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Bizarro: PSC caller tells AG she wants into meeting, then refuses to give ID

Write this one down as bizarro PSC development number 56: A woman calls the attorney general's communications office and asks if the public is welcome at the meeting of Bill McCollum's Sunshine Technology Team briefing today. The meeting will focus on how to make sure that state officials can comply with public records laws in the era of BlackBerry PINs and instant messaging, to avoid troubles like the ones the Public Service Commission has faced.

The AG's office tells the caller: "Sure. But it's a small room we want to make sure we have enough chairs.'' The woman refuses to identify herself or if anyone will be with her. She says only that's she's just a public citizen.

"From what we could tell the number appears to be from the PSC's main line,'' said Sandi Copes, communication director for McCollum. The meeting and its details have been posted on the attorney general's web site, she said so, "there would be no reason to gain access under false pretenses.''

PSC spokesperson Cindy Muir said it wasn't her office. "I don't know who it was. We're not going.''


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Private Citizen

This raises an interesting question.

When state officials hold public meetings, should they even ASK for identification from people attending the meeting or inquiring about the meeting?

If it's a public meeting, the government should not ask people to identify themselves. Private citizens should be able to attend or ask about public meetings without the government trying to find out who they are. It can be intimidating, at best, or, at worst, it can be an effort to either keep people from attending or to "keep tabs" on people who do attend or who ask questions.

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