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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Mar. 11, 200912:00 PM EST

City's public records procedures discussed today

by: Joe Wilhelm Jr.

by Joe Wilhelm Jr.

Staff Writer

It has been point, counterpoint between the City of Jacksonville and a local weekly newspaper regarding access to public records that pertained to high-dollar items: the renovations to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in preparation for the inaugural Jaguars season and the Super Bowl Host Committee, which organized and ran the 2005 Super Bowl.

The Ethics Commission’s Legislative Subcommittee will bring both sides to the table today to find out if changes need to be made to the City’s public records procedure.

A meeting of the Subcommittee is scheduled for 5 p.m. today in the Lynwood Roberts Room on the first floor of City Hall .

Subcommittee Chair Braxton Gillam called for the meeting and made sure that two hours were scheduled to give all interested parties a chance to speak on the matters. Marvin Edwards, author of the Oct. 7 Folio Weekly article, “ Stadium Scam,” Folio’s attorney Gray Thomas and attorney Leslie Goller were invited to attend the meeting because of their complaints about difficulties in gaining access to public records from the City.

“There is no question that misinformation came from the City, including the General Counsel’s Office when they denied having any records relative to the renovation to the Gator Bowl or Super Bowl host committee,” said Edwards. “What is interesting is that in the agreements between the Jaguars and the City it specifically states the City is entitled to all the renovation information and in the case of the Super Bowl Host Committee the agreement specifically mentions Statute 119, which is the public records law.”

Edwards is hopeful that the meeting will help encourage the Ethics Commission to act.

“We would hope that the Ethics Commission would not ask, but demand a complete investigation of both projects,” said Edwards. “And going so far as to ask the State Attorney’s Office to investigate and possibly bringing in a grand jury.”

The Office of General Counsel’s Chief Deputy General Counsel, Cindy Laquidara, warned the Commission about setting up today’s meeting during the Commission’s Feb. 23 meeting.

“You should be careful not to make this Commission a vehicle for Mr. Edwards to further his point,” said Laquidara at the February meeting.

Laquidara confirmed that she will attend today’s meeting.

“I will be there as a resource for the Commission,” she said. “I will respond to whatever the Commission needs.”

Folio Weekly Editor Anne Schindler will also attend to detail the publication’s experiences with the City’s public records procedure.

“I just want to let the Commission know what transpired with our multiple public records requests,” said Schindler. “I want to give them a sense of the details of what happened during the process that might not have been accurately portrayed by the General Counsel’s Office.”

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