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03.09.07 -- REPORT: EPA meeting now closed to public, reporters

By CHER PHILLIPS

In an e-mail this morning, Council President Frank Ciotti said the town meeting with the EPA this week will be closed.

Ciotti wrote that the EPA called and rescheduled the meeting from Tuesday to Wednesday or Thursday.

"We asked him to be sure its [sic] before the Town Council meeting so Debbie can report to the Council. He has stated again that this is not a public meeting and does not want any guests. The only folks attending will be Paul, Debbie, Melvin, Marsha, and Howard if available. Sorry for any confusion."

Paul and Melvin work with the town on the water system and other maintenance. Debbie Miller is the town clerk. Marsha Strange, the mayor is not a voting member of the town's government. She and Councilman Howard Walkup would be able to attend a meeting dealing with the town's business together. Since only one council member will be present, the meeting would fall outside Florida's Open meetings laws, which states that a meeting between two voting members to discuss anything that could come before the board is a public meeting and must be noticed.

I sent Ciotti a reply asking once more if I can attend the meeting. I'll update as information becomes available.

posted by Cher @ 9:44 AM,

2 Comments:

At   April 10, 2007 4:30 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

If this meeting takes place, it will violate the Sunshine Law! This is an item that the public has an interest in, and MUST BE OPEN TO US! Who gave the ruling that it is exempt????? They are WRONG!!!

 
At   April 10, 2007 4:56 PM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

Well, yes and no.

Here's what I know:

I called the First Amendment Foundation yesterday. If this meeting takes place with Howard Walkup acting as the council and making any decisions, then yes, they could be violating the Sunshine.

If he's just fact finding, he's might not be. If another council member shows up, then they are violating the Sunshine.

I got an e-mail from Debbie today that was a forward from an environmental specialist saying the meeting is Thursday and that he is not going to be speaking to the public. That does support statements made by Council President Frank Ciotti that the EPA rep does not want a public meeting.

There's more information coming in at this point.

Frankly, I don't know why the council doesn't put their foot down and just open the meeting. I am sure other council members want to hear what the man has to say unfiltered through a second or third party, as much as the residents want to hear it.

Doing it like this limits everyone. But let's see. It's not Thursday, yet.

 

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Editor and Publisher:

I'm Cher From McIntosh, FL I'm a graduate student at the University of Florida working on a master's degree in Mass Communication. While I was finishing my undergrad degree in journalism last year, I reported on McIntosh, Fla. for an in-depth reporting class. I figured that the reporting and the public record files should go somewhere people can access them. Reporters don't report to keep the information they find to themselves. Some of that reporting is included here in a forum that allows response. McIntosh suffers because with no news coverage, the local government and the rumor mill have too much potential to run rampant over residents. I moved to McIntosh in the fall of 1999. My profile

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The primary purpose of this blog is to accurately reflect what happens in town public meetings and dispel rumors. I record the meetings and make them available for download. One of the goals of this blog is to offer residents a place to voice opinions. The comments, views and opinions expressed there are not necessarily those of the editor.

 
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