Matlow wants to shed light on Blueprint’s operation

With Attorney Marie Mattox (right) at his side, City Commissioner Jeremy made his case for answers about Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency’s violation of the state’s Sunshine Laws.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

Claiming that the “public is left completely in the dark,” City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow has taken the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency to court.

Matlow wants to know why Blueprint’s Intergovernmental Management Committee isn’t abiding by Florida Sunshine Laws. The committee is made up of City Manager Reese Goad and Leon County Administrator Vince Long.

Matlow filed suit last Thursday in Leon County Circuit Court. He is represented as a private citizen by attorney Marie Mattox.

Attorney Susan Dawson, who represents Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency, offered a one-sentence response to the seven-page suit.

The Agency “will vigorously defend against the meritless lawsuit that was filed today,” Dawson wrote in an email response.

Matlow seemed just as vehement about fighting for answers.

“If I do anything with my time in Tallahassee it’s going to reform this broken system that works for the well-connected at the expense of everyone,” he said.

Matlow and Mattox attended a press conference last Thursday in front of Leon County Court, where Mattox said they aren’t seeking removal of Goad or Long but clarity on the Sunshine Laws concern.

“This is seeking to have the IMC operate in the sunshine,” Mattox said. “The Legislature has set forth who has to operate in the sunshine. Our position is that the IMC has been in violation of that law.”

Mattox said it could take as many as 20 to 30 days for a response from the court. The case could take as many as six months to be heard, she said, adding that while the Blueprint is the only one named in the suit it might be amended to include Goad and Long. 

The Sunshine question is one that Matlow said he’d been trying to get answered since he took office almost four years ago. Matlow, who is running for reelection, said he reached a boiling point on the question two months ago when he couldn’t get answers at an Intergovernmental Agency meeting.

That meeting ended abruptly as a result of his questions, Matlow said. He also questioned funding for “giveaway projects.”

Among those projects are $20 million to Florida State University for work on its football stadium, the Northeast Gateway project and a pathway through a development in Weluanee off Centerville Road. Priority should be given to projects like sidewalks along West Tharpe Street, Orange Avenue development and the North Monroe Gateway, Matlow said.

He also questioned the authority given to Goad and Long to hire, make decisions on contracts and budget recommendations.

“Blueprint doesn’t operate according to city and county policy,” Matlow said. “It prides itself on its one-of-a-kind structure not seen in other communities. That, however, doesn’t excuse the agency from following open meeting requirements of Florida law.”

Matlow’s suit is the first bought against Blueprint by a government official.

“I don’t want to be here suing government,” Matlow said. “We should be able to say ask this question in a public meeting among elected officials and staff and get a clear answer. Unfortunately under current leadership we don’t have that right now.”

 


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