One member of City Council may have gotten a wake-up call after asking for public records.
Garrett Dennis asked the administration for some information and got a note from a bureaucrat advising him that it would cost $3,000 to compile the data.
At first the councilman thought it was an invoice, but Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa told Dennis it was just to let him know what the cost would be.
Mercy, Mr. Mousa.
Now Dennis knows how the public feels when it runs into Curry’s Wall.
Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration make it very difficult for citizens, and the media, to get information. Neither the city’s web site nor its highly paid “public information” personnel provide much help.
In one instance, Eye on Jacksonville had to wait several months just to get information from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. It isn’t confined to the city government, either. Eye had to pay the School Board to get public information as well.
This kind of stonewalling mocks the intent of the state’s “government in the sunshine” law.
Since that law was passed more than 50 years ago, state and local governments in Florida have been required to hold meetings in the open and to provide the public with information upon request.
But the politicians and bureaucrats have found out they can dodge the law by delay, and even make it a revenue producer by charging for the information.
Former council President Anna Lopez Brosche established a task force to look into the issue and the group confirmed it was a problem. Brosche is trying to get legislation passed that would help.
But her bill doesn’t go far enough, and there may be a limit to what the council can do to force the administration to play fairly because of the separation of powers.
Apparently nobody in the local media has the gumption to protest the wall. In the past, a newspaper or TV station would have not only editorialized strongly but would have gone to court if necessary.
But one councilman has found out how it works. Maybe he and others will join Brosche in trying to breach Curry’s Wall.