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Monday, 10 August 2009 23:00

Rockledge City Manager violates sunshine law. Should he resign?

Written by 
July 25, 2009
Space Coast Progressive Alliance

Should Rockledge City Manager Jim McKnight resign -- or be fired -- for sneaking around 'sunshine' law?

Florida Today reports that Rockledge City Mgr. Jim McKnight organized individual session for each city council member to meet with engineers about a controversial ASR (Aquifer and Storage Recovery) well. The project is vociferously opposed by Save Our Aquifer and supporters, and was the subject of an educational forum in May 2009.

According to Florida Today's story, if two of the city council members had met with the engineers, a public meeting would have been required to comply with 'sunshine' laws -- which are intended to protect The People from the corrupt back-room deals of yesteryear.

McKnight tried to sneak around the 'sunshine' laws by having not more than one city council member at-a-time meet with the engineer. Smart? Or outrageous!
Clearly, Mr. McKnight violated the intent of the 'sunshine' law -- and he knew it.

When a city manager seeks ways to circumvent Florida's well-established government-in-the-sunshine laws, some citizens would say it's time for him to go.

Perhaps it's appropriate for Mr. McKnight to resign. Some have already said Mr. McKnight should simply be fired.
City council members participating in circumventing 'sunshine' laws should be un-elected, for violation of The People's trust.


Presumably, in this closed-door private meeting with the contracted engineer, there was no scientist to refute the engineer's dialog -- which, at the May forum, was faulty. Expert science-based information delivered by Jim Egan at that forum -- conducted in public -- revealed the glaring weakness of the engineering firm's proposed ASR well.
There are those who would argue that the city council members were simply seeking information. Perhaps they were. Did they receive the truth? Or biased, slanted, incomplete information? There is good cause for 'Government in the Sunshine." We should not open the door to the corruption of yesteryear's backroom deals. We should insist, always, on 'Government in the Sunshine.'
That includes City of Rockledge. The Rockledge city council members could have convened a public meeting for the purpose of inquiry. At such a meeting, they could have heard the same information they heard behind closed door. But, at the public meeting, the engineer's testimony would be subject to public oversight. And that's not a bad idea. Ever.
There can be no excuse for circumvention of 'Government in the Sunshine.'
-- Statement approved by the Space Coast Progressive Alliance, July 25, 2009 

...including May forum and Jim Egan's expert testimony, links to Save Our Aquifer:



ROCKLEDGE -- City Manager Jim McKnight organized individual sessions for each city council member to question engineers about a proposed aquifer and storage recovery well.... The sessions took place in mid-June, with each council member given one hour with the engineers to ask follow-up questions from a May public forum on the pros and cons of the project, McKnight said.

According to Florida law, if two council members attended a meeting with the engineers, the sessions would have had to be public.

"We consider it a really egregious breach of trust on the part of the city council and city manager," said Dick Glenn, spokesman and secretary of the opposition group Save Our Aquifer.

"There were clear attempts to avoid the 'sunshine' law and having to discuss an unpleasant subject in front of the public," he said. "It's curious they only asked (the engineers) to come in. Why didn't they ask some independent expert to come in and give them a different perspective?"

See full FLORIDA TODAY story by Rebecca Basu:
Last modified on Tuesday, 05 January 2010 21:28
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