Florida has some of the most liberal public records laws in the country but you wouldn’t know it when actually requesting such records.
Fortunately, Joel and Robert Chandler are doing everything they can to change that.
And Joel Chandler, who is seeking non-profit status for his website, Fogwatch.org, has been at it longer than his younger brother.
Last November, the Chandler brothers worked their way down to Miami from Tampa filing public records requests along the way, staying at my place for a couple of nights as they worked the Magic City.
I joined them with my camera during visits to the Miami Police Department, the Coral Gables Police Department and the state-run Department of Management Services.
As tempted as I was, I stayed home while they visited the Miami-Dade Police Department because I’m going to be suing them for violating my civil rights during my arrest last year and didn’t want to give them any ammo they could use against me, which we know they would.
The videos are above below. You will see that they not only refused to provide the public records, but they all had issue with me video recording inside a government lobby.
In the state building, they threatened to call police. In the police departments, they ordered me to turn off the camera, an order which I ignored (as I usually do).
They didn’t push the matter much after that, probably because they realized it wouldn’t have looked too good in trying to clamp down on somebody video recording a pair of friends making a public records request.
But they still didn’t comply with the records request.
In fact, of the 25 agencies the Chandlers visited on that trip, only nine complied with their requests, meaning they have filed or will file lawsuits against the agencies who did not comply.
One of my goals with this site since leaving Pixiq has been to focus more on public records education, so if you are a public records activist in your state, send me an email through the link below so I can possibly interview you for a story.
Send stories, tips and videos to Carlos Miller.