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Are Attorneys Exempt From Florida Sunshine Law

Published on May 2016 | Categories: Documents | Downloads: 21 | Comments: 0
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Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi may not explain complicated Sunshine Law to private persons. They must hire an attorney.

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MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

 
Commissioner Exposito and City Attorney Smith Whispering Sweet Nothings   

CITY ATTORNEYS AND FLORIDA’S SUNSHINE LAW 
A plain reading the Florida’s Sunshine Law and its interpretation by Florida’s Supreme Court and  Attorney  General  indicates  that  city  attorneys  at  city  commission  meetings  are  subject  to  the  Sunshine  Law,  therefore  their  transactions  with  commissioners  should  be  seen  and  heard  by  the  public.  However,  Victoria  Frigo,  Senior  Attorney  for  the  Miami‐Dade  Commission  on  Ethics  and  Public  Trust,  has  not  referred  secret  discussions  between  the  city  attorney  of  the  City  of  Miami  Beach  and  one  of  its  commissioners  at  a  public  meeting  to  the  State  Attorney  for  investigation,  stating  that  the  law  is  limited  to  discussions  between  co‐commissioners,  and  she  referred the inquirer to the Attorney General for further information.  However,  state  law  prohibits  the  Attorney  General  from  providing  advice  about  the  Sunshine  Law  to  private  persons,  although  she  has  published  a  manual  on  the  subject  running  into  several  hundred  pages,  one  page  indicating  that  government  attorneys  are  not  exempted  by  attorney‐client  privilege  from  the  Sunshine  Law  at  board  member  meetings  with  the  attorneys  for  discussion  of  litigation,  from  which  it  may  be  inferred  that  discussions  between  attorneys  and board members at public hearings surely must be publicized. 
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The  Attorney  General’s  office  has  not  responded  to  our  inquiry  as  of  the  end  of  September  2013.  Governor  Rick  Scott’s  office  responded  on  several  occasions,  referring  us  back  to  local  officials,  yet  the  governor  did  not  assist  the  public  with  that  referral  with  a  letter  to  the  Miami‐ Dade  County  Commission  on  Ethics  or  to  the  State  Attorney.  The  Governor  has  not  responded  to a request to ask for a formal Opinion from the Attorney General on the particular point. Such  opinions  may  be  requested  and  given  under  Florida  law.    The  alternative  provided  by  the  Governor  was  to  hire  an  attorney.  Apparently  everyone  must  hire  an  attorney  to  find  out  what  the law is in order to obey it, for ignorance of the law is no excuse.   Confronted  with  the  official  policy  of  prevarication  as  to  the  meaning  of  the  Sunshine  Law,  we  referred  the  matter  back  to  Victoria  Frigo,  as  can  be  seen  from  the  Correspondence  File  below,  and  are  awaiting  her  response  if  any.  The  Commission  on  Ethics  has  been  remiss  in  responding  to  inquiries  about  the  conduct  of  the  Miami  Beach  city  attorney,  who  has  been  extremely  hostile  to  direct  inquiries  and  has  threatened  retaliation  for  making  public  record  requests,  therefore  questions  are  directed  elsewhere.  That  is  not  to  say  that  he  is  intentionally  violating  the  Sunshine  Law  in  his  sidebar  conferences  with  commissioners  at  meetings,  for  he  and  other  government  attorneys  throughout  the  state  may  be  violating  the  law  unintentionally  as  a  matter  of  habit,  wherefore  our  request  for  the  Attorney  General’s  enlightening  opinion.  And  there  may  be  some  case  law  or  Attorney  General  Opinion  permitting  such  conferences,  which  we have asked for so far in vain.  The context of our inquiry was the City Commission’s denial of due process in the procurement  of a contract to manage the city’s tennis facilities. City attorneys advised the commission that it  could  not  arbitrarily  and  capriciously  select  the  incumbent  bidder,  who  was  last  on  the  list  of  four candidates presented to the commission, unless it threw out all the bids. Therefore all bids  were  rejected  so  that  the  incumbent  bidder  could  remain  in  possession  of  an  interim  contract  and  be  arbitrary  and  capriciously  chosen  to  continue  with  its  decade‐long  mismanagement  of  the  tennis  facilities.  Although  the  action  of  the  commission  was  clearly  contrary  to  the  public’s  interest  in  a  fair  and  reasonable  procurement  process,  apparently  the  top  bidder  has  chosen  not  to  bring  suit  since  legal  counsel  has  advised  that  the  city  can  pretty  much  do  anything  it  wants,  a  notion  that  is  borne  out  by  a  long  history  infrequently  punctuated  by  court  losses  and  arrests.    For further contextual information, see:  Tennis Travesty Redux Miami Beach  www.scribd.com/doc/170934030/Travesty‐Redux‐Miami‐Beach   

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Florida Attorney General Bondi 

 

  September 17, 2013  Pamela Bondi  Attorney General  STATE OF FLORIDA  Subject: Independent Press Inquiry Re City Attorneys and Florida Sunshine Law  Honorable Madame Bondi:  I  have  been  referred  to  your  good  office  by  Victoria  Frigo,  Senior  Staff  Attorney  for  the  Miami‐ Dade  Commission  on  Ethics  and  Public  Trust,  after  I  expressed  doubt  over  her  statement  that,  “The  Sunshine  Law  is  not  violated  when  one  commissioner  speaks  to  someone  who  does  not  serve as a co‐commissioner on the same collegiate body.” I had responded that, “Please explain  why  286.011  Public  Meetings  and  Records  does  not  apply  to  conversations  between  a  city  attorney  and  commissioner.  (3)  (a)  provides  a  fine  for  violation  by  ‘any  public  officer.’  It  would  seem  that  the  Sun  of  the  Sunshine  act  should  shine  on  those  public  meeting  communications  especially since the city charter provides that a city attorney may recommend legislation.”    Page  24  of  your  2012  Government  in  the  Sunshine  Manual  bears  this  statement  under  item  4.  Legal matters:  

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“In  the  absence  of  a  legislative  exemption,  discussions  between  a  public  board  and  its  attorney  are  subject  to  s.  286.011,  F.S.  Neu  v.  Miami  Herald  Publishing  Company,  462  So.  2d  821  (Fla.  1985)  (s.  90.502,  F.S.,  providing  for  the  confidentiality  of  attorney‐client  communications  under  the  Florida  Evidence  Code,  does  not  create  an  exemption  for  attorney‐client  communications  at  public  meetings;  application  of  the  Sunshine  Law  to  such  discussions  does  not  usurp  Supreme  Court’s  constitutional  authority  to  regulate  the  practice  of  law,  nor  is  it  at  odds  with  Florida  Bar  rules  providing  for  attorney‐client  confidentiality).  Cf.  s.  90.502(6),  F.S.,  stating  that  a  discussion  or  activity  that  is  not  a  meeting  for  purposes  of  s.  286.011,  F.S.,  shall  not  be  construed  to  waive  the  attorney‐client  privilege.  And  see  Florida  Parole  and  Probation  Commission  v.  Thomas,  364  So.  2d  480  (Fla.  1st  DCA  1978),  stating  that all  decisions  taken  by  legal  counsel  to  a  public  board  need  not  be  made  or  approved  by  the  board;  thus,  the  decision  to  appeal  made  by  legal  counsel  after  private  discussions  with  the  individual  members  of  the  board  did  not  violate  s.  286.011,  F.S.  There  are  statutory  exemptions,  however,  which  apply  to  some  discussions  of  pending  litigation between a public board and its attorney.”  Well,  then,  why  not  a  commission  as  well  as  a  board?  The  context  of  my  concern  is  as  I  described it to Ms. Frigo:   “Last  evening  at  4:45  PM  the  City  Commission  of  the  City  of  Miami  Beach  considered  the  recommendations  to  the  commission  of  a  tennis  committee  who  took sealed bids and rated applicants for the contract to manage the city’s tennis  facilities.  The  highest  ranked  bidder  offered  $120,000  per  annum  for  the  contract.  The  lowest  ranked,  the  incumbent,  bid  $48,000.  After  that  was  revealed  at  the  public  hearing  last  evening,  an  angel  [energy  trader  Mark  Fisher]  who  was  rumored  to  have  flown  in  on  his  Lear  Jet  for  the  purpose,  got  up  and  promised  to  deposit  $120,000  cash  into  an  account  for  the  incumbent  who  had  bid  only  $48,000.  Another  gentleman  testified  that  that  was  against  the  rules….  (And  then)  it  was  noticed  that  the  city  attorney,  whom  by  the  Charter  may  recommend  legislation,  and  Commissioner  Exposito  were  engaged  in  a  private  talk  on  the  dais.  Exposito  reportedly  scoffed  at  the  selection  committee  and  its  bidding  process.  Would  a  chat  such  as  that  possibly  involve  a  violation  of  the  Sunshine Law or does attorney‐client privilege exempt it?”  The  outcome,  Madame  Attorney  General,  was  the  subversion  of  due  process;  the  very  process  that was established to  evaluate and select a contractor. I am informed that an assistant to the  city  attorney  eventually  testified  that  to  select  the  incumbent,  who  was  last  on  the  list  and  should  have  never  gotten  onto  the  list  presented  to  the  commissioners,  could  create  legal  issues,  and  that  the  solution  would  be  to  toss  out  all  the  bids  and  let  the  contract  remain  on  a  month‐to‐month  basis  with  the  incumbent.  That  was  the  foregone  conclusion  to  the  wasted  process.  

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Whatever  might  have  been  privately  said  behind  the  dais  is  probably  of  little  moment,  but  whether or not such chats are permitted by law is of great consequence.  Now  I  have  no  doubt  that  city  attorneys  often  have  private  chats  with  commissioners  behind  daises  at  public  meetings,  and  no  one  pays  any  attention.  Attention  was  paid  here  because  it  was  intuited  or  induced  from  scanty  information  that  this  particular  city  attorney  may  have  participated  in  or  masterminded  an  overall  strategy  to  make  sure  that  the  process,  established  by  the  community  represented  in  its  committees  and  resolved  on  by  the  commission,  was  circumvented  in  order  to  retain  the  incumbent,  whose  management  has  been  suffered  despite  so many breaches of contract over the years that it appears there really is no contract, and that  it  serves  at  the  leisure  of  the  ruling  clique  and  their  attorneys  who  appear  to  deem  themselves  sovereign or above the law.   Of  course  the  content  of  the  private  chat  may  not  have  been  germane  or  may  have  been  quite  harmless  to  the  cause  of  justice.  But  does  not  the  Sunshine  law  require  the  exposure  of  all  proceedings  during  public  hearings  including  statements  made  by  city  attorneys  to  commissions?  It was with that in mind that I contacted Ms. Frigo at the Commission on Ethics (COE). Ordinary  people  who  find  it  difficult  to  get  the  attention  of  the  State  Attorney  have  been  assured  by  the  COE  of  its  close  relationship  with  the  State  Attorney;  for  example,  COE  Director  Joe  Centorino  was  a  public  corruption  prosecutor  for  Kathy  Rundle,  and  retired  state  prosecutors  sometimes  serve  as  COE  investigators.  However,  as  of  late,  it  is  believed,  perhaps  on  insufficient  grounds,  that COE staff, and particularly its director, have a collegiate bias favoring the Miami Beach city  attorney.  Of  course  very  important  people  such  as  city  attorneys  and  commissioners  have  direct  and  immediate access to the State Attorney and get prompt attention. For example, it was a matter  of  hours  after  Miami  Beach  Commissioners  Deede  Weithorn  and  Jonah  Wolfson  were  seen  conversing  privately  on  the  dais  last  year  that  the  State  Attorney  initiated  an  investigation  into  the  matter  with  great  public  fanfare  in  the  press.  Eventually,  in  May,  the  State  Attorney  found  no evidence that public business was discussed.   It was a matter of deep concern as to who filed the complaint in that case, related to the forced  retirement of City Manager Jorge Gonzalez in the wake of FBI arrests, so that they could be duly  retaliated  against,  as  has  been  the  unofficial  custom  in  our  sunny  city  by  the  beach,  but  the  name of the complainant was kept secret.   As  for  my  inquiry,  it  is  not  a  complaint,  but  simply  an  attempt  to  clarify  the  Sunshine  law  in  a  particular regard for the public benefit. Mind you that I am not a great fan of the Sunshine law,  but there it is, so let us know what it is.    I realize that your office normally responds to such inquiries as this one by referring the inquirer  back  to  the  very  persons  whose  behavior  s/he  begs  askance  of,  stating  that  the  Attorney  General  is  not  allowed  to  provide  legal  information  to  private  citizens,  thus  leaving  inquirers 

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and  complainants  without  sufficient  funds  for  legal  fees  in  the  lurch  and  subject  to  retaliations  such as malicious prosecutions of cases which can cost $250,000 to successfully defend.   The  city  attorney  could  naturally  ask  you  for  your  opinion  on  this  subject,  and  would  not  have  to  abide  by  it  as  law.  Fat  chance:  our  current  city  attorney  has  a  thin  skin  and  reacts  hostilely  with impunity toward people who dare to question his behavior. I really have no beef with him,  but  I  have  learned  not  to  antagonize  him  with  questions  that  he  is  bound  to  respond  to  with  insults  instead  of  answering  as  to  facts  and  law.  I  only  mention  this  in  passing  the  buck  to  you  so you can understand the predicament in which we find ourselves here, noting that the Miami‐ Dade Inspector General has refused to serve our city, and that the plan to have the Miami Beach  Police  Department  Internal  Affairs  investigate  allegations  of  official  misconduct  whether  the  officials  are  sworn  police  officers  or  not  has  been  put  on  hold  as  “a  pipe  dream”  and  “just  words.” Hence we are left to beg secretly for federal intervention.  Perhaps  you  have  authority  to  quote  an  AGO  if  one  already  exists,  and  to  elaborate  a  little  bit  on  the  real  reason  why,  when  common  sense  believes  public  meetings  should  be  public  (meaning  what  is  said  and  done  can  be  heard  and  observed)  influential  city  attorneys  can  conduct  private  conversations  with  commissioners  or  anyone  else  on  the  dais  so  that  they  cannot  be  heard  nor  recorded,  and  not  run  afoul  of  this  law  called  Government‐In‐The‐ Sunshine.  Sincerely,  David Arthur Walters  Independent Journalist  Cc: Governor Rick Scott, Esq.   

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ITY ATTOR RNEY JOSE E SMITH ANNOUNCE A ES HE WIL LL FILE SL LAPP MIAMI BEACH CI SUIT AG GAINST IM MPOVERISH HED INDEPE ENDENT SO OUTH BEA ACH JOURN NALIST Asked fo or his Source e of Income Statements, S Smith threat tens to sue David D Arthur r Walters August 31, 3 2013 UPD DATE Septe ember 12, 20 013 MIAMI BEACH—In B n a response e to a public records requ uest for his Source S of Inc come Statem ments, Miami Beach B City Attorney A Jose Smith yes sterday anno ounced in an n August 30email direct ted to City Cler rk Rafael Granado, G and d Maria Moy ya Denham, whose role in the matte er is unknow wn at press tim me, and to ind dependent jo ournalist Dav vid Arthur Walters, W that he intends to sue Walter rs for defamation. “Ralph, In I preparatio on for a def famation law wsuit against t Davie (sic) ) Walters, pl lease provid de me with cop pies of all public record d requests he h has ever made about t me, as well as all lob bbyist registrati ion forms or r disclosures he has ever r filed with your y office while w lobby on behalf of o any city empl loyee or property owner r over the las st 5 years. In n addition, I would like to t see any an nd all occupatio on licenses, business tax x receipts or permits eve er issued to him h on any property p he owns or contro ols. Specifica ally, please forward f any documents showing s him m to do busin ness in the city as a ‘journa alist.’ I am happy h to pa ay in advanc ce for the co osts of this request. r Tha ank you for your cooperati ion. Jose“ “I feel lik ke an indepe endent journ nalist feels in n Cuba,” Walters W said in n a written statement, s “w when he asks questions q of the Castro regime. r Inste ead of simpl ly respondin ng to a quest tion with wh hether or not he e as a city attorney a is required r by law to file Source S of In ncome State ements, whic ch he should know k since he h is a law wyer, he reso orts to chara acter assassi ination. He does that in his official City C Attorney y email, as if such condu uct is within n the scope of o his duties, then he wan nts to take off his h City Atto orney Hat an nd put on his s personal ha at. “I notice ed that his an nnouncemen nt referred to o me as a jo ournalist in quotes, i.e., as a ‘journa alist,’ and he do oes so to ind dicate that I am independ dent inasmuch as I do no ot conform to t his dictate es. At least pow werful city attorneys a he ere cannot have h journali ists thrown in prison fo or making public p
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record requests, advocating better government, and opining on their conduct, but they can try to dig out something to have them charged, say, for not registering as a lobbyist. In that regard, he cannot understand that something besides gold motivates activist journalists. “I have not received a penny for my pro bono activism from anyone. My understanding of the county ethics code is simply that all city attorneys and their assistants are supposed to file Source of Income statements. Maybe they can file something somewhere else as a substitute, and I would like to know that if it is true. If true, the substitute should be filed with the city attorney and time and date stamped with then others. What lobby registration or business licenses or anything I say has to do with his requirements for filing financial disclosures is a mystery except that he is seeking some information to retaliate against me for asking for that public record. I say without reservation that Jose Smith must go, he must retire with whatever honors he has, for he is the vestige of the old regime of government by intimidation under threat of retaliation.” The public records request that aggravated Smith to make his threat has a fascinating history, hailing back to an effort by Smith to have two special magistrates fired. Walters reported on a legal oversight committee meeting held on the matter last year, with his article ‘Showdown at High Noon, Miami Beach City Attorneys versus Special Masters.’ After the meeting he asked for a biography of one of the antagonists, Senior Assistant City Attorney Alexandr Boksner, the only attorney whose information did not appear on the city website at the time. “As a former State prosecutor and Police Legal Advisor, his biography and other personal information is exempt from public disclosure,” responded Smith. City Clerk Rafael Granado quoted public record law to the contrary, but no biography was provided in response to the public record request. As it was, Boksner has applied for a job with another government entity that posted the information online, so that information was used by Walters. The office of the city clerk did provide Walters with a copy of Boksner’s Source of Income Statement for the year 2011, stamped “Received” by the City Clerk’s Office on July 2, 2011, along with his May 15, 2012, letter to Smith memorializing their conversation regarding his outside employment with the Coral Gables Police Department, and adding that he was also serving as a special magistrate for the Town of Surfside. Subsequently, on September 5, 2012, Walters filed a public records request with the city clerk’s office, which we have retrieved: “Ms. Beauchamp, thank you again for your speedy fulfillment of PRR 7020 (attached). In my experience, the City Clerk’s Office always provides excellent public records services. I cannot begin to tell you how much difficulty I and my colleagues have had elsewhere in getting the simplest requests answered. Your swift response has attracted further strong interest in the city attorney’s personnel policies. I intend to ask the city attorney a few polite questions based on my HR director experience, but to do so intelligently, I shall first need 1) the same information that you provided me for Mr. Boksner on all the attorneys in his office, including Mr. Smith, i.e. declarations of outside employment, and 2) the last report on compensation including benefits of all those attorneys. I recall seeing a report somewhere on the website but do not recall how to get it. Thank you. David Arthur Walters”
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Florida Governor Scott

September 18, 2013 Subject: Independent Press Inquiry Re City Attorneys and Florida Sunshine Law  Dear Mr. Walters: Thank you for contacting Governor Rick Scott's Office. The Governor appreciates your concerns and asked that I respond on his behalf. Our government is structured on the principle that local communities can best assess the needs of their residents. Voters elect their county officials to manage local government business. Those dissatisfied with local officials' performance can always make their views known directly to those officials. I understand you shared your concerns with your local government and local ethics office. That was the appropriate thing to do. Under Florida law, violations of the conflict of interest laws fall within the jurisdiction of the Florida Commission on Ethics. Those who wish to file a complaint with the commission, can obtain a complaint form on the commission's Web site at www.ethics.state.fl.us. For further assistance, you may wish to contact the commission by calling (850) 488-7864, or by writing to Post Office Drawer 15709, Tallahassee, Florida 32317-5709. Those with allegations of crimes and misconduct by public officials should bring their information and evidence to the attention of law enforcement and the state attorney in the local jurisdiction where they believe crimes are taking place. Each state attorney is an elected official
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charged with certain discretionary duties, including the duty to determine whether or not to prosecute any particular crime committed within his or her jurisdiction. This decision is based on the quality and quantity of the evidence of guilt shown, and in the best interest of justice. Law enforcement agencies and the state attorneys operate independently of the Governor's office. As elected officials, they answer to the voters of their individual jurisdictions. Contact information can be obtained online. I understand you shared your concerns with the Florida Department of Legal Affairs; however, it is my understanding the Attorney General and the Department do not provide legal opinions to private citizens. If you have legal questions, you should seek legal counsel from a licensed attorney. [$250/hr] Thank you again for taking the time to contact the Governor's Office. We hope this information is helpful. Sincerely, Warren Davis Office of Citizen Services Executive Office of the Governor

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David Arthur Walters

19 September 2013 Warren Davis Office of Citizen Services Executive Office of Governor Rick Scott STATE OF FLORIDA Tallahassee, Florida Subject: A Fair Game of Tennis in the Sunshine Dear Mr. Davis: Thank you for responding to my letter to Attorney General Pamela Bondi, wherein I asked her for her advice on whether or not Florida’s Sunshine Law requires the exposure of all transactions during public hearings, including conversations between city attorneys and city commissioners, such as the secret conversation on the dais between a commissioner and the city attorney at the September 11, 2013, hearing on sealed bids made pursuant to a request for proposals to manage the tennis centers of the City of Miami Beach. Some background is required for Governor Scott to understand why I believe his personal attention to the Sunshine Law in this matter is important to the welfare of our state. As an attorney himself, I know that our governor, if not offended by my rather common opinion on lawyers, will find some merit in my thoughts regardless of the technical issue I have raised as pretext for contributing to the greatest of conversations. You may have heard that the City of Miami Beach, once a notorious refuge for mobsters, was recently subjected to yet another embarrassing corruption scandal with several F.B.I. arrests of city employees. The city manager was forced to retire after thirteen years of serving the entrenched bureaucracy. He was scapegoated for conducting business-as-usual, which included, according to reformers, alleged hanky-panky over city contracts involving a subversion of due process, which should provide a fair and orderly method for awarding city contracts. His main fault in my opinion was his arrogance. It was as if he were above the law as a sovereign city boss; however, as his fate proved, he was ultimately only the manager. Last week Bal Harbour, with an eye on real estate development, hired him as its city manager. It is said that
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members of the entrenched bureaucracy of Miami Beach, some of whom have vested interest in Bal Harbour or nearby, highly recommended their former manager. In any event, the severance package Miami Beach provided more than amply compensated him for his brief period of unemployment. Our Miami Beach legislature like those of other cities ordained a certain process for the awarding of contracts, a process that the bidders for the tennis contract complied with. The incumbent contractor, whose breaches of contract over the last decade under the entrenched bureaucracy were tolerated to such an extent that there is really no contract but service at the will of the ruling elite; to which the community finally and mightily objected, fomenting a virtual tennis court revolution for the restoration of a legitimate due process that would engage excellent government of the tennis facilities. The reactionary element managed to insert the incumbent as the fourth bidder on the finalist list submitted to the city commission for decision; normally there are only three finalists submitted in case the first and second drops out. The reactionaries orchestrated a demonstration at the commission meeting that provided their representative commissioners with a pretext for subverting the process and retaining the incumbent by tossing out all the bids; the subversion was performed under the advice of city attorneys and attorneys sitting on the commission. The city attorney on the dais was observed chatting privately with a commissioner, a lawyer who took part in setting up the process for the tennis interests, but who then supported the subversion, denouncing the due process. Two commissioners courageously voted against the perversion, both of them attorneys, despite the uncivil raucous raised by the uniformed crowd of political demonstrators brought in by the reactionaries. Our new city manager, a Harvard Law School graduate, duly supported the process and recommended the high bidder. The leading reactionary commissioner, a lawyer who poses as a populist reformer and who supports a businessman who wants to purchase the mayor’s office, which pays eight-thousand a year, for over one-half million dollars, put forth the strategy: toss the bids, leave the contract month-to-month with the incumbent, return to waive the bidding process, and award the contract. The city manager may recommend a waiver, but he has indicated he is not about to do that. Therefore it appears that, if the bidding process must be resorted to, it will be resorted to time and again until the reactionaries manage to manipulate the evaluations so that the incumbent be put in the first position instead of last on the list. It remains to be seen whether or not the high bidder will bring legal action for the denial of due process afforded by the travesty. That would be an expensive proposition given the going rate for lawyers with expertise in such travesties. ($250 per hour) So now I believe Governor Scott can understand my opinion that the Sunshine Law may be and should be interpreted to forbid the whisperings of attorneys in the ears of kings during public hearings. I believe the doctrine of sovereign immunity, that kings can do no wrong, supported by the Florida Supreme Court in Trianon Condominiums v Hialeah, may have gone to the heads of too many city attorneys.
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Of course there would be less need for interpretation of our Sunshine Law if Aristotle had written the statute. As it sloppily stands, a barn door is left open for pettifoggers to quibble all to the contrary, all of whom will say that it is “crystal clear” that lawyers should be excluded. Sadly, we no longer have a Law Revision Council in this state, which is something the governor may want to attend to since the Florida Bar is not interested in revision not directly appertaining to its own profession, or at least the Bar has not given an opinion on my inquiries on the subject. The Law Revision Council, by the way, served a similar purpose as the Ministry of Justice concept proposed by Benjamin Cardozo. And the ancient jurists had their law clerks periodically revise the entire code for clarification and applicability. You may be interested to know that a contact of mine at the Florida Bar weighed in on the subject by sending me a copy of an informative article in the Tribune Herald; to wit: everyone should be familiar with the Sunshine Law; it is complicated; hire a lawyer. ($250 per hour) So this is not so much about our Sunshine Law as about due process under the rule of law instead of men. Everyone should enjoy a fair and orderly process regardless of the nature of their business, whether their game is tennis or strip club shows. With all due respect for lawyers who have fought for and who have won so many rights and privileges for us all, it should be observed that the notion of rule of law today is a vanity that masks the extraordinary power lawyers have over society in all walks of life. The Rule of Law is actually the Rule of Lawyers whose fundamental rule is to win at all costs notwithstanding the niceties of their reluctantly enforced codes of professional conduct whose very prohibitions identify the most frequent misconduct. I believe the governor will agree with the understatement that lawyers make the rules and rule themselves, answering to none except themselves, and believe that they, like Socrates, have privileged access to universal ideals although all they possess are rules of thumb arrived at through centuries of pettifoggery. Their monopoly on practice and privileged access to the courts provides them with an unfair advantage over everyone else. In any case, the rule of law is that nobody should be above the law including government officials, many of whom are officers of the court. If we are not to have recourse to revolution, we must be protected by the rule of law. Of course that is a subject Attorney General Pamela Bondi is most interested in, so that is why I addressed her, with a copy to the governor, for she often refers inquirers to the governor as well as referring them back to the very local officials who have managed over time to subvert the processes to gain and maintain sovereignty over their interlocking localities. And the governor’s office does the same. As you said: “Our government is structured on the principle that local communities can best assess the needs of their residents. Voters elect their county officials to manage local government business. Those dissatisfied with local officials' performance can always make their views known directly to those officials. I understand you shared your concerns with your local government and local ethics office. That was the appropriate thing to do.”

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That brings me to my pet peeve, that the principle of pluralism and federalism in Florida is either misunderstood or misapplied to the neglect of the populace. That principle, by the way, which provides for local discretion over local affairs, is favored by business to its profit. That local discretion in business is not allowed to circumvent or subvert central control over vital core functions. But in government the principle of local autonomy with central control of core functions is all too often a zero su m game that advances the power elite and diminishes the citizen’s share in the spoils. S/he is eventually left on the fringes of the camp begging for scraps. If I say that the local state attorney and the local ethics commission are not doing their jobs properly, the governor and the attorney general will refer me to the local state attorney and the local ethics commission, or the State Attorney of state attorneys, or the Ethics Commission of ethics commissions. If I say the county inspector general is refusing to serve a city in his county, I suppose I shall be referred to the Inspector General or mother of all inspector generals. If I say a city attorney is abusing his or her power and that the members of the local commission are in on the game and will do nothing about it, I am referred to various local agencies that will not take complaints seriously unless I allege a crime and do their job for them, come up with hard evidence supporting probably cause, and then they will probably fall asleep on the evidence, or give the official a heads up or a tiny fine, and say that the law is meant to obtain compliance and not to punish. So, as you can see if you have a vivid imagination, scores and scores of people are treated like tennis balls to be batted back and forth over the net, with the government winning every match, thanks to an interlocking network of lawyers. I recall here a Brevard County woman who had been battered by her husband, and then by lawyers and judges. Soon deprived of her hard earned personal property, with services denied by Legal Aid because it has more important people to aid, she was suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome. She read somewhere that it was the governor’s job to enforce the laws, so she went to the governor’s office, where she was ejected. Fortunately for her, she was not tossed in a madhouse. Finally, if I ask the attorney general for an opinion on what a hostile city attorney must do, I am told that the attorney general cannot give advice to private citizens, but the city attorney can ask her for an opinion. Well, then, since the city attorney may with sovereign impunity be hostile to the extent of publicly defaming anyone who questions his conduct, calling him a madman, threatening to slap him with an expensive lawsuit just for begging askance, cannot the attorney general’s boss, the Governor of the State of Florida, Get to Work and ask the question? Sincerely, David Arthur Walters cc: Attorney General Pamela Bondi
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Attached: Letter from Governor Scott’s office (below) Edna Jane Favreau and Charlie Crist, Equal Justice Under the Law Denied http://www.scribd.com/doc/39328801/Edna-Jane-Favreau-and-Charlie-Crist I Was In The Wrong Court by Edna Jane Favreau. Chances are you will be divorced and then one of
you will have an even greater chance of getting hurt because you cannot afford a lawyer http://www.scribd.com/doc/39010159/I-Was-in-the-Wrong-Court-by-Edna-Jane-Favreau

Rick Scott and Pamela Bondi

September 18, 2013 Dear Mr. Walters: Thank you for contacting Governor Rick Scott's Office. The Governor appreciates your concerns and asked that I respond on his behalf. Our government is structured on the principle that local communities can best assess the needs of their residents. Voters elect their county officials to manage local government business. Those dissatisfied with local officials' performance can always make their views known directly to those officials. I understand you shared your concerns with your local government and local ethics office. That was the appropriate thing to do.

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Under Florida law, violations of the conflict of interest laws fall within the jurisdiction of the Florida Commission on Ethics. Those who wish to file a complaint with the commission can obtain a complaint form on the commission's Web site at www.ethics.state.fl.us. For further assistance, you may wish to contact the commission by calling (850) 488-7864, or by writing to Post Office Drawer 15709, Tallahassee, Florida 32317-5709. Those with allegations of crimes and misconduct by public officials should bring their information and evidence to the attention of law enforcement and the state attorney in the local jurisdiction where they believe crimes are taking place. Each state attorney is an elected official charged with certain discretionary duties, including the duty to determine whether or not to prosecute any particular crime committed within his or her jurisdiction. This decision is based on the quality and quantity of the evidence of guilt shown, and in the best interest of justice. Law enforcement agencies and the state attorneys operate independently of the Governor's office. As elected officials, they answer to the voters of their individual jurisdictions. Contact information can be obtained online. I understand you shared your concerns with the Florida Department of Legal Affairs; however, it is my understanding the Attorney General and the Department do not provide legal opinions to private citizens. If you have legal questions, you should seek legal counsel from a licensed attorney. [$250 per hour?] Thank you again for taking the time to contact the Governor's Office. We hope this information is helpful. Sincerely, Warren Davis Office of Citizen Services Executive Office of the Governor

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September 24, 2013  Warren Davis  Office of Citizen Services  Executive Office of the Governor  Mr. Davis,  Thank you very much for your response.  Is  it  within  the  constitutional  power  of  the  Governor  to  ask  the  Attorney  General  to  give  her  reasoned  opinion  as  to  whether  or  not  Florida's  Sunshine  Law  applies  to  discussions  between  city attorneys and city commissioners on the dais at public commission meetings?   Very truly yours,  David Arthur Walters    NOTE FLORIDA STATUTES  16.01(3)  Notwithstanding  any  other  provision  of  law,  shall,  on  the  written  requisition  of  the  Governor, a  member of  the Cabinet, the head of a department in the executive branch of state  government,  the  Speaker  of  the  House  of  Representatives,  the  President  of  the  Senate,  the  Minority  Leader  of  the  House  of  Representatives,  or  the  Minority  Leader  of  the  Senate,  and  may,  upon  the  written requisition  of  a  member of  the  Legislature,  other  state  officer,  or  officer  of a county, municipality, other unit of local government, or political subdivision, give an official  opinion  and  legal  advice  in  writing  on  any  question  of  law  relating  to  the  official  duties  of  the  requesting officer.  16.08  Superintendence and direction of state attorneys.—The Attorney General shall exercise  a  general  superintendence  and  direction  over  the  several  state  attorneys  of  the  several  circuits  as  to  the  manner  of  discharging  their  respective  duties,  and  whenever  requested  by  the  state  attorneys, shall give them her or his opinion upon any question of law.  16.09  Regulations  as  to  the  reports  of  state  attorneys.—The  Attorney  General  shall  prescribe  the  time  and  manner  in  which  regular  quarterly  reports  shall  be  made  to  him  or  her  by  state  attorneys, and they shall comply with the Attorney General’s instructions in this respect.  History.—s. 3, ch. 2098, 1877; RS 91; GS 94; RGS 108; CGL 132; s. 49, ch. 95‐147.   
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September 24, 2013  Dear Mr. Walters:  Thank you for contacting Governor Rick Scott's Office and clarifying your concerns. Although we  appreciate  the  opportunity  to  respond,  as  indicated  in  previous  correspondence,  the  Governor  does not administer local governments and the Governor is unable to provide a legal opinion.  The Governor's office is unable to intervene in issues that should be resolved through the court  system.  You  are  correct  that  those  with  complaints  about  locally  appointed  officials  should  bring  their  concerns to the attention of locally elected officials. The Governor does not administer local law  enforcement  agencies  and  the  Attorney  General  does  not  administer  the  offices  of  locally  elected state attorneys. Those with allegations of crimes should bring information and evidence  to  the  attention  of  law  enforcement  in  the  local  jurisdiction  where  they  believe  a  crime  occurred.  The  elected  state  attorney  in  your  judicial  circuit  makes  the  decision  whether  or  not  to prosecute anyone who may be guilty of a crime committed in that circuit.  Those  who  are  unhappy  with  a  ruling  or  feel  a case  has  not  been  handled  according  to  the  law,  should  speak  with  an  attorney  about  what  appellate  procedures  may  be  available.  The  person  who  can  best  answer  your  legal  questions  is  an  attorney.  If  you  need  assistance  in  locating  an  attorney, please call the Florida Bar's Referral Service at 1‐800‐342‐8011.  It  is  notable  that  Attorney  General  Pam  Bondi  is  a  statewide  elected  official  who  has  administrative authority over the Florida Department of Legal Affairs. The Department is not an  executive  agency  under  the  administration  of  the  Governor  and  the  Attorney  General's  Office  does not administer the offices of locally elected state attorneys.  Your  best  source  of  assistance  for  issues  that  should  be  resolvedthrough  the  court  system  is  to  consult  a  licensed  attorney.  We  are  sorry  we  are  unable  to  be  of  further  assistance.  Please  know this is due to a lack of jurisdiction, not a lack of concern.  Thank you again for writing.  Sincerely,  Warren Davis  Office of Citizen Services  Executive Office of the Governor   
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26 September 2013 Victoria Frigo Senior Staff Attorney MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COMMISSION ON ETHICS AND PUBLIC TRUST Miami, Florida Subject: Sunshine Law – Application to City Attorneys at Commission Meetings Dear Ms. Frigo: I have taken your advice and have re-visited Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi’s website. It appears that your opinion, that “The Sunshine Law is not violated when one commissioner speaks to someone who does not serve as a co‐commissioner on the same collegiate body,” is erroneous. You will recall that the context of my inquiry involved private discussions held on the dais by the city attorney for the City of Miami Beach with one of its commissioners during a regular public meeting of the commission. Several people witnessed the two conversing privately offmicrophone during the meeting. I asked if the private chat was subject to the Sunshine Law or if it was protected by attorney-client privilege. It appears from the record that such conversations are indeed covered by the Sunshine Law, are not subject to attorney-client privilege, and should be heard and recorded as public record, at least according to the Florida Supreme Court and the Attorney General. The only question, settled long ago in the affirmative, has been whether a meeting by a council with its city attorney to discuss pending litigation is subject to the law. Page 24 of the Attorney General’s 2012 Government in the Sunshine Manual bears this statement under item 4. Legal matters: “In the absence of a legislative exemption, discussions between a public board and its attorney are subject to s. 286.011, F.S. Neu v. Miami Herald Publishing Company, 462 So. 2d 821 (Fla. 1985) (s. 90.502, F.S., providing for the confidentiality of attorney‐client communications under the Florida Evidence Code, does not create an exemption for attorney‐client communications at public meetings; application of the Sunshine Law to such discussions does not usurp Supreme Court’s constitutional authority to regulate the practice of law, nor is it at odds with Florida Bar rules providing for attorney‐client confidentiality). Cf. s. 90.502(6), F.S., stating that a discussion or activity that is not a meeting for purposes of s. 286.011, F.S., shall not be construed to waive the attorney‐client privilege. And see Florida Parole and Probation Commission v. Thomas, 364 So. 2d 480 (Fla. 1st DCA 1978), stating that all decisions taken by legal counsel to a public board need not be made or approved by the board; thus, the decision to appeal made by legal counsel after private discussions with the individual members of the board did not violate s. 286.011, F.S. There are statutory exemptions, however, which apply to some discussions of pending litigation between a public board and its attorney.”
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In Neu v Miami Herald, the Court agreed to declare on the issue because it was of great public importance: “Because of the continuing significance of the issue, the court certified the following question of great public importance: Whether the Sunshine Law applies to meetings between a City Council and the City Attorney held for the purpose of discussing the settlement of pending litigation to which the city is a party. State ex rel. Reno, 434 So.2d at 1036. We answer the question affirmatively and approve the decision of the district court.” The petitioners wanted the Court to construe 286.011 narrow and hold that it applies only to the meetings where official actions and acts are approved by the governing body. The Court, as we can see, refused, therefore the same rule applies to all meetings. The Court’s broad construction was cited in the Florida Attorney General Robert A. Butterworth’s Advisory Legal Opinion, Number AGO 97-61, dated September 15, 1997, in respect to conversations with school board members with a school board attorney: “In sum: 1. Discussions regarding school business between individual school board members and the school board attorney are not attorney-client conversations and, therefore, are not privileged communications.” 2. A school board attorney may memorialize, in writing, any conversations with an individual school board member or the superintendent. These documents are public records subject to inspection and copying pursuant to section 119.07(1), Florida Statutes (1996 Supplement). 3. No violation of any constitutional due process or privacy right of either the custodian or the subject of public information would occur if such information is discussed or considered by the school board attorney and the board members and the superintendent. ... “The Government in the Sunshine Law has been construed to apply to all meetings between governmental agencies and their attorneys. In 1993, the Legislature enacted a specific exemption from the open meetings requirement of section 286.011(1), Florida Statutes, for meetings between an entity's attorney and certain designated individuals to discuss settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to litigation expenditures. However, as this office recognized in Attorney General's Opinion 95-6: "Section 286.011(8), Florida Statutes, does not create a blanket exception to the open meeting requirement of the Sunshine Law for all meetings between a public board or commission and its attorney. The exemption is narrower than the attorney-client communications exception recognized for private litigants. Only discussions on pending litigation to which the public entity . . . is presently a party are subject to its terms. Such discussions are limited to settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to litigation expenditures."

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These opinions support the previous objection I made to your opinion to the contrary, and objection based upon my layman’s understanding of the intent of the legislation after a plain reading of the statute itself, to which I believe attorneys should directly go to before considering anything people might say about it. Perhaps you have available some higher authority to support your opinion given your expertise, experiential wisdom, and research tools, and would like to reveal what it is instead of further reference to the Office of Attorney General. That would dovetail with the Ethics Commissions core purpose of educating the public. The Ethics Commission, or rather its staff, advertises that it will consider issues outside of its narrow jurisdiction, and, if it suspects some law has been violated, will refer the matter to the State Attorney’s Office, to which it has special access. As you probably know, the Attorney General is precluded by law from rendering a legal opinion to private parties, and normally refers all questions back to the very local authorities who are not inclined to answer questions or to beg askance of the Attorney General on the instant issue. I went down that road and was run around the bush. Or the Attorney General naturally advises the inquirer to hire an attorney. The Florida Bar kindly sent me a September 16, 2013, article published by the Herald-Tribune, entitled, ‘Learning about Sunshine - Public officials should take time to study Florida's opengovernment laws.” The bottom line is, “Nothing beats expert advice from a lawyer. So, the Sarasota County Bar Association is teaming with the Florida attorney general's office to provide a local workshop on the laws. Attorney Pat Gleason, the attorney general's special counsel for open government, will lead a learning session in Sarasota on Oct. 11.” Non-lawyers like me generally do not have the means or the privilege of attending such workshops, yet everyone concerned should know what the law in order to abide by it whether they have a monopoly on practicing law or not. I am told that an attorney specializing in Sunshine Law may cost the inquirer from $250 - $500 per hour. In conclusion, I pray that you will provide some superior authority than your word to support your opinion that city attorneys may have secret conversations on the dais with city commissioners, as was witnessed in Miami Beach, without violating the Sunshine Law. Or, if you agree with my lay understanding of the information available to me, to take such steps as necessary to have it confirmed or denied by the Attorney General so that the correct interpretation of the law may be published far and wide. Sincerely, David Arthur Walters Cc: Governor of the State of Florida The Florida Bar Attorney General of the State of Florida

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  October 17, 2013  Warren Davis  Office of Citizen Services  Executive Office of the Governor  Subject: Can the Governor ask the Attorney General for her Opinion?  Dear Sir:  I  have  not  received  a  response  from  you  to  my  September  24  letter  inquiring  whether  or  not  Governor  Scott  has  the  constitutional  power  to  ask  the  Attorney  General  for  her  reasoned  Opinion  as  to  whether  or  not  Florida's  Sunshine  Law  applies  to  discussions  between  city  attorneys and city commissioners on the dais at public commission meetings.  It appears that the Florida Statutes provide that the Governor may ask for such an Opinion:  16.01  Residence,  office,  and  duties  of  Attorney  General.—The  Attorney  General…  (3)  Notwithstanding  any  other  provision  of  law,  shall,  on  the  written  requisition of the Governor, a member of the Cabinet, the head of a department  in  the  executive  branch  of  state  government,  the  Speaker  of  the  House  of  Representatives,  the  President  of  the  Senate,  the  Minority  Leader  of  the  House  of  Representatives,  or  the  Minority  Leader  of  the  Senate,  and  may,  upon  the  written  requisition  of  a  member  of  the  Legislature,  other  state  officer,  or  officer  of a county, municipality, other unit of local government, or political subdivision,  give an official opinion and legal advice in writing on any question of law relating  to the official duties of the requesting officer.  Since  no  authority  has  said  otherwise  on  request,  I  assume  that  an  explicit  Opinion  on  the  question  has  not  yet  been  rendered.  Except  for  the  denial  by  the  senior  counsel  for  the  Miami  Dade  Commission  on  Ethics  and  Public  Trust,  which  promises  to  forward  information  on  violations  of  law  to  the  local  State  Attorney  office,  all  the  information  I  have  been  provided  on  the  subject,  including  the  pertinent  statute,  the  Attorney  General’s  Manual,  and  case  law,  support the notion that transactions between city attorneys and city commissions or councils at  public meetings are indeed subject to the Sunshine law.   The  Supreme  Court  of  Florida,  in  Neu  v.  Miami  Herald  Publishing  Company,  Case  No.  61451,  January  17,  1985,  recognizing  that  a  similar  question  was  of  great  public  importance,  held  that  meetings  between  city  attorneys  and  councils  discussing  litigation  are  subject  to  the  Sunshine  Law: 
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“Because  of  the  continuing  significance  of  the  issue,  the  court  certified  the  following  question  of  great  public  importance:  Whether  the  Sunshine  Law  applies  to  meetings  between  a  City  Council  and  the  City  Attorney  held  for  the  purpose  of  discussing  the  settlement  of  pending  litigation  to  which  the  city  is  a  party.  State  ex  rel.  Reno,  434  So.2d  at  1036.  We  answer  the  question  affirmatively and approve the decision of the district court.”  It  is  reasonable  to  infer  that  regular  meetings,  not  involving  litigation,  are  also  subject.  However,  since  the  city  attorneys,  city  commissioners  who  are  attorneys  themselves,  and  county  ethics  attorneys  obviously  disagree  with  the  inferences  made  from  that  case,  a  plain  reading  of  the  statute,  and  the  Attorney  General  Manual,  it  appears  from  my  perspective  as  a  naïve layman that it is of great public importance that the Attorney General provide an Opinion  precisely on point to bolster the lagging public trust.  Wherefore  I  pray  that  Governor  Scott  will  put  the  question  asked  to  Attorney  General  Bondi,  notwithstanding  the  boilerplate  policy  of  Florida  governors  not  to  answer  to  ordinary  private  citizens  when  they  are  rebuffed  or  apparently  misinformed  by  local  officials  when  asked  about  the  meaning  of  the  law  all  officials  are  supposed  to  obey,  referring  them  back  to  those  local  officials, who often recalcitrant and sometimes hostile towards citizens begging askance of their  conduct,  or  to  recommend  that  private  citizens  hire  attorneys  at  great  expense  since  attorneys  answer  only  to  themselves  unless  retained,  or  to  file  a  complaint  when  a  complaint  might  not  be  warranted  if  the  law  were  understood  by  everyone  concerned  and  therefore  followed,  et  cetera.  Thank you in advance for your assistance.   Very truly yours,  David Arthur Walters    cc: Pamela Bondi, Attorney General   

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  October 18, 2013  Jimmy Morales  City Manager  CITY OF MIAMI BEACH  Suggestion: MB Code Sec. 2‐22 (14) Indoctrination Government in Sunshine Law  Dear Sir:  I  believe  the  administration’s  procedure  on  the  indoctrination  of  individuals  appointed  to  agencies,  committees, and boards as to the Government‐in‐the‐Sunshine Law needs to be improved.  Attached  please  find  a  copy  of  the  documents  I  received  from  the  City  Clerk  in  response  to  my  public  record  request  for  precisely  what  explanation  of  the  Government‐in‐the‐Sunshine  Law  is  given  to  individuals appointed to agencies, committees and boards:  “Upon  appointment,  individuals  shall  receive  an  explanation  of  the  government  in  the  sunshine  law,  public  records  law,  conflict  of  interest  policy,  mission  statement,  attendance requirements and other pertinent information.”  I  was  presented  with  what  appears  to  be  the  city’s  indoctrination  package  on  the  subject,  stapled  into  three  bundles,  consisting  of  1)  the  Florida  Commission  on  Ethics’  2013  ‘Guide  to  the  Sunshine  Amendment and Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees’, 2) MB Sec, 2‐11.1(s) Lobbying, and 3)  MB Sec. 2‐22 General Requirements, Sec. 2‐23 Serving on more than one board, agency, or commission,  2‐24 Termination of office, Sec. 2‐25 Prohibiting service on city  boards by certain persons or employees,  2‐458  Supplemental  abstention  and  disclosure  requirements,  Sec.  2‐459  Certain  appearances  prohibited, Ordinance 2006‐3543 Adopting Sec. 2‐21 and 2‐22.  Most  of  the  information  appertains  to  Conflict‐of‐Interest  law  and  the  Sunshine  Amendment  enacted  in  1976, and does not cover critical aspects of the Government‐in‐the‐Sunshine Law enacted in 1967.   I  suggest  that  the  package  of  documents  or  Internet  links  given  to  appointed  individuals  include  the  full  text  of  the  State,  County  and  City  laws,  the  Florida  Attorney  General’s  ‘Government  in  the  Sunshine  Manual’,  the  Florida  Ethics  Commission’s  Guide  to  the  Sunshine  Amendment,  along  with  a  clear  and  cogent synopsis or summary of the subject matter.  

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  Furthermore,  I  have  good  reason  for  suggesting  that  not  only  individuals  appointed  to  boards,  agencies,  and  committees  be  provided  with  that  information,  but  that  appointed  city  managers  and  attorneys,  and  elected  commissioners  also  be  fully  apprised  of  the  Government‐in‐the‐Sunshine  Law  when  taking  office.  I  notice  that  the  ‘Miami‐Dade  County  League  of  Cities’  Elected  Officials  Handbook’  includes  information on that law.  The  interpretations  and  ramifications  of  the  Government‐in‐the‐Sunshine  Law,  which  is  in  dire  need  of  redrafting,  are  such  that  even  attorneys  need  guidance.  Bar  associations  occasionally  sponsor  seminars  on  the  subject.  Perhaps  the  city  can  have  one  of  its  attorneys  and  city  commissioners  attend  those  seminars and/or take related courses.  Yours Truly,  David Arthur Walters  cc:   Commissioner Jorge Exposito  The Florida Bar    Attached: This Letter & PDF Scan of documents received from the City Clerk   

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  23 October 2013  Victoria Frigo  Senior Staff Attorney  MIAMI‐DADE COUNTY COMMISSION ON ETHICS AND PUBLIC TRUST  Miami, Florida  Follow Up: Application of Sunshine Law to Commissioner Conversations with City Attorneys  Ms. Frigo:  I  have  not  received  a  response  from  you  to  my  26  September  letter  asserting  that  you  may  have  been  mistaken  in  your  legal  opinion  that  transactions  between  city  commissioners  and  city  attorneys  on  the  dais at public meetings are not subject to Florida’s Government‐in‐the‐Sunshine law.  For  example,  City  Commission  Jorge  Exposito  and  City  Attorney  Jose  Smith  were  captured  on  video  whispering  to  one  another  at  5:33:05  PM  at  a  City  Commission  Meeting  held  on  11  September.  A  still  image  of  that  evidence  is  attached.  In  addition,  witnesses  observed  them  engaged  in  an  inaudible  conversation outside of the range of the camera.   The  matter  at  hand  was  the  consideration  of  bids  for  the  contract  to  manage  the  city’s  tennis  facilities.  What  transpired  at  that  meeting  was,  in  the  opinion  of  objective  observers,  a  typical  example  of  maladministration  and  dysfunctional  government.  A  “sneaky,”  unreasonable  and  arbitrary  maneuver  was  made  to  deny  due  process  in  direct  contradiction  to  the  spirit  of  Florida’s  law  guaranteeing  a  fair  and reasonable procurement process.   What  transpired  between  the  city  attorney  and  city  commissioner  on  the  dais  was  of  great  importance  to  the  public  and  should  have  been  on  the  public  record.  It  is  reasonable  to  suppose  that  they  were  not  talking about what they had for breakfast.   Page 1 of 2   

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  In  my  opinion,  the  commissioner  was  probably  seeking  legal  advice  on  how  to  skirt  due  process  and  keep  the  contract  with  the  incumbent  contractor,  who  was  last  on  the  list  and  was  demonstrably  unqualified.  The  commissioner’s  subsequent  public  discussion  and  crucial  vote  to  throw  out  all  the  bids  and to keep the unqualified incumbent on the job supports that reasoning.   I  opine  that  the  commissioner  had  the  proxy  of  Commissioner  Deede  Weithorn,  whose  support  or  endorsement he may need for his current campaign to keep his seat. Weithorn recused herself from the  meeting because her brother‐and‐law is one‐third owner of the contracting company. She also prepares  that  company’s  tax  returns  (attached).  I  presume  that  your  office  has  determined  that  she  has  no  conflict of interest whatsoever.  Thus  far,  you  are  the  only  expert  who  has  denied  that  the  conversation  between  the  commissioner  and  city  attorney  was  subject  to  the  Sunshine  Law.  Since  I  pointed  out  your  probable  error,  and  since  you  have not offered anything to support your position, preferring to remain silent, I suppose you agree with  my opinion: “Qui tacet consentire videtur.”   Please understand that I have no axe to grind with the commissioner or the city attorney, both of whom  probably believed their conversation was proper even if it were a violation. My interest is in due process  under  the  law  for  everyone.  Of  course  everyone  should  know  what  that  law  is.  The  particulars  in  this  matter  indicate  that  there  is  some  confusion  in  respect  to  the  applicability  of  the  Sunshine  Law  to  certain persons.   The  Commission  on  Ethics  advertises  that  it  refers  matters  outside  of  its  limited  jurisdiction  to  the  State  Attorney.  Therefore  I  ask  that  you  send  the  file  along  to  the  State  Attorney’s  office  for  her  opinion  on  the matter.  Very truly yours,  David Arthur Walters  Cc:  Joe Centorino, Director     

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On 9/13/13, Frigo, Victoria (COE) <[email protected]> wrote:   I've copied the following quote from the AG's website at  http://myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/321B47083D80C4CD8525791B006A54E3  “What qualifies as a meeting?  The Sunshine law applies to all discussions or deliberations as well as the formal action taken by  a  board  or  commission.  The  law,  in  essence,  is  applicable  to  any  gathering,  whether  formal  or  casual,  of  two  or  more  members  of  the  same  board  or  commission  to  discuss  some  matter  on  which  foreseeable  action  will  be  taken  by  the  public  board  or  commission.  There  is  no  “requirement that a quorum be present for a meeting to be covered under the law.”    Ms.  Frigo.  Thank  you  very  much.  The  quote  you  sent  along  is  only  part  of  the  literature  on  the  subject; the rest supports my perspective. Please find attached a file including the silence of the  Attorney General and the Governor's avoidance on the Question. It occurred to me that if State  Attorney Kathy Rundle gave her opinion and made a formal request the Attorney General might  consider  giving  a  formal  Opinion.  Has  the  State  Attorney's  office  already  rejected  the  issue?  David Arthur Walters  Cc: Governor Rick Scott <[email protected]>  Cc: [email protected],  Cc: Sunburst [email protected]      On  Wed,  Oct  23,  2013  at  1:27  PM,  Frigo,  Victoria  (COE)  <[email protected]  wrote:    Mr. Walters,   Per your request, your question has been forwarded to the State Attorney General’s office.     

MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS

October 28, 2013 Jorge Exposito, Commissioner CITY OF MIAMI BEACH Miami Beach, Florida Subject: City Attorney Jose Smith‟s Memorandum of Law on Florida‟s Government -in-theSunshine Law Dear Sir: I congratulate you for making your inquiry into the question as to whether or not Florida‟s Sunshine Law applies to transactions between city commissioners and city attorneys on the dais at public meetings of the city commission. Your question was posed because I asked the same question of higher authority since it is of great public importance. The whisperings between your good self and the estimable city attorney Jose Smith at the Sept. 11, 2013 commission meeting are merely incidental to the question. I believe that that inaudible transaction and yet another one off camera behind the dais violated at

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least the spirit of the Sunshine Law, but that you and your colleague were innocent of any intent to violate the Sunshine Law due to a tradition that inculcates ignorance. That is not to say that I believe you are innocent of participating in the denial of due process in that travesty conducted by the commission on Sept. 11 when it considered the bids for a contract to manage the tennis centers, and then arbitrarily, capriciously, and unreasonably rejected all bids because the reactionary regime desired to keep possession of public facilities in the hands of the incumbent bidder, the last-named on the list presented by the qualifications committee. As Luigi Facciuto famously said, “When wrong is done long enough, wrong seems right.” For example, when I pointed out what I perceived to be a conspiracy to defraud the city of building permit fees and its ability to keep the public safety, I heard the refrain, “Ever ybody knows that everybody does it, and nobody cares.” Mr. Smith taught me that, ultimately, the city and city officials regulate themselves and enjoy Sovereign Impunity for gross negligence, and cannot be held responsible for what is within their discretion. That is, they are self-regulating as if little kings crowned by the city. Similarly, Michael Murawski, Advocate for the Miami Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, in his June 21, 2007 Memorandum closing out an investigation of Jose Smith and other city officials, most of whom were lawyers, exonerated them from wrongdoing, stating that, first of all, “the officials acted with apparent full knowledge, advice and approval of the City Attorney‟s office and we have generally declined to file complaints in the past in such situations.” Now you have the advice of your city attorney and can act accordingly. Lawyers, unlike insurance agents such as you and your colleagues, regulate themselves, purportedly to maintain the nobility and honor of the profession. But that power has two edges, one held to the throat of the public as some members of the profession raises themselves above the principles and laws that they should honor, forging traditions that ignore and even legalize unethical conduct. Now it is due to my presumption of your innocence, if my understanding of the spirit of the Sunshine Law is correct, as well as Mr. Smith‟s innocence that I asked City Manager Jimmy Morales on Oct. 18, 2013, to improve the indoctrination of board members on the Sunshine Law as required by Miami Beach Code Sec. 2-22 (14), and to include new city lawyers, managers, and commissioners in that introductory indoctrination. The City Clerk provided me, in response to my public record request, a copy of the Sunshine Law package currently given to incoming board members, and it was wholly insufficient, including only the amendment to the law but not the substance of the law and a clear explanation of same. Now, then, I am moved to address Mr. Smith‟s Memorandum after citing it in full, and to consider all the citations he included to support his view. You will see that that his citations are a
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slew of references slapped together to support his begging of the question and serve as red herrings that do not go to the point. I believe that you will realize from the malicious tenor of the Memorandum that you have inquired of the wrong person, someone whose conduct has been questioned in the matter and whose response is so hostile that it is obviously that he has forgotten that his duty is not to himself and the party with whom he may have violated the Sunshine Law, but to the city‟s best interest. That city is not merely him and you and the coterie of ruling officials whom he identifies with, but to the community. Furthermore, the question has already been put to higher authorities than the city attorney; therefore, putting the question to him was inutile. I did not submit the question for the reason I gave when putting the question to higher authorities: his extreme hostility towards me for questioning his performance as city attorney would render his opinion inutile. # Jose Smith’s Sunshine Law Memorandum and Citations in Support of his Legal Opinion opining that Discussions Between City Attorney’s and City Commissioners on the Dais at Public Meetings are not subject to the Sunshine Law. SMITH CITATION: Memorandum on Sunshine Law, City of Miami Beach Attorney Jose Smith to City of Miami Beach Commissioner Jorge Exposito, October 23, 2013. Smith‟s Memorandum must be cited in full: “You have asked me for a legal opinion regarding an e-mail from Rebecca Boyce which included an e-mail exchange from blogger David Arthur Walters and Victoria Frigo, Senior Staff Attorney for the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. I concur completely with Ms. Frigo's conclusion that "the Sunshine Law is not violated when one commissioner speaks to someone who does not serve as a co-commissioner on the same collegiate body." Her opinion is entirely consistent with settled case law, attorney General opinions and the "Government in the Sunshine Manual" Mr. Walters cites in his continued efforts to defame public officials. “Simply put, these legal authorities confirm that the Sunshine Law only applies to TWO OR MORE MEMBERS of the same City Commission (or the same public body) when discussing city business. Since I am not a member of the city commission, our conversations (private or not) are not subject to the Sunshine Law. Otherwise, commissioners could never have a private conversation with me or the city manager (i.e. agenda reviews). That would be absurd. While it is true that our "whispering" may not necessarily be subject to the attorney-client privilege, I assure you that the Sunshine Law does not prohibit it and that Mr. Walters is wrong.

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“In closing, while blogger Walters is entitled to his own opinion on the tennis RFQ process, he is not entitled to make up law. Sadly, he has chosen to live in a different universe and it is for that reason he is no longer a writer for the Sun Post or any legitimate publication.” REBUTTAL: Mr. Smith begs the question asked. It is agreed that a Sunshine Law applies to certain kind of public meeting. A public meeting is defined by the Attorney General‟s Manual (and not by the statute) as Mr. Smith hath loosely pronounced. But the question appertains not to the definition of a meeting but to what happens at that meeting when held. It is certainly not illogical or absurd to deduce from the definition the city attorney adheres to that there should be no “private” or secret meetings of two or more commissioners with city managers and city attorneys or to discuss city business that the commissioners might act on, although he is admitting to that practice in his Memorandum. Mr. Smith believes that I am not entitled to make up the law, although that is what he himself has done, and he apparently believes that his interpretation is authoritative. Reason should hold sway instead of social position or status. His reason is obviously clouded by personal animosity and his logic is fallacious. As a human being, Mr. Smith has my sympathy because he is publicly defaming his estimable self with personal character attacks on others, when he should just answer to the facts and law and be done with it. Dale Carnegie related the story of a man who broadcast to millions of people the public attacks made by someone on his character, so malicious that the attacks served as self-denouncements. Also pertinent here is Mr. Carnegie‟s advice in How to Stop Worry and Start Living, Chapter Twenty, „How to Keep from Worrying About Criticism. ‟ “Remember that unjust criticism is often a disguised compliment. Remember that no one every kicks a dead dog.” “The more important a dead dog is, the more satisfaction people get in kicking him.” “Many people get a sense of satisfaction out of denouncing those who are better educated than they are or more successful.” “Vulgar people take huge delight in the faults and follies of great me.” Of course Carnegie‟s oracles, like those rendered in screams by Pythias at Delphi and interpreted by priests, or the interpretations by Chinese sages of the sorting of yarrow stalks, a divination ritual derived from the cracks on the sacred turtle‟s shell heated in the fire, rendered reasonable in the Book of Changes, are ambiguous, so it is best that both sides take it to heart and wonder, “Who is the dog, and do I think I am the word dog spelled backwards?” Likewise, there is a saying in the Orthodox Jewish bible that, “The right hand, Hashem, is become glorious in ko-ach: The right hand, Hashem, hath dashed into pieces the oyev.” (Shemot 15:6).
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One must understand the meaning of oyev, the nature of the friend-enemy, that the enemy may be within us all, that to hate the enemy and give him no quarter, to not forgiven him (to open one‟s hand or “let go”) may be an act of groundless hatred, or hatred of one‟s on kind, that may lead to the destruction of that kind. Sometimes an enemy does a man greater service than a friend. It seems that the city attorney has honored me with that designation. Tamerlane let go of his worst enemy when captured so his enemy would live to fight him another day. He allowed the elders of a small tribe to criticism: the rest he had beheaded. It is said that the law is no respecter of persons. Neither should the law disrespect persons. Still, the truth of a proposition, when it cannot rely on immediate empirical proof, may be deemed probable by the testimony of experience if practice results in wisdom on the subject at hand. It is necessary to respond here to the question of the authority. Although it appears that Mr. Smith‟s use of the argumentum ad hominem fallacy in his attempt to impeach me as witness, as if I were a vicious alien from a different universe, is motivated by his fear that my wisdom is superior to his, an ethical principle moves me to point out that he is, by credentialed formal education in and the licensed practice of the law, success in business, and many years of good service to the community despite his mistakes, far superior to me. I am relatively nobody, an impoverished old man with an elementary education who took up the ancient Trivium at the crossroads. But remember that the Cyclops tribe heard Polyphemus, the one-eyed giant, crying out from his cave, so his ilk came to its opening and asked what was the matter with him; When he answered, “Nobody has put my eye out,” they retired back to their beds, thinking the poor giant had had a nightmare. This language, these words and opinions of mine are not my property but the property of Man and his Wo. Although this is not the place to dwell at too much length on the details of the city attorney‟s contumely in his formal legal memorandum, I must say that his aspersions are false. The only true statement that Mr. Smith, whom the esteemed SunPost editor anointed Best City Official 2013 for reasons I cannot divulge without betraying her confidence, is that I have indeed gone my own way: that way began when I left home for the streets of Chicago 55 years ago. I do not charge for the writings that I offer to publications although I have received honorariums from an organ of the Catholic Church. I am not nor never have been employed by Granma or any other publication including the SunPost, although the SunPost and other publications have claimed me as their writer. The importance of knowing the content of the whisperings between Mssrs. Smith and Exposito is made clear by the following response from the private citizen to whom the Memorandum was copied, Rebecca Boyce, President of the Miami Beach Tennis Association:
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“Thank you, Mr. Smith for your response, although I find the attack on Mr. Walters, a concerned person, to be unprofessional and quite disturbing. I am a simple resident without legal training. I am concerned with the processes and standards upheld by our government and would like to understand better the events that led to Mr. Exposito's motion in the 9/11/13 commission meeting. In this context, please clarify the content of the whispering, and also, the actual 'ambiguities' that the tennis RFP contains. Thank you. Respectfully, Rebecca Boyce.” The fact of the matter was that the only management and maintenance ambiguities, referred to by Mr. Exposito as reason to “sneakily” throw out all the bids in order to retain the incumbent contractor after conferring with Mr. Smith were in the proposal of the insolvent incumbent contractor, who was forced onto the last of the list after a decade of continuing breaches tolerated and condoned by city officials. # SMITH CITATION: Attorney General Opinion. Number: AGO 74-47, Date: February 13, 1974, Subject: Meetings with city manager and sunshine law REBUTTAL: Smith‟s citation of this Opinion is irrelevant as it does not appertain to the question but only to “individual meetings between city manager and city councilmen.” # SMITH CITATION: Attorney General Opinion. Number: AGO 97-61, Date: September 15, 1997, Subject: Sunshine law, board members meeting with board attorney REBUTTAL: Smith citation directly contradicts his argument because the question upon which the AGO is given is, “Are communications between a member of the school board or the school superintendent, and the school board attorney, privileged attorney-client communications?” The answer is no, they are not privileged, and therefore are subject to the Sunshine Law. # SMITH CITATION: News and Sun-Sentinel Company, etc., et al. (542 So.2d 1354 (Fla.App.4 Dist. 1989) REBUTTAL: Smith‟s citation of this case does not appertain to the question but addresses whether or not a scheduled discussion between mayor and city employee concerning discipline of employee was a "meeting" for purposes of Sunshine Law; discussion was not between two or more public officials and mayor was not acting for a board or commission. The court held that it was not. #

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SMITH CITATION: Deerfield Beach Publishing v. Mayor of Deerfield (No. 87-2195. District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District. Sept. 7, 1988.) REBUTTAL: Smith‟s citation is impertinent as this case appertains to a finding that a complaint for the alleged violation of the Sunshine law by a mayor who conferred with other commissioners in a non-public setting must allege by name or sufficient description identity of public official with whom defendant public official has allegedly discussed public decisionmaking process in nonpublic forum without public notice in violation of law. SMITH CITATION: Chapter 286 Florida States (2012) REBUTTAL: Smith‟s Citation tends to contradict his position by way of interpretative infere nce from the statute. Chapter 286 does not explicitly address the question as to whether or not discussions between city commissioners and those city attorneys, who may, according to the city charter, make recommendations on legislation, are subject to the Sunshine Law. However, the statute does refer to private meetings held by a commission with city attorneys to discuss litigation, and provides that those meetings are indeed subject to the Sunshine Law, and: “The entire session shall be recorded by a certified court reporter. The rep orter shall record the times of commencement and termination of the session, all discussion and proceedings, the names of all persons present at any time, and the names of all persons speaking. No portion of the session shall be off the record. The court reporter's notes shall be fully transcribed and filed with the entity's clerk within a reasonable time after the meeting.” The record becomes public on conclusion of the litigation. Notably, the Miami-Dade County Ethics Commission had some difficulty obtaining just such a record (transcripts of meetings held in July 2004) from Smith‟s office in the case of Leroy Griffith and Club Madonna‟s suit against city attorneys and commissioners at the time, including Commissioner Jose Smith, for an alleged attempt to extort $30,000 in legal fees from Leroy Griffith so he could get a fair hearing to obtain a liquor license. The COE Advocate cited Chapter 286 as above to obtain the transcription—the copy I have shows there may have been discussions off the record. In that matter, former city attorney Murray Dubbin had denied there was any linkage between affording Griffith due process and paying the $30,000. However, city attorney Gary Held told the COE that there was a memorandum to that effect, but refused to produce it, citing attorney-client privilege. Smith corroborated Held‟s statement, telling COE investigators that “yes, payment of Mrs. Gross‟s legal fees was a point of negotiation.” He later blamed Griffith for making the linkage. COE Advocate found impropriety in the behavior of several officials but recommended that the case not be pursued because the COE traditionally does pursue complaints against officials who act on the advice of city attorneys. The advice of attorneys in the instant case was to commissioners who were attorneys themselves. (City of Miami Beach/Club Madonna, Report and Close-Out Memorandum, June 21, 2007) The COE itself took up the issue and sat on the fence 2-2, failing therefore to find probable cause of a
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violation (Case C-08-16), deciding, however, that the dismissal should include a Letter of Instruction to forward other to avoid such an appearance of impropriety. The City‟s position was that it was being blackmailed by Griffith and was therefore moved to respond as it did. Leroy Griffith has recently renewed his complaints in state court, now removed to federal court. Smith publicly called the complaints “garbage.” The July 2004 transcripts of the executive session of city attorneys and city commissioners include the statements of Smith to city commissioners. Smith might argue that those statements were made to several commissioners at once, so was information shared between the commissioners, but that the whisperings at the Sept. 11, 2013, commission meeting were between him and a single commissioner, therefore neither he nor the commissioner, both “local public officials” under the statute, were in violation of the Sunshine Law. I would disagree with that interpretation, but suggest it here in fairness since he neglected to do so. Sec. 286.0115 appertaining to access to local public officials states that, “‟local public official‟ means any elected or appointed public official holding a county or municipal office who recommends or takes quasi‐judicial action as a member of a board or commission.” Article III of the City of Miami Beach Charter, Sec. 3.011 (e) states that the City Attorney “shall recommend to the City Commission for adoption, such measures as he/she may deem necessary or expedient.” Indeed, the record shows that Smith has made numerous recommendations on legislative issues. However, he took exception to that in an email to me in response to a statement I had made to the City Clerk, that a city attorney may have recommended a course action in which he had personal interest: “The City Attorney does not „advise‟ commis sioners on how to vote on an ordinance,” he said. “The City Attorney‟s ONLY „interest‟ is the best interest of the city. The City Attorney would recuse himself on ANY matter affecting his private interests. You, sir, are delusional!” So, on the one hand, he claimed he does not advise commissioners; on the other hand, he says he would have to recuse himself instead of advising them on matters affecting his interest. # SMITH CITATION: a single page of A.G.‟s Manual: Part I, Sec. A. What is the Scope of the Sunshine Law? REBUTTAL: The 2012 Manual states: “Florida‟s Government in the Sunshine Law, commonly referred to as the Sunshine Law, provides a right of access to governmental proceedings of public boards or commissions at both the state and local levels. The law is equally applicable to elected and appointed boards, and applies to any gathering of two or more members of the same board to discuss some matter which will foreseeably come before that board for action.”

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Emphasis is added to the specific authority that Victoria Frigo, senior attorney for the Ethics Commission, cites as her sole authority, an opinionative clause that does not appear in the governing statute. The clause appertains to what constitutes a meeting subject to Sunshine Law, but it does not exempt the discussions of city attorneys sitting on the dais at the meeting from the Sunshine Law. Smith fails to cite a clause in the same manual that declares, ““In the absence of a legislative exemption, discussions between a public board and its attorney are subject to s. 286.011, F.S. Neu v. Miami Herald Publishing Company, 462 So. 2d 821 (Fla. 1985) (s. 90.502, F.S., providing for the confidentiality of attorney‐client communications under the Florida Evidence Code, does not create an exemption for attorney‐client communications at public meetings; application of the Sunshine Law to such discussions does not usurp Supreme Court‟s constitutional authority to regulate the practice of law, nor is it at odds with Florida Bar rules providing for attorney‐client confidentiality). Cf. s. 90.502(6), F.S., stating that a discussion or activity that is not a meeting for purposes of s. 286.011, F.S., shall not be construed to waive the attorney‐client privilege. And see Florida Parole and Probation Commission v. Thomas, 364 So. 2d 480 (Fla. 1st DCA 1978), stating that all decisions taken by legal counsel to a public board need not be made or approved by the board; thus, the decision to appeal made by legal counsel after private discussions with the individual members of the board did not violate s. 286.011, F.S. There are statutory exemptions, however, which apply to some discussions of pending litigation between a public board and its attorney.” (2012 A.G. Sunshine Manual Page 24, “Legal Matters). In Neu v Miami Herald, the Supreme Court of Florida agreed to declare on the issue because it was of great public importance: “Because of the continuing significance of the issue, the cou rt certified the following question of great public importance: Whether the Sunshine Law applies to meetings between a City Council and the City Attorney held for the purpose of discussing the settlement of pending litigation to which the city is a party. State ex rel. Reno, 434 So.2d at 1036. We answer the question affirmatively and approve the decision of the district court.” It stands to reason that, where litigation meetings are held between legislative bodies and government attorneys, the law requiring all the transactions including the city attorney‟s statements to be recorded, that a litigation meeting is a subspecies of a regular meeting, and that the same principle is to be applied to those regular meetings. # SMITH CITATION: Constitution of the State of Florida, Article I, Section 24, Access to Public Records and Meetings. REBUTTAL: The Constitution section cited by Smith does not exempt public access to the content of whisperings between city attorneys and city commissioners on the dais a public meetings. The clause simply mandates public access so that what transpires in the meetings may
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be known. b) All meetings of any collegial public body of the executive branch of state government or of any collegial public body of a county, municipality, school district, or special district, at which official acts are to be taken or at which public business of such body is to be transacted or discussed, shall be open and noticed to the public…. “ ## Submitted With All Due Respect, DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS Nobody

CC: TO CITY CLERK RAFAEL GRANADO Please place this response to Mr. Smith‟s Legal Memorandum on the Public Record as a Letter to the Commission

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October 29, 2013 Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Esq. STATE ATTORNEY Miami-Dade State Attorney‟s Office Miami, Florida Subject: Violation of Florida‟s Government -in-the Sunshine Law Madame: Attached you will find a snapshot of public video evidence that City Attorney Jose Smith and City Commission Jorge Exposito of the City of Miami Beach violated the Sunshine Law at a public meeting of the City Commission held on Sept. 11, 2013, by whispering to one another on the dais during the meeting out of earshot of the other commissioners and the public. It is my information and belief that Mr. Smith was advising Mr. Exposito on an apparently unlawful strategy to deny a highly qualified bidder of due process in the procurement of a contract for the management of the cit y‟s tennis facilities so that it could be, in effect, arbitrarily, unreasonably and capriciously awarded to the insolvent company currently in possession of the facilities. Commission Michael Góngora, Esq., defined the strategy, taken and approved by the majority after Mr. Exposito made a crucial but specious argument for tossing out all the bids so that the unqualified company could be retained, as “sneaky.” Attached is my „Travesty‟ report in which you will find further context. It is crystal clear from Chapter 286 of the Florida Statutes, common law decisions, and Attorney General opinions that 1) the commission hearing was a “public hearing” subject to the Sunshine Law, 2) the city attorney is a “local public official,” who under the city charter can make recommendations on legislation, and to whom the Sunshine Law applies, 3) that the city and the city attorney did not have the benefit of attorney-client privilege during the public meeting, therefore the other commissioners and the public were entitled to hear or to read a verbatim transcript of their conversation in order to have sufficient information to hold the officials accountable for their performance. I am standing by to report on whatever action you take if any on this apparent violation of law. Very truly yours, David Arthur Walter Independent Journalist [email protected]

MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS
30 October 2013 Jorge Exposito, Commissioner CITY OF MIAMI BEACH Honorable Commissioner Exposito: Happy Halloween! I have edited my Response to the City Attorney’s Memorandum on Sunshine Law considerably, and here present the final revision to you for your perusal, and to the editor of the city’s Letters to Commissioners webpage, Rafael Granado, for posting to that webpage. Prior to reading my Response, please be aware that I have an extra-extra dry sense of humor due to being on the wagon for ten years before I disembarked again in South Beach, and from listening to Jack Benny radio programs before I knew there was such a thing as television. As I said before, I was reluctant to present what was probably a violation of the Sunshine Law by you and the estimable City Attorney to the State Attorney, because I thought any violation was probably innocent, so a matter of opinion on point should be obtained as an instruction to all persons concerned with the Sunshine Law. However, since the Opinions counsel for the Attorney General has advised me to submit the Question to the State Attorney, and in consideration of the Rambo lawyer element of the City Attorney’s Memorandum, I have now submitted the Question to the State Attorney. Please let me assure you that City Attorney Jose Smith could be my good friend in a day if he so desires, I have already said that I would be glad to be his propagandist if his spouse would allow him to run for commissioner or mayor. As our relationship now stands, he has announced to the City Clerk that he is preparing to slap me with a SLAPP suit, and asked the clerk to compile any records he can find about me for retaliation.

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MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS
Before he proceeds, he is welcome to visit my Dostoyevskian hovel—see Notes from Underground for an illustration —where he shall discover that I worship the spirit to the exclusion of the Golden Bull but for a few sticks of furniture retrieved from South Beach alleys before the Great Recession, and the contribution of a monitor from an admirer and a computer from a Nigerian engineer. Mr. Smith has on two previous occasions derogated me for being “unemployed,” and has associated me with someone he accused of being a criminal. In fact I am a retired old man with a meager pension and with one foot in the grave, living my Golden Years free from the worship of the Golden Bull. That is not to say that I would not appreciate receiving a golden grant from a patron for high technology tools to pursue my ideals—the truth about the Golden Bull story is that the sin was not greed for gold but obeisance to an opposition government. Mr. Smith can have all my furniture by default if I am unable to find a public interest law firm to realize the investigative reporter’s dream of court-supported discovery into the workings of a government merely opined about previously from limited access to records. In Mr. Smith’s favor, I have now compared him to one of the finest attorneys in Florida, and myself to a bank robber. I am including a link to music that you may enjoy as accompaniment to my Response, or alone if you find the Response boring or offensive. It is the soundtrack from the musical EVITA, in which the narrative character chose to defame Eva Peron throughout. Of course her enemies hated her, many simply It was a characteristic of because she was a powerful female, and for that reason she was also exalted in stature forever above her equal, Juan Peron. was most subjugated. As a feminist, Eva Peron insisted that sex should have nothing to do with political standing. I insist that who I am, if anyone can figure that out what an “I” is, should have nothing to do with opinions of law. medieval romantics to elevate the woman over the man at the very time she

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MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS
I also include a link below to this Report, stored at Scribd in the Cloud, in the event your webmaster fears that opening a PDF document from me will result in a Boo. Sincerely, David Arthur Walters CC: Pamela Bondi Rebecca Boyce Joe Centorino Victoria Frigo Rafael Granado Michael Murawski Katherine Fernandez Rundle Rick Scott Jose Smith Kim Stark EVITA SOUNDTRACK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVyU_gdCnek&list=PLC2977BCE5BC6244B

REPORT http://www.scribd.com/doc/179611825/Response-to-Miami-Beach-City-AttorneyLegal-Memo-on-Sunshine-Law

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MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

  Violation of Florida Government‐in‐the‐Sunshine Law report to SAO 
  October 29, 2013  Florida  Attorney  General  Pam  Bondi  received  your  email  and  asked  that  I  respond.  In  Attorney  General  Opinion  71‐159,  this  office  advised  that  discussions  of  public  business  which  are  audible  only  to  a  "select  few"  who  are  at  the  table  with  the  board  members  may  violate  the  "openness"  requirement  of  the  Government  in  the  Sunshine  Law,  section  286.011,  Florida  Statutes.  Compare  Citizens  for  Sunshine,  Inc.  v.  City  of  Sarasota,  No.  2010CA4387NC  (Fla.  12th  Cir.  Ct.  February  27,  2012)  (two  members  of  a  civil  service  board  violated  the  Sunshine  Law  when  they  held  a  private  discussion  concerning  a  pending  employment  appeal  during  a  recess  of  a  board  meeting).  Ultimately,  concerns  with  violations  of  the  Government  in  the  Sunshine  Law  should  be  addressed  to  the  State  Attorney  for  the  jurisdiction  in  which  the  public  meeting  at  which  an  alleged  transgression  occurred.  Thank  you  for  contacting  Attorney  General  Bondi's  Office.  Lagran Saunders  Assistant Attorney General    David Arthur Walters< [email protected]>  Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 10:32 AM  To: pam bondi<[email protected]>, Governor Rick Scott  <[email protected]>, [email protected]   Dear Lagran Saunders:  Thank  you  very  much  for  your  service  and  the  fascinating  citation.  I  have  heeded  your  advice  and  forward  the  matter  to  State  Attorney  Katherine  Fernandez  Rundle  for  handling.  I  had  avoided  do  that  because  it  appeared  to  me  there  was  nothing  specifically  on  point,  therefore  I  asked Governor Scott to ask for a formal AGO.  I  understand  that  the  city  attorney  is  planning  to  retaliate  against  me  for  asking  the  question;  therefore, if there is anything your office can do to speed up the State Attorney's review.  Attached hereto are the attachments sent to the SAO. Yours, 

MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

David Arthur Walters    From: David Arthur [email protected]  Date: Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 10:11 AM  Subject: Violation of Florida Government‐in‐the‐Sunshine Law report to SAO  To: [email protected] and [email protected]  October 29, 2013  Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Esq.  STATE ATTORNEY  Miami‐Dade State Attorney’s Office  Miami, Florida  Subject: Violation of Florida’s Government‐in‐the Sunshine Law  Madame:  Attached  you  will  find  a  snapshot  of  public  video  evidence  that  City  Attorney  Jose  Smith  and  City  Commission  Jorge  Exposito  of  the  City  of  Miami  Beach  violated  the  Sunshine  Law  at  a  public meeting of the City Commission held on Sept. 11, 2013, by whispering to one another on  the dais during the meeting out of earshot of the other commissioners and the public.  It  is  my  information  and  belief  that  Mr.  Smith  was  advising  Mr.  Exposito  on  an  apparently  unlawful  strategy  to  deny  a  highly  qualified  bidder  of  due  process  in  the  procurement  of  a  contract  for  the  management  of  the  city’s  tennis  facilities  so  that  it  could  be,  in  effect,  arbitrarily,  unreasonably  and  capriciously  awarded  to  the  insolvent  company  currently  in  possession of the facilities.   Commission  Michael  Góngora,  Esq.,  defined  the  strategy,  taken  and  approved  by  the  majority  after  Mr.  Exposito  made  a  crucial  but  specious  argument  for  tossing  out  all  the  bids  so  that  the  unqualified company could be retained, as “sneaky.”   Attached is my ‘Travesty’ report in which you will find further context.  It is crystal clear from Chapter 286 of the Florida Statutes, common law decisions, and Attorney  General opinions that 1) the commission hearing was a “public hearing” subject to the Sunshine  Law,  2)  the  city  attorney  is  a  “local  public  official,”  who  under  the  city  charter  can  make  recommendations  on  legislation,  and  to  whom  the  Sunshine  Law  applies,  3)  that  the  city  and 

MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 

the city attorney did not have the benefit of attorney‐client privilege during the public meeting,  therefore  the  other  commissioners  and  the  public  were  entitled  to  hear  or  to  read  a  verbatim  transcript  of  their  conversation  in  order  to  have  sufficient  information  to  hold  the  officials  accountable for their performance.   I am standing by to report on whatever action you take if any on this apparent violation of law.  Very truly yours,  David Arthur Walters  Independent Journalist  [email protected]  Attachments:  Image of city attorney and commissioner whisper  Travesty Redux Miami Beach  Averiguar ‐ Confidential Report to LEO with 2012 Tax Return  This letter to Madame Rundle  4 attachments  Smith and Exposito Confering.jpg 101K   2013‐10‐29 Walters to Rundle re Smith &Exposito Violation.pdf 258K   Travesty Redux Miami Beach.pdf 6668K   Averiguar with Tax Return.pdf 2919K     Mr. Saunders replied that the Attorney General Office cannot interfere in the State Attorney  process.     

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