The Palm Beach Post by Kimberly Miller
March 12, 2019
South Florida Water Management District and Maggy Hurchalla in court today for cases involving Lake Point Restoration
The state’s largest water management district spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to keep a transcript from a key board meeting out of public view but will have the court-sanctioned secrecy challenged today in the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
The case between the South Florida Water Management District and Everglades Law Center is one of two high-profile arguments the appeal court will hear today that involve the billionaire-backed Martin County mining company Lake Point Restoration.
Another high-profile player in today’s 4th DCA docket is Treasure Coast environmentalist Maggy Hurchalla, who is fighting a $4.4 million judgement after a jury said she interfered in an agreement between Lake Point and Martin County.
At stake is Florida’s heralded public records laws and the ability of private citizens to tell elected officials their concerns without fear of reprisal, according to the appeal arguments filed.
“Maggy Hurchalla is facing a $4.4 million judgment solely because she exercised rights guaranteed by the First Amendment and Florida common law to send emails to public officials commenting on a development that became a matter of considerable public concern when it changed from supplying water to an estuary into selling Florida waters for a profit,” Hurchalla’s attorneys wrote. “The crux of this case is that a powerful developer sued her simply because it disagreed with her opinion.”
In the first hearing, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at Palm Beach Lakes High School, the law center is appealing a March 2018 ruling that said an attorney-client session with district governing board members could remain private because it was considered mediation.