Daily Caller: Florida State Attorney Wants $180,000 For Grieving Mother’s Open Records Request

Daily Caller


By Chuck Ross

A Florida mother who believes her daughter was murdered wants answers, and the office of Florida state attorney Angela Corey wants nearly $180,000 to provide them.

Angel King submitted a public records request to Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit state attorney’s office seeking records from Corey and the circuit’s medical examiner, Dr. Valerie Rao — all in an effort to get to the bottom of the Nov. 2009 death of her daughter, Natasha Boykin, which was ruled a suicide.

Both Corey and Rao are known for their roles in the George Zimmerman murder case — Corey was the state prosecutor and Rao testified as an expert witness. READ MORE

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Florida Times Union: JaxPort says environmental group should drop its public-records lawsuit



By Nate Monroe

The Jacksonville Port Authority is asking a Florida environmental group to dismiss its public-records lawsuit against the port “before any more significant time or money is wasted.”

But the Environmental Legal Institute of Florida — which alleges the port and its Pennsylvania consultant have failed to release key information about a study often used to boost efforts to dredge the St. Johns River — is pressing forward.READ MORE


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Palm Beach Post: All Aboard Florida tries to block public records request

PB Post


By Kim Miller

All Aboard Florida filed a lawsuit last month in Leon County trying to block the release of a public records request for information regarding its federal loan application, economic impact statements and the company’s ridership survey.

Read the complaint here.

The requests were made by Orlando developer Matthew Falconer, and, according to the lawsuit, were about to be filled before All Aboard Florida filed the lawsuit claiming the informaiton contains trade secrets that are protected from Florida public records laws. READ MORE

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Brevard Times: News Associations To File Legal Briefs In Florida Sunshine Law Case

Brevard Times


DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Several news associations will ask Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal for leave to file legal briefs in the Florida Sunshine Act’s Public Records Law appellate case between the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC) and Brevard County Clerk of Court, Scott Ellis.

The EDC, a private entity contracted with Brevard County to promote economic development within the County, is appealing a judgment handed down in April by Brevard County Circuit Court Judge, John Dean Moxley, Jr., who ruled that the EDC is indeed a public agency subject to Florida public records law and must produce its documents related to BlueWare to Ellis. READ MORE

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FAU Fails Public Records Test

By Dylan Bouscher

If obeying public records laws came down to passing a two-question quiz, Florida Atlantic University would fail after barely guessing the right answer once.

On two separate occasions, the Citizens Awareness Foundation made in person requests to photograph and inspect records at FAU’s bookstore and University President’s Office. But FAU employees only complied with Florida’s sunshine law once.

During the first incident on May 6, textbook forms submitted by professors were requested, photographed, and inspected, so students could see how much their textbooks were being marked up by the campus store. The records were inspected and photographed, just before the bookstore manager called FAU Police. Watch the video below to see how that ended:

Following this incident, the Citizens Awareness Foundation returned to FAU on Thursday, May 22, to request, inspect, and photograph University President John Kelly’s schedule. On that occasion, no records were inspected or photographed. See for yourself in the following video:

In the second video, the woman’s refusal to allow inspection may have violated Florida’s public records law, which states:

“119.07, (1)(a) Every person who has custody of a public record shall permit the record to be inspected and copied by any person desiring to do so, at any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and under supervision by the custodian of the public records.”

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Sunshine State News: Matt Gaetz’s Lawsuit Accuses FDOT of Withholding Public Records

Sunshine State News


Acting in his capacity as a litigator and not as a legislator, Rep. Matt Gaetz is accusing state transportation officials of stonewalling on a public records request made by a client seeking information about potentially dangerous guardrails.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in Tallahassee, Gaetz asked a judge to give the Department of Transportation 48 hours to turn over 1,000 emails that were the product of a public records request made in February but which the agency has refused to turn over.

Instead, the agency is allowing guardrail vendor Trinity Industries to inspect the documents to determine if they are exempt from public scrutiny. READ MORE

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Tampa Tribune: Fired detective investigated for tax fraud

Tampa Trib


By Elaine Silvestrini | Tribune Staff

 — Federal authorities are investigating whether a fired Tampa detective took personal information from homicide victims and police databases and used the data for tax fraud, according to explosive details contained in court documents obtained Friday by The Tampa Tribune.

Former Tampa homicide Det. Eric Houston and his wife, LaJoyce, a former police sergeant, as well as another former civilian employee of the department, are being investigated for possible involvement in stolen identity tax refund fraud, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court. The affidavit was filed in support of a search of an external hard drive found in Houston’s former police department office.

The search warrant says investigators are looking for “evidence of tax fraud, theft of government funds, and identity theft, from January 1, 2010, through the present.”


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FCIR: Miami Herald: Allegations Of Abuse Of Mentally-Ill In Florida Prison


By Ashley Lopez
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

A new investigative report from The Miami Herald this week profiles a prison in Miami-Dade County where employees have been accused of abusing mentally-ill inmates for “sport.”

According to the Herald, three former employees of the psychiatric unit at Dade Correctional Institution have alleged that staff at the facility were tormenting and abusing mentally-ill inmates for years.  One of the former employees took their complaints to the U.S. Department of Justice last month.

The Herald reports:

In his complaint, George Mallinckrodt, a psychotherapist assigned to the unit from 2008 to 2011, related a series of episodes, including the death of inmate Darren Rainey. The 50-year-old was placed in a small, enclosed, scalding-hot shower by guards and left unattended for more than an hour. He collapsed and died amid the searing heat, suffering severe burns when he fell, face up, atop the drain.

His death, for which no one has been held accountable, was described in Sunday’s Miami Herald.

Mallinckrodt was no longer with the prison at the time of Rainey’s scalding on June 23, 2012, but says he was told of the incident by a former colleague who remained on staff.


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Florida Times Union: Big League Dreams project strikes out with Clay County Development Authority



Florida Times Union

The Clay County Development Authority is ending its relationship with Big League Dreams for a proposed mega ballpark, multisport recreation complex in Middleburg.

Because it would cost too much county money to build the sports park to Big League Dreams specifications, the development authority voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to terminate its licensing agreement with the nationwide sports facility developer and operator, based in California.

The development authority also will seek a refund of the $400,000 license fee it paid under the agreement, said Kerri Stewart, development authority spokesman. READ MORE

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ACLU Files Federal Complaint Challenging Single-Sex Class Program Rooted in Stereotypes at Florida’s Second Largest School District


Program in 18 Hillsborough County schools is based on junk science about differences between boys’ and girls’ brains; Gov. Scott just signed bill which could expand potentially discriminatory programs throughout the state

May 13, 2014

CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

TAMPA, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights calling for a federal investigation into Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida, stating that the district’s single-sex classrooms program violates Title IX. The complaint, with evidence primarily from information discovered by ACLU requests under Florida’s public records law, states that the district’s program is based on stereotypes and discredited notions about how boys and girls learn and develop, and that the District has misled parents about how sex-segregated classrooms were working in the district.

Hillsborough County Public Schools is the second largest school district in Florida and one of the ten largest school districts in the United States. Since 2009, the District has provided sex-segregated classes in at least sixteen schools – including one high school and fifteen elementary schools – as well as operating two exclusively single-sex middle schools. The complaint states that the justification for such a program was based on sex stereotypes and discredited notions about “biological differences in boys and girls that affect learning.”

“The Hillsborough School District has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds to implement a hidden curriculum promoting the theory that boys and girls are so fundamentally different that they need to be taught using radically different teaching methods,” said Galen Sherwin, Senior Staff Attorney of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “The truth is that every student learns differently, and our public schools should not be in the business of making crude judgments about children’s educational needs based solely on whether they are a boy or a girl.”

In an accompanying letter to the Florida Department of Education, the ACLU argues that the need for both federal intervention and a full state investigation on single-sex education is all the more urgent in light of the signing by Governor Rick Scott of a bill, HB 313, which requires training for teachers of ”gender specific” classrooms in all Florida school districts. The governor signed the bill on May 12, and it goes into effect on July 1st.

The ACLU’s complaint states that the Hillsborough School District spent almost $100,000 on outside consultants to promote the idea that boys’ and girls’ brains are inherently different, and that teachers of children as young as kindergarteners were trained in teaching methods based on sex stereotypes in sessions with names like “Busy Boys, Little Ladies.”  The ACLU argues that both the federal and state education departments should issue guidelines to ensure that the training mandated under HB 313 does not rest on sex stereotypes.

The information in the complaint was gleaned from public records requests filed as part of the ACLU’s “Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes” initiative to end the practices of separating boys and girls in public schools based on discredited science about boys’ and girls’ purportedly different brains and learning styles.   ACLU’s investigation has shown that many such programs, including numerous programs in the state of Florida, are based on the ideas of Dr. Leonard Sax and other proponents of single-sex education, whose discredited theories on the supposed differences between boys’ and girls’ brains are rooted in archaic stereotypes. For example, Sax says that girls do badly under stress, so they should not be given time limits on a test; and that boys who like to read, do not enjoy contact sports and do not have a lot of close male friends should be firmly disciplined, required to spend time with “normal males” and made to play sports.

The Complaint provides evidence that in Hillsborough County, impermissible gender stereotypes were incorporated into almost every aspect of the educational environment. For example, the District encouraged teachers in boys’ classrooms to “be louder” and “have high expectations,” while teachers in girls’ classrooms were expected to be “calmer” and “less critical.” In one instance, boys had an electronics day, where they could bring in all their electronics and play them if they behaved, while girls did not. In another, the teacher in a girls’ classroom gave each girl a dab of perfume on her wrist for doing a task correctly.

“Basing academic school programs solely on students’ gender and gender stereotypes is not good for Florida’s students, or for Florida’s future,” stated ACLU of Florida Associate Legal Director Maria Kayanan. “In Hillsborough County, we’ve seen that thousands of students – girls and boys both – are having their learning experiences limited by academic programs shaped by junk science. Students in Florida classrooms deserve better, and both state and federal law promise them that.”

In order to safeguard against sex discrimination, federal law prohibits coeducational schools from implementing single-sex programs unless they meet extremely stringent legal requirements. At a minimum, schools must offer a persuasive justification for the decision to institute single-sex programming, the programs must be completely voluntary, and a substantially equal co-educational alternative must be available.

The complaint, authored by the ACLU of Florida and the ACLU’s Women Rights Project, requests that the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights investigate all schools in Hillsborough County Public Schools that have instituted sex-segregated classrooms, order Hillsborough County Public School District to remedy any unlawful conduct, and monitor and secure assurances of compliance with Title IX from all schools within the District.

The ACLU further reiterated its request that the Florida Department of Education fulfil its mandate to ensure compliance with state law and conduct its own investigation.

A copy of the complaint is available here:

A cover letter sent with the complaint which summarizes the ACLU’s findings is available here:

The letter to the Florida Department of Education is available here:

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