Editor’s note: Shores Town Clerk Laura Aldrich released the transcripts of the two shade meetings held by the Town Council in 2015.
In May of this year, Town of Indian River Shores leaders voluntarily dismissed their circuit court lawsuit against the City of Vero Beach. Prior to dropping its case against the City, the Shores Town Council held three closed-door meetings. According to minutes of the open meetings in which the shade meetings were scheduled, the sole subject to be discussed was “cost of litigation and strategy” regarding pending litigation with the City of Vero Beach.
In providing an exception to the Florida Sunshine Law allowing for shade meetings, the Florida Legislature specifically limited permissible discussion to settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to legal costs. The Legislature also required shade meetings be transcribed by a court reporter, and that the transcripts “be made a part of the public record upon conclusion of the litigation.”
Though the Shores dismissed its circuit court lawsuit months ago, the Town has yet to release the transcripts of the shade meetings. In email sent yesterday to Inside Vero, Town Clerk Laura Aldrich wrote, “Mr. Stabe (Town Manager Robbie Stabe) made the determination Friday to have our attorney open the sealed transcripts to review and advise at his earliest convenience.”
The first question raised by Aldrich’s response to InsideVero’s public records request is why the transcripts remained sealed following the June dismissal of the lawsuit. The second question is why Aldrich said Friday that the transcripts would require redaction by the Town’s attorneys. InsideVero, Aldrich said, would be responsible for paying the cost of having the Town’s attorneys redact the transcripts.
In the same email sent yesterday Aldrich wrote, “The conversation we had late Friday was entirely misinterpreted.” Aldrich gave no explanation for why the transcripts remained sealed as of last Friday, or for why Stabe believes the Town now has the right, some three months after the lawsuit was dismissed, for its attorney to review the transcripts before they are released to the public.