Tallahassee Democrat Publisher Seeks Financial Favor from City Commission Through Commissioner Miller

Tallahassee Democrat Publisher Seeks Financial Favor from City Commission Through Commissioner Miller

City Commissioner Nancy Miller, at the end of the most recent city commission meeting, made a startling request on behalf of the Tallahassee Democrat.

Ms. Miller asked if the City of Tallahassee could waive information request fees for the Tallahassee Democrat.  The request was only for the Tallahassee Democrat. Other media outlets would have to pay the fees.

Information request fees are costs charged to those who seek documents or information that requires city staff to stop their city work and recover documents. The fees are allowed under Florida state statutes.

For example, Tallahassee Reports recently requested a group of emails and the cost was approximately $250. We did not ask for a waiver.

This fee waiver idea emerged from a discussion Commissioner Miller had with Skip Foster, the publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat.

On behalf of Mr. Foster, Miller asked the city commission if there was a way to provide, to the recognized affiliated news service of the city, public records now and in the future free of charge.

As a facebook poster pointed out, the Tallahassee Democrat isn’t “affiliated with the city, and anyone in an elected position should know that, or have an issue if it was.”

Attorney Lew Shelley quickly pointed out that there is no legal basis for favoring one media outlet over another with regards to fees for gathering public records.

City Commissioner Scott Maddox, who appeared shocked by the request, said “I’m a little uncomfortable with an entity contacting one or two commissioner and asking for a fee waiver.”

The idea died from a lack of interest.

The Commissioner Miller fee waiver request raises a number of questions.

First, is it not unethical for Commissioner Miller, who is a filed candidate and has an opponent, to seek a financial favor for the Tallahassee Democrat who will obviously have some say in how her election will be covered?

And second, is it appropriate for a publisher of a newspaper to be asking for financial favors -privately – from an elected official and a candidate?

24 Responses to "Tallahassee Democrat Publisher Seeks Financial Favor from City Commission Through Commissioner Miller"

    1. Until that happens, nothing will ever get better up there. Zifer is not the answer for mayor he is like the rest of them swaying with the wind and changing his stances based on what will get him reelected. He was against the ethics board before he was for it.

  1. And the idea that this is somehow proprietary on the Democrat’s part comes from not understanding that once all the redaction has been done (in the public interest, in response to the Democrat’s request), anyone else will be able to get it without that charge because COT cannot charge for the same work twice.

    1. Ms. Palmer, if the request wasn’t “proprietary on the Democrat’s part”, then why not ask ALL the Commissioners and the mayor in the usual open and public manner (and in writing so the request itself is also a City record) for any entity making a specific request of COT? Why approach just ONE Commissioner in a private “discussion” of which both parties seem to have a different version?
      In addition, The Democrat (ostensibly at least) portrays itself as a “journalistic” entity and as such, should realize (even if not practicing it) that any request by a “journalistic” organization has the highest ethical and professional responsilbility to make ANY request involving a government entity both properly and publicly. The mere fact that this was done in a “discussion” with only ONE Commissioner is highly suspect in itself, simply by the manner in which the request was introduced into a COT Commissioners meeting. If even Scott Maddox was “a little uncomfortable” with the request and “appeared shocked by it”, then the request itself was obviously done in a secretive and highly irregular way.

      I for one am extremely glad that TR brings incidents and information such as this into published form, so it can be revealed and questioned by the public, especially since no “media outlet” in this town (other than TR) has done so in the past decade or so.

  2. The characterization of this as “seeking financial favor” is unfair. Governments absolutely can waive the fees to produce public records when it is in the public interest to do so. And, if COT were being open, it would do so. If COT does not yet have a way of collecting public records and preserving them in a way that makes redaction of private info a matter of an electronic search and white out (easily done in Acrobat and other apps.), then they ought to get up to speed.

  3. Re: “Other media outlets would have to pay the fees.”
    The local rag’s got an Opinion posted tonight where they say the fee should not apply to ANYONE wanting a copy of the emails submitted to the FBI. Not just them, but other media outlets, and the public at large too.

    So which was it?

      1. Watched the video and Miller was clear that the TD publisher approached her about waiving ‘fees’ for the TD and their public records requests. TD in their article says no one approached anyone about waiving fees for only the TD but rather for ‘all’ requests for public records. We have one, or the other, or both as liars here. Who’s going to blink first or try to ‘spin’ it?

  4. Commissioner Miller Seeks Financial Benefit For Tallahassee Democrat Excluding Other Media And Citizens!

    If Miller delivers cash for Democrat, what can Democrat give Miller?

    How about a political endorsement! How about looking the other way and not reporting facts about city jobs for her kids, $250,000 city contract for her brother-in-law, and how about her funneling federal money to her friend, campaign manager, Democrat writer, and FBI suspect Gary Yordon!

    One more business willing to “pay to play”. Nancy it would have been more honest if you would have kept the $1000 bribe I offered you during the open city commission meeting.

    Skip I am terribly disappointed! Your attempt to consummate this unethical relationship has cost you a lot of credibility.

    What special offers do you have for other candidates? Shameful!

    Go ahead and write something terrible about me!

  5. I would never say that Nancy has dookey for brains.
    It would be so wrong to say Nancy has dookey for brains.
    Oh what the heck “Nancy has dookey for brains”!!!
    See how I cleverly and seamlessly wove the word dookey into this post 3 no wait 4 times without anyone even noticing?

  6. You, Ms. Miller, like the Mayor and his predecessor are a shameless embarrassment. I had once given you some credit for “class” (if not a depth of intellect), but this shows how you are bought and sold like all of the others. Unfortunately, according to TR’s article, the request died for “lack of interest.” It should have been killed for sheer stupidity.

  7. I have many, many questions that may be answered by a special records request.

    Can I get them for free?

    I promise to be specific, kinda.

  8. They need to get a few more new Ford cars parked in their lot and charge the dealer by the car.
    Hey Skippy, how’s that office space rental in your empty building going?

    That’s what I thought.

  9. There’s credibility for you. Ask the entity which your paper is supposed to be holding accountable (I know, that ship set sail long ago) for a little financial help. I guess the budget is a little tight down there, even with extra cash from renting out the parking lot to Tallahassee Ford. So…very…sad.

    1. Maybe we should file an ethics complaint – oh wait our ethics officer doesn’t ever do anything. Two ethics investigations in what 3 years? Read some of her Facebook posts and we see where she really stands.

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