On Friday, we discussed the lawsuit filed against Orange County by Organize Now with the assistance the First Amendment Foundation. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs whose major issue in her 2010 run for County Mayor was “ethics and transparency” in government has once again demonstrated how entitled a politician she has become.
Mayor Jacobs response to the lawsuit was petulant, bizarre and smacked of someone who is trying to divert attention from the actual complaint. Mayor Jacobs has not properly explained who has access to the Dropbox account in question, and never addressed why items were deleted after public records requests were made and a letter was sent to the State Attorney’s office. These critical questions have yet to be answered by the Mayor, County staff or the County Communications team. Additionally, Mayor Jacobs accused those probing in this matter of “lying” to the press. Mayor Jacobs track record on these matters of public integrity are suspect after the infamous text-gate scandal among other items.
In other parts of the state where the absence of watchdog groups exist, dodgy, evasive answers like the one Mayor Jacobs gave today might fly. But Orange County is different thanks to the infrastructure progressives have built to serve as Government watchdogs and advocates for good in the community. Groups like Organize Now and advocate leaders like Stephanie Porta are needed in every corner of this state to ensure against the type of arrogant, reckless and entitled behavior the political ruling class in this state continuously exhibits. This is particularly true in urban counties where the County Commission and county executives rule over massive budgets and have responsibilities that impact the daily lives of millions of ordinary citizens.
More and more violations of the “Sunshine Law” are becoming more and more commonplace throughout the state. Local governments both on the municipal and county levels have been embroiled in controversy about violations similar to what has happened in Orange County. The arrogant behavior of State Government and in particular the State Legislature is striking. Whenever questioned about possible conflicts or failure to live up to the standards of open government which were enacted in this state thanks to this state’s massive corruption scandals of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, our state’s leaders often give answers like Jacobs did today. Shoot the messenger, blame politics and change the subject. Rather than disclosing those things which are controversial, Florida’s entitled class of political leaders always dig deeper and deeper holes. At the state level they have gotten away with it time and again but at the local level, particularly in Orange County one must sense changes are around the corner.
Thankfully, ordinary Floridians are fed up with this type of rhetoric. Mayor Teresa Jacobs could soon learn the hard way how irresponsible it is to keep digging into a bigger hole instead of coming clean and truly being able to move on.