A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

City Commissioners Farewell Fracas

The three departing Sarasota City Commissioners have a chance to straighten things out before they leave office and there are more than a handful of reasons why they should do. If you haven't seen Saturday's Sarasota Herald Tribune, check out the online article: Sarasota's volunteer planning board at center of uproar.

The basics appear to be that the three outgoing commissioners are (according to the City Attorney) violating the City Code by skipping an advertising requirement and attempting to re-appoint two planning boards members rather than letting the new commission decide who should serve. That is ill-advised, and not simply because the City Attorney cautions against it:

1) To do so will cloud the departure of three commissioners, each of whom should be remembered for their accomplishments rather than hitting a sour note at the end of their performance and creating a negative last impression

2) To do so thumbs its nose at the rule of law and creates a situation where the new Commission may inherit a community impression of a City commission not willing to play by the rules -- an impression the new commission has not earned (it has not been seated yet) and consequently does not deserve

3) To do so is neither gracious nor courteous. Whatever the motive this move disrespects the incoming commission and its right to name planning board members.

4) To do so places the planning commission in a very awkward situation since it is clear at least three of the subsequent commissioners do not favor this tactic. That starts the new commission off on the wrong foot with its planning board -- that's not fair to the three continuing planning board members and starts the new Commission-Board relationship not with a honeymoon, but a spat.

5) "Automatic" re-appointment of citizen board members is predicated on the concept that the members up for re-appointment have behaved admirably and are worthy of re-appointment. One of the members being considered for re-appointment has personally attacked members of the public from the dais and some members of the public (as well as the new board) may want to reflect on that behavior prior to naming a new board. 

6) According to the City Attorney, this action is inviting a legal challenge - something the City and a new Commission does not need. 

The public is cynical and suspicious enough these days without aggravating the situation. 

Let the new commission decide who will serve on what the Herald Tribune termed "arguably the city's most important board".

The City Commission will consider the appointments on Monday, but will not be taking citizen comments on this matter during the meeting. So, if you think you want to weigh in on this, please do so before Monday.

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