunter fined $500 after pleading no contest to attending a secret meeting with former Deputy Mayor Lynnett Dennis and City Commissioner Rick Bullington, each fined $500, placed on probation for 60 days and ordered to perform 25 hours of community service after being convicted by separate juries.

1990

• Three Hernando County Planning and Zoning Board members fined $50 each and costs after pleading no contest to meeting privately to discuss hazardous waste burning.

• Four Minneola city officials ordered to pay costs and fined $400, suspended to $25 under the condition they study the sunshine law, after pleading no contest to civil charges of meeting in private.

• Ten Mount Dora city officials and employees ordered to pay costs and read the Government-in-the Sunshine Manual and given the choice of paying a $25 fine or doing 25 hours of community service after pleading no contest to sunshine violations while selecting contractors. Six volunteer committee members were ordered to study the manual and perform community service to get their charges dropped.

1991

• Seven Highlands County officials, including four commissioners and a former commissioner, ordered to pay $25 each in costs for secretly hiring and raising the salary of a county attorney.

1992

• Hernando County School Board member Diane Rowden fined $322 and ordered to pay costs and read the sunshine manual after pleading no contest to open meeting violations while the other four members agree to study the sunshine law after pleading no contest.

1995

• Kenneth City Mayor Harold Paxton fined $400 in costs after pleading no contest to closed or unadvertised meetings.

• Miami-Dade County Commissioners Bruce Kaplan and Maurice Ferre pay $500 and $250 to settle civil complaints of meeting secretly with their chairman, Arthur Teele Jr.

1996

• Teele Jr. pays $250 to settle a civil complaint of secret meetings.

1997

• City of Opa-Locka pays a $500 fine and $108 in court costs and donates $500 to United Way after former City Manager Earnie Neal pleaded guilty to ignoring record requests.

• Former Estero Fire Commissioner Vernon Conly fined $500 after a jury convicted him of meeting secretly with three other commissioners fined $250 each after they pleaded no contest.

1999

• Escambia County School Board member Vanette Webb served seven days of a 30-day jail term before a new judge overturned her conviction of withholding records. The judge later ordered a new trial after an appellate court reinstated the conviction, but prosecutors then dropped the charge.

2000

• Two former Indian River County Hospital District Board members pay $500 to settle civil charges of discussing public business privately.

• Martin County commissioners ordered to release written transcripts of closed-door meetings and pay a newspaper's legal fees in a civil suit.

2001

• Golden Beach pays $500 in fines and $7,000 in legal fees to settle a civil suit against Councilman Adalberto Paruas, who ordered a citizen removed from a committee meeting.

• A judge voids a sewer contract discussed in secret and orders Monroe County to pay $26,285 to a citizens group that sued.

2002

• Escambia County Commissioner Terry Smith ordered to pay fines and costs totaling $4,987 and do 250 hours of community service after a jury convicted him of discussing redistricting and landfill issues in private with Commissioner W.D. Childers.

• Escambia County Commissioner Mike Bass ordered to pay fines and costs totaling $4,000 after pleading no contest to discussing building projects and land use issues in private with other commissioners.

• Escambia County Commissioner Willie Junior pleaded no contest to open meeting violations and other crimes, including bribery and extortion, but he committed suicide before he could be sentenced.

2003

• Childers sentenced to 60 days in jail after a jury convicted him of discussing redistricting privately with Smith and he pleads no contest to secretly talking about building issues with two other commissioners.

• Two Kissimmee city commissioners faced $50 fines and costs after pleading guilty to civil violations of failing to notify the public of meetings.

• Welaka Mayor Gordon Sands pays a $500 fine after pleading no contest to a civil charge of privately discussing the selection of a town council president with a council member.

• Former Welaka town official Steve Richardson ordered to pay a $250 fine after being found guilty of refusing to let two citizens inspect a recreation equipment sign-out sheet.

2004

• Oak Hill City Commissioner Bob Jackson fined $250 and ordered to take a sunshine law class after pleading no contest to discussing city business with a now-former commissioner.

• Florida Turnpike Enterprise ordered to pay legal expenses of two citizens who sued over secret meetings held by an advisory committee.

 


Source: The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, University of Florida.

Back to top | Return to fsne.org