Deciding upon whom to confer the coveted and increasingly prestigious Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week award is subjective. Often, it is a noble soul who makes considerable personal sacrifices to advance the cause of freedom of public information. Sometimes, it is someone whose persistence elicits our admiration.
However, for those who have written to us asking for the list of criteria, all we can really say is we know an STOTW when we see an STOTW.
Margaret Pass of Coral Gables, Florida is an STOTW.
All I knew of lovely Coral Gables until reading this morning’s newspaper is that about a decade ago on a short trip to Florida, we took our three children to its Venetian Pool. Go there if you can.
I didn’t realize that since our visit, Coral Gables has become a troubled city. For instance, I didn’t realize that a city-owned vehicle had regularly been used to ferry city guests to the Alley Cat strip club just outside the city.
In the troubles that have come upon Coral Gables, Margaret Pass lost her job in 2006. She had been the director of the Coral Gables Building and Zoning Department until a tip was received that “there might be something wrong in the Building and Zoning Department.” It turned out, there were things wrong and when Pass is referred to these days, she is referred to as “the disgraced former Building and Zoning Director Margaret Pass.”
What Margaret Pass has now done that has compelled our admiration even as we tried to resist is file a very detailed 4-page open records request with the city of Coral Gables. It appears from the request that she is already familiar with the contents of the documents she has requested.
For example, she requests “any records reflecting the city purchase of art installed in the city manager or mayor’s office” and “all records, including but not limited to applications, plans, e-mails, memos, approval documents and permits related to a permit granted for an enclosed garage at a home in the 200 block of Campina Court”.
An attorney consulted by a local newspaper to assist them in interpreting what all this could mean said, “When (city officials) see this type of request they know how to interpret it. In every litigation there are always messages sent, whether they be blatant or flagrant or subtle. In this particular case it would not surprise me if it was in fact a message for the city.”
It wouldn’t surprise me, either.
Margaret, if you ever read this, please contact our office for your official STOTW certificate.