Fields: Force Legislature To Follow Sunshine Law




sam fields


What’s stupider?   Florida labor unions and the Florida Democratic Party.

I thought about this as I witnessed the Republican legislative meltdown last week. Ordinarily this would be an opportunity for the Dems and their union allies.

Instead, the Dems and the unions seemed to believe no budget, no healthcare, no medical marijuana…no problem.

It’s time to kick the GOP in the ass.  No one is better positioned to accomplish this than the 500,000 members of Florida’s labor unions.

I propose the unions could easily obtain the signatures to alter the Florida Constitution and have the Legislature fall under the Sunshine Law for the first time.

No more secret meetings. No more backroom deals.

Just the suggestion of imposing the Sunshine Law on insular Tallahassee would cause Republican leaders to squeal like pigs.

I know what some of you are thinking…isn’t the Legislature covered by the same Sunshine Law that govern city councils, county commissions, tax boards, drainage districts, etc.?

The answer is a resounding no!

That can only change by gathering the roughly 700,000 signatures it takes to get on the ballot in 2016. Here is how the state Division of Elections describes the process:

It takes signatures from eight percent of the number of voters voting in the last presidential election to place a citizen initiative on the general election ballot. Eight percent of the number of voters voting in the 2012 presidential election is 683,149. That number must come from at least 14 of the 27 congressional districts.


Passage of the amendment requires 60% voting for approval.  I imagine such a proposition would pass with over 80% of the voters.

In addition to opening up the Legislature to public scrutiny, the Sunshine Law would put the fear of God into the boys in Tallahassee.  It would mean that it was a crime for two or more members of the legislature to discuss pending bills unless it was in public with notice to the public.

If the unions only relied on their members and spouses, they could get a million signatures…and some respect from Tallahassee Republicans for a change.  But they won’t.

I doubt anything will happen.

Florida unions and the Florida Democratic Party have been traveling under the same failed political strategies for the last thirty years.  Hire the same tired consultants. Mount the same inconsequential campaigns that get them “zippo”.

What is they say about people who do the same thing over and over and expect a different result?



11 Responses to “Fields: Force Legislature To Follow Sunshine Law”

  1. Richard J Kaplan says:

    I have previously stated my support for a constitutional amendment that essentially would say,

    All elected officials within the State of Florida, other than Federal Officials and the Judiciary, shall be subject to the same Sunshine Laws.

    It’s simple and direct. Then it would be up to the legislature to decide which law to chose, and if they chose their own law I don’t think they would get re-elected.

  2. Broward lover says:

    A change in the Sunshine Law would not have prevented the House from adjourning sine die early this session. The honos should be on the State GOP to clean up their own mess within their own party. Why would you suggest unions be used to change the Sunshine Law to address GOP in-fighting about the budget? Doesn’t make sense.

  3. Daniel Reynolds says:


    I did some checking on this. Any petition, no matter how many signatures it has, has to pass judicial review for constitutionality. When Florida’s Sunshine Law was passed in the seventies the issue of exempting the legislature passed the Supremes as having a “compelling state interest”. Obtaining 700k signatures is a huge and expensive undertaking even for an organization with 500k members (and limited resources). What would make a more conservative Supreme Court overrule the earlier court’s finding.
    BTW this would be a private conversation except you have publicly called labor stupid for not wasting time on your poorly thought out but well intentioned idea.


    Dan Reynolds is the president of the Broward County AFL-CIO.

  4. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:



    We don’t need more madness in government. We need less madness. We don’t need cute ideas aiming to stick it to others. We need ideas that help our people live better lives. Here is the prescription that Florida needs to recapture public trust and, with that gained, the ability to govern itself effectively.

    1. We need to go to Vote by Mail as the only method through which we cast votes. Every registered voter gets a postage pre-paid ballot with 10 days to make up their minds and get it back to be counted. More people voting at less cost with greater assurance of integrity is what Vote by Mail brings. Get most every citizen voting and suddenly what the people have to say matters.

    2. We need laws that eliminate Gerrymandering of districts. Every elected legsilative districtsa from cities and special districts to state legislators and members of congress should be elected from compact neighborhoods sharing, to the greatest degree possible, common community interests.

    3. We need to implement public financing of campaigns. No more private, corporate or personal money in campaigns. Candidates who qualify to run through signatures get the same amount, everyone takes an campaign ethics oath to focus on the issues, no PACS or committees unless they are fully disclosed including who contributes to them.

    We need to restore public trust to government not by keeping officials from talking to one another but by making sure they have an urgency to serve the public that put them in office.

    Do these things and we will have a better Florida and even a better nation. Do them not and expect more mediocrity or worse out of your government because you failed to give it the rules it needed to properly serve you.

    You may say, we have many more important things to do than those three. We have education to take care of, the environment, lowering taxes, improving services for the disabled, creating new jobs and economic opportunities. Yes, all those are important but you can’t get to those things intelligently or even half-way decently unless you do the three things I said.

    Do those three things and all else becomes easier to do, from there all things are possible that we need done. But if we do them not, then we will continue to suffer. And deservedly so for we will hae failed to do what our state demands of us.

    Our state system does not satisfy because the will of our people is not being implemented.

    Put the people back in charge of the government and it will all fall back into proper place. We will take a better direction for everyone involved because the government will begin working for us. Not the other way around.

    Can you really blame our officials?

    Look how distracted and tortured they are. They run in Gerrymandered districts, forced to raise money from those who have a stake in how they vote, and as dismal as that prospect sounds, they feel they can get away with it because there’s only a 10% turnout on election day.

    Change everything about those facts and their motivations will change in accordance with those key three alterations. Suddenly they will work for you instead of working for somebody else or worse, instead of making you feel you work for them.

    We — as citizens — are responsible for the fact they are so distracted by other things that they can’t seem to focus on what we the people expect them to do for us. I’ve been in government for a very long time. The people we elect are not bad people by and large. They’re just distracted by circumstances over which they have no control. We as citizens are responsible for that and instead of doing something about it, we complain. Guess what? Complaining doesn’t amount to shit.

    We need action and I’ve just told you the three things you need to do.

    Look, my bones are made. I have nobody to impress anymore, I do my work out of love for what I do. I fear no one and have nothing to lose. So I can “afford” to tell you the truth that others won’t tell.

    Organize and do these three things in Florida. Watch our great state soar miles above the other 49. Kindly stop your whining and complaining. Grow a pair and act like patriot citizens who own their own government. Take ownership and steer it where it needs to go.

    Do these three things Florida. Do them.

    Insist that these 3 things and none other be done, for the moment. A better Florida will emerge. It’s a no lose proposition, only good can come from it, there’s no risk of failure. Only upside.

    Do them not we continue shall continue to sink, and if that’s your view, kindly keep your weak excuses and complaints to yourself. Act or get off the pot.

    Your choice.




    Your ideas are good ones, Angelo.

    The problem is that the meritorious ideas you propose would take action from the Legislature. The Legislature can not be trusted.

    Voters approved the Fair Districting Amendment. The Legislature did what is wanted and the Republican-appointed court, with slight exceptions (Ellyn Bogdanoff’s district in northeast Broward), permitted it.

    Voters approved the water resources amendment in 2014 and the Legislature ignored it. The enacting legislation died when the House walked out.

    The Florida Lottery was approved 2-1 in 1988 after a promise to voters that the money would go to enhance education. Instead, the then-Democratic Legislature took tax money away from education and replaced it with lottery money — a classic shell game.

    I could go on and on. But when they get to Tallahassee, electeds shun the will of the voters.

  5. Lamberti is a Criminal says:

    Go… GOP.

  6. City Activist Robert walsh says:

    You should let me do a commentary once in a while instead of always using Mr.Fields here. Gov’t is sometimes slow in catching on – I’m not. Or I should say all my moles that come to me. Hang on, hold on, relax. I always get them justice on e way or another.. Ps my moles I requested a public info request in Ft>lau in reference to the DPW Dir Mr.Hardeep(looking good last night at that podium -not a car ein the world-you and your mangers and your 16wks course, bla, bla bla, They all better be wrong about you-that report comes back(that’s what I requested name of law firm(outside council) handling investigation and how much we paid). Again that report comes back sustained run, and fast(hang in there people). Will see, for now you get a pass, w/ a short lease. Also att.Howard Talefeld(suing DCF in regards to didler Broward house, child molester Johgn Mcguigan go after City Comm.Dean Trantalis he recommended him to get the job an d then batting fo r him to keep job(until Count Comm.Lois Wexler always bettin heavy w/ you Lois)threatened either you get rid of didler(Mcguigan) or no money) Dino here got rid of him the next day. att.talenfeld representing that poor kids family put Dino on stand(or threaten to ) -sky($) the limit(call me i’ll work my magic). Again, Comm.Trantalis or friends (some) ar epigs and shoul dhav etheir nuts cut off and eaten by Molly(my Westie-woof)…..

  7. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    The three items I propose could be put into the state Constitution by the people as they have done on other occasions. What it requires is the will and desire to do it. The means are multiple.



    My point was that they can be put in the state Constitution, but that doesn’t mean the Legislature will follow them.

  8. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear Dan,

    Please cite the case which says that the people cannot amend the Florida Constitution to include the legislature in the Sunshine Law.

    Show me a case that the people cannot amend the Constitution to make all meetings with lobbyists restricted to the Tallahassee or District offices and available live on line.

    As for the cost I don’t see it. You can e-mail the proposed amendment to your 500,000 members for free!

    They can make unlimited copies sign and mail them back for 48 cents! Even folks with minimum wage can handle 48 cents!

    Florida is a right to work state which means that you have 500,000 dues paying members that believe in the idea of strength in unions.

    I don’t think the NRA has a fifth that number. Yet the are important you are impotent! Marion Hammer scares the shit out of them but you can’t get them to answer the phone.

    Unions are the Rodney Dangerfield of Tallahassee

    Why?????? Its got to have something to do with the leadership

    Once you have 50,000 signatures you can get the Supremes to approve or deny the language.

    In the movie A Bronx Tale a kid asks a Mafia boss if “it is better to be loved or feared”.

    He explains why “fear” is better.

    If the GOP thought that you could give the voters the option of putting them under the Sunshine Law they would fear you.

  9. Dear Buddy says:

    Please Buddy, give Walsh his own column. Better yet, allow him to videotape his commentary and put it for all to see. Maybe even a special edition of point and counterpoint between Chaz and Walsh. Though for Chaz that would be the equivalent to sparring with Gary Coleman

  10. Crackin' da porcelain says:

    Hell no! I say a point /counterpoint with 2 rational folks- Walsh and Angelo.
    Both of which you can read without having to take a bath afterwards.

  11. Chaz Stevens, Festivus says:

    Can you imagine a debate with Walsh? The mind reels at the comedic opportunities…

    Walsh, let’s do this … I’ll even bring a couple thick NYC Yellow Pages, so you can see over top of the table.


    You are dating yourself, Chaz. Do they even have Yellow Pages anymore? If so, are they “thick”? 🙂