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A Tallahassee commissioner is suing to force Blueprint Intergovernmental Management Committee meetings into the sunshine

Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow stands behind a podium with a mic.
Regan McCarthy
Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow announced a lawsuit Thursday against the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency.

Tallahassee Commissioner Jeremy Matlow says decisions about local infrastructure spending are too often made outside the public view. Matlow is suing the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency to force meetings of its Intergovernmental Management Committee into the sunshine.

Matlow says discussions between City Manager Reese Goad and County Administrator Vince Long, who together make up Blueprint’s Intergovernmental Management Committee, often take place out of public view, but he says big decisions can be made during those meetings.

“Over the course of four years, I’ve heard from people all across our community, whether it was the unfortunate way the northeast gateway progressed—you know hundreds of residents in Killearn showing up being confused about the process, not knowing who to speak to. We saw that play out with the Doak Campbell Stadium. People were asking what happened before we got here, how did this come out of nowhere? I think those are valid questions and they speak to the sunshine concern," Matlow says.

Blueprint’s board is made up of city and county commissioners who are elected and meet publicly. But the Intergovernmental Management Committee does not. The IMC is charged with administering Blueprint programs, recommending policy to the Blueprint board and carrying out its long-range direction. Part of that involves making recommendations about funding decisions.

Matlow's laywer, Marie Mattox, says those kinds of conversations should be held publicly.

If you’re involved in making recommendations, making decisions that will influence the agency, even Blueprint itself, then you need to operate in the sunshine," Mattox says.

In the lawsuit, Mattox and Matlow are asking a judge to order future IMC meetings to follow sunshine requirements including noticing meeting and keeping minutes.

Meanwhile, Susan Dawson, an attorney representing Blueprint, has previously said the IMC does not need to comply with the Sunshine Law because it’s not a board. Even though it does make recommendations, Dawson explained the IMC functions more like a manager, in that the city manager and county administrator are managing the Blueprint director.

Matlow says he’s disappointed the issue has come to the point of filing a lawsuit, but he says he felt he was unable to find another way to get the answer he wanted. He says he hopes the outcome brings more transparency to how public infrastructure spending decisions are made.

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Regan McCarthy covers healthcare and government in Tallahassee, Florida. She is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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