St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Senators propose to raid a fund that purchases wild Florida lands
  • Everglades restoration lags behind schedule
  • 'My son is not coming back'
  • Florida's HMO appeals board is rarely used
  • Senate okays adoption changes
  • University job search bill would punish loose lips
  • Autopsy photo bill quickly passed by House
  • Legislature 2001

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

    printer version

    University job search bill would punish loose lips

    A year in prison could await anyone who reveals the name of a university or college presidential hopeful under a new bill.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2001

    Republican lawmakers pushing a bill that would allow community college and university presidents to be selected in secret have added a kicker -- the threat of criminal penalties against anyone who reveals a candidate's name.

    The sanction, usually reserved for disclosures involving child abuse or ethics investigations, was not sought by the state task force that recommended presidential searches be taken out of the sunshine.

    Laurie Cain, deputy director of the Education Governance Reorganization Task Force, said that panel is interested only in obtaining the best possible candidates for presidencies.

    She was asked what that goal said about the quality of Florida's current presidents, all of whom were selected in the sunshine.

    "It doesn't mean people of high caliber didn't seek out those positions. We were blessed," Cain said. But she said there is no doubt public searches discourage top people from applying, especially sitting presidents, who can appear disloyal if they are seen as job-hunting.

    Cain referred questions about the criminal penalties to Rep. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, who is the bill's primary sponsor. Her measure would make the disclosure of a candidate's name a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison. Lynn, a member of the education task force, did not return calls seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush said he has not taken a position on the bill.

    Barbara Petersen, director of the First Amendment Foundation, a non-profit watchdog for open government in Florida, said the measure is just the latest example of the Legislature's desire to limit public scrutiny.

    Petersen said she has seen more bills in the first few weeks of this session that exempt public records than she saw all of last year.

    The most notable is the measure that would limit public access to autopsy photos, a bill that responds to the Orlando Sentinel's request to review the autopsy records of race car legend Dale Earnhardt.

    Petersen said the push to allow secret presidential searches is especially worrisome given the expected abolishment of the state Board of Regents, which has selected university leaders since 1965.

    Much of the regents' authority will be shifted to university boards of trustees, including the power to hire and fire presidents.

    "If this passes, we'll never know who was considered or why they were eliminated," she said. "This is misguided, and a dangerous precedent."

    The call for secret searches is not new. It was heard last year when officials struggled to pick a new president at the University of Florida, a search that eventually was abandoned. Charles Young, the former leader of UCLA, agreed last year to fill the job for about two years.

    Several years ago, lawmakers changed the procedure for selecting the university system chancellor, saying that only the names of finalists must be made public. They did not, however, attach criminal penalties.

    That process was used only once, when Adam Herbert was selected three years ago. His was the only name included on the list of finalists.

    Under Lynn's bill, only the name of the winner would be revealed to the public.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk