Columbia County's insistence on limited notice is
not in the interest of the working families of Columbia
County or good government
Columbia County, FL (posted May 14,
From the desk of the publisher
to Lisa Roberts, Columbia County Assistant Manager
Dear Ms. Roberts,
It is always nice speaking with you.
Yesterday afternoon we spoke about
notice requirements for
meetings of the County Commission, particularly special
or emergency meetings and I am very disappointed.
You explained that you notified folks of emergency
meetings of the Columbia County Commission by putting a
notice in the Lake City Reporter mailbox, which is
located in the county commission office. You also
explained that this was followed up by a phone call to
the LCR office. You said this is the county's only
notification. There are about 70,000 people in Columbia
... it is certainly
advisable to give notice at such time and in such a
manner as will enable the press and other interested
members of the public to attend
meeting of the authority.
FL Attorney General
You told me that the LCR was the only media
organization that the county contacted. When I mentioned
that maybe e mail might be a good idea and a good way to
communicate, you claimed that you couldn't see why you
should do anything else. I presume that you really meant
Columbia County and understand that it is the County
Manager, Dale Williams who has the final say in these
I explained to you that this was not really in the
spirit of the Sunshine Laws of Florida and told you I
would send along information, which I thought you might
find valuable and enlightening.
I explained to you that the press and other members
of the public should be notified of these meetings and
you told me they could "look it up on the county
web-site." This is not a productive attitude and
effective way to make last minute notifications.
The county's insistence on limited
notice is not in the interest of the working families of
Columbia County or good government.
The county's reliance on limited notice is
particularly interesting in light of the whining and
complaining by the county regarding the meeting notices
of Florida Crown, which have always been timely, above
board and in
the spirit of the Sunshine laws of Florida.
Florida Crown has recently instituted an e mail
notification system for those citizens and media groups
that are interested in receiving meeting notices. There
are many organizations and communities that do this.
The city of Lake City also
uses this method to
contact folks and the media.
Below is a section from Florida Attorney General
Opinion 80-78. I think it will help you understand the
feelings of the courts and the Florida Attorney General
regarding notice requirements: (emphasis added)
As to notice of meetings of the
authority, I can only reiterate what
has been stated in previous opinions of this office
in regard to
notice of public meetings. While s. 286.011, F. S.,
expressly require notice to be given, it has been
'reasonable' notice is an implicit and inherent
that section. However, the precise type of notice
variable and must be determined in the context of a
situation. See AGO's 074273, 073-170, 072 -400, and 071
and Hough v. Stembridge, 278 So.2d 288, 291 (3 D.C.A.
Fla., 1973), wherein the court stated that '[a]lthough
F. S. s. 286.011, F.S.A. does not specifically mention
such a requirement, as a practical matter in order
for a public meeting to be in essence 'public', we hold
reasonable notice thereof to be mandatory.'
Although it is difficult to lay down guidelines to be
used in every instance, it is
certainly advisable to give notice at such time and in
such a manner as will enable
the press and other interested
members of the public to attend any meeting of
Ms. Roberts, the County might want to give the
working families of Columbia County and the media some
consideration in this matter.