Fighting for Your Rights – Hidden Records
🥊Tap Gloves and Fight!
Round 4 with Waste Pro.
Great news, sports fans – Waste Pro has sued us again.. for the 4thtime, all because they want to hide how much MORE money they are making off you this year with their sweetheart, no-bid contract in Santa Rosa County.
Well, we don’t mind a fight – especially when someone has it coming.
What happened?: In early November we filed a records request with Santa Rosa County for information about how much more money Waste Pro is making off their very favorable contract amendment with Santa Rosa County – reducing service and increasing price. The county earns a franchise fee off of each “customer” (are you really a customer if you don’t have a choice?) and so that information is a public record under Florida State Statute 119.0701 (3)(a) .
Seems pretty fair –
Waste Pro apparently thinks not.
Instead of turning over the records, Waste Pro decided to sue us instead -attempting to hide information that belongs to YOU – the taxpayer.
Stealing your right to request government documents.
In their lawsuit – the lawyers for Waste Pro (remember, the people that want to keep ‘bad stuff’ out of the public eye) argue that just because Waste Pro is the “exclusive franchisee” and all citizens who want to have trash service in South Santa Rosa must have it with them, they aren’t performing a service on behalf of Santa Rosa County and aren’t subject to the law. They want the court to do two things:
- Protect Waste Pro from having to cough up the public records
- Prohibit Adams from being allowed to ask for public records in the future!
Well – we think that they have a very clear responsibility to produce the documents – after all, it’s the law in the state of Florida! We should all have to follow the law, right?
But it’s the part where Waste Pro thinks they have the right to tell someone seeking public records to shut up and stop asking questions that really got our dander up.
Today, it’s the (we get it) mildly-annoying-but-persistent legal guy for a small regional trash company. But if Waste Pro’s actions are any indication – they’d like to be able to tell you (their taxpaying “customer”) to shut up and mind your own business, too – with the force of the courts behind them. And that’s a scary thought.
No matter. We know that we are justified in wanting a look at those records – and we’re not going to stop fighting to get them. Even if it’s expensive. Even if it’s painful. Because – it’s the right thing to do.