Question: With Florida’s Sunshine Laws precluding private discussions among elected board members, how would you work to build consensus on issues you bring forward or support?
The law allows members to provide recommendations and position points in writing to other members, so long as there is no discussion or reply. As Mayor, I would implement these to improve greater insight and enhance discussions at council meetings. As a member of the Budget Review Committee, I have used this approach with success. The council wastes a lot of time trying to understand members’ positions during a meeting instead of being prepared in advance. We need to understand member positions on topics facing Cape Coral residents before the meetings to spur questions and results. Currently the City Manager meets with council members individually in pre-briefings to interact and provide feedback with him and his team. This gives the City Manager a great advantage to shape the discussion of a topic in a way that suites his position. I have observed this on several occasions. The council needs to guard against this and remember that they are the elected officials and represent the residents of the city.