Joel Chandler: Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week

A reliable journalist reports that Joel Chandler of Lakeland, Florida, does not “fit the gadfly profile”. And yet, Mr. Chandler has successfully pursued with the withholding and difficult Polk County School District an idealistic vision of citizen access to key government documents; as a result, he is the very deserving winner of this week’s Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week

Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week

See Man wins fight for public records.

On October 9, Polk County Circuit Judge Roger Alcott ordered the Polk County school district to release to Chandler the names, phone numbers, addresses and dependents’ names of any of the estimated 13,000 employees in the district who receive health care. Judge Alcott also ordered the school district to pay the $35,000 fees of Mr. Chandler’s attorney.

After he won the lawsuit, Mr. Chandler decided to ask every school district in Florida for similar records.

As a result, our STOTW has dozens of threatening e-mails suggesting that he “watch out” and “beware” because they’ve got their eye on him.

To this, Mr. Chandler says, “Some people like baseball and football. This has been a lot of fun. It’s like dealing with a bully.”

Welcome, Mr. Chander, to the storied ranks of the STOTWs, and keep the faith.


16 responses to “Joel Chandler: Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week

  1. Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Thanks for wasting taxpayer money and school district employee time. And for the worry of about 75% of the school district employees who are wondering who int he world wants to know where we live and why!? Find something better to do with your time, Sir!

  3. Pingback: In Florida, your reason for wanting records doesn’t matter « Open Records

  4. Pingback: STOTW Chandler continues to make headlines in Florida « Open Records

  5. Mr. Chambers,
    After my school district gave me the information that most of my personal information was being requested by a private individual, I entered a Google search on your name and the first thing that appeared was “Joel Chandler: Sunshine Troublemaker of the Week.” Your appointment as “Troublemaker of the Week” is not only well founded, but should be amended to “Troublemaker of the Year.” I sincerely hope that this pointless waste of time and money was worth it. I also hope that because of your foolish requests that my information is not “accidentally” leaked to anyone. I have quite enough unsolicited sales calls and mailings as it is,and I make it a point to NEVER buy anything that has come to me in this manner, so if you are enriching some of your relatives or friends through this process you will have no luck with me.
    It is to be hoped in this day and age of information and identity theft that at least our home and family life can be left unmolested and undisturbed, but thanks to you and your silly “request” now I have to worry that my information is released to someone as foolish as you.
    Another comment: The education budget is already too small for all of the things that the schools are supposed to do for our students, and now the Polk county budget has to pay for your foolhardy lawsuits. If our students are cut short so what? Joel Chandler had his day in court.

  6. Pingback: More on Joel Chandler « Open Records

  7. I find it interesting that so many folks have expressed outrage that I may misuse the records that I have received as the result of a court order and with the support of an Attorney General’s Opinion. It seems that those who have expressed such outrage are worried that I may publish or otherwise distribute the personal information of their minor dependents.

    That fact is, that I have not distributed in any manner so much a single piece of data from the records that I have received. I have stated repeatedly that I will not sell, distribute, publish, license or by any other means make available to anyone any of the data that I have or will receive as a result of this public records request. This is a self-imposed restriction as it is my right to do whatever I wish with the data.

    And yet, a number of my critics (including various School Boards in Florida as well as Union leaders) have widely published my personal information. Some of the information published has included my children’s names, ages and genders and other personal details; satellite images of my home; criminal background checks; personal financial data; background information regarding extended family members and their minor children, etc. Of course most of these have been published anonymously as their authors appear to be too cowardly or too ashamed to sign their work.

    It strikes me as incredibly disingenuous for these folks to criticize me for something I have not done and then do it to my children out of spite. If these personal attacks were intended to discourage my activism they have had the opposite effect.

    The whole purpose for my public records request was to exercise a constitutionally guaranteed right for every Floridian. I believe that government functions best in the sunshine. Ironically, the entity (School Board of Polk County) that I fought in the courts is now under investigation by the FBI for corruption.

  8. Quid pro quo Mr. Chandler. I don’t have your personal information – but I would love to have it if I could. You “fought the bully and won” ? I and my family have never hurt you. To us, you are the bully. I should trust you not to sell my information? Why? Nothing you have done gives me the warm fuzzies about you. Do you know the damage you have done? When I was younger, I was on some nuts hit list. My brother was murdered at 19 years old and my family stalked. I finally felt safe enough to live a normal life and raise a family. I felt that my information was safe. Ironically, I have you to thank for my now knowing how easily someone can get the personal information of my family and me. I also have you to thank for waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and wondering if I should quit teaching and pull up stakes. I teach because I love to do so, but I love my family too. Thank you so much, Mr. Chandler – a.k.a. “The Bully” . I hope that it is true that what goes around comes around.

  9. Well then Bravo Mr. Chandler, you have let this person (A. Terri) know that they need to do more to protect their information and that if they are on a psycho hit list perhaps they shouldn’t work in the public spotlight. A. Terri private school is the way to go. Thank you Mr. Chandler for keeping them safe!

  10. Additionally if I might add, Anonymity is something enjoyed by few. Nearly anyone’s information can be found. Most of it for free, nearly all if your willing to pay for it. In fact court orders are public, property records are public, email addresses that are sent to a public sector in florida are public. In fact with the number off of the side of a school bus it is possible to find the date that the driver of that bus purchased their house, how much it was purchased for and you can see copies of their mortgage. You can also get all of that information with nearly any phone number. Florida needs to wake up, the law makers are not outside of the law. A. Terri, Quid pro quo? Seriously? Do you honestly think that having your information published is the same as having it requested and never distributed? That’s despicable and cowardice. You and those who share your opinions are hiding behind your anger, he has every right to access those records and you have every right to work in the private sector. I’m glad we have men with enough courage to make sure the government isn’t acting above the law. It is not silly, it is not ridiculous, it is noble and wise. Those who think otherwise are entirely to self-centered to even process information objectively. Are you teachers? Then learn something.

    Thank-you Joel Chandler!

  11. Pingback: Florida STOTW Joel Chandler files more lawsuits and starts a website « Open Records

  12. Dear Chandler,

    I fear, that most folk are unaware of the larger picture of why you are requesting public records. You agreed that personal information about individuals should be exempt from the general public-even though you requested them. This should hint to higher thinking individuals that you aren’t really interested in the names of their octuplets, cousins and ex-spouses.You pointed out the consequences government officials must face once a law is broken. Have any of the officials in the counties who refused your request received jail time, a fine, or been removed from office? It appears consequences have be dished out only after you’ve put time, money & effort where your mouth is. Bottom line: The little guy is always held accountable from traffic tickets to taxes (which we should all be held accountable). But is everyone held to that same standard? Government officials? The wealthy? We know just from watching the news this past year..No, most of the time they are not. So, I applaud you Mr. Chandler for having the balls, the heart (and maybe a little bit of ego) and for being an individual doing your part to hold our officials accountable. Bring their distasteful dealings into the light. Anyone who chooses to use half their brain-should have realized by now that you could care less about their private info. You are not the first or last person who will request multiple public records and I’m sure their rcords are safer with you than with some of our public officials! Bravo! And carry on Mr. Chandler. Maybe when this area has been exhausted-you will find another venue to continue to hold our local & or state governments accountable? You know what, Mr. Chandler? I think you’re my hero.

  13. Theresa Edwards

    Dear Mr. Chandler,
    What most of these outraged persons fail to understand is what you requested ALL of the citizens of this country are entitled too have upon request. You were simply making the state stand up under the very same laws that they impose on the average person and then refuse to follow that very law when it is inconvenient. As for the cost involved had the district followed “THE LAW” no cost would have been incurred to anyone but yourself for reasonable copy fees. As for BULLY who is the bully “the system that consistently beats down the little guy or the little guy who takes a stand”? When your done with FL I have some work for you in Sunny Georgia.

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