A poignant editorial has appeared in the Jacksonville Times-Union. The editorial was written in response to a recent public records lawsuit filed by the Times-Union against the City of Jacksonville. The Times-Union filed suit after Mayor Alvin Brown’s office unlawfully delayed the production of public records.
At taxpayer expense, Chief Deputy General Counsel Howard Maltz defended the Mayor’s misconduct. Perhaps employing the adage that “an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure” would be a better use of the taxpayer’s money. Maybe if Mr. Maltz spent more time giving sound legal advice on the front end instead of defending the bad acts of errant public officials, the citizens of Jacksonville would have more money for minor things like education and public safety. Mr. Maltz appears to understand Florida’s Public Records Act, so that begs the question, is he giving sound advice and being ignored?
While the City of Jacksonville never admitted liability it did agree to pay $15,000 in taxpayers funds to the Times-Union for the newspaper’s legal fees. Section 119.12 of the Florida Statutes provides for reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses to be recovered when a requester takes legal action to enforce his or her rights under Florida’s Public Records Act.
It’s all about OPM, (Other People’s Money), and the arrogance of power. Until the citizens of Florida demand that public officials are held individually responsible for this kind of nonsense, it will continue. After all, we’re picking up the tab for their misconduct.