Naples City Desk honored with prestigious Freedom of Information Award in Florida Press Club 2014 Excellence in Journalism contest
Naples City Desk on Watchdogcity.com won a second place Freedom of Information Award in the Florida Press Club’s 2014 Excellence in Journalism Awards Contest. The Freedom of Information Award is considered the second most prestigious honor in the annual contest that’s now in its 62nd year, and journalists from some of the state’s largest newspapers competed for the honor.
Naples City Desk was recognized for investigative stories that raised questions about abuse of power by Clerk of Courts Dwight Brock and for subsequently filing a lawsuit challenging high public records fees Brock charged after the first stories published.
See: “Elected auditor Brock sics law enforcement on 2012 political challenger over housing grant; Naples City Desk investigation: Internal documents show Brock allegations false, misleading” and “Appraisals reviewed by Brock’s own staff 2 years ago document construction Brock says not proven.” For more on the public records lawsuit and trial, click here.
Collier Circuit Judge Fred Hardt initially found in favor of Naples City Desk and said this reporter had to pay only $2 for two CDs, not the $556 charged by Brock. Brock forced the issue to trial and Judge Hardt issued a split decision in June, finding that Brock could only charge $1 to Naples City Desk for 350 pages of electronic emails, but that Naples City Desk had to pay $256 for Brock’s audit policy manual because Brock’s staff testified that the signed copy of that document only existed in paper form when Naples City Desk requested it.
Brock immediately appealed Hardt’s ruling and the case is pending before the Second District Court of Appeal.
First Place honors went to the staff of the Jacksonville Times Union, which filed three public records and open government legal actions in the past year. Third Place went to Dan Christensen of the Broward Bulldog who filed a lawsuit against the FBI and Department of Justice seeking to open up 9-11 documents to the public.
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Reporting by: Gina Edwards
Dateline: Naples, Fla., Nov. 17, 2014
Contact Gina Edwards at 239-514-1336 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org