Deerfield Beach Housing Authority Rescinds Public Records Change, at Least Temporarily
The questionable public records resolution proposed by the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority was rescinded -- at least for now -- at last night's Board of Commissioners meeting, but the commissioners did approve a middle finger via proclamation toward activist Chaz Stevens.
The commissioners voted unanimously to not adopt the resolution outlawing "improper" requests for public records, but it's supposedly been done to change the language over fears the resolution in its current form may not hold up in court.
As you may recall, that resolution -- which seems to be directly geared toward Stevens and the unorthodox wording of his requests -- probably wouldn't fly under Florida's "Sunshine Law," at least according to the president of an independent open-government foundation.
Here's the text of that resolution that the board gave a preliminary go-ahead to at last month's meeting:
Item 13: Lewd, abusive or other improper requests for records. The DBHA will deny any "request" made using harassing, obscene, offensive , discriminatory, lewd, sexually suggestive, sexually explicit, pornographic, intimidating, defamatory, derogatory, violent language or communication in any form or which contains profanity or vulgarity, regardless of intent as an improper request not made for the purpose of obtaining public records under the Florida Constitution or Florida Public Records Act.
Amid Stevens' concern about the legality of that resolution, we talked to First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen, who said it "raises some serious First Amendment concerns."
"Florida courts have made it pretty clear that a government agency can't impose restrictions on the public's right of access that aren't statutorily authorized, including any barrier such as this resolution," Petersen said.
Among Petersen's explanation over problems with the resolution were several court decisions regarding "obnoxious requestors" that sided with the people requesting documents.
After that resolution was proposed, Stevens filed three additional records requests, titled "Lewd, harrassing, vulgar, and utterly fucking profane Public Records Request," "Another utterly fucking rude Public Record Request," and a "Sexually Suggestive Public Records Request."
That's probably why the Housing Authority passed its middle finger via proclamation -- a unanimously approved proclamation "strongly condemning" Stevens' behavior.
Stevens tells the Pulp he would've voted in favor of the proclamation too if he were on the board.
Also as a point of interest from last night's meeting, Commissioner Mike Weiss was effectively prohibited from asking Executive Director Pamela Davis a question about the Housing Authority's procurement policy -- which Stevens, among others, has been trying to ask her for a while now to see if she'll explain her history of following the policy.
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