Public officials above the law?

April 21, 2006 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

A call to Pat Lockett-Felder?s office. In a recent public records request to Councilwoman Pat Lockett-Felder?s office, her assistant Daisy Brown answered the phone. I told her that I had filed a public records request with the Office of Legislative Services that morning that affected several council members and that Ms. Felder was one of them. I told her that I wanted to see all emails sent received by CW Felder that related to Ordinance 2006-176 (the ordinance that authorized $1.1 million in taxpayer money to go to First Timothy Baptist Church to build a gym). I then told Daisy that I had been instructed to call her by Erica Williams in the Office of Legislative Services because Erica told me she could not provide me with these emails that only Daisy or Ms. Felder could. At this point, Daisy said, ?Well, Erica is a liar.?

I then called Erica back to only be hung up on because she was obviously not happy to hear that her colleague had called her a liar. I then called the Office of Legislative Services back to speak to the supervisor there…Dana Ferris. Ms. Ferris reassured me that I absolutely had to call Daisy back because, in fact, it was only she and Ms. Felder that had access to the Councilwoman’s emails.  

I then called Daisy back in Ms. Felder’s office and told her that Dana Ferris had assured me that I could only get the emails through the Councilwoman’s office. I then told Daisy again what I was requesting. Daisy’s answer was shocking. She said “No, we’re not giving you those emails.” Needless to say, this was unacceptable (and, whether Daisy knew it or not, on the verge of unlawful).

So today Daisy Brown and Pat Lockett-Felder have received the following email.

  To: Daisy Brown and Pat Lockett-Felder
 CC: John Germany and William Crowe

 Daisy, I was startled and quite disappointed by your abrupt nature and when you explicitly told me “No!” - that you would not provide the emails I requested on the phone today. As a servant of the public, I would think you would be more informed of the public records access laws. Florida Statute 119.011(11) dictates that public record is defined as “all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.”

This email serves as a public records request for all emails sent and received by Councilwoman Pat Lockett-Felder that deal with or are related to Ordinance 2006-176.

This would include, but is not limited to, emails sent by or received by the Councilwoman to/from: other City Council members, JEDC staff, Office of General Council staff, members or staff of First Timothy Baptist Church and staff or owners of the First Timothy Development Corporation, that relate to the ordinance (or any of it’s amendments) that allocated city funds to First Timothy Baptist Church.

If you refuse to provide a record, please cite, for each record, the specific state statute which allows it’s legal exemption from this request.

Please provide me with an estimated date that you will have this available for me to pick up. Alternatively, you can forward the emails to this email address. Either way, please acknowledge this request.

Due to your aggressive and non-compliant nature during the course of our phone conversation, I have CC’d Mr. Germany and Mr. Crowe from the Office of General Counsel to help ensure compliance on this matter. Daisy, please note that according to the laws of the great state of Florida, an unlawful refusal to provide public records carries with it remedies including mediation before the State Attorney General and/or possible civil action.

Thank you very much,