Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Orange County Commission Textgate Settlement

Following fines arising from a criminal investigation of Orange County's mayor and four commissioners for deleting text messages linked to a paid sick time vote, a civil suit was settled with Citizens for a Greater Orange County. That coalition fought for a referendum opposed by county officials and local tourism interests. In a circuit civil action, the group claimed open government violations when elected officials deleted phone text messages that were public records. During their regular meeting, commissioners were seen texting from this dais just before voting to block the issue from reaching the ballot. Mayor Jacobs and Commissioners Boyd, Brummer, Thompson and Martinez, each agreed to pay a $500 civil fine as a result of the criminal probe, with no admission of wrongdoing. The recent settlement disclosed in the civil case similarly avoids any admission of wrongdoing and was apparently made to avoid added litigation costs. The $90,000 deal reportedly covers the plaintiffs' lawyer, court and record request costs, while the county's outside legal bill in defending the civil case is over $150,000. Last year, Florida's legislature passed a law that prohibits cities from forcing businesses to offer paid sick time. See stories here-- http://bit.ly/1akOZ2n and http://bit.ly/1a465Uz