Brechner News

Back to Brechner News

David Cuillier Comments of Florida’s Public Records Law and Sunshine Week Activities

David Cuillier, director of the Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is quoted in “Sunny State Turned Cloudy: A Boca Raton Lawsuit Illustrates ‘Erosion’ of Florida’s Public Records Law” published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel on March 10.

The article focuses on Florida’s Sunshine Law requiring government meetings and documents to be open to the public, unless the law carves out a specific exemption. But while making a public records request is something anyone in Florida can do, hiring a team of lawyers to make sure the government fulfills the request is not.

According to Cuillier, the case comes at a time when poor compliance and a growing list of exemptions have emerged as serious problems, diminishing the strength of Florida’s once-exemplary open-records law.

“It’s really withered over the years, more exemptions being passed left and right, agencies figuring out how to game the system,” he said. “It used to be a really sunny state, but now it’s pretty cloudy.”

Cuillier said that there are not enough tools available to enforce public records laws. The deficiency is allowing government agencies to flout the law without fear of consequences.

“A big reason for that is there’s not the punishment that should be there,” he said. “If you didn’t have to worry about getting speeding tickets, how fast do you drive on I-75? Probably pretty fast, if there was no concern about getting caught and punished and getting a ticket. Well, that’s how it is in government.”

Cuillier also contributed to “Get Ready for Sunshine Week” published in the Investigative Reporters and Editors Journal highlighting the March 10-16 event. Sunshine Week provides awareness and training for journalists and citizens on public records and open government.

He shared information in his Freedom of Information (FOI) Files column including how to write about the state of FOI access in communities, how to send requests to cities or schools, the role public records can play to help people in their everyday lives as well as how to acquire record request logs from local agencies.

Posted: March 11, 2024
Category: Brechner News
Tagged as: , , , , ,