This school board appointment situation is becoming a bit weird.
In last week’s edition we wrote about the District 4 seat on the Gulf County School Board, absent since the untimely passing of Billy Quinn, Jr. in the spring, and the apparent lack of applicants for the position.
The story was also about the difficulty of pulling information out of the governor’s press office, a story that continues a month after the first inquiry regarding the applicants for the seat.
The governor must appoint Quinn’s replacement.
First, there are indeed applicants, at least two.
Deborah Crosby, who recently retired from Gulf District Schools after a distinguished career of four decades, applied in April shortly after Quinn’s passing.
In an oddity, the governor’s appointments office did not confirm the application until late August, but Crosby is on record as having applied.
Another rather interesting twist arrived from the Florida Democratic Party: the Florida Democratic Party.
That email provided confirmation from the governor’s appointments office that local pastor Charles Gathers had also applied to replace Quinn.
That email confirmation was sent to Gathers Sept. 27, the day after the story appeared in last week’s edition.
Gathers was informed that “applications were being reviewed … and an appointment would be made at the governor’s discretion.”
Apparently, the governor’s press office is not privy to this information, which is, according to Florida Sunshine Laws, public record.
In the email thread that began with the newspaper’s second request, three weeks apart, for the names of applicants to the position, we were ultimately informed that the governor’s office of “open government” did not have any such applicants.
The story published last Thursday and we subsequently heard from two applicants.
Following that information up with the governor’s press office, we were then informed we would need to make a public records request to the “office of open government” which, we shall note, we had previously been informed had no such information.
Nonetheless, another email request was sent to the office of open government.
The coordinator from the Office of Open Government replied with the following:
“The Governor’s Office of Open Government compiles existing documents responsive to public records requests. A list of applicants to the Gulf County School Board is not an existing document within the Executive Office of the Governor, therefore there are no documents responsive to this request.”
This was a follow-up to a request initially made nearly a month prior, bear in mind.
“However, the Governor’s Office of Open Government received your request this morning (Sept. 27) …and is happy to initiate a search for applications received for the Gulf County School Board.”
That was the last word from anybody within the governor’s office.