Title: Brechner report
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090012/00003
 Material Information
Title: Brechner report
Series Title: Brechner report
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, College of Journalism and communications, University of Florida
Publisher: Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: March 2000
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090012
Volume ID: VID00003
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Volume 24, Number 3 U A monthly report of mass media law in Florida
Published by The Brechner Center for Freedom of I ...i. ..,, College ofJournalism and Communications U University of Florida
March 2000

Miami paper sues for airport spending records

MIAMI In an effort to gain
access to spending records, The Miami
Herald is suing the company
overseeing the $5 billion, 20- A (
year expansion of Miami RE
International Airport.
In its suit, the paper claims that


Dade Aviation Consultants should be
required to reveal records, such as
lobbying expenses, as if it
HE SS were a public agency.
R S Dade Aviation claims that
RiDS no "public record" of
lobbying payments exists.

The consultants, a joint venture of
eight companies that has collected more
than $78 million in county funds since
being hired in 1992, claim that only
records directly related to county
contracts are subject to the Sunshine
laws. (1/25/00)

Hospital must pay attorney fees

TAMPA Tampa General Hospital
has been ordered by a Hillsborough
Circuit Court judge to pay attorney fees
for two newspapers who filed and won
public record suits against the hospital.
Judge Edward Ward has ordered the
hospital to pay $65,000 in attorney fees
to the St. Petersburg Times and

$227,131 to The Tampa Tribune.
Last October, Ward ruled that the
records were public, even though the
hospital converted from a public to
private non-profit operation in 1997.
Lawyers for the hospital are appealing
his rulings and his decision to award
the attorney fees. (1/13/00)

Airport authority asks Legislature to keep records secret

SEBRING -The Sebring Airport officials claim public's right to knc
Airport Authority is seeking A C C E SS that confidentiality plays a Boone, a local resic
support from the state A C key role in luring new Additional pro
Legislature to allow them, MEETINGS business or industry to the include raising the
while in negotiation, to keep area. But local residents airport projects froi
names of potential business oppose the proposed amendment, to expedite future p
developments secret during negotiations. "Confidentiality should not outweigh the confidentiality clau

Governor not trying to control tape says aides
TALLAHASSEE- Staff members sure the governor's comments were put in According to S;

of the governor's office attempted to the right context. In the videotape, the
limit distribution of videotaped governor tells his aides to "kick their
comments made by Gov. Jeb Bush asses out," a reference to nine reporters
during a sit-in at the who monitored two
Capitol in January, but FIRST legislators in the
deny they were trying to AN/ T M E T all-night sit-in.
control the broadcast. L N V N State Sen. Kendrick
In an interview with the St. Meek and Rep. Tony Hill refused to leave
Petersburg Times, Bush's spokesman Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan's office in
Justin Sayfie said that he contacted opposition to Gov. Bush's One Florida
CONUS Communications to make initiative.

w," said Monty
posed measures
public bid process for
m $5,000 to $10,000
projects and a
se. (1/5/00)

ayfie, a Miami

station attributed the remark to the
legislators, rather than the
reporters, "I said if they were going
to distribute it, they should have
some context," he said.
Following the discussion,
CONUS agreed not to sell copies of
the videotape to stations outside
their network.
CONUS provides reports to 12
news stations in Florida. (1/21/00)


See Legislative Preview
inside on pages 3 -5.


Judge releases triple murder suspect files to media

court judge refused to issue a gag order
for court materials in the trial of triple
murder suspect Larry Parks.
The request for a gag order by Chief
Assistant Public Defender Jim Slater was
overly broad, ruled Judge Janette
Dunnigan. According to the Bradenton
Herald, Slater asked that the order be
issued not only for investigators, attorneys
and witnesses, but also court personnel,

parties or "anyone who is connected to the
prosecution or the investigation."
The Herald, along with the Sarasota
Herald-Tribune and WFLA-TV opposed
the sealing of court records. Attorneys for
the Herald claimed that Slater had no
grounds for requesting that records be
sealed and that he has "failed to identify
even a single statement or a single
document that supposedly jeopardizes fair
trial rights."

Slater filed a second gag order
request, alleging that members of the
Manatee County Sheriff's office have
"provided the media with facts surrounding
this offense in such a manner as to
jeopardize the ability of the defendant to
obtain a fair trial in Manatee County."
Parks was arrested last October on
charges that he murdered a woman and her
two young daughters in their home. He
plead not guilty to the charges. (1/12/00)

Officer under drug investigation was promoted by chief

ST. PETERSBURG --Inaneffortto end
two public record lawsuits, a police chief
has admitted he knowingly promoted a
police lieutenant who was part of a drug-
dealing investigation.
According to the St. Petersburg
Times, in his signed affidavit, Police Chief
Goliath Davis III said that he knew Lt.

Donnie Williams was part of a drug
investigation being conducted by a multi-
agency task force, but that the police
department did not single him out after
receiving a tip that he was dealing
cocaine in 1998.
The two public records access
lawsuits were filed by the Times and the

Pinellas County Police Benevolent
Association last year. Attorneys for the
police union and the newspaper plan to
continue their effort, saying that the
affidavit is evasive. Under state law, records
from a closed investigation are public, but
those from an active investigation can
remainclosed. (1/26/00)

Adoptee allowed access to file, annuls adoption

PALM BEACH An 8th Judicial
Circuit court judge has given an adoptee
the right to open his adoption records.
In addition, Judge Maurice Giunta
granted an annulment of the adoption,
noting abuse and inaccuracies in the
adoption process.
Palm Beach resident Michael
Chalek sought to open his adoption
records as a way to sever ties with his

deceased adopted parents. Adoption
records are not public records and
usually a judge will grant access only for
medical reasons.
But in this case, Giunta allowed the
unsealing because the adopted parents
lied about their previous marriages and
abused Chalek as a child.
Mainly symbolic, the annulment
allows Chalek to amend his birth

'Bucs owner wants new ruling

TAMPA A Palm Beach millionaire
has asked a three-judge panel to overturn a
ruling on releasing records of the $168
million publicly financed Raymond James
The stadium is the home to the Tampa
Bay Buccaneers, owned by Malcolm

Glazer. Glazer asked the three-judge panel
from the 2nd District Court of Appeal to
review his appeal.
He also asked the court to throw out
the ruling by Judge Gregory Holder that he
had "schemed" to avoid the public records
laws. (1/20/00)

Outside legal fees public record

GAINESVILLE Outside attorney
fees for county defense as well as its
employees for alleged civil rights
violations are public record, according to
an Attorney General opinion.
"Records of attorney fee bills
received by the county's risk
2 The Brechner Report U March 2000

management office under the county's
risk management program constitute
public record," said state Attorney

General Bob Butterworth, in response to
a query from Alachua County attorney
David Wagner.
If the bills or invoices contain

certificate to include the names of his
birth parents and his given name at birth
Chalek believes his success may
pave the way for others seeking
information on their adoptions and is
writing a book on his ordeal. "These
archaic laws need to be changed for
adoptees," Chalek said. "Adoptees are
not given any rights like adoptive and
birth parents." (1/4/00)


Copies of case opinions, attorney
general opinions, or !,.,,i, ,.,,i re-
ported in any issue as on file may be
obtained upon request from the
Brechner Center for Freedom of In-
formation, College of Journalism and
Communications, 3208 Weimer Hall,
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
32611-8400, (352) 392-2273.
information such as litigation strategies,
legal theories or conclusions, that
information may be deleted, but the
remainder must be disclosed, said
Butterworth. (AGO 2000-07, 1/27/00)


Off-duty police dispatcher fired for possible leaks to press

DAYTONA A Daytona Beach
police dispatcher was fired for an
allegedly unauthorized discussion with
the press about an unconfirmed crime.
Burlie Ann Irick had been with the
Daytona Beach Police Department for
almost 20 years. Last year, Irick was
interviewed by several reporters in

SB 1002 Blueprints/Educational
Facilities (Sen. Education Committee)
Creates a public records exemption for
educational and state university facilities.
Also creates a public meetings exemption
for those portions of all meetings or
proceedings relating solely to the exempt
blueprints. Requires the Department of
Education and the Board of Regents to
prescribe, by rule, the exempt information
relating to the blueprints.

SB 1256 Seaport Security Plans (S.
Criminal Justice Committee) Creates a

reaction to the robbery and murder of
Roosevelt Payne.
According to the Daytona Times,
Irick was fired for allegedly releasing
information about a crime to the news
media that was unconfirmed and was not
authorized for release by investigative or
supervisory personnel.

Airport imposes ban on talking to press

MIAMI Miami International
airport officials have banned employees
from talking to the press without
permission saying "they want to track
what employees are telling reporters."
In January, Miami Aviation Director
Gary Dellapa sent a memo to airport
employees reminding them to seek
permission before speaking to the press.


Book helps public
designed to assist in the public-record
search has been published by a
Jacksonville reporter. Joe Adams has
spent the last 10 years researching and
writing, The Florida Public Records
The book should be a valuable
resource for writers and individuals
seeking information from police reports
to property deeds to useful Web sites.

Dellapa says the memo is not meant to
scare employees, that he's trying to
insure that "the whole story gets told."
The memo was issued on the heels of
a series of investigative reports on the
airport's operations published by The
Miami Herald. The series focused on
alleged waste and corruption at the
airport. (1/10/00)

records search
"I've always looked at public records as
our friends," said Adams. "This was a way
to introduce people to friends they
haven't met yet."
The book details the 170 most useful
public records, including key documents
at city hall, the courthouse, state
agencies and on the Internet.
The book was published by the First
Amendment Foundation and funded
through a grant from the National

public records exemption for seaport
security plans of a county or municipal
seaport department or a seaport authority
created by the Legislature. Also exempts
photographs, maps, blueprints, drawings and
similar material if a seaport department or
authority determines that such items
contain information that is not generally
known and that could jeopardize seaport
security. Stipulates that real estate leases,
layout plans and related blueprints are not
exempt and specifically limits the
exemptions to records held by a seaport
authority or seaport department that

In her defense, WESH reporter Gail
Paschall-Brown wrote a letter to the
police department explaining that she had
asked Irick her reaction to the crime. "I
can tell you Ms. Irick spoke only to me
as a friend of the family, not as an
informant from the police department,"
said Paschall-Brown. (12/29/99)

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Freedom of Information Coalition and
the John S. and James L. Knight
Foundation. The Public Records
Handbook was designed as a companion
to the Government-in-the-Sunshine
Manual, also published by the First
Amendment Foundation. (1/3/00)

operates a seaport.

SB 1262 Money Transmitter Records
(Criminal Justice) Creates a public records
exemption for all investigative records
conducted by the Department of Banking
and Finance (DBF) pursuant to the Money
Transmitter's Code until the conclusion of
the investigation or examination. Includes
provision that closes records of
administrative, civil, or criminal
proceedings if the proceedings end in an
acquittal or dismissal.
The Brechner Report March 2000 5

From Page 4


Controlling information on the
Internet, opening employment records in
selected state agencies and limiting public
access to disciplinary action against
physicians are just a few of the bills
submitted for consideration during the
2000 Legislature.

Below is a listing of bills filed through
Feb. 15 that affect public records and open-
meeting laws and other First Amendment
issues. Bill information was obtained from
the Florida Legislature's Internet home
page, http://www.leg.state.fl.us/."
Additional legal research and analysis was
provided by the Florida First Amendment

Bills are listed in chronological order.
Chief sponsors of the bills are in
parentheses next to the corresponding bill
numbers. When applicable, identical or
similar bills are noted at the end of the

House Bill summaries:

HB 37 Funding of Legislative Projects
(Merchant, R-Palm Beach) Establishes a
formal review process for legislative
projects not recommended by the
Governor or a state agency (better known
as "turkeys"), requiring a public hearing
in both the House and the Senate, and that
such projects meet certain minimum
criteria. Identical to SB 330 (Saunders,

HB 125 Release of Employment
Records (Tullis, R-Duval) Requires an
employer to release employment and other
records to law enforcement officers,
correctional officers, or correctional
probation officers conducting background
investigations for employment. Also
requires the officer seeking release of the
information to provide the employer with
an "authorization for release of
information" form. Similar to SB 378
(King, R-North Florida)

HB 181 Changes to Financial
Disclosure Process (Amall, R-North
Florida) Specifies that certain financial
disclosure statements of former officers
and employees are public records.
The Rrechner Renort m A/narch 2000

HB 197 Government Products and
Services over the Internet (Greenstein,
D-Broward) Provides for governmental
products and services to be made available
on Internet under certain circumstances;
directs state system of public education to
make reasonable progress towards making
certain products available on Internet;
provides for responsibilities of Department
of Management Services such as
information technology; provides for state
agency information technology plans;
provides for audits.

HB 383 Statewide and Local Advocacy
Councils (Littlefield, R-Pasco/
Hillsborough) Renames statewide and
district human rights advocacy committees
as Florida statewide and local advocacy
councils; provides for duties of councils
for monitoring activities of, and
investigating complaints against, state
agencies that provide client services;
provides for access to records of state
agencies subject to council investigations.
Compare to SB 340 (Carlton, R-Sarasota/
Charlotte/Lee) and 678 (Forman, D-

HB 419 Tobacco Production Relief
(Stansel, D-North Central Florida)
Provides for use of portion of state's
tobacco settlement funds to compensate
persons and communities adversely
affected by settlement; provides for public
meetings and records. Compare to HB 421
(Stansel, D-North Central Florida)

HB 429 Identifying Information/Cash
Assistance Programs (H. Committee on
Children and Families) Creates a public
meetings exemptions for portions of
meetings held by certain, specified
agencies at which information identifying
individuals who have applied for or are
receiving temporary chase assistance will
be discussed. Also creates a public records
exemption for information identifying such

HB 439 Certified Capital Companies
(Crow, R-Pinellas) Creates public records
exemptions for (1) information submitted
by or collected from a certified capital
company (CAPCO) during an investigation
or review by the Department of Banking

and Finance; (2) any reports prepared by or
for the use of the Department as a result of
an investigation or review of a CAPCO,
including working papers; and (3)
information submitted to the Department
related to personal financial matters of a
CAPCO principal.

HB 505 Donors/Direct Support
Organizations (Betancourt, D-Dade)
Deletes the current exemption for the
identity of donors to a university ,
community college or direct support
organization. Also prohibits contributions
by such direct support organizations to
political campaigns or political action
committees. Identical to SB 890 (Kurtz,
D-Brevard/Indian River/St. Lucie)

HB 553 Deferred Presentments
(Barreiro, R-Dade) Revises definitions;
provides additional grounds for disciplinary
action, provides for continuation of certain
administrative proceedings under certain
circumstances; deletes provisions
providing public records confidentiality for
certain hearings, proceedings and
emergency orders; creates "Deferred
Presentment Act."

HB 633 Release of Student Records
(Alexander, R-Hillsborough/Polk)
Authorizes the release of personally
identifiable student records to the
Department of Highway Safety and Motor
Vehicles and the Department of Children
and Family Services for certain purposes.
Also clarifies provisions regarding the
release of student directory information,
requiring schools to provide written
notification prior to the release of the
information and to obtain written
authorization for such release. Identical to
SB 848 (Laurent, R-Polk/Okeechobee/

HB 683 Relating to Lewd or Lascivious
Exhibition Over the Internet (Frankel, D-
Palm Beach) Provides penalty for
transmission of such exhibition over Internet
under certain circumstances; conforms cross
reference; reenacts specified provisions such
as the definition of "sexually violent offense,"
for purposes of provisions such as the
Community Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental
Health Services.


From Page 3

Senate Bill summaries:

HB 751 Creation of Florida Sports
Authority (Rojas, R-Collier/Dade)
Creates Florida Sport Authority; provides
for submission of annual budget to state
audit contract and authority projects;
provides for public bidding process;
provides for revenue application and
authority to operate Florida Sports Hall
of Fame; provides for consultation with
local officials; authorizes authority to
apply for and obtain pari-mutuel
wagering permit; provides for
distribution of revenues; provides for
employees, etc. Similar to SB 1244
(Casas, R-Dade)

HB 820 Department of Health/
Disciplinary Records (Kyle, R-Lee)
Creates a public record exemption for
(1) all information obtained by the
Department of Health (DOH) regarding
final disciplinary action against a
physician taken by a licensed hospital or
ambulatory surgical center; (2) all
information contained in notification of
adverse incidents provided to DOH by
physicians and osteopathic physicians;
and (3) presuit notices and all
information obtained by DOH in
connection with its investigation of
alleged malpractice claims. Identical to
SB 992 (Clary, R-Panhandle)

HB 903 Pawnshop Transaction
Records (Bloom, D-Dade) Requires
local law enforcement agencies to
transfer information regarding pawnshop
and secondhand goods transactions to the
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
(FDLE) and requires FDLE to create and
maintain a database of such transactions.
Prohibits FDLE from selling the
information without legislative authority
and stipulates that the database
established by FDLE may be accessed by
a law enforcement agency for official
investigative purposes only. Also creates
a public records exemption for all
records relating to secondhand goods
acquisitions provided to a local law
enforcement agency. Identical to SB
1128 (Campbell, D-Palm Beach/

SB 4-A Lethal Injection Records
(Burt, R-Volusia) Creates public
records exemption for information that
would identify the person prescribing,
preparing, compounding, dispensing or
administering a lethal injection pursuant
to a death penalty sentence. Passed
during Special Session A, signed into
law by the Governor; Ch.00-1.

SB 208 Copyright of Governmental
Software Reenacts 119.083, F.S.,
authorizing government agencies to
copyright software created by the

SB 220 Florida Engineers
Management Corporation Act
(Regulated Industries) Provides for
meetings of board of directors of
Florida Engineers Management
Corporation be open to public.

SB 318 Domestic Violence/Minor
Children (Rossin, D-South Central)
Creates public records exemption for
information provided to sheriffs and
state attorneys by people who take
minor children when fleeing from
domestic violence. Identical to HB 449
(Greene, D-Magnolia Park)

SB 368 Extending Lobbying
Restrictions on Former Public
Agency Employees (Saunders, R-Lee/
Collier) Extends prohibitions against
use of certain confidential public
information to former officers,
employees and local government

SB 606 RecreatingthePublicRecords
Modernization Trust Fund (Browne-
Waite, R-Sumter/Polk/Hemando/Pasco)
Extends the life of the Public Records
Modernization Trust Fund.

SB 836 Account Information/
College Savings Program (Horne, R-
Duval/Clay/St. Johns) Creates a public
records exemption for information that
identifies the benefactors or designated
beneficiaries of college savings
program accounts. Authorizes release
of the exempt information to community

colleges and universities under certain,
specified circumstances.

SB 884 Entertainment Industry
Incentives (Kirkpatrick, R-North
Central) Requires Film Commissioner's
Office to keep specified records;
provides that exemption for certain
motion picture or video equipment and
sound recording shall be point of sale
exemption rather than by refund.

SB 886 Entertainment Company
Production Records (Kirkpatrick, R-
North Central) Creates a public records
exemption for all business records
provided by an entertainment industry
production company to the Office of the
Film Commissioner for the purpose of
receiving sales and use tax exemptions.

SB 1108 Public Corruption
Investigation Records (Sebesta, R-St.
Petersburg) Creates a public records
exemption for records and any subpoena
duces tecum, warrant or court process,
compiled or generated by a criminal
justice agency in response to allegations
of misconduct or crimes committed by a
government official or employee.
Stipulates that the investigative records
are exempt for a period of three years.

SB 1110 Ethics Commission
Investigation Records (Sebesta, R-
Hillsborough/Pinellas) Extends the
current exemption for investigations of
complaints filed with the Ethics
Commission [ 112.324(1) F.S.] to
include investigations initiated by the
Ethics Commission pursuant to pending

SB 1126 Domestic Violence
Prevention (Myers, R-Hobe Sound)
Creates a public records exemption for
records obtained or produced by a
domestic violence fatality prevention
task force. Also creates a public
meetings exemption for the proceedings
and meetings of the task force regarding
domestic violence fatalities and their

Thi Rrprhn r RPnnrt m A/fnrrh 2000

Mediation program resolves access disputes

Florida's public access laws are among the broadest
in the nation. Florida courts have strengthened the
state's tradition of open government through a series of
decisions that have liberally interpreted the Sunshine
and Public Records Laws. However, disputes and
controversies over public records and meetings still
occur. When this happens, the open government Pat G
mediation program conducted by the Attorney
General's Office can provide assistance.
The open government mediation program was established to
provide a voluntary, informal alternative to resolve public access
disputes. Although most mediation cases are initiated by private
citizens or journalists, in some cases governmental agencies ask
for help in resolving a controversy. The objective is to allow the
parties to settle their
The differences in a
Back Page nonadversarialway.
Last year, the
By Pat Gleason program received 99
requests for mediation, and 78 of these were resolved. The
disputes involved a wide variety of issues, but the majority were
triggered by a citizen's complaint that a public entity had failed to
comply with the citizen's public records request. In 17
instances, the controversy resulted from a disagreement over the
fees to be charged for copies of public records. Several cases
concerned conditions that an agency sought to impose before
allowing access to public records, such as a demand to put the
request in writing.
Many cases were resolved quickly through a simple phone
call. In one example, a media lawyer contacted the Attorney
General's Office after a reporter complained that a city
personnel department had charged him more than $100 to redact
exempt material from five personnel files. After the Attorney
General's Office sent a copy of the invoice to the city attorney,
the city attorney furnished the records without charge.
In another case, the mediation process was initiated by a


citizen who said she had been unable to obtain a list of
members of a school district committee, despite several
requests. Once the school district attorney became aware
of the citizen's request through the mediation program, the
citizen promptly received a copy of the list.
Similarly, a state lawyer had resigned her position but
ason was unable to obtain a computer disc containing the
pleadings and other materials she had prepared for closed
litigation files. She received the disc a public record shortly
after the agency's general counsel was contacted about the problem.
Some controversies turn out to be nothing more than
misunderstandings. For example, a citizen said that he had been
unable to obtain certain financial records from a housing authority.
The citizen had sent his request to the city clerk rather than to the
housing authority. Once the housing authority was contacted by the
mediation program, the citizen received the records.
Other cases involve more complex issues that can take several
weeks to resolve. For example, in November 1998 a reporter asked
for mediation assistance to obtain copies of complaints against
unlicensed dentists from a state agency. After weeks of negotiation
with two different agencies, the records were finally released in
February 1999.
Mediation remains a viable and cost-effective option for
citizens and governmental agencies who are seeking to resolve
ongoing public access disputes. The goal of the open government
mediation program is to provide an opportunity to settle a
controversy outside the courtroom and thereby avoid unnecessary
litigation expenses. However, while the cost savings are important,
the success of the program ultimately depends on its ability to
ensure that citizens obtain access to records and meetings as
established under the Florida Constitution and laws of this state.

Pat Gleason, general counsel in the Office of the Attorney
General, has been c.o. i.h,.,ini the mediation program since 1991.
For more information about mediation or to obtain a copy of the
2000 Mediation Report, contact Gleason at: (850) 488-9853.

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