For Immediate Release
February 28, 2014
Citizens Awareness Foundation
On Wednesday February 26, 2014 the Citizens Awareness Foundation, Inc. filed suit against the City of Miami alleging the Mayor’s Office committed serious violations of Florida’s Public Records Act (CAFI v. City of Miami Complaint).
The allegations stem from an incident that occurred on Tuesday February 25, 2014.
Acting on behalf of the Foundation, Joel Chandler visited the Mayor’s Office in order to make a public records request. Specifically, Chandler was seeking to inspect and photograph the Mayor’s appointment calendar for January 2014, the Visitor’s Sign-in log for January 2014 and the Visitor’s Sign-in Log for February 2014.
The complaint alleges that in response to the public records requests members of the Mayor’s staff gave conflicting instructions to Chandler. First, Chandler was ordered to make his public records request to the Director of Communications. Then Chandler was ordered to make his public records request to the City Clerk. The lawsuit also alleges the Mayor’s staff acknowledged that the Mayor’s Office had custody of the requested public records at the time of Chandler’s visit.
During the incident the Mayor’s staff summoned Sergeant At Arms Raymond Carvil who serves as the Mayor’s bodyguard and chauffer. Carvil is reportedly a Commander with the City of Miami Police Department.
The Foundation’s lawsuit claims that Carvil became aggressive when Chandler asked for clarification of the conflicting instructions given by the Mayor’s staff. During the encounter Carvil used the telephone to summon other police officers for a code “39” and a code “15.” A code “39” is for a prisoner and an arrest and a code “15” is for backup. Carvil is also alleged to have made racial comments about Chandler.
The lawsuit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as attorney’s fees.
This is the second time Chandler has been threatened with arrest for making a public records request at City Hall in Miami.
Chandler is the Executive Director of the Citizens Awareness Foundation, Inc. The Foundation is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the proposition that members of the public have a right to know what their government is doing in their name and at their expense. To that end the Foundation seeks to empower citizens to exercise their right to know by providing free educational materials and programs, and when appropriate, taking legal action to enforce the public’s right of access to public records and public meetings. The Foundation is privately funded.
The O’Boyle Law Firm in Deerfield Beach, Florida is representing the Citizens Awareness Foundation, Inc. in this matter. The firm specializes in open government litigation.