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Should The New City Manager Have More Power?

Proposed charter amendment would split the City Auditor and Clerk into two positions and shift more oversight and responsibilities under the watch of the City Manager.

Update/Related Story:

Earlier: Government is a system of checks and balances and a group backed by City Commissioner Terry Turner wants to move some of those functions to the city manager.

A charter referendum from the Citizens for a Better Sarasota has garnered enough signatures — 3,297 — and will appear on the November ballot, as first reported by The Herald-Tribune. 

Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent certified the petition Friday (which can be viewed as a PDF beside this story) and the proposed amendment will be presented during the evening portion of the City Commission meeting tonight at .

This is what the proposed amendment wants to do:

• City Auditor and Clerk becomes two positions — City Auditor and City Clerk

• City Auditor remains a charter official and is appointed by the City Commission

• City Clerk is a charter official appointed by the commission and reports to the city manager

• City Clerk creates, records board records, agendas, minutes, meeting notices, attest signature and heads and maintains public records, maintaining records of city property and assets and debts and more

• City Auditor performs auditing and investigating functions

The key among those proposals is that the City Clerk and Auditor, presently Pamela Nadalini, would not oversee public records without having to report to the city manager and would put the Internet Technology department back to the city manager. 

For Turner, it's a way to fix "peculiar charicteristics" of Sarasota's commission-manager form of government where the auditor has administrative functions that he sees would normally fall to a city manager, Turner told The Nilon Report on WSRQ. 

"It causes split functions and ineffective government," Turner told The Nilon Report.

Turner took a historical perspective on The Nilon Report on why Sarasota was set up this way, saying city leaders might have been concern when City Manager Ken Thompson, who served from 1950 to 1988, had "amassed a lot of power" and wanted to provide balance and he said the auditor should have been created separately and calls the original move "a mistake." 

Commissioner Shannon Snyder considered it a "power grab," The Hearld-Tribune reports: 

“I think it has everything to do with control,” Snyder said. “There’s a group of people that can’t stand not being in control. And it’s as simple as that.”

“All they’re going to do is make everybody mad,” he added.

Commissioner Paul Caragiulo also told YourObserver.com that he is "very suspicious of the move behind the charter amendment." 

Turner said on the Nilon report that it's not about power but instead, efficiency to better serve the residents.

Citizens for a Better Sarasota — a political action committee — includes area contractor Frederick Derr, Argus Foundation executive director and former city commissioner Kerry Kirschner, and the PAC chairman is Donnie McDonough, who is the owner of William F. McDonough Plumbing and an Argus board member.

Opponents say why give the position of city manager more power when the ?  

Turner has also noted in recent commission meetings that no wrongdoing has been found of former city manager Robert Bartolotta after about seven months of investigations and no charges have been filed.

monique thomas July 16, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I agree there should be no consolidation of power. As a rule of thumb a system of checks and balances works best. The amendment might be well intentioned as most proposed rules and regulations usually are but the unintended consequences left to those who are not so honorable at any moment in time can lead to disasterous consequences.

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