Title: Opinion File 74-103 thru 74-108
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00003407/00001
 Material Information
Title: Opinion File 74-103 thru 74-108
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
Abstract: Buddy Blain's Collections - Opinion File 74-103 thru 74-108
General Note: Box 14, Folder 4 ( Opinion File 1974 - 1975 - 1974-1975 ), Item 35
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00003407
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

14 7W0



f^'m Ad Ate
?u^M~glo

Fbcceabl^b^r


November 13, 1974


Mr Donald Feaster
xaeoutive Director
Southwest Florida Water
Management District
P. 0. Box 457
Brooksville, Florida 33512
Dear Don:
Quite s*me time ago, I became concerned about all of the
opinions on the Sunshine Law, and what steps it was neo-
essary to take to advise the public of our hearings. I
felt that it should be more than merely sending a note to
a couple of newspapers or calling then on the telephone
and advising them of the meetings. Because of this, I
asked Tom Cone of our office to research the same.


I am enclosing herewith a copy of his opinion.
gestions seem reasonable to me, and I recomen
procedure be followed.


His sug-
that such


If you have any questions or suggestions concerning this,
I will be glad to hear from you.
With kindest regards, I am


Sincerely,


Myron G. Gibbons


MmGsbl
ooa Jay Ahern, RZquire
anal.


I- II I I









MEMO TO: MGG
S FROM: TEC
DATE: October 29, 1974
Re: Notice Requirements Under the Government in the
Sunshine Law

ISSUES PRESENTED

How is notice of a public meeting effected in order td insure that

the public meeting complies with the Government in the Sunshine Law,

Section 286.011, Florida Statutes?

As May be seen by reference to a copy of Section 286.011, Florida

Statutes, which is attached hereto, the Government in the Sunshine Law,

on its face, does not address itself to the following questions:

1. Is prior notice of a public meeting required?

2. If so, how is such notice effected?

The Attorney General for the state of Florida has considered these

questions on a number of occasions. In Attorney General opinion

number 071-32, he stated that:

"Any meeting of commissioners or board members
at which formal actions to be memori&lizdd in
minutes are contemplated, or at which legislation
in the form of ordinances or resolutions are
envisaged, or at which official reports are re-
ceived, or at which a majority or quorum of the body
is in attendance, must be held only after a-
reasonable and ample period of notice' has been given
to the public and the press 'so they may attend this
formal or quorum attended meeting if they wish.'"

In Attorney General opinion 071-346, dated October 2, 1971, the

Attorney General ruled that, if a simple committee meeting of a public

body conforms to that referred to above in Attorney General opinion

071-32,' then notice must be given as follows:

1. using the same method established in the city Charter or

Ordinances for the giving of notice of special meetings of the city

Council;

2. if the charter or ordinances have no such provision, then the

serving and promulgation of notice must be given in a reasonable manner

calculated to timely inform the public of the meeting.

In Attorney General opinion 072-400, dated November 10, 1972, the

r Attorney General was asked whether or not "published notice" of future

meetings are required under the Government in the Sunshine Law. The

Attorney General ruled that if publication of notice is statutorily

prescribed, then such statute controls and notice of meetings must be

published in order to comply with the Government in the Sunshine Law.


L






Sr I1.-lob

Memo to: MGG October 29, 1974 3


Thus it can be seen that the Attorney General has been taking

a consistent position in regard to the notice requirements of the

Government in the Sunshine Law. As he construes this statute,

notice should be given in the manner specified by statute,ordinance

or charter; in the absence of a notice requirement in the statutes,

charters or ordinances, notice of public meetings covered by the

Government in the Sunshine Law must be'given, in his opinion, in

a reasonable manner that is designed and calculated to notify all

interested parties of the pending meeting and which is timed in such

a manner so as to permit those interested parties to attend and

appear if they so desire.

There has been very little judicial interpretation of the

Government in the Sunshine Lawi Section 286.011, Florida Statutes,

insofar as the notice requirements are concerned. However, the

Third District Court of Appeal, in 1973, in the case of"Hough vs.

Stembridge," 278, So.2nd 288, was faced with this question. In

that case, a private citizen had sought in the Circuit Court an

injunction against the city of North Miami and the dity council

to inforce compliance with the Government in the Sunshine Law by

the officials of the city. The Circuit Court found that various

violations of the Government in the Sunshine Law had occurred and

mandatorily enjoined and proscribed future violations of the

Government in the Sunshine Law by the City Council. The fourth

provision of the Circuit Court injunction stated:

"4. that the city of North Miami, Florida,
through its elected and appointed officials,
are permanently restrained and enjoined from
holding any meeting wherein public business
is discussed or contemplated, or enacted
without first providing reasonable notice to
the public accompanied by a proposed agenda."

On Appeal, the city challenged this provision of the Circuit

Court injunction on two (2) grounds:

1. The Government in the Sunshine Law does not, per se, require

prior notice of public meetings.

2. The Government in the Sunshine Law does not limit and

restrict public officials to consideration only of matters set forth

in an agenda published prior to a meeting.










Memo to MGG October 29, 1974 4


The Third District Court of Appeal made short shrift of the Appellant's

first argument stating at page 291,

"although Florida Statutes, Section 286.011, F.S.A.,
does not specifically mention such a requirement,
as a practical matter, in order for a public meeting
to be in essence publicc, we hold reasonable notice
thereof to be mandatory."

Thus, to the extent that this opinion holds that reasonable notice of

public meetings is required by the Government and Sunshine Law, this

case supports the reasoning in the Attorney General opinions mentioned

above.

However, the court went on to strike the requirement imposed

by the Circuit Court relating to the publication of a proposed agenda.

The court stated, at page 291, that:

"... Section 286.011, F.S.A.,
does not require for each item to be placed on
the agenda before it can be considered by a public
noticed meeting of a governmental body."

The Court's reasoning was twofold, namely:

1. The preparation and promulgation of agendas is not an

appropriate matter for state legislation, but should be relegated

most properly to local practice as set out in city charters or

ordinances.

2. Furthermore, the necessity of items to appear on an agenda

before they can be heard at a meeting, would foreclose easy access

to such meetings to members of the general public who wish to bring

specific issues before the governmental body.

As a result of the foregoing, the Third District Court of Appeals

modified the fourth provision of the Circuit Court Order to conform

as follows:

"4. that the city of North Miami, Florida,
through its elected and appointed officials,
are permanently restrained and enjoined from
holding any meeting wherein public business
is discussed or contemplated or enacted with-
out first providing reasonable notice to the
public."











Memo to MGG: October 29, 1974 5


It should be noted, however, that the Third District Court of

Appeal in the above referenced case did not address itself to the

manner of effecting such notice. I have been unable to find any case

in which the manner of effecting notice under Section 286.011,

Florida Statutes, has been challenged or construed.

Insofar as the matters discussed herein relate specifically to

the Southwest Florida Water Management District and meetings of its

various basin boards and its governing board, it should be pointed

out that Chapter 373, Florida Statutes, does not specifically state

how notice of public meetings is to be effected. If this matter is

not dealt with in the rules and regulations heretofore promulgated

1 by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, I submit that

the guidelines specified by the Attorney General should be followed,

i.e. reasonable notice calculated to advise interested or affected

persons should be given prior to governing board or basin board

meetings. The manner of effecting such notice should depend upon

the subjects to be considered at the meetings. Many specific subjects

require advance published notice under Chapter 373 and other specific

subjects require publication under Chapter 120, F.S.A.

Where not provided for by statute or regulation, the manner of

effecting notice of future board meetings is left to the discretion

of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. It is my under-

standing that notices and agendas are mailed to all persons who re-

quest such notification. This seems a reasonable manner inasmuch as

v it is authorized by S120.041 (4)(b), F.S.A. when proposed rules will

be considered at public meetings of administrative boards. I would

advise, however, that periodically the Southwest Florida Water Manage-

ment District publish a short statement advising the general public

of the existence of such a mailing list in order to avoid any charge

of "favoritism" in its existing practice.

Copies of Attoreny General opinions 071-346, 072-400, 073-170

and 073-344 are attached hereto.



TECjr:chc

Attachments









Memo to: MGG October 29, 1974 2


However, the Attorney General also pointed out that in the absence of

a statutory requirement of published notice, notice must be given in a

"reasonable manner calculated to timely inform the public and press."

In Attorney General opinion 073-170, dated May 17, 1973, the

Attorney General wasiasked to construe the term "due public notice" as

used in Section 125.001, F orida Statutes, relating to meetings of

boards of county commissioners, as it relates to the Government in the

Sunshine Law, Section 286.011, Florida Statutes. The Attorney General

declined to specify an exact meaning for the term "due public notice."

He indicated that this term has a variable meaning and depends on the

following factors:

1. analagous Statutory Ordinance Requirements;

\2. the purpose of the proposed meeting of the public body;

3. the purpose of the notice requirement;

4. other surrounding circumstances.

In every case, however, the notice must reasonably convey all the

information required under the circumstances and it must afford a

reasonable time for interested persons to make an appearance at the

meeting if they so desire.

In Attorney General opinion 073-344, dated September 13, 1973, the

Attorney General was asked whether or not certain practices of the Public

Service Commission were in violation of the Government in the Sunshine

Law. As part of his answer, the Attorney General suggested some

guidelines for the commission to follow, one of which was:

"Notice of commission meetings and agendas should be
released to the news media and the public and posted
in the lobby of the Commission's general offices suf-
ficiently in advance of meetings to give reasonable
notice to those who may wish to attend."

In other parts of the opinion, the Attorney General relates at the

practice of commission theretofore was merely to post "agendas" in the

lobby of its general office in Tallahassee. It should be noted that

parenthetically, the Attorney General implies that his suggestion as

to notice is "reasonable notice."




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