Herald Tribune by Earle Kimel
December 14, 2017
Venice Mayor John Holic used a portion of Thursday’s Sarasota County Council of Governments meeting to share lessons learned after the city’s entanglement with the Sunshine Law over text messages and commiserate over a byproduct of that — an inability to find volunteers willing to sacrifice their privacy to serve on public advisory boards.
Holic, City Clerk Lori Stelzer and Assistant City Attorney Kelly Fernandez offered the city’s texting issue — which has cost $70,000 in attorney and consultant fees paid to The Sylint Group, a Sarasota cyber security company recovering the text messages — as a cautionary tale. But the Venice mayor was equally concerned with what he said is the toll the state’s open government law has taken on the ability to fill advisory boards.
He wanted to see if the county and other municipalities would support lobbying the state Legislature to amend the Sunshine Law to exempt advisory boards.
Sarasota County Commissioner Nancy Detert suggested that the city legal staff should come up with a technological exemption.
“See what you can brainstorm because you have experience with this incident .. and have a clause added to the Sunshine Laws,” she added.