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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

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