Armando Ramirez (November 13, 2013)
Osceola Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez received advice this week from the First Amendment Foundation on upholding the states public records laws.
The letter from the state watchdog was written in the wake of Orange-Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashtons critical review last month of Ramirezs commitment to the publics right to review and obtain government records.
These are extremely worrisome allegations, Mr. Ramirez, and it would appear the only reason criminal charges werent filed is because there wasnt sufficient evidence to move forward, wrote Barbara A. Peterson, president of the First Amendment Foundation.Like Mr. Ashton, we are very concerned with the gravity of these allegations which suggest, at the very least, a lack of education and training of your staff on the requirements of Floridas public records law, in not a disregard for the publics constitutional right of access to government records.
The letter came less than a month after Ramirez fired staff attorney, Adam Alvarez, after Alvarez warned against breaking public records law. Ramirez, a Democrat, took office last year and has fired six top aides while two others resigned.
On Wednesday afternoon, Ramirez did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the First Amendment Foundation letter.
In it, Peterson also wrote, You should be aware that, while State Attorney Jeffery Ashton has decided existed evidence is currently insufficient to bring criminal charges against you, we will continue to monitor your office and its compliance with the public records law. “Moreover, we strongly encourage you and your staff obtain additional public record and sunshine law training to ensure compliance with our constitutional right of access and governmental oversight.
Ramirez has not responded to a public records request filed last week by the Orlando Sentinel seeking information about the public record training he, Chief Deputy Clerk Jennifer Soto, and Human Resources Director Natalie Bryan have received since taking office.
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Osceola Clerk Ramirez gets public record advice