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Public, media excluded from upcoming Rooney roundtable on toxic algae blooms at FGCU

The public is shut out of a multi-agency roundtable on harmful algae blooms U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Naples, is organizing at FGCU on May 7, and the event will not be live-streamed.

The meeting is to discuss responses to the devastating dual algae emergencies last year: red tide along the coast and cyanobacteria blooms in freshwater.

Participants include officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Florida departments of emergency management, environmental protection and economic opportunity as well as Lee and Collier counties, the cities of Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Sanibel and Bonita Springs, the village of Estero, Lee Health and FGCU.

Members of the media are shut out as well. Once the event ends, Rooney will host a press conference.

As for why those citizens who fund those agencies can neither attend nor watch the event live, Rooney spokesman Christopher Berardi said some of the groups "confirmed with the condition they would be coming only if (the public was excluded) ... I didn't organize this," adding he would have to check into it further.