Commission adopts new public records policies resulting from Democrat lawsuit

Tallahassee Democrat by Jeffrey Schweers

March 22, 2018

The Tallahassee City Commission has adopted new public records policies demanded under a court-ordered settlement agreement with the Tallahassee Democrat.

The Democrat sued the city in November, alleging that former City Manager Rick Fernandez deleted text messages that showed he asked lobbyists for expensive skybox tickets to a Florida State University football game in 2016.

The lobbyist worked for Unconventional Strategies, whose founder Adam Corey is at the center of an FBI probe into alleged corruption of local officials.

The suit also said city staff failed to preserve the business-related messages.

The city admitted to public records violations arising from the failure to retain the text messages, and the court ruled in favor of the Democrat. The court entered judgment against the city on Jan. 29. The commission adopted the new policies Wednesday, two months after approving the settlement agreement.

The court-ordered relief requires the city to adopt several new public records policies, including an immediate ban on employees conducting city business by text message unless those messages are captured and retained by the city. They are also banned from conducting city business via private cell phones and email addresses. [READ MORE]

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