Thank You, Sun-Sentinel: Paper Catches Ft Lauderdale Attempt To Weaken Government-in-the Sunshine

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

First it was the Legislature which tried to weaken the Sunshine Law and failed.

Now it is the Fort Lauderdale Commission, which attempted to hold a meeting with very little notice. Luckily, they were caught by my former colleague Brittany Wallman of the Sun-Sentinel.

Wallman’s dogged pursuit of this story despite stonewalling by City Hall brilliantly illustrates the value of a free and independent local media.

 

Brittany Wallman

 

Without her pursuit, the vast majority of the public wouldn’t know about the meeting called to plan long-term strategy for the city.

Here is the story:

Wallman was tipped to the meeting, which apparently was already underway with little notice.

It wasn’t on the city’s online calendar. It wasn’t advertised in the media. It wasn’t distributed through the city’s extensive e-mail system used to regularly notify the public of road closings, holidays and other information.

Apparently the only advanced word was on an electronic bulletin board in the City Hall lobby.

Mayor Jack Seiler excused the lack of notice.

“…It was posted in City Hall…Proper and legal notice was timely posted by the Clerk,” Seiler tweeted Wallman.

Seiler’s pet poodle City Attorney Cynthia Everett opined that the City Hall bulletin board notice was all that was necessary.

Okay, maybe it was legal.

But the lack of distributing the notice throughout the city doesn’t pass the smell test. It looks suspiciously like City Hall attempted to discourage public participation.  That is the exact opposite of transparency in government.

“
To use the term “secret” is misleading as the meeting was attended by numerous City Staff members and the public, and was recorded,” Seiler tweeted to Wallman.

Wallman quickly pointed out that by only posting a notice in City Hall limited the notice to the same ol’ small crowd of insiders.

“You’re right. Yesterday’s city meeting was not a total secret. It was only a secret to the public. Insiders and city employees were aware,” Wallman fired back.

Wallman wrote a story about the incident, including a screen grab of the city’s online bulletin board without the meeting listed. The story is linked here. 

Here is a scary thought:

Seiler has tinkered with the idea of running for Florida Attorney General next year.

Guess one of the Attorney General’s jobs? To defend the Government-in-the-Sunshine Law.

Maybe if Seiler does declare he is running, the Sun-Sentinel should confine reporting the news to a notice on a bulletin board in their lobby.

In Seiler’s mind, that would be “proper” notice.

XXXXX

 

 

 

 

 

 



17 Responses to “Thank You, Sun-Sentinel: Paper Catches Ft Lauderdale Attempt To Weaken Government-in-the Sunshine”

  1. What Happened? says:

    So what was discussed at the meeting? Were there minutes taken? Was it recorded? Was there an Agenda? There was no agenda published for the joint meeting between Broward County and the City this week.

  2. Can't wait for the next election says:

    Ft. Lauderdale could be the worst run city in the US. Sewage leaks and $1 Billion in infrastructure neglected, losing lawsuits, repaying the FAA, Sunshine law violations, gambling with the pension, etc., etc., etc. March 2018 cannot come quick enough.

  3. Lane Diet says:

    Did you know that the city has held a meeting to talk about how to improve the horrible traffic on 17th street between Federal and the bridge and have concluded that they need to narrow the road from 6 lanes down to four lanes and convert the free space to a new bike lane. The city is approving new apartments and a Whole Foods grocery store in the area and having the bike lanes will improve traffic by reducing the lanes for cars, according to the planners….

  4. sick of politics says:

    What is most interesting is why was this not at the City Hall on Ch 78 as all of the meetings? And convieintatly not on web calender? Is there something that would not sit well with the community?
    I call BULLSHIT ,

  5. Kristen Maus says:

    Thank you Brittany for reporting this story. Glad someone is watching.

  6. Tamarac Voter says:

    Why was she removed from the county beat? That’s quite a demotion. I keep hearing rumors…

    FROM BUDDY:

    Fort Lauderdale is a very important beat.

    Britt remains widely respected by her peers and bosses. She is still doing a very good job. She still is employed as a journalist, which is more than many (former) newspaper journalists can say.

  7. Fort Lauderdale Lady says:

    I have a lot of time to think about Mayor Seiler when I sit in traffic he created. He only cares about developers.

  8. What about Bruce Roberts says:

    Seiler is gone in less than a year. The focus should be on Bruce Roberts who is running to be the next Mayor. He was there, I don’t hear any reports of his concerns over the minimal, yet legal, notice given for this meeting.

  9. Just One Vote says:

    @6 Tamarac Voter
    Brittany Wallman is an astute investigative reporter when they let her. Years ago and Scott Wyman can attest, he covered the county and she covered FLL. (before the internet you had tear sheets from the paper so I have proof). Then there was a fallout with gretsas complaining about Brittany and the swap occurred, Brittany to BCC beat and Scott at FLL. I remember it about 2005-early 2006. Correct me if my memory fails me. I could rattle off a dozen byline scoops Brittany made (and Scott too)right off top of my head but for now Thank You Brittany for getting to the meeting.
    Now for anyone there lets have the details. Thanks Buddy for exposing and forum for reporting shenanigans.

  10. Charles King says:

    That certainly sounds like our mayor “Crooked” Jack Seiler, he certainly knows the law, it’s right and wrong he has trouble with. But in “Crooked” Jack’s defense maybe he didn’t think the public would have any interest in hearing the long term priorities of a regime who’s expiration date is up in 10 months or so. My guess is that the long term priority doesn’t go much further than getting the long in tooth Bruce “the pension pirate” Roberts elected mayor in a 7% voter turnout intentionally off cycle election in March. Confronting the 8 and half year infrastructure deficit of painted instead of paved roads, failing seawalls, and pipes that refuse to be ignored anymore is just not a topic for public consumption. Who knows maybe that’s the reason for the secrecy. It’s nice to hear Charlotte Rodstrom showed up and that Brittany Wallman is on the job.

  11. Speak Truth says:

    When will people learn Jack Seiler is a liar, panderer and cannot be trusted. Every time he gets backed into a corner, he tries to spin it on the people who call him out.

    Well, John, Jack or whatever you’re being called, WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU. Time you leave Florida because our self-interest IS NOT YOU

    We have to do EVERYTHING in our power to make sure his career ends after his term of mayor is done…….so he shall be, too.

  12. Tamarac Voter says:

    I hear she’s in the dog house with management at SS for unethical reporting. That she was caught red handed and had to beg just to keep any job. They demoted her to this assignment.

    FROM BUDDY:

    I’ve been asked why I protect Britt Wallman.

    Maybe because none of these allegations are true, but they keep appearing in Browardbeat.com’s inbox.

    Here is the story:

    The Broward sheriff and his staff clashed repeatedly with Britt Wallman. They didn’t like her coverage of the sheriff’s office, which is part of the county beat. A reporter who irks the sheriff is a good thing since the paper is supposed to be a watchdog of that huge government agency. A reporter should never take at face value anything spouted by the sheriff’s office.

    But at one point, Britt Wallman inadvertantly copied the sheriff’s office in an e-mail. The e-mail contained what Britt Wallman told me was an insult about the sheriff. The sheriff’s office complained. Wallman then agreed to changed beats and asked to be transferred to coverage of Fort Lauderdale.

    That’s all. Nothing in her reporting or coverage of the county was ever alleged to be unethical.

    She picked the Fort Lauderdale beat herself. In addition to Fort Lauderdale government, Britt Wallman now has a big hunk of the most important beat impacting Broward residents — development and growth.

    I believe she had the front page lead story in the Sunday paper, which indicates that she remains a highly valued and trusted Sun-Sentinel reporter.

    My guess is that Britt Wallman will end up with bigger, more visible stories on her new beat than she ever had before.

  13. Actually says:

    Ms. Wallman left the Fort Lauderdale beat shortly after this mayor and commission were elected, 2008. Since then the coverage has been minimal. The mayor and commission have had no oversight their entire time in office.

  14. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    First Brittany did a good job covering the death of Sgt.Lowkinsky(what a great man . I will miss him greatly). As far as this meeting what was discussed . certainly not the nuclear codes. The ccity clerk Mr.Moderelli does a great job and Im sure he has a valid explanation. None the less Brittany did an outstanding job this week. As far as her getting demoted form the county beat etc. I don’t think so. Besides they now have Larry B. Great hands th e county w/ Larry on board.(not to worry larry I have moles there to(always like to help him when a lot of you lie to him or try to cover something up).

  15. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    And its Sgt. Jack Lokeinsky(sorry for misspelling).

  16. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    @14 I guess we should start referring to you as the Head Mole?

  17. Virtus1 says:

    Brittany Wallman is the single star at the otherwise pathetic Sun-Sentinel.
    On the same day that Brittany’s scathing investigative article on the rampant cronyism at BSO, Ironically, on the same day of that investigative aricle, O’Hara and the SS Editorial Board gave a glowing endorsement of Sheriff Israel. I am sure that O’Hara did not like that egg on her face. Perhaps the independent minded Wallman, was reigned in due to her independence. Wallman should be able to have the discretion to go after the corruption in Broward County, wherever she can ferret it out.

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