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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott's inaugural luncheon limits public access to open meeting in public space



mekphoto.jpgOn the 22nd floor of the Capitol, where the view overlooking Tallahassee is stunning, and the floor-to-ceiling windows let the sunshine in, Gov. Rick Scott held his first official event since being sworn in as governor.

He hosted the "Let's Get to Work Leadership" lunch with an invitation-only crowd that included House Speaker Dean Cannon, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and a couple of dozen Republican lawmakers. Sen. Gary Siplin and Rep. Michelle Rehwinkle-Vasilinda, both Democrats, also were there. The last flight of stairs leading up the 22nd floor were covered in temporary red carpeting, installed especially for the event. Capitol police and the inaugural team's hired advance men guarded elevators and doors.

Absent, however: the spirit of the state's Sunshine in Government laws. With so many elected officials in attendance, this was technically an open meeting. But a traveling pool reporter was escorted up only when Scott arrived, after the luncheon began. Reporters who were not given prior approval to be there were escorted out. Judging by the number of empty tables in the room, there was room for more people -- just maybe not the people the administration wanted.

Bottom line: This open meeting was not all that open to the public in the public building that is now the new governor's Tallahassee office. Does the administration have a different idea of what the word "open" in "open government" means?


[Last modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 3:45pm]


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