Governance by Stealth
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.