ELLIS: Brevard Amicus Curia A ‘Smoke Screen Excuse’

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SCOTT ELLIS: “This is simply a smoke screen excuse for the real problem at hand for the EDC and the Brevard County Commission – the opening of the finances of the EDC to reveal salaries, benefits, travel, contracts, consultants and other expenditures.”

The old adage of “he who pays the piper calls the tune” appears to be stood on its head when it comes to Brevard County Government and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC).

YOUR-OPINION-435-112

EDITOR’S NOTE: SpaceCoastDaily.com provides an unbiased, non-agenda-driven venue for your information and engagement, and welcomes and encourages all points of view. For more information, or to send your comments and columns, e-mail SpaceCoastDaily@gmail.com

Brevard County Attorney Scott Knox, in a bolt from the blue, is now asking the Brevard County Commission to file an Amicus Curiae brief with the Fifth District Court of Appeal, placing Brevard County government in favor of overturning the trial court decision opening the EDC records to the public.

Oddly enough, the county attorney now claims he just realized the detail of the court’s decision, despite the fact it was entered months ago and nobody from the county attorney’s office (nor county management) felt the issue was important enough to have someone sit through the two days of the case.

It may very well be the county was taken in by the hubris of the EDC, we may never know, but the fact is Brevard County neither monitored the case nor bothered to intervene, either for the limited public records request of the clerk’s office, or for the EDC’s stance that none of their records were public.

Mr. Knox now believes the trial court ruling in favor of public records, “will allow another state, county, city or economic-development organization to make public records requests of the Economic Development Commission that will expose a broad range of documents, such as client contact lists, telephone records, sensitive email correspondence and text messaging that will reveal EDC strategies, contacts and potential project information — particularly in situations where the EDC is engaged in exploratory discussions with prospects before any project has been confirmed and before any confidentiality agreement has been requested by a prospect.”

This is simply a smoke screen excuse for the real problem at hand for the EDC and the Brevard County Commission – the opening of the finances of the EDC to reveal salaries, benefits, travel, contracts, consultants and other expenditures.

Florida Statute 288.075 already gives a shield of confidentiality to client’s customer lists, trade secrets, relocation plans, finances, and other specifically named company information.

Florida Statute 288.075 already gives a shield of confidentiality to client’s customer lists, trade secrets, relocation plans, finances, and other specifically named company information.

As Blueware has shown us, the confidentiality agreement may be signed at any time, and well before any local or state incentive dollars are discussed or pledged. The comment on text messaging, while comical on one level, shows the great stretch being made by the county attorney’s office. We are to believe the alleged multi-million dollar deals being fabricated by the EDC hinge on text messages?

The EDC has hired another attorney to handle the Fifth District Court appeal of the trial court ruling. My bet would be either the new attorney requested the county file the brief or the EDC, in a show of force, ordered the county to step up to the plate.

It’s time for Brevard County to show their support publicly by going all in. No matter it’s a poor choice to double down on a losing hand, and no matter what the outcome of the ruling by the Fifth District Court of Appeal, Brevard County government has clearly shown us who is calling the tune and who is doing the dancing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott Ellis is the Brevard County Clerk of the Court and was first elected to that post in 2000. He voluntarily left office at the end of 2010, and was reelected in 2012 by a wide margin over Mitch Needelman.

From 1992 to 1996, Ellis served on the Brevard County Commission. While a Brevard County Commissioner he worked hard for less government by cutting back on expenditures, debt and bureaucratic red tape.

Scott Ellis

Scott Ellis

Ellis was born in Charleston, West Virginia and graduated from Eau Gallie High School in 1976. Following graduation, he enlisted in the United States Air Force, attaining the rank of Sergeant prior to honorable discharge in 1980. He then graduated from the University of Central Florida in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration in 1985. Ellis went to work for RCA at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as a software analyst on the Command Destruct Range Safety programs.

He has taken an active role in governmental affairs at all levels, writing and speaking on numerous subjects in Brevard County.


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