Florida Bulldog by Dan Christensen
March 15, 2019
A Broward judge late Thursday gave Waste Management 10 days to explain in writing why internal company documents about federal and state antitrust reviews of a 2016 merger should be kept secret.
“At this time, the court is considering whether the public, i.e. the citizens, the media, and city governments of Broward County, have a right to be present at court hearings and see materials the parties have withheld from the public…relating to these antitrust investigations,” wrote Chief Judge Jack Tuter.
“This court has grave concerns of excluding the media and Broward County citizens from court proceedings in a case where things common to each Broward citizen and its cities have a compelling interest in – competitive recycling and refuse collection rates.”
On the other hand, Tuter apparently has no such concerns about blocking the media from attending the depositions of public officials. At the end of a hearing on Tuesday, he announced he would not allow this reporter to attend related depositions of County Administrator Bertha Henry or certain city officials.
Still, at Tuesday’s hearing, Tuter also declared that he was “leaning toward unsealing all these records” about the antitrust reviews for “municipalities and the people of Broward County” to see because “it directly affects how much they pay” for trash disposal. The judge’s remarks followed arguments in favor of unsealing by Florida Bulldog attorney Chris Fertig.