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Miami Herald loses appeal of “black outs” in public records

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public records

A Florida appeals court has ruled that state agencies don’t have to give a specific reason when they black out an individual bit of information in a document produced under a public-records request. Specifically, a three-judge panel of the the 1st District Court of Appeal said the state’s “Public Records Act does not require agencies to specifically identify the statutory exemption relied upon for each redaction on a redaction-by-redaction basis.” But one of the judges separately warned that Monday’s opinion…

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Federal judge says ‘no’ to student promotions case

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From The Associated Press, reprinted with permission: A federal judge has turned down a request from Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and six school districts to take over a lawsuit that challenges the state law preventing some students from being promoted to the fourth grade. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled Friday following an emergency hearing. His decision means that the dispute will head back to state court in Tallahassee. Department of Education and school district lawyers said the case belonged in…

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Former Pinellas commissioner Norm Roche loses Round 1 of lawsuit

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Newton has denied a plea that Pinellas County turn over public records to former Commissioner Norm Roche. Newton said in her order, filed Monday, that state law requires governments and other public agencies to make records available. However, she wrote, Roche failed to produce proof that such records exist. Roche, she said, testified that “based on common sense and conventional wisdom, he believed that additional documents … existed.” The county, she said, “clearly refuted all of…

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Pinellas County appeals $16.5 million judgment

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Pinellas County has filed an appeal to try overturning a $16.5 million judgment for a developer denied a zoning and land use change. The notice of appeal, filed Monday, comes days after Judge Walter L. Schafer Jr. turned down the county’s motion for a new trial. Clerk of Court Ken Burke transmitted the appeal to the Second District Court of Appeals on Tuesday. But the Pinellas County Commission never formally voted to appeal the judgment. “There was no formal agenda…

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Two men accuse Straz Center of sex discrimination

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Two former employees are suing the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center claiming they are victims of sex bias and lost their jobs because they are not women. Paul Bilyeu, senior director of communications for the Straz, said the organization is aware of the suit. He declined further comment except to say, “We are confident that those claims are without merit.” The suits were filed Monday by Brad Casey and Brian Frey. Casey was hired in February 2014 to serve as…

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Lawsuit claims Treasure Island ignored state flood requirements in creating new zoning district

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A Treasure Island resident has filed a lawsuit claiming city commissioners failed to follow state law when passing new development rules for hotels and motels. Deborah Toth is asking the court to declare the three ordinances invalid. Treasure Island city manager Reid Silverboard declined comment and referred questions about the lawsuit to the city attorney. Neither Mayor Robert Minning nor city attorney Jennifer Cowan could be reached for comment. The suit arises from three votes made during a July 5…

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Lawsuit claims Madeira Beach commission violated Sunshine Law when appointing new member

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Two Madeira Beach residents have filed a lawsuit claiming officials violated the state’s public meeting law when they chose a new commissioner by “secret ballot.” The suit, filed late Friday, asks the court to rule that three of the four commissioners broke the Sunshine Law. It also asks the court to invalidate the appointment of Housh Ghovaee and to order the city pay the plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees. Madeira Beach Mayor Travis Palladeno called the lawsuit “frivolous.” City attorney Tom Trask,…

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