WFSU by Gina Jordan
October 21, 2019
For 25 years, Barbara Petersen has served as president of the Tallahassee-based First Amendment Foundation (FAF). She’s been on a continuous quest to keep government dealings in the sunshine and hold lawmakers accountable when they withhold records from the public.
She’s retiring from the job at the end of the year. Her replacement is Pamela Marsh, a former US Attorney in North Florida.
We recently spoke with Petersen about what’s at stake as a new leader is ready to take up the cause.
WFSU: Why is the First Amendment Foundation’s mission so important?
Petersen: The First Amendment Foundation is the only organization in Florida that focuses all of its efforts and all of its resources on making sure that our government remains open and accountable to us, and the way we do that is through access to public records….Unfortunately, our legislature doesn’t quite get it. Every year they pass new exceptions to our constitutional right of access. Right now, there are over 1,100 exceptions to that right of access. Every exemption is an exception to the Constitution.