In what would seem like an effort to ban the often insulting and/or profanity-laden public records requests of activist Chaz Stevens, the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority voted at its last Board of Commissioners meeting to adopt a resolution outlawing "improper" requests for public records.
In the opinion of Stevens, as well as the opinion we received from an independent open-government foundation, the housing authority isn't quite authorized to impose such a barrier.
Here's what came from the minutes of the Housing Authority's August 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.
Motion was made by Commissioner Berner and seconded by Commissioner Gray to adopt Resolution 2011-11: A Resolution of the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Approving the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority's Amendment No. 2 Records Management Policies and Schedules with the condition of the BOC reviewing Amendment No. 2 at the next scheduled SOC meeting.
Voice Vote: YEAS: Chairman Emery, Commissioner Leavitt, Commissioner Berner, and Commissioner Gray. NAYS: Commissioner Potter
The Pulp reached out to First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen, who says the Housing Authority's resolution "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.
In addition, numerous courts have addressed the issue of obnoxious requestors:
"[T]he law provides any member of the public access to public records, whether he or she be the most outstanding civic citizen or the most heinous criminal." Church of Scientology Flag Service Org., Inc., v. Wood, No. 97-688CI-07 (Fla. 6th Cir. Ct. February 27, 1997)
"[A]s long as the citizens of this state desire and insist upon 'open government' and liberal public records disclosure, as a cost of that freedom public officials have to put up with demanding citizens even when they are obnoxious as long as they violate no laws." State v. Colby, No. MM96-317A-XX (Fla. Highlands Co. Ct May 23 1996)
"Even though a public agency may believe that a person or group are fanatics, harassers or are extremely annoying, the public records are available to all of the citizens of the State of Florida." Salvador v. City of Stuart, No. 91-812 CA (Fla. 19th Cir. Ct. December 17, 1991)
And although I'm certainly not a constitutional scholar, I believe the resolution raises some serious first amendment concerns. The FA allows government to impose some restrictions on speech, but those must be content (and speaker) neutral.
If anyone is defamed, there are remedies under tort law; if anyone is intimidated or threatened, complaints can be filed with local law enforcement.
In response to the resolution -- which seems all but passed barring the "review" at this month's meeting -- Stevens has filed three additional records requests, titled "Lewd, harrassing, vulgar, and utterly fucking profane Public Records Request," "Another utterly fucking rude Public Record Request" as well as a "Sexually Suggestive Public Records Request."
With Stevens' consent, here's the "Sexually Suggestive Public Records Request," which he says has not drawn a response from the Housing Authority (If you're not familiar with Stevens, this email contains some non-family-friendly language):
As we all have had the great unsettling displeasure to learn that WankerTom Connick has assumed the dual DBHA roles of Personal Defense Attorney and Special Co-Counsel, a move oddly reminiscent of a doubled-headed dildo (though which ends goes in which hole is up for grabs), it would seem quite evident that Anus T. AnalGlands would have had to provide to the Board for their an "ethics waver" for his most amazing ethically challenged move.
I mean, I hope that Glands provided such and document and didn't leave it up to the Board Chairman, Keith DoucheBerry to opine "well, it's okay 'cause I say it's okay." Know what I mean jelly bean?
You did get this waver document and it was approved by the Board? Right? Duh and/or hello?
So, assuming your hands aren't covered and smothered in K-Y Jelly (all to ease the insertion of such a dildo into the process of Governmental transparency), when you once again get off your lazy ass, go grab me a copy of that document.
Contrary to the opinion of your Fee Attorney, this is a formal request for public information.
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As Stevens says in a previous email to the "Ass Clowns play acting as Records Custodians," requesting the minutes from the meeting in which that resolution was voted on, "Dumb shits. See you in Court."