When News Calls Outside of Office Hours, Answer

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When News Calls Outside of Office Hours, Answer

Last Friday night, my son and I decide to see the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. I check my e-mail as I walk into the theater and see a message from Associated Press reporter Bill Kaczor, who was asking for comment on an announcement by EPA that the agency was taking action on water quality rules for Florida. It’s an issue we’ve worked on for nearly three years in support of a coalition of businesses, agriculture, utilities, local governments and others opposed to the imposition of costly federal rules on Florida’s waterways.

It was Friday night and everything we had been working on was coming to a head.

There’s an episode of the West Wing called “Take Out the Trash Day,” in which the fictional Bartlett White House uses Fridays to give the media all the stories that the Administration is not wild about. With this in mind, we had expected a Thanksgiving surprise to come on this issue. After the holiday passed with no announcement, we anticipated an action from the EPA on the water quality issue on Friday.

In preparation for the decision, we had developed a generic statement that underscored our client’s position in support of the water quality rules developed by Florida DEP. This is a complicated EPA decision, so complex that many experts are still reviewing to gauge the impact it will have on water quality in Florida – and potentially across the nation.

News happens around the clock and, if you’re deeply involved in an issue, you have to be prepared to respond. Even while our attorneys reviewed the rule, the story needed to include our clients’ reaction to the turn of events. So, sitting in the AMC Tallahassee Mall 20 movie theater, on a phone with a dying battery, I e-mailed our statement to the Associated Press and added our client’s perspective to a story about an issue with national implications. By the time the movie had ended, the news was out across the nation. And the story included our client’s input.

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