EDITORIAL: Sunshine comes to Crestview

March 23, 2012 9:18 AM
 All five members of the Crestview City Council pleaded no contest this week to violating Florida’s Sunshine Law by using email to discuss public business outside a public meeting. Each was fined $500. Okaloosa County Judge Jim Ward and State Attorney Bill Eddins both said the violations were a serious matter.

We’d like to believe the council members considered their misdeeds as grave as the judge and the state attorney did, but we have our doubts.

After he was charged, Councilman Phillip Berezo told the Crestview News Bulletin the case against him was like being issued “a traffic ticket.” Attorney Mark Welton initially said, “I still believe (Councilwoman) Robyn Helt has not violated the statute.” On plea day, Mr. Welton complained about “bad press.”

Charles Baugh, council president, scored some points by offering to take most of the blame. “I stand to take responsibility,” he told Judge Ward. He also talked about starting classes to instruct city employees and council members on the Sunshine Law.

Let’s hope Mr. Baugh means it. Further violations of the Sunshine Law could very well result in charges that are weightier than a traffic ticket.

Read more: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/crestview-48404-sunshine-editorial.html#ixzz1qK69LTic

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