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Former Mayor Clapp Starts PAC To Support Strong Manager System

Sarasota Citizens for Good Government has established itself as a political action committee to support the strong city manager charter referendum.

A former Sarasota mayor is throwing his support behind a change of government for the city of Sarasota through a political action committee.

Clapp announced in a news release Wednesday that he has established, and will chair, the Sarasota Citizens For Good Government, which will go by SCGG.

Bill Zoller will serve as treasurer.

Clapp states that the PAC was established to educate voters about city government issues—specifically the proposed strong city manager amendment supported by Commissioner Terry Turner. Clapp filed the paperwork on Aug. 23, according to city documents (PDF).

According to financial statements filed with the city, Citizens for Goood Government opened up with $8,200 in contributions and $2,161.79 in expenses from Aug. 10 through Sept. 14. The expenses were all paid for legal work and copies to set up the organization, according to the documents.

Among the finanical contributors to the group includes Visit Sarasota County President Virignia Haley, former Commissioner Ken Shelin and current Commissioner Terry Turner, who kicked in $500, according to documents.

A group called Citizens for a Better Sarasota that was financially supported by Turner was in hot water as the Supervisor of Elections tried to determined whether the group is truly a PAC or not, The Herald-Tribune reported, and if it isn't, why did it never file the paperwork. Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent believed the organization needed to file, The Herald-Tribune reported:

"It's in black and white here, sitting on my desk," Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent said. "They need to file paperwork as a political committee."

One of the group's leaders contended that it is an electioneering communication organization, and doesn't fall under those standards, but that argument never came to be argued, The Herald-Tribune reported.

The much publicized amendment splits the duties of the city auditor and clerk into two positions in order to place the city clerk and that office's duties under the purvey of the city manager. The city auditor would still be appointed by the commission, but would be restricted to audits and investigations.

“The current City organizational structure, which comingles audit and administrative functions under the 'City Auditor and Clerk,' has been criticized as inefficient and dysfunctional. It has led to petty bickering, turf wars and political intrigue within city hall. The group of business leaders and neighborhood advocates who have jointed in support of this amendment, do so because they, like so many citizens, are frustrated with our city government,” Clapp said.

“We believe that combining auditing with various administrative functions—clerk, pension, public relations and especially information technology—has been detrimental to effective government operation," Clapp said. "The changes included in the proposed citizens’ amendment will create a truly independent internal audit function, reducing the risk of fraud, and will consolidate all administrative functions under the City Manager for efficient and effective delivery of city service. It will stop the pursuit of personal agendas and focus government on delivering service to its citizens.”

Other top financial contributors to the PAC include:

• Jim Lampl, businessman, $1,000

•Laurance Saslaw, investor and broadband entrepreneur, $1,000

•Edward Page, retired Earthlink employee, $1,000

•Barbara Campo, retired, $1,000

“Our group believes Sarasota deserves an effective city management structure that incorporates best practices," Clapp said. "The proposed Amendment will accomplish this.”

Mary Anne September 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Why would we want to place give more power to someone that is not elected by the people they serve? The City Manager is "hired" not elected. The City Commissioners hire the manager. As it is , we depend on the five Commissioners to understand the requirements needed to hire the person to manage the city. What happens if this passes and more power is given a manager and then the citizens aren't happy.....we are stuck. We don't get to vote the manager out. If what is needed is leadership, accountability and the authority to act, then elect a Mayor. This is more about the current charter and the division of duties. Fix the charter.
Richard Clapp September 20, 2012 at 07:34 PM
This amendment to the Charter does not give more power to to someone not elected by the voters. It transfers responsibilities from one Charter Official to another. City Commissioners make policy decisions and the Charter Officials carry out these decisions. The City Manager currently does bot have the tools necessary to carry out the duties of his office (for instance, the Information Technology systems). This is about giving the City Manager the tools he or she needs to be effective. The Charter Amendment is the way to do this. City Commissioners retain the ability to hire and fire City Managers for any reason - including not carrying out policy decisions.
Mary Anne September 21, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Dick...I certainly don't need you to tell me how the Charter or the Commission works. It absolutely gives more power and weakens the separation of power. How does having IT report to the Manager make one bit of difference.? And, having fired a Manager, I know exactly how that works. The division of duties was designed too insure checks and balances. Fascinating how this was never brought up when you appointed a Charter Review Committee, in fact, the commission didn't even put it on the list of things to review.. This is a thinly veiled move...

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