Florida County stops enforcing embattled fundraising ordinance.Charities and fundraisers no longer have to register with Pinellas County, Florida Pinellas County is a county located in the state of Florida. Its county seat is Clearwater, Florida6, and its largest city is St. Petersburg. The county is contained entirely within area code (727), except for sections of Oldsmar, which has area code 813. , to solicit its residents, a requirement that had been litigated for years.
The registration requirement was dropped effective March 2, said Deborah Berry Deborah L. Berry is the Iowa State Representative from the 22nd District. She has served in the Iowa House of Representatives since 2002.
Berry currently serves on several committees in the Iowa House - the Appropriations committee; the Commerce committee; the Government , chief investigator with the Pinellas County Department of Justice & Consumer Services Consumer Services refers to the formulation, deformulation, technical consulting and testing of most consumer products, such as food, herbs, beverages, vitamins, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, hair products, household cleaners, [paints, plastics, metals, waxes, coatings, minerals, . The two staff members who handled registration for the charitable solicitation ordinance, as well as fortune-teller registrations, will focus more attention on consumer fraud cases. The county eventually will link its Web site to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services site. The same information is available from the state. The purpose of the ordinance and the state law is financial disclosure, she said.
Berry said the move was an effort to realign re·a·lign
tr.v. re·a·ligned, re·a·lign·ing, re·a·ligns
1. To put back into proper order or alignment.
2. To make new groupings of or working arrangements between. the department's resources amid budget constraints A Budget Constraint represents the combinations of goods and services that a consumer can purchase given current prices and his income. Consumer theory uses the concepts of a budget constraint and a preference ordering to analyze consumer choices. , not a signal or surrender to the litigation An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.
When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation. . The consumer services portion of the department has an annual budget of about $1 million and stag of 21. In the past fiscal year (October 2005-September 2006), Pinellas County recorded 872 professional solicitors and charities as registered, with fees generating approximately 3111,000, she said.
Assistant County Attorney Carl Brody said the move to stop enforcing the registration requirement is indefinite and there's no specific time when Pinellas County will return to enforcing it. "We'll see how the community responds. If they respond in a manner they believe to have that level of protection, then we'll be back in the business. If not, then we'll allow things to stay the status quo [Latin, The existing state of things at any given date.] Status quo ante bellum means the state of things before the war. The status quo to be preserved by a preliminary injunction is the last actual, peaceable, uncontested status which preceded the pending controversy. ," he said.
The Pinellas County ordinance spurred two lawsuits, one by fundraisers (Pinellas I) and another by charities (Pinellas II).
"It (the ordinance) was a ridiculous scheme to begin with," said Bonnie bon·ny also bon·nie
adj. bon·ni·er, bon·ni·est Scots
1. Physically attractive or appealing; pretty.
2. Excellent. Robin-Vergeer, senior attorney in the litigation group of Public Citizen. Public Citizen, a national nonprofit consumer advocacy group, filed the second suit in 2001, along with Greenpeace, American Charities For Reasonable Fundraising Regulation (ACFRFR) and the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation. Pinellas II resulted in the removal of a section of the ordinance that de:tit with Internet solicitations.
Information gathered through the ordinance was nothing new or different from what the state of Florida did, but added an annual filing fee of as much as $300 a year, she said. However despite the fee, the county published very little information about charities for consumers and ended up collecting a fee and filing documents.
"Most of the things we complained about they were forced to change," said Geoffrey Peters, counsel for ACFRFR. It became obvious during the discovery phase, he said, that the county was collecting information that no one ever looked at afterward, but still claimed that they were doing it to protect citizens. "It became apparent what they were doing made no sense," he said.
Public Citizen had objected to onerous requirements for financial disclosures, arguing that the level of detail was considerable and a federal Form 990 should be sufficient. There also initially had been a screening requirement in which nonprofits would have to submit solicitation materials in advance, Robin-Verneer said, opening the door to censorship because the county's approval or denial was based on what was said in solicitation letters.
"The whole issue was the fact that the Pinellas ordinance was duplicative of the state of Florida registration," said Kelly Browning Kelly Brown may refer to:
Homestead exemption from forced sale, the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, the right to privacy, and the Williams is fairly broad, where the charity has to fill out a fairly complete registration form. There's plenty of information at the state level."
There were states that followed the Pinellas litigation that eventually stopped collecting or publishing confidential information Noun 1. confidential information - an indication of potential opportunity; "he got a tip on the stock market"; "a good lead for a job"
steer, tip, wind, hint, lead about nonprofits, including board members' Social Security numbers and such, Peters said. "The argument made by the charities and fundraisers raised substantial questions about the need and value to citizens of Pinellas County of the redundant registration program," Peters said.
Part of the problem charities and fundraisers have is that there are 17,000 independent jurisdictions, from local and county to state and federal governments, Peters said. "If every one of them said, 'You have to register with us before you can solicit,' one national mailer (1) An e-mail program. See e-mail program.
(2) A message sent by an e-mail program.
(3) A person or organization sending e-mail. or some charity and their professional fundraiser would literally have to register in 17,000 locations. That would make it impossible to mail nationally. It wouldn't work," he said. "It would be a burden on the speech of charities, which the Supreme Court of the United States Supreme Court of the United States
Final court of appeal in the U.S. judicial system and final interpreter of the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court was created by the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as the head of a federal court system, though it was has said is protected free speech at same level of protection as political speech, the highest level in free speech."
Added Peters: "You cannot put a burden on charities and fundraisers that prevents them from accessing the public."