Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Sunshine Law: What it is, what it is not, and how it’s used to try and manipulate the public.

One of the ways to try and discredit elected officials, especially newly-elected ones who may be easily rattled, is to plant the seed of wrongdoing. For example, all a person or group has to do is just suggest a “Sunshine Law” violation, not even an actual allegation. People will say things like, “so-and-so was spotted with so-and-so making a pitch over lunch at such-and-such restaurant”.

There is nothing wrong with elected officials having lunch together. Or talking. Or acting like a regular human being in general. But there are rules for electeds (explained in a video below).

For example, The Obtuse Blogger (TOB) went off on a rant when Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell had lunch with Congresswoman Lois Frankel some time back. There was no allegation made except that maybe the soup wasn’t spicy enough. TOB just decided to go on a rant. Why? Who knows.

If you ever hear an elected’s name mentioned and the Sunshine Law cited, it’s very important to know what the law is and what it’s intended to do — and just as importantly — what the law does not cover and is not intended to do.

Lake Worth City Attorney Glen Torcivia gave an excellent summation of the Sunshine Law. The video below is highly-recommended viewing for anyone interested in learning more:

The political theater of “Sunshine Law Violation!, or “Wag the Dog” tactics to manipulate the public aren’t new by any means. Soon-to-be former Commissioner Chris McVoy, PhD, was a big fan of using the Sunshine Law as a political weapon. Remember Mayor Triolo’s baked ziti and McVoy’s claim of a violation?

For a brief time, an editor at the Post tried to come to the defense of McVoy, but that fell flat too like pasta sauce left on the burner too long. Read all about that using this link.

No allegation was actually detailed about the baked ziti, just implied. But some suggested McVoy thought there may have been secret messages slipped into the ziti hole: secret pasta messages in a zesty meat sauce. McVoy claims to be a vegetarian so it would be a conspiracy, you see, to keep him from reading clandestine messages.

This tactic used by McVoy that worked so well and got him re-elected in 2015 fell flat in 2016 when the public saw right through it: Mayor Pam Triolo, Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell, and Commissioner Andy Amoroso all got re-elected by landslide victories. Below is a video from early in March 2016 when McVoy tried his final “Sunshine Law Violation!”. It didn’t work this time.

In fact, McVoy was invited to join the barbecue and campaign event at Sunset Ridge Park but declined, instead prancing the perimeter before slinking away after a few minutes:

Sadly however, there remain some in the public left “scratching their heads” when allegations of Sunshine Law violations are alleged and misunderstand or are confused about what is actually happening: one day a commissioner is throwing around allegations like cheap confetti and a few days after an election the claims about the “baked ziti” and false (aka, alt) allegations just go away like it never happened.

So the next time you hear somebody yell, “Sunshine Law Violation!” you can yell back, “Where’s the beef ?”, and then. . .

“Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire! And Mayor Pam’s baked ziti in her famous meat sauce is tremendous too!