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Friday, November 23, 2007

Governance by Stealth

As was reported on this blog on November 13, 2007, the present governance convened a secret meeting to do something, as it turns out, regarding their ill-fated boating ordinance. What that something was, well, depends.

The issue raised herein was that if the present governance decided on anything during that secret meeting, then they would be in violation of the Sunshine Law.

So anyone that cared to follow this albatross began to wonder when and how was the decision was made to pursue the appeal. A published article alluded to conveyance of approval through body actions and non sequitur herd theory.

Not believing any of this, we issued a Freedom of Information request for the transcripts of the secret meeting in an effort to ascertain who voted for what.

We were denied the request via the following response:

"The transcripts for the closed meeting will be released following the conclusion of the litigation. See agenda attached for names of participants and explanation."

Now, with even the present governance knowing that they cannot admit to having made a decision on such action in such a secret meeting, we submitted another 119 request thus:

"Pursuant to Florida Statutes Chapter 119, provide transcripts of any and all events where the city council, or any city employee, or city attorney(ies) or any agent of the city voted for, or in any way decided that the city of marco island will pursue the appeal in the case against mr. david dumas and/or the boating ordinance."

To which the reply was:

"We do not prepare transcripts of regular Council meetings. The minutes from the November 5th 5:30 meeting have not been prepared yet. Those minutes will indicate that at the beginning of the meeting Chairman Minozzi commented that the City will continue its efforts to defend the anchoring ordinance through the appeal process. The transcript of the closed client-attorney meeting that preceded the meeting at 4:30 will be released following the conclusion of litigation of the matter."

Well, let's see ... nobody voted for it in the secret meeting, there is no record of a public vote, but the decision was announced in public by the council chairperson "commenting" that the city will pursue the appeal.

So ... that leaves us with the following choices as to how the present governance decided to pursue the appeal:

  • the council chairperson decided to pursue the appeal on his own,
  • the city manager and/or the city attorney made the decision,
  • there was a vote in the secret meeting but the transcripts will not be released until the "conclusion of the litigation" thereby affording time for the statute of limitations to expire on Sunshine Law violations - not that the present governance needs such cover given that the ever facilitating Inspector Clouseau of the Collier County Sheriff's Department wouldn't recommend Charles Manson for prosecution if Manson were part of the present governance,
  • a series of head nodding, arm flailing, beard stroking, eye-brow raising, head bobbing, grunting, hand wringing, winks, nods, mild eructation, emphasized harrumphing, and fidgeting reached critical mass in the secret meeting so as to leave no doubt that there was a vote - without actually voting,
  • the decision was made by a majority of the councilpersons and transmitted to the council chairperson telepathically.
Intentionally leaving citizens in the dark as to how their purported government makes decisions leads to such speculation. And worse, it is symbolic of an intentional wanton process set forth to avoid detection by moving carefully - the meaning of stealth - a process that must be intolerable in a democracy.

1 Comments:

  • I just finished watching Monday night's City Council meeting. Something happened that was most disconcerting. There was a question that a citizen had concerning bridge maintenance. The remark of our erstwhile City Council chairman was "I will stand by the recommendations of our City staff." As said chairman often shouts, "Excuse me!" The city council is supposed to represent the citizens who elected them not the city employees. But that has been the procedure in all the matters that have come up before our august tribunal. It is a situation of the Council and the staff against the citizens. Another case in point is the questioning of the new, stealth, contract language which seems to favor the contractor over the City. Ms. DiSciullo's reply was that she will stand by the city attorney's interpretation defending the change. That is precisely the point. The city attorney works for Mr. Moss and his cabal. A prudent thing to do would be to have an independent attorney examine the language. But no, Ms. DiSciullo will stand by staff's interpretation. Who is looking out for us poor taxpaying citizens? This madness has got to stop and, come January hopefully it will

    H. Sarlo

    By Anonymous H. Sarlo, at Thursday, November 29, 2007 12:48:00 PM  

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