Posted by Mitchell Kobernick.
Below is the transcript of the speech I gave at the Board of County Commissioners public meeting on Aug 20, 2019. I think it speaks for itself.
I would like to address how the county notifies the public about public hearings. The county’s standard practice is to publish a notice in the Tampa Bay Times, in the Pasco County edition, on the Friday which ends up being 11 days before a BCC meeting.
Now, I have nothing against the Times, but not everyone subscribes to a newspaper any more. So in addition to the bare legal minimum, why doesn’t the county also publish these notices on its website?
On the county website, under the tab labelled transparency, there is a section called Public Notices. This would seem to be a great place to post notices of public hearings, but they are not there. Why not?
And why not also publish in the Suncoast News, which is delivered free to Pasco homes, if the goal is to inform the public and not just meet the minimum legal requirements.
Let me give you an example why this is an issue. This past May, Pasco County published a notice that the county was going to pass a new MSBU to buy the Gulf Harbors golf course. The notice was published in the Tampa Bay Times on Friday, which is its standard practice.
However, in this case, the county’s attorney, Nicki Spirtos, tried to get the times to move it from Friday and publish it on Thursday instead. The only reason it was not moved was because she missed the deadline. And by the way, I have the documentation from the Tampa Bay Times to back up what I am saying.
It begs the question as to why was she trying to deviate from the county’s standard practice and move the notice from Friday to a day when even less people would see it.
If the county would just post these notices on the website, it could avoid being accused of trying to hide their actions from the public, all in the interest of transparency.