Montgomery Advertiser by Brad Harper
September 5, 2019
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mayor Lauren Poe and other city officials in this college town spent part of their day on July 18 exchanging emails about proposed development projects, replying to resident complaints, discussing changes to local laws and more.
Anyone with an internet connection could follow along. The city posts their emails online.
Then they faced an angry crowd at a city commission meeting, many of whom were upset about the email system.
Across the city, journalists and public information watchdogs were crying foul over stretches of emails that never showed up online. Residents were reduced to tears by some of the ones that did show up and exposed an exchange they thought would be private. Some city officials had started trying to find a way to work around the system, creating even more frustration.
“You don’t answer your emails,” resident Nathan Skop said during the public comment section of that day’s meeting. “The email system is completely broken.”
Anger escalated. One woman started a “sit-in” in front of the commission panel. Some were escorted out of the chamber, and others left in solidarity. “This is like a sham!” yelled one. “It is a sham!” came a reply from the crowd.