Email between Alfin, Heighter prompts discussion on Sunshine Law

The city attorney said there was no Sunshine Law violation because while Mayor David Alfin's email posed a question to council member Cathy Heighter, no discussion actually occurred.

Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin. File photo.
Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin. File photo.
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • News
  • Share

An email from Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin to council member Cathy Heighter led to a discussion of potential Sunshine Law violations during a Sept. 19 City Council meeting.

During the public comment section of the meeting, Heighter spoke up about an email Alfin sent her featuring a New York Times article on affordable housing, a topic which has been broached several times by the council in the past. City Attorney Neysa Borkert said there was no violation in this case because no discussion took place.

“The initial email was a question,” Borkert said. “If it were to be discussed, yes, that would have been a violation, depending on what was being discussed.”

A violation of Sunshine Law, Borkert said, requires back-and-forth communication. "It can't be a one-way street," she said.

In the email — according to Borkert, who read the emails out loud at the end of the council meeting — Alfin sent the news article and asked Heighter if she wanted to discuss the issue.

Heighter responded back saying she wasn’t sure the topic was something the two could discuss because of the Sunshine Law. Alfin then sent the emails to Borkert asking if a philosophical discussion on the issue constituted as a violation.

Borkert said she replied and told Alfin that because the topic had come up before at council, it was not something individual members should discuss with each other outside of a meeting. She called that a "slippery slope."

Borkert reminded council members on Sept. 19 that the Sunshine Law prohibits them discussing together any topic that may come before the board outside of meetings.

They can discuss things in their day to day that won’t come before the board, she said.

Because Heighter and Alfin are both real estate agents, the topic of affordable housing is relevant to their jobs.


Latest News


Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning local news.