Palm Beach Post by Sonja Isger and Hannah Morse
March 19, 2020
A solution to ease the state’s famed Sunshine Law could be coming soon, a group representing counties says. It can’t come soon enough for local governments with weekly and monthly meetings already scheduled.
Aiming to flatten the curve of contagion, the latest advice from the Trump administration would cap any gathering at 10, but that’s barely enough seats for the elected officials.
Seven board members, the superintendent, the board secretary and their attorney — the typical lineup behind the dais at a Palm Beach County School Board meeting — would max out the room under that rule, noted Chairman Frank Barbieri.
That’s why the board made the unprecedented ask that the public watch its previously scheduled Wednesday night meeting from home and send comments or questions via email. The meeting is typically streamed on the district’s website and local cable channels.
District officials further thinned the meeting crowd by cutting the number of staff who attend and making presentations in writing.
Local governments similarly are grappling with how to continue conducting business under Florida’s Sunshine Law, open government legislation embedded in the state’s Constitution.
The Sunshine Law requires governments to alert the public when elected officials will be meeting and demands meetings be open to the public.
Not only is public attendance a concern, so is having all those elected officials so close together.