Tampa Bay Times
August 23, 2019
Hernando County Commissioner Steve Champion is in the wrong line of work. Last week, Champion groused at a commission meeting about a state law that requires public business to be conducted – of all places – in the sunshine. If he wants to conduct business in private, he should stick to private business.
As the Tampa Bay Times’ Barbara Behrendt reported, Champion suggested seeking a change in the state’s Government in the Sunshine Law to allow commissioners to meet privately to discuss public business. While the board took no action, two of Champion’s fellow commissioners actually supported the idea.
Meeting behind closed doors would be a great way for politicians to throw contracts and jobs to campaign contributors and family, to hide corruption and incompetence or squelch dissent. But Florida’s Sunshine Law, enacted in 1967, and its companion – the Public Records Law, which traces to 1909 – exist to ensure public access to government meetings and records. Elected officials hold a public trust and must be accountable.