That being said, I respectfully disagree with her latest post, in which she suggests that public officials need to be schooled on the Sunshine Law.
I supposed it would not do any harm, but it is not a lack of education that is the problem, it is a lack of teeth in the law. If public officials know nothing is going to be done to them if they violate the law, then why bother to follow it?
I guarantee you if large amounts of money (or even small amounts of jail time) were at stake, we would see fewer Sunshine Law violations.
Ms. Maneke closes her post in strong fashion:
How can public officials be so callous that they don't take seriously their obligation, once elected, to learn to do the job they have sworn to do to the best of their ability? One can laugh about these folks "working without tools," but there is a serious need for some hard core sunshine law training for elected officials. It's clear that some of these folks just don't care, and just won't care until they are forced to do what they should be doing on their own -- learning the laws that apply to the task they are undertaking.
Would it make any difference if their oath of office included a phrase about following the sunshine law? Would it cause them to take this any more seriously? Can you name any other law that applies to public officials that is so routinely ignored?
Part of the problem with getting public officials to comply with the Sunshine Law has been poor public relations on the part of the media. As long as self-serving politicians are allowed to turn serious Sunshine Law violations into a "media issue" rather than a breaking of the public trust, we will continue to spin our wheels and nothing of importance will be done.