The Orlando Sentinel published an article on January 17, 2013 titled “Back-and-forth over Transparency 2.0 includes eye-opening Alan Hayes comment.” That’s the same day that FOGWatch addressed the Florida Senate Committee On Government Oversight and Accountability regarding the efficacy of Transparency 2.0.
During that hearing Senator Alan Hays (R- District 11), made a series of remarkable comments. When he spoke, I was somewhat stunned. Here’s the quote from the hearing as reported by the Orlando Sentinel:
“Candidly, I’m not in favor of disclosing all the itty-bitty memos that go back and forth between myself and various staff members or other members of the Legislature,” Hays said. “I’m sorry. If the public doesn’t have any greater faith and confidence in my judgment than that, then they don’t need to re-elect me.”‘
I don’t know Senator Hays, and I’m unfamiliar with his political or legislative history. If, however, his comments are to be taken seriously, then we’d have to believe that he is either unfamiliar with Florida’s Public Records Act and prevailing case law or he’d like to see them done away with…or both.
The fact is that “all the itty-bitty memos that go back and forth” are public record and already subject to being inspected, copied and photographed by anyone that wants to see them. Unless Senator Hays and two thirds of his colleagues in the House and Senate decide to specifically and narrowly exempt those records they are fair game for disclosure.
I recognize that sometimes folks say stupid things in the heat of the moment, because I am chief among them. For example, during the same hearing that Alan Hays pried his No. 9 boot into his mouth, the Orlando Sentinel made the following observations about my comments:
“Others are less impressed. Joel Chandler, the editor of a blog called ‘Florida Open Government Watch,’ said he was not impressed when Gaetz’s office helped him access Transparency 2.0. For example, he said, only summaries of state contracts are available instead of the full contract.
‘There’s a lot of value there,’ Chandler said. ‘But, frankly, the taxpayers of the state of Florida were ripped off.’“
In retrospect I wish I had been more restrained in my comments. The analysis and comments of Dan Krassner of Integrity Florida, for example, were much more constructive and thoughtful, than were my observations.
Since it appears that Senator Hays and I suffer from the same affliction (mouth in gear, brain in neutral) I’m inclined to give the Senator the benefit of the doubt. How Senator Hays reacts to the disclosure of his comments will be telling. They are, after all, public record.