Waive Sunshine exemption on auditor bids, Pinellas attorney says
Jim Robinson, attorney for the Pinellas County school board, sent an email last Wednesday to board members recommending they waive a public records exemption that could complicate the board's ability to adhere to open meetings laws.
That recommendation came a day after The Gradebook told you about the effect of new Florida Statute 119.071 on the board's ability to discuss and decide on a performance auditor bid. The new amendment to the Public Records Act was designed to make sealed bids exempt from public records requests in an effort to keep vendor bidding competitive.
Wrote Robinson to board members and Superintendent John Stewart:
"I have considered this matter and do not see how you as a Board can realistically make any decision on the bids without discussing the details in the Sunshine. Therefore, I recommend you waive the Public Records Act exemption by vote at your meeting on the 10th so that you may freely discuss the bid details at the workshop that follows.
The exemption is intended to promote competition by preventing bidders from going to school on one another's bid. But it is simply impracticable in this context where the Board is making decisions that are typically made by staff."