We have written this editorial so often that we could draw up a template and simply change out the names of the ill-advised government agencies and the issues they discuss.
Whatever those details — or blanks — may be, the bottom line tends to be the same: when Florida’s open government or Sunshine Laws are set aside, good judgment suffers.
The latest example is from Marco Island, where newly released transcripts of executive — initially and legally closed to the public — meetings show City Council members used odd logic and even discussed altering public records of that to fight a 2006 challenge of city boat mooring rules.
The transcripts show council insisted on moving ahead with its defense despite legal counsel’s advice otherwise, because some on council were jealous of the plaintiff and his “folk hero” media attention and wanted to please a political action committee putting up money for the fight.
At one point, records show, council discussed strategies that could have violated Sunshine Laws, then discussed deleting that part of the discussion from the records which have been made public by law.
All of this may cause some readers, far from Marco Island, to snicker at the spectacle of public officials working with the blinds pulled as if the light would never be allowed in.
The rest of us see a larger principle at stake. We are reminded of the importance of these sunshine safeguards to democracy.
We end this editorial the same way as others in the past, by asking when the rest of our officials will learn what most already know — that the right way to conduct the public’s business is also the best way: Always act as if everyone is watching.