Monday, July 31, 2006

Charter Review Meeting

Pictured to the left are three of the Charter Review Committee members (Tom Luzier, Pandora Siebert and Gretchen Serrie)

About 40 people attended the Charter Review meeting and 16 gave input at the session this evening.

Many spoke in favor of retaining the present system, indicating that an elected mayor is not needed or desired. Members of the business community favored an elected mayor with some proposing a strong mayor quite similar to the proposal that was voted down 4 years ago.

It was apparent that there is much dissatisfaction with the current commission. Whether this is related to the form of government or the particular commissioners was a matter of opinion.

Issues that bring dissatisfaction that were mentioned are:

  • No sense of who is in charge
  • Poor communication with constituents
  • End runs around staff
  • Commissioners act as "know it alls" (don’t listen)
  • No specific goals and objectives (and no review of progress)
  • Bickering with, and undermining of, fellow commissioners
  • No accountability
  • City manager not accountable to voters

Other comments included:

  • Sarasota is top heavy with administrators compared to cities our size - referred to city managers office.
  • Commissioners should not make more than the average wage for city residents (about $23,000)
  • Coral Gables would be a city to look at - they are our size and have good leadership and the voters are happy

The Review Committee did not discuss the public input.

The next meeting will be 1:30 PM on Wednesday (Aug 2). A representative from the Florida League of Cities will give a presentation about forms of local government and answer questions.

The remain schedule of meetings is given here.


Anonymous said...

Although not related to the Charter review I would like to comment on the recent articles concerning the investigation of two VanWezel employees. Firstly, if indeed there was an intent to defraud then appropriate action should be taken. However, I do agree with Mr. McNees that comments by staff should be withheld pending the results of the investigation. Why then would a comment appear in the Sarasota herald by Mr. Mitchell that he "did everything in his power to try to get rid of her." Why would he target this one employee. What exactly does that mean? Also, weren't Mr. Mitchell and the General Services Director a part of the Oversight Committee during the VanWezel renovation fiasco? The then City Manager took the hit on that. There have been many articles concerning "suspicious" activity at the Bobby Jones Complex in the past. Was there a criminal investigation? Was the internal audit process requested prior to a criminal investigation in this case? Did the two department Directors meet to discuss possible improprieties prior to an investigation being conducted to determine if the situation could be resolved? Friendship with a vendor is not against the law. Does the quote process require that contact names be provided? Has this happened in other departments and has it been determined criminal or was the process not understood and assistance provided. Could assistance have been provided in this case? Again, if an intent to defraud is proven then appropriate action should be taken. However, if found to be unsubstantiated, and if it is found to be recurrent Citywide then comments made now can severly damage the reputations of these employees.

Anonymous said...

Most Recent Meeting 8/28/06:

Gretchen's comments indicating that the vote for a DEM (directly-elected Mayor) was 4 to 1.75 at the last meeting and Brain making it 5 - 1.75 tonight got my attention.

The intervening conversation, suggesting they had yet to discuss the duties and responsibilities of such a post as the chair tried to get them to address the task and his effort went South put me in mind of the proverbial cart leading the horse.

Is anyone watching these folks?

The chair candidly let the cat out of the bag with the comment that it was easier to add a few powers than retract them. And, more likely to pass initial muster at the polls if the Wolf's elected without his permanent teeth.

One other point was the insistance of the Unelected Vice Chair that the popular election of a politician would asure us a vision and the support and cooperation of those elected as mere commissioners for same.

It struck me that we have seen a long line of commissioners elected to office only to act in contrast to their promises before the polls spinning the new position to conform to "what you thought you heard me say" back then.

Is there any support for creating five districts and on DEM? Would smaller districts better empower the Neighborhood Coalitions?