Sebastian City Attorney Opinion: No Laws Broken with Council Members

Sebastian City Attorney Jim Stokes
Sebastian City Attorney Jim Stokes

Mayor Ed Dodd asked the city attorney’s opinion if there was a Sunshine Law violation when council members Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris attended a Natural Resources Board meeting.

“I saw councilman Gilliams expressing to the board, thoughts about city business. I did not see any other council member responding to that or getting up and commenting on what he was saying or anything, so that being the case, but again, just a lawyer’s opinion, I’m not the one that counts, it would be the state’s attorney to pursue anything,” City Attorney Jim Stokes said at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting.

Stokes went on to say that there’s no problem with multiple elected officials being at other board meetings or speaking.

“But as soon as more than one of them speaks and their speaking on the same topic and it starts to become a back & forth … then that’s when you slide into potential Sunshine issues. That’s not what I saw on the video of the Natural Resources Board,” Strokes said.

Again, Stokes emphasized that it’s only his legal opinion and that it would ultimately be up to the state’s attorney.

Some residents in Sebastian have either disagreed or mentioned other potential Sunshine Law violations.

One potential violation in public opinion has to do with Gilliams instructing Parris on how to vote for each issue during the City Council meetings.

Dodd criticized Gillliams for appearing at the Natural Resources Board and asking them to vote on something. Ultimately, the board declined Gilliams’ request.

“You did a gigantic injustice to that group last night, you gave them about 10 percent of the information they needed to make a decision, then asked them to make a decision, and you put them in total disarray. It was a total injustice to a volunteer board that is making high progress on a matter,” Dodd told Gilliams during the meeting.

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges was born in Annapolis, Maryland and raised in Jupiter, Florida. Andy has been a radio & TV personality since the 1980s. He has worked for WLIZ, WFLX-FOX 29, WIRK, WIXI, WKSY, WRMF, and WJNO to name a few. After spending 7 years in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1990s, Andy returned to Florida and settled in the small town of Sebastian in 2000. In 2005, he returned to the broadcasting news sector and eventually joined our news team in 2016 as editor in chief. Andy's family has lived in Sebastian for more than 45 years.