Why was City Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini denied a bond twice?
That’s the million-dollar question swirling around City Hall that everyone wants answered. It’s a question, though, that will most likely never be answered.
The only reasonable answer that’s recorded in the Sarasota County Courthouse is a foreclosure that was filed against her and her ex-husband in February 2010 for a Sarasota property at 1424 18th St. in Hillcrest Park.
Nadalini and her ex-husband defaulted on the $175,000 loan in July 2009, and the bank sought the balance of the loan, or $171,049.22, plus interest and late charges, according to Sarasota Clerk of the Circuit Court Records.
But on March 23, 2010, Wells Fargo submitted to the court a notice to voluntarily dismiss the case.
Nadalini, who didn’t return phone calls seeking comment for this story, has conveyed that the issue was vetted appropriately in 2010 and she doesn’t know why she wasn’t able to obtain a bond.
The second question that everyone wants answered and one that’s been discussed among city residents for the last couple of weeks is: Is the city violating its charter, and why is Nadalini still a charter official if that’s the case?
The question finally made its way to the City Hall Commission Chamber Monday night.
Mayor Suzanne Atwell asked city attorney Robert Fournier at the end of Monday night’s meeting if the city was in violation of its charter.
“I have gotten a lot of calls about this,” Atwell said. “People want to know what’s going on here.”
Although Fournier said Nadalini, as a charter official, “has not been in conformance with the city’s charter since 2010,” he doesn’t believe Nadalini should be removed from her charter official post.
“It would be a premature action because two significant things have occurred to make it premature,” Fournier said. “The Charter Review Committee already took the action of recommending the charter be amended in 2010 and, in the interim, all charter officials are covered (by either a bond or insurance).
“You could credibly argue the spirit and intent of the charter provision is being complied with. If someone were to take it to court, I would say something is already being done to change the charter by allowing the voters to amend the charter.”
Commissioner Paul Caragiulo asked Fournier point blank if an insurance policy was functionally equivalent to a bond.
Said Fournier: “Yes, in many ways it’s more suitable. A bond is conditional on the performance of the duties. But, with insurance, you can adjust limits for further protection.”
City Auditor and Clerk, Pamela Nadalini, is not bonded by the city, even though the city’s charter requires such a bond for her position.
The city’s charter mandates that the city manager, city auditor and clerk and the finance director all be bonded.
Specifically, the charter states, “The city manager, the city auditor and clerk and the finance director … shall each give bond with authorized corporate sureties, conditioned upon their faithful performance of duty.”
The problem is that when Nadalini was promoted to the clerk and auditor position in 2010, the bond agency and a subsequent bond agency hired to obtain a bond for her the following year could not bond her. Those agencies are not obligated to reveal why they were unable to obtain a bond for Nadalini, who had to submit a long questionnaire and review of her credit to see if she was bond-worthy.
City Human Resources Director Kurt Hoverter notified city attorney Bob Fournier of the issue when Nadalini was promoted in 2010, explaining a bond could only be obtained for then City Manager Bob Bartolotta and Finance Director Chris Lyons.
Hoverter told the Sarasota Observer that, instead, his office received an insurance policy covering all city employees who dealt with city money, including Nadalini.
The city’s Charter Review Committee, meanwhile, worked in 2010 to review the charter and propose any issues that may have arisen to the Sarasota City Commission for its review. On its list of housekeeping changes, which was already approved by commissioners and will be placed on the November ballot, is a suggestion the charter be changed to eliminate the current mandate that a bond be needed for those staff members. In place of a bond, the charter amendment would allow a more basic insurance plan to suffice.
Currently 1 Response
- The charter is the charter. They are the rules, not suggestions. Therefore, a violation of the rules is a violation of the charter. To suggest that it is ok to violate the charter because of some future event where the rules may or may not change is not a valid argument as to why it is ok now to violate the rules. “Yes Officer, I was speeding today, but they have a ballet item in a few months to change the speed limit and it might pass, at which time my speed will be legal. Therefore, you can’t hold me liable for speeding today”. You can argue it in court, but if the CAC doesn’t have a bond, she is violating the charter.
Bonding is not insurance. The issue isn’t if insurance is better than bonding. The requirement is bonding, not insurance. Again “Office, I don’t have auto insurance, but I have a bond. It’s practically the same, so you can’t write me a ticket for not having insurance”.
That said, both a bond and insurance are designed to protect the City from fraudulent or illegal theft by the person (being bonded or insured). The difference is, under a bond, in the event of a theft by the CAC, she would be liable for the financial lose. Under insurance, the City’s insurance pays the loss (and any possible premium increases as a result). The risk is shifted from the CAC to the City. The objective is to ensure the Charter Officials are held personally reliable for their actions. That doesn’t happen with insurance.
The question is, if a bond can be considered a measure of someone trustworthiness, i.e. their credibility, and they can’t get a bond, does that bring their credibility into question? Isn’t that the same “reason” given as to why the last City Manager was let go…a loss of credibility? What the City Commission decides to do about the credibility issue will go far as to their credibility too.
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