Fire Chief Wants Correction
from Lehigh Acres Gazette
Written by John Wayne Fire Chief Lehigh Acres Fire Department
I am requesting that you make a correction to the recent article you posted (May 1, 2014) regarding the possibility of a “Sunshine Law” violation between Fire Commissioners Danis and Becker. It is important to have all the facts straight when publishing an article, not make misstatements and accusatory remarks about public figures that can be damaging to the Fire District.
The District has this position to forward regarding the matter…
The next to the last paragraph of the Lehigh Acres Gazette article which reads as follows:
|“Commissioner Jackie Danis told the Lehigh Acres Gazette after meeting that Chairman Larry Becker told her, he is going to schedule a special meeting middle of next month to fix the so called mistake. (This communication between Commissioners Becker and Danis could be a Sunshine law violation since they must vote.)”|
District legal counsel has reviewed the Sunshine Law statute, especially s. 286.011, Florida Statutes, and I take this opportunity to clarify that it is not a violation of the Sunshine Law (s. 286.011, Florida Statutes) for a Board Chairman, such as Larry Becker, to advise other commissioners that a special Board meeting is being called to discuss a specific topic. The Lehigh Acres Fire District Board of Commissioners Manual provides that special meetings may be called as required. The Board Chairman, as the presiding officer of the Board, has the authority to call a special meeting of the Board. Because the District’s Board Manual authorizes a special meeting to be called and because the Chairman, as the presiding officer of the Board, has the authority to call a special meeting, the Chairman’s calling of a special meeting is not a topic to be voted on by the other Board members in the future. Rather, it is a unilateral decision being made by the Board Chair as the presiding officer of the Board, and, if the Chairman indicates to another Board member that he is calling a special meeting, it is simply the Chairman notifying the other commissioner of unilateral action that the Chairman has already taken.
It is unfortunate that at least two incorrect statements of fact were made in the next to the last paragraph of the Lehigh Acres Gazette article. And, it is also unfortunate that a suggestion of a Sunshine Law violation was made where, even if the alleged communication between Commissioner Becker and Danis had occurred, there would still not be a Sunshine Law violation because such a discussion would not be about an item that might come before the Board in the future for Board action since the Chairman has the ability to unilaterally call a special meeting of the Board.
I respectfully request that the Lehigh Acres Gazette correct the misstatements of fact and the improper allegation of a possible Sunshine Law violation.
In response to Chief Wayne:
The answer in one word is “NO”.
The Lehigh Acres Gazette never said there “was” a sunshine violation …. we said there “COULD BE”
If the topic is to “fix a mistake” from a prior the meeting that just happened that commissioner knows what the chairman wants since the chairperson is the only commissioner that can call a special meeting. So this could be a applied reference and “could be” a sunshine violation.