U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney announced late last month he’ll hold a roundtable discussion next week at the Emergent Technologies Institute at FGCU.
The fact that it’s a closed door meeting has some members of the media questioning whether sunshine laws should apply.
With a host of federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency scheduled to attend; a concerned public, frazzled by years of limited information on the toxicity of annual blue green algae blooms, wants to hear what’s said. But, the closed door meeting means that neither the public nor the media will be able to sit in on Congressman Rooney’s roundtable next week.
The editorial board of the News Press and the Naples Daily News published an opinion piece decrying the closed nature of the meeting and the Naples Press club followed with a resolution calling for the meeting to be opened to the press. The latter asked that the letter and the spirit of the Florida Sunshine Law be obeyed.
As for the letter of that law, it doesn’t apply to federal agencies operating in the state. That’s according to the Florida Office of the Attorney General’s web site which also states that, “The law, in essence, is applicable to any gathering, whether formal or casual, of two or more members of the same board or commission to discuss some matter on which foreseeable action will be taken by the public board or commission.”
Congressman Rooney’s news release regarding the roundtable listed several state agencies, cities and counties that will be represented, but does not indicate how many representatives will be there from each.
According to the news release announcing the meeting, there will be a news conference after the closed door discussion.