Sunshine Law violation accusation angers Collier Commission chairman, causes recess

Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, center, and Pat Botthof, right, peer in at mice at The Jackson Laboratory during their Discovery Days in Bar Harbor, Maine on July 17, 2010. During Tuesday's commissioners meeting, Naples activist John Lundin attempted to use this photo as evidence that Fiala might have appeared with Commissioner Jim Coletta at Jackson Laboratory, which he said was a possible Sunshine Law violation. He pointed to the clothes and hairstyle of Fiala in this photo and compared it to another that features Coletta. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN // Buy this photo

Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, center, and Pat Botthof, right, peer in at mice at The Jackson Laboratory during their Discovery Days in Bar Harbor, Maine on July 17, 2010. During Tuesday's commissioners meeting, Naples activist John Lundin attempted to use this photo as evidence that Fiala might have appeared with Commissioner Jim Coletta at Jackson Laboratory, which he said was a possible Sunshine Law violation. He pointed to the clothes and hairstyle of Fiala in this photo and compared it to another that features Coletta. Greg Kahn/Staff

Outburst in Commissioners Chambers

John Lundin accuses commissioners of breaking Sunshine ...

Jim Coletta, Collier County Commissioner, Nick Healy, president of Ave Maria University, center, and Jeff Klatzkow, Collier County Attorney, right, look in at some mouse models bred to help scientists discover how their genes explain different diseases during The Jackson Laboratory's Discovery Days in Bar Harbor, Maine on July 17, 2010. During Tuesday's commissioners meeting, Naples activist John Lundin attempted to use this photo as evidence that Fiala might have appeared with Commissioner Jim Coletta at Jackson Laboratory, which he said was a possible Sunshine Law violation. He pointed to the clothes and appearance of the woman seen from behind in this photo and compared it to another photo of Fiala. Lundin said the woman in the background of this photo appears to be Fiala. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN // Buy this photo

Jim Coletta, Collier County Commissioner, Nick Healy, president of Ave Maria University, center, and Jeff Klatzkow, Collier County Attorney, right, look in at some mouse models bred to help scientists discover how their genes explain different diseases during The Jackson Laboratory's Discovery Days in Bar Harbor, Maine on July 17, 2010. During Tuesday's commissioners meeting, Naples activist John Lundin attempted to use this photo as evidence that Fiala might have appeared with Commissioner Jim Coletta at Jackson Laboratory, which he said was a possible Sunshine Law violation. He pointed to the clothes and appearance of the woman seen from behind in this photo and compared it to another photo of Fiala. Lundin said the woman in the background of this photo appears to be Fiala. Greg Kahn/Staff

Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala sits with Shirlee Barcic, chairwoman of the Marco Island Advisory Committee in the auditorium at The Jackson Laboratory during their Discovery Days in Bar Harbor, Maine on July 17, 2010. This is another photo of Fiala taken on the same day as the photos Naples activist John Lundin used as evidence of a Sunshine Law violation by commissioners Fiala and Coletta during Tuesday's commissioners meeting. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN // Buy this photo

Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala sits with Shirlee Barcic, chairwoman of the Marco Island Advisory Committee in the auditorium at The Jackson Laboratory during their Discovery Days in Bar Harbor, Maine on July 17, 2010. This is another photo of Fiala taken on the same day as the photos Naples activist John Lundin used as evidence of a Sunshine Law violation by commissioners Fiala and Coletta during Tuesday's commissioners meeting. Greg Kahn/Staff

— For a brief moment Tuesday, the Collier County Commission’s Chambers was like the scene of a clichéd courtroom drama.

During the hours-long commission meeting, a citizen insinuated that two commissioners may have violated a Florida Sunshine Law, provoking Chairman Fred Coyle to pound his gavel for a recess.

John Lundin, a liberal Naples activist, spoke during the public comments portion of Tuesday’s meeting about Jackson Laboratory.

Click here for a video, photo gallery and story from the meeting

He brought with him to the podium several photos taken by the Naples Daily News during trips by commissioners Donna Fiala and Jim Coletta to a Jackson Laboratory site in Maine.

In one picture of Coletta, Lundin pointed to a woman, only seen from behind in the photo, and suggested it looked like Fiala — though he mispronounced her name.

Lundin suggested that Coletta and Fiala may have broken a Sunshine Law by associating together on the trip. He demanded the commissioners recuse themselves on any Jackson Lab-related votes.

Coyle interrupted Lundin several times and instructed him to leave the podium.

Lundin refused, arguing he had a right to talk for the allotted three minutes that all receive during the public comments portion of the meetings.

Several members of the audience also shouted down Lundin.

Coyle warned Lundin that he was making possibly “libelous” statements.

“I suggest you sit down,” Coyle said.

Lundin responded, “Why are you afraid to let people talk?”

Coyle then cut Lundin off and called for a recess.

When the meeting resumed, Lundin was allowed an additional minute and a half to finish his statement.

Lundin said he would file a complaint with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and the state for a Sunshine Law violation against commissioners Fiala and Coletta.

Mike Hyde, vice president for advancement at Jackson, identified the woman in question from the photo as a donor visiting the lab from Arizona and not Fiala.

During a break, Chuck Hewett, chief operating officer of Jackson, said a Jackson Lab staff person identified the other woman in question in the photograph as an Arizona supporter of the lab.

Hewett said the two commissioners went to great lengths to not be in the same room together during their trip.

“(Coletta) would not even be in the same auditorium, we set up a video link,” Hewett said. “To impeach their integrity is pretty low.”

---

Staff Writer Liz Freeman contributed to this report. Connect with Aaron Hale at http://www.naplesnews.com/staff/aaron-hale

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