CRESTVIEW — City Council members excused themselves during Monday evening's meeting, leaving the council chamber during a resident's presentation, to avoid a potential Sunshine Law violation.
Dr. Jean Mitchell addressed the council about the city's proposed animal control ordinance when she described conversations she had with individual council members.
City attorney Jerry Miller cautioned Mitchell that disclosing council members' individual remarks made when other council members weren't present was a violation of Sunshine Laws.
"If you are lobbying council members, never communicate to them or in public make reports on their positions," Miller said. "It exposes them to dire consequences."
When Mitchell resumed the discussion, Miller said, "Do not get back into the hole I just dug you out of."
To allow Mitchell to enter her comments into the public record without exposing city leaders to a potential Sunshine violation, Council President Robyn Helt excused board members to wait in the hallway.
"I don't feel I was treated professionally by the attorney," Mitchell said. "I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. To be reprimanded in front of everyone I thought was appalling."
Mitchell concluded her presentation and the council members were summoned back into the chamber.
"Is there any specific remedy we need to take?" Helt asked Miller upon reconvening the meeting.
"No ma'am," Miller replied. "You did all you could to protect yourselves."