Welcome to Page 2

A group of folks living in Sarasota have an interest in promoting good local governance as well as civil discourse. We will be publishing our thoughts on this topic on a regular basis

As a fully volunteer group, we do not aim to "cover the news" but we will examine items in a greater depth or from a point of view not found in other media.

Please feel free to comment on our posts (civilly, of course) and remember to sign your name. We and our readers believe that civil discourse begins with knowing who is talking. We would also encourage authers to submit articles on this topic for posting here (see sidebar address).

Aug 31, 2011

Transparency and City Government

A recent public announcement from the City of Sarasota Clerk's office tells us that audio and video downloads for mobile devices like smart phones and tablets are now availanle.  The announcement is below.

Wouldn't it be nice if the City Commission's Informal Workshops were at least recorded for audio access?  Minutes for these meetings are published and quite often "decisions" are made as to what items will appear at future commission meetings for action.  As an interested citizen it would be nice to hear the discussion in order to develop a fuller understanding of an issue and how individual commissioners are thinking before it comes to the open commission meeting for a decision.

The current system lacks transparency and leads to perceptions of minimally adhering to Florida's Sunshine Laws.

Richard Clapp

Sarasota, FL: The Office of the City Auditor and Clerk is pleased to announce an expansion of its existing archived meetings service. The meetings are now available as MP3 (audio) and MP4 (video) downloads. This expansion makes it possible for more users to access meeting and City programming archives and makes it possible for mobile users of, for example, the iPhone, Android, iPad, and other tablets and Smartphone's, with Internet access, to participate now as well.

"The City has offered live streaming and archived video for the past five years, but we are constantly looking for ways to enhance customer service for greater citizen engagement and transparency, " said Pamela Nadalini, City Auditor and Clerk. "This new technology dramatically improves our streaming media capabilities, making citizen participation in the policy-making process much easier."

To access these features, go to the City Website and click the Live/Archived Video icon on the lower right hand corner and select either the audio or video link.

Also included in the service expansion is the ability for regular personal computer-based viewers to share videos over popular social networking sites as well as copy and embed portions of a meeting, or an entire video, through the player itself.

Aug 27, 2011

What do you want in our next County Administrator?

Message from Sarasota County:

Sarasota County will hold five focus group sessions for public input on the characteristics and
qualities that are important in a new county administrator. The meetings also will explore the
opportunities for the county and the next administrator.

The sessions will be facilitated by representatives from The Mercer Group of Atlanta, which is
conducting the administrator search for the Sarasota County Commission.

Each of the five meetings will be held in a Sarasota County Commission district:

Thursday, Sept. 8

  • 10:30 a.m., Selby Library, 1331 First Street, Sarasota
  • 2 p.m., Phillippi Estate Park in the Edison Keith Mansion, 5500 S. Tamiami Trail,
  • 6 p.m., Venice Community Center, 326 S. Nokomis Ave., Venice

Friday, Sept. 9

  • 10:30 a.m., North Port Library, 13800 S. Tamiami Trail, North Port
  • 2:30 p.m., North Sarasota Library, 2801 Newtown Blvd., Sarasota

For additional information, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000.

Considering the issues and personnel changes County Government has recently experienced, this is the time to give your input on how we can have a great county.  Get involved.

By Richard Clapp

Aug 25, 2011

It's a Local Issue

Here's an very interesting news story about government in action in our neighboring county to the north.  Well worth the read.
It's A Local Issue

By Richard Clapp

Aug 17, 2011

City Commission Report

On Aug. 15, the City Commission reappointed the two Planning Board Commissioners who had completed their current three year terms.

Chris Gallagher and Susan Chapman were the subject of a minor uproar three months ago when the previous commission voted to reappoint them without advertising for the openings.  This had been the practice for many years - begun by former City Auditor and Clerk Billy Robinson - as a way to reduce costs since reappointment of those interested in serving another term was a de facto process.

The issue came to light when County Commissioner Joe Barbetta and then Commissioner-elect Paul Caragiulo complained that the process violated the city charter.  Both Barbetta and Caragiulo favored other candidates for this board.  The board positions were then advertised and a three month period was allowed for interested citizens to apply.

Arguments for reappointment have always been that it takes several years to become familiar with the processes being discussed at the advisory board level, particularly the more technical boards.

Sometimes these appointments are viewed as a political choice rather than a choice among the best prepared applicants the political choice being made for a reason unrelated to the work of the board.

The current board has a mix of retired and actively employed residents, each with a different background including law, small business, marketing and architecture.  All have had planning experience, training or planning board involvement prior to appointment.  According to the City’s guidelines for board membership:
a) The membership of the Board shall consist of persons who possess the technical, professional, financial, business or administrative skills necessary to accomplish the work of the board. Board membership shall include some persons who represent the community-at-large when appropriate.
b) Unless provided otherwise, the Board shall include persons who reside within the City, unless business qualifications or a special expertise warrants an exception to the residency/property ownership criteria.
c) Members should have reputations for integrity and community service, as well as have demonstrated an interest in the type of activity pertaining to the purpose of the Board. Members should also be representative of the community-at-large and reflect the racial, ethnic and cultural makeup of the community.
Gallagher and Chapman were reappointed by 4-1 votes with Commissioner Shaw voting no on Gallagher and Caragiulo voting no on Chapman.  Gallagher is an architect and board member of the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Chapman a lawyer and board member/past president of the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations.

See also  Planning Board/Local Planning Agency .

By Richard Clapp