Fighting for Access: The Battle between Satellite Beach Officials and Citizens

Donate toward legal fees on GoFundMe

Exploring Transparency in Government: The Satellite Beach Lawsuit and Florida's Sunshine Law

In September 2018, council members of Satellite Beach violated the Sunshine Law, which mandates that government business must be conducted in public. When citizens arrived at the meeting, they were met by police officers who informed them that it was a "private meeting" and escorted them out. The meeting was initially advertised as a public "workshop" but was abruptly canceled by the City on the day of the meeting.

A group of residents took legal action when they were denied access to a meeting they had scheduled with Robert Bowcock, an expert on water issues who has worked alongside Erin Brockovich. The purpose of the meeting was to address concerns about PFAS contamination and potential health risks. However, only certain citizens could attend, as the Council selectively chose who could participate, leaving others out.

One of those residents permitted into the meeting later sent an 11-page packet to the plaintiff's house, which contained intimidations and harassment. They were even found in public records suggesting placing "bots" on the plaintiff's nonprofit organization's website, causing financial harm. Investigation revealed that the City of Satellite Beach was involved in the packet, as it was printed by the City Manager's assistant on November 19, 2018, using taxpayers' funds, as shown in public records.

Multiple sources, including video footage, photos, documents, and testimonies from several residents, professionals, and media outlets, confirm that elected officials Mindy Gibson, Mark Brimer, and Frank Catino violated the state's open-meeting law. The photographic evidence clearly shows the three officials together behind closed doors. The Sunshine Law ensures that meetings involving "official business by any agency" are accessible to the public. It prohibits public officials from holding private meetings to discuss any matter on which the public board or commission will take foreseeable action.

According to public records, government officials have admitted to trying to bypass the sunshine law by rotating officials during meetings. This shows that they are willing to violate the constitutional right of access. Such actions only serve to diminish trust in the government. Instead of avoiding transparency, city officials should welcome it. 

Florida officials block access to meeting about water

It has been discovered that PFAS chemicals were utilized at Patrick Space Force Base (previously known as Air Force Base), leading to the detection of these chemicals in the groundwater of Satellite Beach City. Following the open meetings law, the public should have been allowed to attend the meeting regarding PFAS contamination. Mayor Frank Catino made a statement on September 19, 2018, confirming that the meeting's purpose was to address concerns about the contaminated water.

A lawsuit was filed by citizens whose rights were violated, but unfortunately, Judge Paulk dismissed the case after 18 months. Due to pandemic restrictions, the hearing was conducted over the phone, and government attorneys repeatedly postponed it while modifying and updating paperwork. Due to this decision, the plaintiffs could not present their evidence or witnesses in court.

The plaintiffs decided to challenge the court's ruling, but the appellate court supported Judge Paulk's decision to dismiss the case. However, the court did not provide any explanation for its decision. The court also ruled that the lawsuit was not frivolous or filed in bad faith and rejected the City's request for attorneys' fees and costs filed on March 8, 2022. 

The government officials consider the dismissal a victory since the judge didn't proceed with the case. They aim to schedule a hearing in April 2023 and return to Judge Paulk in the lower court to request attorneys' fees and costs, despite the appellate court rejecting their motion.  

However, instead of dropping the case, they are now pursuing the victims for payment of their legal fees, even though their rights were violated. By continuing this legal battle and returning to the lower court, the government is creating a financial burden for the affected families. Furthermore, they are utilizing taxpayer money to retaliate against those who acted to safeguard lives in their community.

Scientific testing, studies, medical screening guidance, a FUDS designation, new drinking water advisory levels, and national discussions have all substantiated the plaintiff's concerns regarding water contamination in 2018.

City of Satellite Beach meetings

city of satellite beach members meeting

satellite beach mindy gibson

Julie Finch City of Satellite Beach

bert berrios city of satellite beach

phil archer in florida

mindy gibson council woman

brevard county corruption

sunshine law violation

satellite beach rotating members

courtney barker satellite beach

mindy gibson delegation

Council member Mindy Gibson was recorded speaking outside Satellite Beach city hall with a group of individuals who were not allowed to attend the meeting. Despite being asked, Gibson seemed unaware of why some people were denied access while others were allowed in. Police officers were guarding the entrance to the meeting.

dod pfas 2018 report

Department of Defense PFAS Denial

City of Satellite Beach Courtney Barker

Patrick Air Force Base Cancer

pfas contamination in Florida

It was evident at the September 17, 2018 meeting that the City would continue to face PFAS contamination as the issue was not resolved. And indeed, the City did continue to deal with the problem in the future.

  • On October 3, 2018 city council approved spending about $15,000 in funds to conduct additional groundwater testing for PFAS chemicals.
  • On January 23, 2019, the city council approved sending a letter to all Satellite Beach residents summarizing groundwater testing results.
  • On November 30, 2020, the city council approved legislative priorities for the City’s lobbyist, which included water quality and PFAS legislation.

The problem of PFAS contamination remains unresolved in Satellite Beach, and the city council will likely take further action to address it.

To donate, please visit


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.