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UPDATE: What Scott transition team members are saying about private meetings

by Dara Kam | December 22nd, 2010

Gov.-elect Rick Scott is winding up three days of behind-closed-doors briefings from his nearly 200 transition team members to prepare for his move into the governor’s office on Jan. 4.

Scott’s meeting in private with his teams although First Amendment Foundation lawyers say the meetings should be open to the public.

Scott’s aides told Palm Beach Post reporter John Lantigua the meetings on the 12th floor of the Florida Atlantic University-Broward College Higher Education Complex were off-limits. He was advised to wait in the lobby to interview attendees inside the public building.

When Scott’s briefing from his economic development team ended, Lantigua caught some of the attendees on the 12th floor before being asked by a Scott aide to leave.

Most of the transition members weren’t bothered by the private meetings.

“I think this way people can be a little more candid,” University of Central Florida president John Hitt said.

Tim Kuebler, senior VP with Titan America,a cement and concrete company with offices in Deerfield Beach, agreed.

“All the proposals discussed will be made public,” he said. Scott’s staff is posting all of the briefing documents and back-up materials online. Kuebler said he didn’t think the meeting would have been much different if it had been open to the public.

When reminded by Lantigua that the meeting was being held in a public building, Scott’s aide said that it was being used for a private purpose.

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21 Responses to “UPDATE: What Scott transition team members are saying about private meetings”

  1. Sunshine Says:

    Seems to me this may be a violation of Florida’s Open Government Statutes regarding governance in the “sunshine”.

  2. Nice try Says:

    This is what happens when “business” people run government.
    They’re used to doing whatever they like without all of the constraints placed on entities funded by taxpayers. Who needs ethics in business?
    You asked for it, you got it. A government motivated by profit, cutting essential services and shoving more responsibility on the backs of low-paid workers.
    Way to go, voters!

  3. Sounds Like Jeb Meetings Says:

    Do you think the meetings between Jeb Bush and Tom Feeney about using NASA engineers to fix the computer voting machines were open to the public? If you do I have a bridge I want to sell you for US dollars cash! You all might as well realize all these suckers are above all laws! they will do as they damn well please, and you better get use to it!

  4. Ron Sachs Says:

    This story is hooked on a completely bogus premise: that a newly elected government taking shape in Florida can’t have meetings with its own staff unless the press corps is there. And this ‘right’ of the press is spelled out where? Only by a reporter, in this case.

    This is one of the most flawed stories/items published by The Post in a long time — and it only is fed by an innate arrogance of a frustrated reporter who was kept out of a meeting that is not, by any reasonable interpretation, a public meeting.

    Get real, folks. No one is excusing any meeting subject to ‘Sunshine Law’ provisions from being public — but this was not that. Not even close. Yet, the noise from this story marginalizes an already-hurting press corps from staying relevant and getting credible with a new administration that too many of its members seem bent on knee capping.

    Every governor in Florida’s modern history has held many staff meetings with its top folks — even before they took office — without the press getting or expecting an invite. So, only now does a Post reporter think that should be different? If some of the less energetic members of the press corps engaged in more enterprise and initiative, instead of manufacturing a non-controversy as reflected by this story, the world would be a better place.

  5. Not a small thing Says:

    Nope. The Post is right on the access issue. The real issue is that it is in a PUBLIC building that TAXPAYERS pay for that TAXPAYERS should have access to. If he wanted a really private meeting he should have had it in a PRIVATE building. He’s not got a ton of elected officials sitting around a table…. these are private citizens or elected officials from different groups out of the Sunshine, fine. The big problem here is keeping the PUBLIC out of a PUBLIC building. The media counts as the public just like a citizen would.

  6. What a Joke Says:

    @not a small thing, you are 100 percent wrong. Do you realize how many private meetings go on in public buildings every day? Why is this meeting being singled out? And there are many offices in public buildings that are off-limits to the general public without proper ID. It’s called security. Try walking into a county commissioners office. Go ahead. I dare you.

  7. jac Says:

    He talked about less government and he has 200 advisors. It tells you that he really doesn’t know what he doing. But again those that didn’t vote for him knew that. We can just pray with get through this fast like Crist.

  8. Look Around Says:

    This was not a private meeting held by private industry in a public building. Yes, that type of meeting does occur and that is no problem. This was a private meeting held by an elected official in a public building. Big difference. If Scott wanted a private meeting he should have booked the conference room at the Marriott, he can afford it. Then there would have been no problem. Small snafu. The materials are being released, there’s your sunshine.

  9. Another Ray of Sunshine Says:

    Sunshine Says:
    December 23rd, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    @ Ron Sachs: The meetings covered in the article were not even remotely “staff meetings,” but meetings with unpaid citizen transition advisory teams appointed by the Gov-Elect (189 members strong) making policy recommendations to Scott.

    Take a look at Inf. Op. to Lamar, August 2, 1993, regarding the application of the Sunshine Law to a transition team made up of citizens appointed by a mayor to make recommendations on the reorganization of city government.

    Bashing a story as “hooked on a completely bogus premise” or a reporter as one of the “less energetic members of the press corps” does not change the law. And going so low as to attack this reporting is well, pretty damn low.

    One of the most wonderful and unique things about Florida’s Sunshine Law is that it is embedded in the Constitution, and not just another law the legislature can repeal or amend on a whim. And it applies in this case, whether you are other would wish it otherwise or not.

  10. Oh Please Says:

    Another liberal slander of a conservative politican. Would you all please stop lying. How about reporting real news, not gossip. Like, how Scott might put the unemployed to work to earn their unemployment checks. Get real PB Post before you lose more readers.

  11. Fly in the ointment Says:

    That Lamar opinion involved an advisory board appointed by a mayor in office for the purpose of giving advice on reorganizing city government. It is clearly distinguishable from this case involving a governor-elect who is no longer a candidate seeking the office and who has not yet assumed office. In the Lamar case the “transition team” at issue was created by a public official. In this case, it was created by a private citizen.

  12. Ron Sachs Says:

    What’s really incredible is that there is any controversy at all over this non-story. And for a reporter to become so self-important as to believe that the flawed practice of journalism should insulate you from valid criticism over shoddy reporting is even worse than the story itself. The First Amendment is not a guarantee of good reporting or good writing. There is no such thing as ‘the press’ right to know.’ There IS a public right to know virtually everything about its governments — but that does NOT mean any reporter or citizen can attend a staff or advisory meeting in any government building. It never has meant that. Somehow, in this holiday season, a Post reporter ‘gifted’ this story from a colleague’s disappointment at being turned away, appropriately, from a meeting that is NOT subject to the Sunshine Law. Finally, the standard of reporting is so low today for some working journalists that just a quote from a colleague seems enough to trigger a story, albeit a rushed and bogus one. Merry Christmas to All, anyway.

  13. Ron Sucks Says:

    Hey Ron – Why don’t you leave the butt kissing where it belongs: On that shameless banner hanging off the side of your building.

  14. unreal Says:

    @Ron Sachs.

    Sounds like the person with the agenda Ron is you. Here you have a new administration coming in, made up mostly of people with no experience in government procedure, I can believe that they are going to make mistakes.

    On the first story Financial Attorney laid out the statutes and the case for why this would be a violation. As in everything, law is open to interpretation.

    While I support a big change in the government that Scott is making, I don’t support hiding anything from the public when it comes to government service. We have suffered enough of the backroom deals in our country to last us a lifetime and that of our children and grandchildren. So don’t cry about the press calling the government to the carpet when they have been less than open and trustworthy in the past. They are public servants. Its good when the press hammers any administration, right or left.

    Also personally attacking a reporter for doing his/her job is pretty pathetic.

  15. unreal Says:

    @Oh Please.

    I think if you read a few more stories from the reporter you can see they did do a story about putting the unemployed to work. The press is nice because it doesn’t always have to be just want you want to hear.

  16. Johnny Armada Says:

    It’s that magical time of the political season when the transition of power in Tallahassee causes desperate snakes like Ron Sachs to slither around town to ingratiate themselves with the new Governor’s Administration and solidify their insider power and position.

    And Ron Sachs is going all out this year, with a silly sign on his building and everything that celebrates the GOP election sweep. It’s laughable.

    Now Sachs is using the old ‘enemy-of-my-enemy’ strategy, trying to snuggle up to Scott’s team by attacking the media— going after one of the classier members of the press at that.

    One would never guess that Sachs has spent a life time abusing the power of the press, stoking the fires of racial tensions and class-warfare for political gain and using every other below-the-belt, left-wing tactic in his arsenal to bash Republicans at every turn. All to advance his liberal agenda and make a handsome profit for himself.

    Nice try Sachs, but me thinks the liberal snake doth protest too much.

  17. vbulletin forum posting software Says:

    Usually I don’t article on blogs, but I wish to say that this article very forced me to complete so! Thanks, very nice article.

  18. Ron Sachs Says:

    It’s cool and just plain mediocre that online journalism today allows a reporter to anonymously post blog threads about their own stories…….Zenger-not

  19. Get Real Says:

    Now your reaching Ron. You can’t conceive of the fact that there are plenty of people who know who and what you are. Funny you choose a messenger of the press to try to ingratiate yourself with Scott. Make sure Mr. Scott knows you were in with Alex and how you ran him down during the campaign. Nobody is buying you lies.

  20. Johnny Armada Says:

    Let it go Sachs. Do yourself a favor and stop with the personal attacks, the wild accusations and rediculous justifications.

    Honestly, you’re embarassing yourself. (What do want to do, outlaw anonymous blogs???)

    We all know what you’re up to and it’s painfully pathetic, especially on Christmas.

    By now a good PR pro would know the best way to get out of a hole is to stop digging.

    So, surprise us all. Do something wise for a change and put away the shovel.

  21. Biff Says:

    The whining losers of the government controlled press. Looking to make trouble where adults are trying to solve the obamunist, USA wrecking machine. Go and shill for the criminal alien crowd and leave the real governance to people who have matured.

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