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Palm Bay: We Don’t Need To Elect Officials Who Believe Laws Don’t Matter.

Janice Crisp is running for Palm Bay City Council Seat 2.

We have run across Crisp before who has some strange ideas when it comes to the press and bloggers. For example, she claims that the press must be licensed by the state.

That’s obviously not true, and so we try and stay away from people with ideas like that. To think that they are seeking public office where they can write and and vote on laws without basic understanding of legal principles is frightening to us.

On Tuesday, Crisp spoke in front of the Brevard County Commission. Normally we wouldn’t say anything, but her comments are bizarre.

We took the time to transcribe them.

I’m from Palm Bay and I’m running for City Council. What I would like to speak with you guys about is the process in which people are able to request public records. I know that there’s been an increase in what you have to pay but what I’m here to talk about is how the process and how people are identified – are we letting real people or just people who make internet requests.

Because what is happening on the internet that you might not be aware of is on some of the public records we have – if you go down to the bottom – and first I want to say that we have in Florida a cyberstalking law that we have to be aware of to protect people.

In some of our public records especially with what is going on now with Palm Bay issues that is attacking our Councilmen; attacking Ms. Isnardi.

If you go to our public records it says “this report is intended for only the use of the agency to which it was disseminated and may contain information that is either privileged or confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. Contents are not to be distributed outside your agency.”

Somebody who has just sent in a request over the internet has just gotten this information that was only meant for FBI and FDLE use – information that was disseminated through we don’t know who we think was a fake person. No driver’s license or actual real information was disseminated over the internet which is a cyberstalking issue because it was meant with intent to harm. Harm the family, harm the person, gave out HIPAA information and that’s cyberstalking. That’s doxxing which is a very serious crime right now. It’s actually a misdemeanor here in Florida.

So what I read to you is on the internet right now, being passed around, hurting people, hurting families, hurting children. And it all came from the records that was got[ten] here through public records requests where no actual ID was requested – just an email and a check.

So this is something I believe you guys need to consider, do something, because we know who our reporters are. We have to know who our news are. If you talk about fake news, this is as fake as it gets. Anybody with an email can’t just go out here and say whatever they like about people with garbled tapes. These things can be manipulated.

So this is something that you need to protect the citizens with.

Thank you very much for your time.

(Editor’s Note: We transcribed the comment as best as we could. Some of the comment is disjointed, but we are not responsible for that.)

We believe this uninformed statement is in response to a series of articles on another website dealing with shenanigans, corruption and illegal behavior in Palm Bay, Melbourne and Brevard County.

We have not highlighted or mentioned the articles as we have real concerns and issues with the way the posts and supporting documenting (or lack thereof) is being handled. The posts have been devastating to the reputations of Palm Bay City Council members, County officials and others.

The posts have some documentation and audio recordings that were obtained by the website through a public records request in Florida Statute 119. In discussing the records and public records, Crisp makes statements that are incorrect and made out of ignorance.

Her first mistake deals with her reliance on the cyber stalking law found in Florida Statutes 784.048

According to the statute:

Cyberstalk” means:
1. To engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person; or
2. To access, or attempt to access, the online accounts or Internet-connected home electronic systems of another person without that person’s permission, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.

Crisp seems to think that posting material about someone is the same thing as communicating with that person. It is not.

As an example, we are not guilty of any “cyberstalking” simply because we are talking about Crisp and her lack of knowledge. In addition, posts and comments on a blog are not considered to be “directed at a specific person.” which is required under the statute. (See David v. Textor, 189 So. 3d 871(Fla. 4th DCA 2016); Chevaldina v. R.K./FL Mgmt., Inc., 133 So. 3d 1086, 1091–92 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014)

The final nail in this part of the Crisp coffin is that for one to be guilty of cyber stalking, one must not have a “legitimate purpose.” The discussion of public officials, public employees and corruption within government is always a legitimate topic and therefore a legitimate purpose.

Crisp goes onto say some of the reports say

“this report is intended for only the use of the agency to which it was disseminated and may contain information that is either privileged or confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. Contents are not to be distributed outside your agency.”

We believe that means Crisp thinks that public records may be hidden with a notation at the bottom of a page. This is another case of Crisp not reading and understanding what is said in black and white. She missed, ignored or doesn’t understand the meaning of “may be exempt from disclosure under applicable law.

SCOPE OF THE PUBLIC RECORDS ACT

Florida’s Public Records Law, Ch. 119, F.S., provides a right of access to the records of the state and local governments as well as to private entities acting on their behalf. In the absence of a statutory exemption, this right of access applies to all materials made or received by an agency in connection with the transaction of official business which are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge. Access to public records has been described as a “cornerstone of our political culture.” In re Report & Recommendations of Judicial Mgmt. Council of Fla. on Privacy & Elec. Access to Court Records, 832 So. 2d 712, 713 (Fla. 2002).

Section 119.011(2), F.S., defines “agency” to include:

any state, county, district, authority, or municipal officer, department, division, board, bureau, commission, or other separate unit of government created or established by law including, for the purposes of this chapter, the Commission on Ethics, the Public Service Commission, and the Office of Public Counsel, and any other public or private agency, person, partnership, corporation, or business entity acting on behalf of any public agency.

A right of access to records is also recognized in Art. I, s. 24, Fla. Const., which applies to virtually all state and local governmental entities, including the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. The only exceptions are those established by law or by the Constitution.

Section 119.011(12), F.S., defines “public records” to include:

all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.

The Florida Supreme Court has interpreted this definition to encompass all materials made or received by an agency in connection with official business which are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge. (source: Government In the Sunshine. Volume 41)

Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes has a long list of exemptions that may be redacted in a public records request. We won’t list them all, but they include things like sealed bids, addresses of law enforcement members and their families, criminal records of minors, etc.,

Any record produced by a government agency within the state of Florida is thought to be public record unless there is a statutory exemption found in Chapter 119.071.

Crisp seems to not understand that very basic fact. That is troubling to us as someone who is running for public office wants to hide information from the public. Think about that for a moment. A person running for office wants to gut the Sunshine Laws, or at the very least not follow them.

She rambles on:

No driver’s license or actual real information was disseminated over the internet which is a cyberstalking issue because it was meant with intent to harm.

Crisp seems to think that a person making a request for a public record must disclose their identity.

There is no such law that supports that.

From Florida State Attorney General opinion AGO 92-38:

Chapter 119, F.S., has no requirement that a person requesting a public record show a purpose or special interest before he or she may have access to the public record. A person requesting access to or copies of public records, therefore, may not be required to disclose his name, address, telephone number or the like to the custodian, unless the custodian is required by law to obtain this information prior to releasing the records.

Accordingly, absent a statutory requirement, the town may not require that the identity of the requestor or someone for whom the requestor is making the public records request be disclosed prior to allowing inspection and copying of a public record.

AGO 91-76 restates the same thing that a person making a public record request must provide an id:

This office has previously stated that nothing in Ch. 119, F.S., requires a requesting party to make a demand for public records in person or in writing. If a public agency believes it is necessary to provide written documentation of a public records request, it may require the custodian to complete an appropriate form or document. However, the person requesting the information cannot be required to provide such documentation in order to inspect or receive copies of public records. As the court in Sullivan v. City of New Port Richey, recognized, a requestor’s failure to complete a city form required for access to documents does not authorize the custodian to refuse to honor a request to inspect or copy public records.

You ask, however, if the clerk prepares the form, whether he may require the requestor to provide certain information. You have not referred to any particular need for such information other than the general duty and responsibility of the clerk to ensure the safety of public records.[14]

As stated by the Supreme Court of Florida in Wait v. Florida Power & Light Company:

“It is clear to us that [reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and under supervision by the custodian of the records or his designee] refers not to conditions which must be fulfilled before review is permitted but to reasonable regulations that would permit the custodian to protect them from alteration, damage, or destruction and also to ensure that the person reviewing the records is not subjected to physical constraints designed to preclude review. (e.s.)

More recently, the Second District Court of Appeal in Bean v. Wanicka, held that the Public Records Act does not condition the inspection of public records on any requirement that the persons seeking to inspect records reveal background information.

It is settled law. A requestor for a public record need not identify themselves.

So why is a person who is running for office claiming that a person has to or should be required to identify themselves?

Why is a candidate for the City Council of Palm Bay making comments that are contrary to the laws of the land?

Crisp keeps pounding away on unConstitutional beliefs:

So this is something I believe you guys need to consider, do something, because we know who our reporters are. We have to know who our news are.

Throughout the history of the US, anonymous reporting has been a hallmark of investigative journalism. In the late 1800’s a wave of young women went out to factories and medical facilities to write about the horrors there. The only way they could expose corruption was to stay anonymous. You may remember the famous reporter by the name of Nellie Bly, who wrote about the horrors in New York mental institutions. “Nellie Bly” was of course, a pseudonym. Her real name was “Elizabeth Cochran Seaman.”

It’s a long history and one we honor today on this blog.

The only reason Crisp and others want to know the identities of people is because they cannot or will not address what is said, so their only choice is to attack the person saying it. It is the essence of the idea that “I can’t beat you with facts, so I am going to attack you as a person instead.”

What is even odder is that when Crisp claims the posts are “fake news,” she doesn’t even understand the meaning of the term. “Fake news” is not anonymous writers. “Fake news” is “news” that is made up or distorted. It has nothing to do with the name of the reporter or author.

The ignorance is unbelievable.

We would bet that Crisp felt good about her remarks.

Instead, all she did was to expose her lack of knowledge on the subject and bring into question her intellectual and ethical fitness to sit on the Palm Bay City Council.

In the end, Brevard County Commission Chairman Bryan Lober said Crisp should meet with County Attorney Eden Bentley to discuss the laws on public records.

We don’t think the meeting will make a bit of difference but that is our opinion. Our experience with Crisp is that facts do not matter to her.

We do want to say that Lober’s response was different to Crisp than to one Maureen Rupe when she asked a question of the County Attorney and Lober emailed her back saying:

Attorney Bentley is not obliged to provide legal advice for each and every resident of Brevard County. Her position entails providing legal advice for county employees including commissioners. To have otherwise would potentially result in chaos and an unreasonable expenditure of taxpayer funds. Moreover, asking Attorney Bentley to provide legal advice which could, even theoretically, be in conflict with the obligations she owes her employer is, if asked mistakenly, tactless or, if asked knowingly, repugnant. If you wish to delve into the state of the law, I suggest you contact the Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service and retain an attorney, on your dime, who will be able to advise you accordingly.

The question Rupe asked?

The status and applicability of public record laws.

Maybe (we hope) that Lober has changed his views a little in regard to the interaction between the County Staff and citizens. We are always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. However, in that Lober and the Isnardis are friends, with Lober representing David Isnardi initially at bond hearings, and his views lining up more politically with Crisp than Rube, we are more inclined to believe that Lober’s “kid glove” treatment of Crisp had other motivations. We have never seen Lober not address in public people’s misconceptions of the law. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, only that we haven’t seen it. This was a first for us.

The County Commission cannot cut off a speaker who is so wrong and delusional during open public comments. That’s a good thing. We don’t want the Commission picking and choosing who can speak or who cannot.

However, when a person running for a seat on the City Council of the largest town in Brevard County makes comments that are so devoid of knowledge, and understanding, (to say nothing of seeking to suppress the rights of citizens,) people in Palm Bay should take notice.

The people should ask if this type of ignorance and squashing of rights is what they want on the dais in Palm Bay.


Editor’s Note: For the record, we have nothing to do with the articles on the other site or the public record requests that were made to get the records. We don’t know the person or persons. They have not communicated with us, and we have not communicated with them.

Nor do we want to.

Editor’s Note II: A document dump has been made with the total records that have been released under the Sunshine Laws now available for all to see.




4 Responses to “Palm Bay: We Don’t Need To Elect Officials Who Believe Laws Don’t Matter.”

  1. Thomas Gaume says:

    1.) You should send her an invoice for the education.

    2.) All of the documents, and recordings are available in their unaltered state here:https://gaume.us/evidence-drop-all-of-it/

    • AAfterwit says:

      Thomas Gaume,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Crisp will maintain that she is right no matter what the laws say.

      Palm Bay is going through a time when it is being made clear that no one in the City cared about the laws of the land. Laws and regulations were for other people.

      People should be weary of candidates who make statements that contradict the laws of the land in order to “protect” their friends.

      A. Afterwit.

  2. Mike Reitano says:

    That advice on politicians needs to heeded from DC on down Top to bottom

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