No Rights for Mr. Kiester?
"I do hope that Mr. Kiester has the financial wherewithal (or can raise it) to take this very important matter up the ladder. A county judge should not have the final say on the interpretation of a state law that has such far-reaching implications.
Backed by Mr. Arceri and Mr. Lazarus, Mr. Sciarrino accused Mr. Kiester of deleting e-mails from his personal computer. He did not bring the same charges against Mr. Tucker and Ms. DiSciullo who have publically admitted to committing the same "crime." It is clear that Mr. Sciarrino brought the charge against Mr. Kiester for political reasons and has admitted as much.
But that is beside the point.
My purpose in this posting is not to attack Messrs. Sciarrino, Arceri and Lazarus or to defend Mr. Kiester but to point out that, if this county judge's decision is allowed to stand, the people of Florida will have no way to communicate in private with their representatives. I cannot believe
that this was the intention of the state legislature in passing this law. The law forbids destruction of "public records" such as those on the city's server. It is only the Attorney General's "opinion" that the ban extends to a councilor's private computer.
If a private e-mail automatically becomes public simply because the person to whom it is sent is a councilor, does it not follow that a telephone conversation to that person must be recorded and made public too? Both are electronic means of communication. For that matter, mustn't each councilor carry a voice recorder and make a permanent record of every conversation he or she has on the street because it might have to do with "public business"? No one knows how a conversation will progress until it is over so all must be preserved for Big Brother.
This is the real problem I have with the county judge's decision. If allowed to stand, every citizen loses the right to privacy that is guaranteed by our constitution. I submit that no county judge has the authority to abrogate that right.
Perhaps this is a matter for the ACLU. Is the right to privacy not a "civil liberty" guaranteed to every American? Is privacy of communication not a right that distinguishes our society from that of totalitarian states like Germany under Hitler, the Soviet Union under Stalin, and Cuba under Castro?
Messrs. Arceri, Sciarrino and Lazarus raised an issue for local political ends. In doing so, they opened Pandora's Box and obtained a decision from a politically appointed county judge that has national implications. This is the first time that the Florida Attorney General's "opinion" has been tested in court. It is imperative that higher judicial authorities review this decision and let Americans know whether they do or do not have the right to privacy in communicating with their representatives.