Annual freedom of information...

Title: Brechner report
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090012/00031
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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: July 2002
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Full Text

Volume 26, Number 7 0 A monthly report of mass media law in Florida
Published by The Brechner Center for Freedom of I ,, 0..i... College ofJournalism and Communications U University ofFlorida
July 2002


caught on tape
BUNNELL State Attorney John
Tanner ordered an investigation into a
lunch break discussion between two
Flagler County commissioners, Pat
McGuire and Jim Darby. An official
tape recorder accidentally left on by the
clerk of the court apparently captured
the commissioners discussing a vote on
a controversial noise ordinance after a
commission meeting adjourned.
S According
ACCESS to transcripts,
MEETINGS asked Darby,
"Why did you
not offer a motion? I was going to vote
with you. I just wasn't going to do it by
myself." Later, Darby said, "I wasn't
trying not to compromise, I was just
going to make you make the motion. I
apologize we got it stalled." After some
garbled conversation, Darby is heard
saying, "In fact, I can always put it back
on there for reconsideration."
McGuire and Darby said that they
didn't believe they violated the Sunshine
Law, since the vote was over. However,
the commissioners attempted to
reconsider the noise ordinance they had
voted down after the lunch break.
Hutch King, another Flagler County
commissioner, offered to resign from
the commission and walked out of the
meeting when the commission decided
to revisit issue. His letter to the state
attorney prompted an investigation into
the incident. (5/11/02 5/22/02)

i i. t i ~ .., I 1 .I id I
iln .1 rhl', I' i. n. i li .id i'r i
InM i., I[ 1.LI.'- i .ir L I L i p 1 .-7

DCF opens files in
MIAMI The Florida 3rd District
Court of Appeal reversed a lower court
ruling and released all the papers in the
Department of Children and
Families file of Rilya A
Wilson, the 5-year-old girl A
whose disappearance from
the foster care system went RECO
unnoticed for more than 15
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy
Lederman released almost 1,000 pages
of court documents earlier, citing "great
public interest" in learning about how
DCF had handled Rilya's case. However,
she withheld documents pertaining to
the criminal investigation, saying that
the records were exempt from the
public records law. CNN, The New York
Times, the Orlando Sentinel, the South
Florida Sun-Sentinel, Dateline NBC
and Miami's WTVJ appealed, arguing


missing girl case
that the law only exempts police files
during a criminal investigation, not
social service agency records. Assistant
State Attorney Penny Brill
E S argued that Rilya's interests
SS were more important than
the public's right to know
D S about the case. Theappellate
court judges disagreed, and
released the records.
Records revealed a court memo from
Sept. 4, 2001, seven months before the
agency reported the girl's disappearance
to police, stating that no one knew where
the girl and her sisters were.
Additionally, memos indicated that DCF
workers were aware that Geralyn
Graham, the woman who claimed to be
Rilya's paternal grandmother and with
whom the child was placed, suffered from
hallucinations and paranoia.

Library filter law unconstitutional

PHILADELPHIA- A three-judge
panel found a law that requires libraries
to use Internet filters to prevent patrons
from accessing objectionable material at
the risk of losing federal funding
violates the First Amendment.

Becker said, becauseue of the inherent
limitations in filtering technology,
public libraries can never comply with
CIPA without blocking access to a
substantial amount of speech that is both
constitutionally protected and fails to

The Child Internet
Protection Act, which FIRST
was signed into law by AMENDTMENT
President Clinton in

December 2000, was designed to
prevent children from accessing
pornography over the Internet. Under the
law, libraries receiving federal funding
had until July 1 to institute "technology
protection measures" to block or filter
Internet access to obscene Web sites
and other Web sites harmful to minors.
The legislation was challenged by The
American Library Association, the
American Civil Liberties Union and a
variety of Web site operators.
In his opinion, Justice Edward R.

meet even the
filtering companies'
own blocking
criteria." The judges

held that less restrictive means are
available to libraries, including optional
filters for families that want them.
The Justice Department, acting on
behalf of the Federal Communications
Commission and the U.S. Institute of
Museum and Library Sciences, formally
notified the Supreme Court on June 20
that it would appeal the ruling. A
provision in the law required challenges
to be heard by a three-judge panel, and
appeals to be heard directly by the
Supreme Court.





Court approves release of blacked out phone records

TALLAHASSEE Under fierce
pressure from freedom of information
advocates and the press, State House
Speaker Tom Feeney released the
records of cell phone calls to and from
his top staffers. However, the telephone
numbers that were dialed were blacked
out from the records to protect the
privacy of those individuals called,
according to Feeney's attorney, Barry
Responding to arguments by the
Orlando Sentinel, the Tampa Tribune
and The Palm Beach Post that the public

Court hears

Alligator appeal
DAYTONA BEACH -Lawyers for
The Independent Florida Alligator, a
student-run newspaper that covers the
University of Florida, argued before the
Florida 5th District Court of Appeal in
an attempt to overturn the Eamhardt
Law, which removed all Florida autopsy
photos from
FIRST the public
AENDMENTArguing that
the law is
unconstitutional because it limits access
to records created before the law was
passed, the Alligator lawyers asked the
three-judge panel to reverse the ruling
of Circuit Judge Joseph Will, who
sealed the Earnhardt autopsy photos
before the state legislature enacted the
current law.
Prior to the enacting of the law in
March 2001, autopsy photos were public
records in Florida. "The right vests when
the record is created, said Tom Julin,
an attorney for The Alligator. (5/23/02)


Copies of case opinions, Florida
Attorney General opinions, or legisla-
tion reported in any issue as "on file"
may be obtained upon requestfrom the
Brechner Center for Freedom of Infor-
mation, College ofJournalism and
Communications, 3208 WeimerHall,
University ofFlorida, Gainesville, FL

had the right to see the complete
records of the cell phone calls. Leon
Circuit Judge Ralph Smith said that the
release of the redacted records is
enough to satisfy Florida's public
records law. Gregg Thomas, an attorney
for the Tampa Tribune, says an appeal
is likely.
Feeney had insisted that he was not
required to turn over the records, since
the phones were paid for by the state
Republican Party, and not his office. As
released, the records indicate that
Bridgette Gregory, who left Feeney's

office staff in April to work on his
congressional campaign, placed 150
personal or political calls on a state-
purchased cell phone before she left the
office. However, a Feeney
spokeswoman says Gregory purchased
the phone herself. The Republican Party
pays the phone bills.
Democratic Party Chairman Bob Poe
filed a complaint with the Federal
Election Commission in April, alleging
that Feeney's legislative office staff did
campaign work, in violation of federal
election law. (6/1/02)


Handy, trustees won't meet privately
ORLANDO Phil Handy, the Orlando Sentinel, the South Florida
chairman of the Florida Board of Sun-Sentinel, The Tampa Tribune
Education, says he will not call more and The Gainesville Sun requested
closed meetings of the chairmen of the records of the closed meeting, the
university trustees, after Florida trustee chairmen and Handy
newspapers obtained records of the discussed ways to help Gov. Jeb
meetings. Handy, who came under fire Bush's bid for reelection, as well as
from freedom of information advocates strategies to fight U.S. Sen. Bob
for the closed meetings, maintains that Graham's constitutional amendment
the group is not covered by the Sunshine drive to restore the Board of Regents.
Law, since it has no power to set public Handy said the reference to Bush
policy. No judge has ruled on whether or on the agenda was a clerical mistake,
not the group is governed by the state's and insists that the governor's
Open Meetings Law. reelection was not discussed at the
"I'm sorry I put us through it, meeting. However, he said the
because I don't think the benefits of meeting did include a discussion of
holding meetings outside the sunshine Graham's attempt to undo the
were worth costs," Handy said. restructuring of the education system
According to an agenda of the January undertaken by Governor Bush.
meeting, which was released when the (6/5/02)

Snooping didn't pay in Ybor City
TAMPA A one-year trial with Police officials say that the problem
computerized cameras that scan faces in is not with the cameras, lenses or the
crowds and match them with quality of the images, but with the sheer
mug shots of wanted PRIVACY size of the database being
criminals did not yield a JIIV A U used. "There are 24,000 active
single arrest in Ybor City, felony warrants in
according to Maj. K.C. Newcomb, who Hillsborough county alone," said
is in charge of Special Operations for Newcomb.
the Tampa police. "We have had one In spite of the apparent failure of the
software problem after another," said system, installed for a free one-year
Newcomb. "We're still using it, but we trial by Visionics Corp., police officials
haven't had any hits." Newcomb said that still plan to recommend the use of the
the biggest problem with the system was system to the city council. Even without
getting up-to-date information and mug the face-scanning software, they say,
shots to keep the face-scanning software they can still use the cameras for crowd
database current. surveillance. (4/24/02)

2 The Brechner Report July 2002



Published by The Brechner Centerfor Freedom of l.' ,, -.i.r..,, 1 College ofJournalism and Communications U University ofFlorida
2001 -- 2002

Legislature approves 15

new access exemptions

The Florida Legislature passed 15 new
public records exemptions during the
regular 2002 legislative session and in
special sessions in December and May.
Many of the exemptions passed in
2001-2002 were describedby the lawmak-
ers as addressing either security or
identity theft concerns.
During the main legislative session,
the Legislature passed a blanket public
records exemption for all social security
numbers collected by state agencies. It
allows commercial entities to access the
social security numbers if the company
uses the numbers in the course of normal
business and makes a written request.
After Oct. 1, 2002, court records must
maintain social security numbers on a
separate sheet, which will not be filed or
recorded. Social security numbers
appearing on records on the Internet will
be removed at the request of the indi-
vidual. The law also prohibits government
agencies from collecting social security
numbers unless the agency is authorized
by law to collect them.
The eight other public records
exemptions that passed during the regular
legislative session included:
An exemption for social security
numbers and financial account numbers
contained in Department of Banking and
An exemption for building plans,
drawings and blueprints of public
buildings, arenas, stadiums and water
treatment facilities.
An exemption for personally
identifying information about participants
inthe Public Employee Optional Retire-
An expanded exemption to include
the identity of parents who leave their
newborn infants at emergency medical
services stations.

An exemption for certain business
information received under state and local
tax refund programs. The information is
exempt for the duration of the tax refund
agreement or 10 years, whichever is
An exemption for workpapers held
by Florida's Department of Insurance as
part of performance examinations of
An exemption for information
gathered by a taxing authority in connec-
tion with an audit of public service taxes
collected by telecommunications service
An exemption for bank account
numbers, debit, charge and credit card
numbers, and other personal financial and
health information collected by the
Department of Insurance.
Four exemptions passed during the
Special Session C in December including:
public records and open meetings
exemptions for discussions of security
system plans and hospital emergency
response plans; a public records exemp-
tion for police requests for public records
during active criminal orintelligence-
gathering investigations; and a public
records exemption for information about
the amount and type of Florida's pharma-
ceutical stockpiles.
In Special SessionE, two exemptions
passed. One creates an exemption for
personally identifying information of
participants in the Florida Alzheimer' s
Center and Research Institute as well
patient medical records, trade secret
information, donor identities and any
information that is otherwise confidential.
The other requires military discharge
records to be removed from the Internet.


would require

two-thirds vote
A proposed constitutional amendment
would raise to two-thirds the number of
votes required for the Florida Legislature
to pass a public records or open meetings
During the 2002 legislative session,
Florida lawmakers passed the bill that will
place the

amendment on the ballot during the next
general election. Currently, only a simple
majority vote is required to create an
If passed, however, the amendment is
unlikely to slow the number of exemptions
passed annually by the Legislature.
During the last four legislative sessions,
exemptions were passed by such a high
majority that only one would have failed
to have sufficient votes under a two-
thirds rule.
Senate changes rules
to allow secrecy
During a special session in October,
the Florida Senate approved changes to
its rules that allow committees to meet in
secret to discuss security and terrorism
issues. A committee-approved plan
would have kept some votes secret, but a
last minute compromise makes public
"records, research, information and
remarks" after 30 days. Votes, bills and
amendments will also be open.
The Senate president, however, can
keep the information sealed past 30 days.
"Hopefully, we never have to invoke it,
but should it be a necessity I think we'd
be glad to have that ability," said Senate
President John McKay, R-Bradenton.
Annual FOI Report U 2001 2002 B

Attorney General tackles Internet issues

Using an online bulletin board to
exchange opinions between members of a
water management district board is a
violation of the state's Open Meetings
Law if the bulletin board does not allow
for public participation, according to
Florida Attorney General Bob
Butterworth. However, sending factual
information via e-mails to other city
council members does not necessarily
constitute a violation of the state's Open
Meetings Law.
Integrating the Internet into existing
state Open Meetings and Public Records
laws was the subject of several official
access opinions issued by Butterworth
during 2001 and 2002. These technology
and access opinions included:
E-mail communication between city
council members (AGO 01-20)- E-mail
messages containing factual information
that are sent from one city council
member to another are public records and
must be retained for public inspection and
copying. As long as the e-mail conveys
factual information and does not result in
an exchange of comments or responses,
the e-mail does not constitute a meeting
under the state's Open Meetings Law.
E-mailing position statements (AGO
01-21)- The attorney general's office
discouraged the council members of the
City of Port Orange from e-mailing
position papers to other council members.
However, as long as the council members
do not discuss or debate the statements
among themselves, it is not an automatic
violation of the Open Meetings Law. But
if one commissioner's statement is a
response to another's statement, then it
could violate the law.
Conducting discussions and work-
shops on the Internet (AGO 01-66)-
Members of an airport authority can
conduct informal discussions and
workshops over the Internet as long as
the authority provides proper notice and
offers interactive access to the public.
The authority must provide not only
online access to the meeting, but also
access to computer terminals with
Internet connections made available to
people without computers or Internet
connections. If the airport authority
intends to take official action, a quorum of
members must be physically present in

2B Annual FOI Report U 2001 2002

Other notable access
HAutopsy photographs (AGO 01-27)-
Medical examiners may show autopsy
photographs to public agencies as part of
professional training sessions. Autopsy
photographs cannot be shown to private
entities without a court order. When
showing photographs, the medical
not disclose the ATTORNEY
name of the
deceased and GENERAL
must attempt to
disguise the OPINIONS
features of the
deceased. Autopsy photographs do not
include crime scene photographs.
Anyone petitioning the court for access
to an autopsy photograph is responsible
for contacting the next of kin. A court
order is not needed to use autopsy
photographs in criminal or administrative
hearings but is needed in civil procedures.
Security plans (AGO 01-74)-
Security plans and security needs
assessments on file with public agencies
are exempt from public records law.
Subpoenas issued by criminal justice
agencies to other government agencies as
part of ongoing investigations are exempt.
Law enforcement agencies gathering
informationfrom other government
agencies do not have to respond to public
records requests that might reveal the
existence of an ongoing investigation or
intelligence operation.
Foster home records (AGO 01-54)-
Licensing records and department
assessment records are open to public
scrutiny even if they include references to
abuse, abandonment or neglect. The
identity of any victims must be redacted
before reports are released.
SAutomobile accident reports (AGO

the meeting room.
Online bulletin board meeting (AGO
02-32) The Peace River BasinBoard's
bulletin board was a violation of the
state's Open Meetings Law because the
bulletin board was up for an extended
period of time 22 days and because it

did not allow for direct public participa-
tion. The basin board did publish advance

-related opinions
01-59) The owner of a vehicle involved
in a crash can receive a copy of the report

Charter schools (AGO 01-23) -Not-
for-profit corporations granted charter
school status are governed by the state
Open Meetings and Public Records laws
even if the school has not yet opened.
School advisory councils (AGO 01-
84) School advisory council members
who knowingly violate the Sunshine
Laws can face criminal penalties.
School police officer reports (AGO
01-64) -A felony complaint/arrest
affidavit created by a Miami-Dade County
school police officer about juvenile
student is a public record unless the
report contains active criminal investiga-
tive or intelligence information. Active
information must be deleted and the
remainder of the report released to the
School readiness coalitions (AGO
01-86) School readiness coalitions are
subject to the state Public Records Law.
School board records (AGO 02-37)-
The Pasco County School Board cannot
require that all production and copying of
its public records only go through a
private company.
Absentee ballots (AGO 01-07 &
AGO 01-16)-Exemptions forvoter
registration records do not apply to and
do not exempt voter signatures, witness
signatures or voter information located on
the back of absentee ballots.
Segregatingballots (AGO001-37)-
The Supervisor of Elections must use the
county's optical scanning equipment to
segregate overvote and undervote ballots
even if the ballots have been segregated

notice of the bulletin board and the
discussion topics and provided public
access terminals. The discussion was also
archived and treated as a public record.
Similar bulletinboard meetings might not
be violations if the online discussions
occur at a specified, limited time and the
public is allowed to directly participate in
the meeting.

Escambia County commissioners charged

Four Escambia County commissioners
face multiple misdemeanor counts of
violating Florida's Open Meetings Law as
part of wide-ranging charges brought
against the commissioners regarding
questionable land purchases.
Meanwhile, formerEscambia County
School Board member Vanette Webb, the
first public official to servejail time for
violating the Public Records Law, will
return to court for a retrial in her case.
Gov. Jeb Bush suspended Escambia's
Mike Bass, W.D. Childers, Willie J. Junior
and Terry Smith after they were arrested
for bribery, racketeering, theft and
sunshine violations. Real estate agent Joe
Elliot and his wife, Georgeann, were also

Earnhardt autopsy
Two separate lawsuits are challenging
a public records exemption for autopsy
photographs that passed during the 2001
legislative session.
The Earnhardt Act, named after late
race car driver Dale Earnhardt, exempts
public release of autopsy photographs
without a court order. The law was
retroactive, covering all autopsy photo-
graphs, including Dale Earnhardt's, taken
before the law passed in March 2001.
Two lawsuits are challenging the statute,
claiming it is overbroad and unconstitu-
The first lawsuit, brought by The
Independent Florida Alligator, was filed
after the student-run newspaper at-
tempted to get access to Earnhardt's
autopsy photographs. Judge Joseph G.
Will, 7th Judicial Circuit, ruled against the
newspaper, saying that law was "valid
and constitutional" and the retroactive
provision was constitutional.
The Alligator appealed Will's ruling,
and a three-judge panel of the 5th District
Court of Appeal heard oral arguments in
A second lawsuit was filed in Broward
County by the Orlando Sentinel and the
South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The papers
had requested autopsy photographs of
never identified corpses and had been
denied access under the statute.
Almost a dozen other media outlets
and access organizations have joined the
Sentinel's lawsuit including four Florida
newspapers owned by The New York

Elliot reportedly made a gross profit of
$700,000 by selling two properties to the
county. All four
commissioners were
A CCESS chargedwith multiple
misdemeanor counts of
CASES violations of the
state's open meetings
law. Each misdemeanor
count is punishable by a maximum of 60
days injail and a $500 fine.
Webb was convicted in 1999 of
violating the Public Records Law for
withholding public records following a
request from parent Susan Watson.
Escambia County Judge Patricia Kinsey
sentenced Webb to 11 months and 15
days injail but later suspended all but 30

A $60 million sewer construction
contract between Monroe County's
Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and
Ogden Water Systems was voided when
Judge Sandra Taylor, 16th Judicial
Circuit, ruled that a technical evaluation
panel involved in the selection of Ogden,
now Covanta Energy, had violated the
Open Meetings Law. Another circuit
courtjudge awarded more than $26,000 in
legal fees to a local citizens group
involved in the Sunshine lawsuit.
Miami-Dade prosecutors dropped a
Sunshine Law case against Golden Beach
town councilman Adalberto Paruas after
he agreed to pay a $500 fine. Paruas had a
resident thrown out of a committee
meeting, and said later that he didn't
realize the meeting was open to the
Miami-Dade County Judge Henry

Times, The Tampa Tribune and its
television affiliate, WFLA-TV, the Society
for Professional Journalists, the Reporters
Committee for Freedom of the Press, the
Student Press Law Center, the Florida
Society of Newspaper Editors, and the
First Amendment Foundation.
Judge Leroy Moe, 17th Judicial Circuit,
heard testimony in the case in March.
During the hearing, Moe asked state
Solicitor General Tom Warner, "What can

days of the sentence.
Webb served seven days of the
sentence. After Kinsey recused herself
from the case, County Judge William
White overturned Webb's conviction.
The 1st District Court of Appeal over-
ruled White, reinstating the conviction.
The Florida Supreme Court refused to
hear the case.
Webb's case is again before Judge
White, who has granted Webb a new
trial. The prosecution asked the judge to
remove himself from the case, saying
White has become an advocate for
Webb. When he refused, the prosecution
appealed the decision, and the start of
the new trial was postponed until the
appeals court rules again.

Leyte-Vidal acquitted two members of the
Miami Code Enforcement Board of
charges they violated the state's Open
Meetings Law. Angel Gonzalez and Eladio
Armesto-Garcia, a former state representa-
tive, were accused of talking about two
codes enforcement cases outside a public
meeting. After two days of testimony and
reviewing tapes and transcripts, Leyte-
Vidal ruled that prosecutors had not
proven their case.
U Judge L. Haldane Taylor, 4th Judicial
Circuit, ruled that Nassau County officials
did not violate the state's Open Meetings
and Public Records laws when they
decided to build a new courthouse in
Yulee. However, Haldane said the
commissioners did violate the Open
Meetings Law by allowing Clerk of the
Court J.M. "Chip" Oxley Jr. to attend
closed meetings between April 1996 and
you do to convince me to save this
legislation.?" Moe seemed skeptical of
the argument that saving families the pain
of public autopsy photographs was more
important than the state's open-records
law. He interrupted Assistant Attorney
General Scott Masel at one point, saying
"I'm not too sure the Constitution
protects hurt feelings. The Constitution
of the state of Florida trumps those

AnnualFOIReport U 2001-2002 3B

photo law faces two challenges

Other notable cases and lawsuits

Grand jury

wants change

in philosophy
The Florida Constitution guarantees
that documents made or received by any
of the three branches of government are
presumed open to public scrutiny unless
the documents are specifically exempted
by the State Legislature. However, citing
privacy concerns on the Internet, a
statewide grand jury investigating identity
theft recommended not only more re-
stricted access to certain public records
but urged the state to change its underly-
ing philosophy
"[P]rivate informa- regarding access.
tion collected from The grand jury
citizens should be h he presum
that the presump-
presumed tion of openness
confidential and be reversed.
non-disclosable "That is, private
unless there is a information
statutory ground for collectedfrom
its release." citizens should
- Statewide grand be presumed
Confidential and
jury report non-disclosable
unless there is a
statutory ground for its release. We are
not convinced that doing so would violate
the spirit and intent of the First Amend-
The grand jury was especially con-
cerned that official records being made
available on the Internet by county clerks
contained information such as social
security numbers that could be used by
Web-savvy thieves to commit identity
theft. However, the grand jury offered no
evidence that public records were being
used to steal private information. It
indicted 33 people on 419 counts related to
identity theft, but the information used in
the scams was stolen from driver's license
offices, private businesses and directly
from the victims, not from public records.
In related legislative action, the
Legislature passed bills that created an
exemption for social security numbers,
increased the penalties for using public
records to commit crimes, set up a
statewide task force to study public
records issues, and ordered counties to
withdraw certain documents from the

4B AnnualFOIReport U 2001 2002

Statewide panel to study

public records issues
The Florida Legislature is funding a 1, 2003, the committee will be made up of
committee to study public records and 22 members, nine of whichwill be non-
privacy issues, voting members. The members willbe
The committee is charged with appointed by the governor, the president
examining the privacy and public access of the state Senate, the speaker of the
issues related to court records, especially state House of Representatives, the chief
electronic access to court records, justice of the Supreme Court, and the
In particular, the Florida Association of Circuit Court
committee will look at Clerks and Comptrollers.
whether courts require LEGISLATURE The Judicial Manage-
participants to provide ment Council of Florida
excessive and unnecessary information already investigated some
and whether types of information such as issues related to privacy, court records
financial statements, psychological and the Internet and recommended to the
evaluations, and the names and ad- state Supreme Court that it impose a
dresses of children should be exempt moratorium on electronic access to
from public disclosure, certain court records until a statewide
The committee will make recommenda- policy is developed and implemented.
tions about what information should be The Judicial Management Council also
accessible to whom and under what recommended the Supreme Court appoint
circumstances and suggest any needed a separate committee to investigate
changes in laws or policies. Internet records.
Required to make a final report by Jan.

Gag-order series winsBrechner

FOI award

A series of stories documenting the
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's five-month
struggle with a juvenile court judge over
a gag order and a subsequent contempt
of court citation won the 2001 Joseph L.
Brechner Center forFreedom of Informa-
tion Award.
The $3,000 cash award annually
recognizes excellence in reporting about
freedom of information, access to
government-held information or the First
The newspaper's battle began in May
2000 when 12-year-oldboy, walking
toward his school inPrairie Grove, Ark.,
carrying a shotgun, exchanged gunfire
with a police officer. Within days,
juvenile court Judge Stacey Zimmerman
issued a gag order that prevented the
media from publishing the names or
photographs of the boy, his family or the
injured police officer even though the
media had legally obtained and already
published the boy's identity.
The Democrat-Gazette continued to
use the boy's name and published
photographs of him and his family taken

outside the courthouse. Zimmerman held
the Democrat-Gazette in contempt and
fined the paper $100.
Joined by other members of the media,
the Democrat-Gazette fought the gag
order to the state Supreme Court, which
ruled that the order was overly broad and
said it was a "plain, manifest clear and
gross abuse of discretion."
Brechner award judges pointed to the
quality of the project's writing and
research and its impact on the public's
right to information.
"With school gun violence an all-too-
common threat to children, a more timely
and important defense of the public's
right to know can scarcely be imagined,"
said one of the judges. "The Democrat-
Gazette 's commitment of time and
resources necessary to prevent the
erosion of vital protections is an example
of public service journalism at its finest."
Griffin Smith Jr., executive editor of the
Democrat-Gazette, accepted the award
on behalf of the newspaper at an April
ceremony in Gainesville, Fla.


TALLAHASSEE- The following
exemptions to the state Public Records/Open
Meetings laws were reviewed and re-enacted
during the 2002 legislative session under the
Open Government Sunset Review Act.
Copies of the legislation are available at the
FloridaLegislature' shomepage, Online
i11 i !!! .' .il 1i L' 1 l .i .' !1. C hief
sponsors of the bills are in parentheses next to
the bill numbers.
SB 250 (Senate Committee on Health,
Aging and Long-Term Care)
HB 277 (Brummer, R-Apopka)
Health practitioner profiles Law exempts
from disclosure any patient information
contained in a profile of a health practitioner.
SB 254 (Senate Committee on Health,
Aging and Long-Term Care)
HB 283 (Brummer, R-Apopka)
Ombudsman committees Law exempts
from disclosure patient records held by district
managed care ombudsman committee.
Removes statewide managed care
ombudsman committees from exemption.
SB 352 (Sanderson, R-Fort Lauderdale)
HB 273 (Brummer, R-Apopka)
Ethics complaint records Law exempts
the records and proceedings of the
Commission on Ethics or a county Commission
on Ethics and Public Trust. Allows the records
to be made public ifa complaint is dismissed,
the accused violator makes a written request,
or the commission determines probable cause
exists for a violation.
SB 394 (Criminal Justice Committee)
HB 285 (State Administration Committee
and Brummer, R-Apopka)
Victim and witness information Law
exempts from disclosure information heldby
law enforcement agencies concerning the
identities of crime victims and witnesses who
have been certified for protective and
relocation services, including information about
family members.
SB 396 (Senate Committee on Criminal
HB 287 (Brummer, R-Apopka)
Violent crime council Law allows the
Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control
Council to close portions of its meetings to
discuss active criminal or intelligence
investigations and to keep records secret until
the investigations are no longer active.
HB 275 (House Committee on State
Deepwater ports Law exempts proposals
or counterproposals exchanged between
deepwater ports and non-governmental
entities relating to the sale, use or lease of
land or port facilities, and any financial
records submitted by any non-governmental
entity related to transactions.
HB 281 (Committee on State
Risk-based capital information- Law
exempts risk-based capital information held by

the Department of Insurance and on existing
public meeting requirements for hearings
conducted by the Department of Insurance
involving risk-based capital information.
HB 1675 (Committee on State
Bank account & charge card numbers -
Law exempts bank account numbers and
debit, charge, and credit card numbers held by
a government agency. Exemption applies

The following bills were introduced but
were not passed during the legislative session.
Summaries of the bills are available from
Online Sunshine aturl http://

SB 84 Nursing homes/internal risk
management records and meeting s
SB 86 and HB 1445 Learning gateway
SB 162 and HB 1981 Proceeding/
judicial qualifications commission
SB 220 Ethics Code violations
SB 274 and HB 539 Reorganization
and records retention
SB 340 and HB 241 Images of victims
SB 368 and HB 131 Confidentiality of
library records
SB 378 and HB 445 Customer
SB 392, SB 404 and HB 95 Filtering
onpublic libraries' computers
SB 430 and HB 195 Insurers' records
SB 494 Inspection and copying of public
SB 638 Health care records
SB 644 and HB 2013 Worker's
compensation records
SB 646 Procurement meetings
SB 648 Peer review panels
SB 650 and HB 773 Paternity registry
SB 652 Shell bill for public records
SB 654 and HB 1951 Procurement
SB 656 Shell bill for public records
SB 658 Higher education/health services
support organizations
SB 660 and HB 2019 Investigations/

higher education
SB 980 Military discharge forms
SB 984 Public safety/public records
SB 986 Public safety/public records
SB 1030 and HB 323 Crash reports
SB 1152 and HB 1663 Investigative
SB 1154 and HB 1495 Sealing
investigative incidentreports
SB 1440 and HB 1205 Unsolicited
SB 1260 Shell bill bioterrorism threats
SB 1270 and SB 1280 Shell bills public
SB 1466 Court records and electronic
SB 1468 Home addresses teachers
SB 1488 Photos victims of sexual
SB 1494 and HB 1509 Pharmacists
adverse incident reports
SB 1558 Shell bill for education

commission exemptions
SB 1562 Exemptions in higher education
SB 1648 Social security numbers and
court records
SB 2258 Home addresses and property
SB 2416 Home addresses and public
SB 2536 Sale of personal information
HB 107 and SB 1782 Computer
modeling in the Department of Insurance
HB 147 and CS/SB 1996 Citizen's
Right to Honest Government Act
HB 431 Guardian ad litem
HB 687 and SB 1534 Personal
information/paratransit services
HB 731 and SB 970 Aerial applicators
HB 737 Law enforcement cellular
telephone numbers and billing records
HB 739 Law enforcement digital pager
numbers and billing records
HB 769 and SB 1762 Student
assessment data
HB 875 and SB 1600 Physician/
adverse incident reports
HB 927 Dispute resolution/managed
HB 1055 and SB 1318 Financial
HB 1223 and SB 1690 Women's
health and safety act
HB 1311, SB 1526, SB 2464 Motor
vehicle records
HB 1313 DCFS investigative records
HB 1417 and SB 1934 Birth defects
HB 1505 Video lottery games
BB 1547 and SB 2036 Food-borne
HB 1639 and SB 2240 Qualified Tax
Refund Program records
HB 1769 and SB 2370 Unsolicited
HB 1983 Juvenile records
HB 2003 Alzheimer's institute records

I HE -
R E P 0 R T

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The Brechner Report July 2002

Joseph Brechner's words still ring true today

Executive Editor's Note: This column,
authored by the late Joseph L. Brr, appeared
in the April 22, 1970, issue of the Orlando
Sentinel. Mr. Brechner was president and
The manager of
Back Page TV in
By Joseph L. Brechner 1958-1970, a


tumultuous time in our history. He wrote and
broadcast hundreds of editorials, as well as 608
columns for the newspaper. This article, written more
than 30 years ago, seems particularly relevant as we
celebrate the Fourth of July in the post-Sept. 11 age of
government secrecy.

I was shocked by the results of a poll on how Americans
feel about individual liberties protected by our Bill of Rights.
The report was on a CBS broadcast "60 Minutes" a week
ago. More than half of the 1,136 Americans polled opposed
at least half of these rights.
In recent years, I have felt that a majority of Americans
would oppose many of our basic constitutional rights, if they
could vote on them today.
Several years ago, a group of students conducted a
similar experiment. They paraphrased the Bill of Rights and
stood on street comers asking citizens to sign a petition in
support of these rights.
The experiment was a success; the results were a failure.
Students were called Communists, Socialists and crackpots.
Many Americans shunned them as troublemakers.
This experiment and the CBS poll establish quite clearly
that many Americans are totally ignorant about our basic
responsibilities and rights under the constitution. Many
people call themselves "strict constructionists," when
actually they are disbelievers.

It is surprising that a real "strict
constructionist" of my type must constantly fight
to retain what our ancestors fought for, at great
risk, to give us our heritage today.
Those who object to protesters, to criticism of
our government, to the right to report fully the
news even when it is bad public relations for the
ph U.S., would do well to read Irving Brant's The
hner Bill of Rights, Its Origin and Meaning and The
Fourth President, a Life of James Madison.
Here you learn of the brutalities of English
law; the maladministration of justice the abject tyranny and
disregard for individual rights. All this was familiar to our
founding fathers as they wrote our Constitution and the Bill
of Rights.
It was no wonder some of our ancestors boarded a ship
illegally in Boston Harbor and maliciously tossed bags of
tea into the sea.They were protesting taxation without
representation and other grievances.
The CBS poll once again set me off about our national
ignorance about our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
How easily we submit to demagoguery, distortion and
For these reasons, I cherish the works of Mr. Brant on
our fourth president and the study of the Bill of Rights. He
set the record straight. He dedicated the late years of his life
to explain, clarify, protect and preserve the great rights and
liberties provided us by Mr. Madison and his colleagues.
We seem too ready to toss some of them away or to turn
them back to "the government" without heaven forbid! -
even a protest. To many Americans, freedom is too
bothersome and too much of a public nuisance when others
use it and even abuse it to our inconvenience and
We don't quite believe in liberty and justice for all only
for us and for our side.

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