I know the sunshine law gets violated daily. That's a given. But what always gives me a chuckle is when the public body violating the law is obtuse enough to document their violation in their own minutes.
For example, a newspaper recently requested a copy of the draft budget for the coming year from a city. The city responded (the very next day, practically) by saying that they couldn't provide a copy of the draft budget because it was a draft and hadn't been approved by the council.
Now, there's case law that would lead any attorney of a public body to conclude that courts have established that draft records are still "records" for sunshine law disclosure purposes. But for the non-lawyers out there, even the Attorney General's sunshine law handbook (which is available online at the AG's website) recognizes this in its Q and A section, where it says:
Do minutes retained in "draft" form have to be provided to the public within three business days of the request?
Yes. A draft of minutes is a "public record" under Section 610.010 (6) and must be provided as soon as possible and no later than the end of the third business day after the request is received (Section 610.023.3). A public body that provides draft minutes should inform the requestor that the minutes are in draft form and will not be "official" until approved at the next regularly scheduled meeting of that public body.
Okay, that's pretty basic. Here's the joke: The public body puts in its minutes of the meeting where the budget is approved that it withheld the draft budget from the newspaper until it was approved. Thank you very much. Pretty obvious it was a knowing violation. They knew what they were doing, for sure. It's wasn't an accident that they withheld turning over the draft budget. Not, clearly it was so intentional that they put it in their minutes.
Violation? It's right there in black and white. And read all over. And so should their faces be (red), when they realize how blatantly they've broken the law.