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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

No charges filed in Sunshine Law complaint in Bradenton Beach

No foul, no charges, no problems, but get an education.

That was the base conclusion of both the Bradenton Beach police and state attorney investigations into "alleged sunshine violations, along with alleged violations of misuse of public position and a violation of laws governing licensing of architects," according to a determination of Assistant State Attorney Ed Brodsky Tuesday.

His findings: "Based on the findings by law enforcement of no violations of law, there will be no charges filed."

Brodsky wrote in his findings that the charges "were fully investigated by (Bradenton Beach) Det. Sgt. Leonard Diaz. In his findings, he concluded there were no violations of law regarding all of the allegations. In one particular allegation, which dealt with alleged violations of Sunshine Laws by city commissioners in their e-mail communications with one another, Det. Diaz concluded 'It does not appear that their intent was to violate the Sunshine Laws, but rather lack of knowledge.

"The state concurs with the findings of law enforcement," Brodsky continued. "Regarding the e-mail conversations, however, the state would point out that there need not be any intention to commit a Sunshine Law violation in order for a violation to exist. A communication in violation of the Sunshine Law may be rectified by a discussion of the issue at a commission meeting. This should not be utilized as a saving grace from a violation of Sunshine Law. It is recommended that Bradenton Beach officials receive training in the Sunshine Laws."

The complaint was lodged by former Bradenton Beach Building Official Bob Welch. In an Oct. 29 memo from Welch to Mayor John Chappie, he said "I have reason to suspect that the actions of several city board members may have violated state statutes," Welch said. Mentioned in the memo are former City Commissioner Scott Barr, Vice Mayor Anna O'Brien, former City Commissioner Dawn Baker, Board of Adjustment Chair Ken Lohn, former mayor and board of adjustment member Gail Cole and planning and zoning board member Ernest Clay.

Among Welch's comments were "possible Sunshine Law violations by the use of e-mails referencing items brought before the commission or items that foreseeable may be brought before the commission; the e-mails were between Barr and O'Brien, between Baker and O'Brien, and between Baker, O'Brien and Lohn."

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