Tampa Bay Times by Editorial Board
March 8, 2019
Dark clouds have formed over Florida’s long-standing commitment to government-in-the-sunshine. Routine crime information is being kept secret by some police departments. Search efforts for new university presidents are willfully ignoring public records laws. Local governments are turning their backs on public speakers. It’s time to ring the alarm bells during Sunshine Week, an annual event highlighting the importance of open government in democracy.
The most dangerous threat to openness involves a pinched reading of a new constitutional amendment by the Tampa Police Department and some other law enforcement agencies around the state. Amendment 6 was approved by voters and included unrelated issues such as raising the mandatory retirement age for judges and unnecessary additional protections for crime victims. What few noticed is a sentence not included in the ballot title or ballot summary that says every crime victim has “the right to prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family…’’