Port St. Lucie’s Sunshine Law case remains an embarrassment | Our view

TC Palm by Treasure Coast Newspapers Editorial Board

May 10, 2018

Why did Port St. Lucie officials and a judge find it so hard to decipher Florida’s Sunshine Law?

You’d think former Port St. Lucie City Attorney Roger Orr and Circuit Judge William Roby would know better.

Last month, the appeals court overturned Roby’s decision to dismiss a 2013 lawsuit filed by Transparency for Florida. The Lakeland nonprofit accused Port St. Lucie, its mayor, Joann Faiella, and council members Ron Bowen and Shannon Martin of violating the Sunshine Law.

The Sunshine Law allegations the appeals court said Roby or a jury should have weighed in on were:

  • Did Orr and others break the law when he polled council members on whether then-City Manager Greg Oravec should be dismissed?
  • Did the city break the law by failing to provide adequate notice of a hastily called meeting to discuss settlement terms with Oravec?

The appeals court outlined details of a case as embarrassing today as it was five years ago. The court explains how Bowen spoke to Faiella and Orr over Super Bowl weekend 2013 to find out whether there was council interest in terminating Oravec.

To their credit, council members Martin and Michelle Berger declined to speak with Orr, knowing the law could be violated if he shared their comments.

While Orr called Bowen to report there was no support to fire Oravec, the appeals court wrote Orr also called Oravec “to suggest his resignation with a severance package.”

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