Citing concerns about open records requirements, the city will part ways with homelessness director Doug Logan at the end of the month.
Less than a year after being hired, Doug Logan is leaving his post as the city’s director of special initiatives on chronic homeless.
In a release today, the city attributed the split to concerns about the state’s open government laws. Logan was working to create a new nonprofit entity to lead the effort to establish a “housing first” program in Sarasota.
Both Logan and City Manager Tom Barwin said an interpretation of state law could require the nonprofit to operate under the same transparency requirements due to Logan’s involvement, even if it wasn’t a governmental entity. The two expressed concern that those regulations would discourage private donors from getting involved in the push to address homelessness in the city.
“Most reasonable people do not want to subject themselves to what could be perceived as harassment,” Barwin said.
Logan had been the target of a recent records request from legal consultant Michael Barfield, who had inquired about communications related to the proposed private nonprofit, known as NEWCO.
He expressed his interest in continuing to work on the issue of homelessness as a private citizen, though he said he had no concrete plans for what his involvement would entail. Barwin said he hoped those who had been involved with the creation of a nonprofit entity would push forward with that cause, even as the city retracted itself from the process.
“We need to step back for a minute and give those who are passionate about the community an opportunity to set it up the way they need to set it up,” Barwin said.
Logan’s hiring in June had been met with some criticism, as his previous experience did not involve work with homelessness issues. Still, Barwin said he was happy with Logan’s tenure with the city, calling his positive impact significant.
“Doug has really advanced the initiatives he was hired to advance,” Barwin said.
Barwin said it is uncertain whether the city will hire another dedicated employee focused on the coordination of homelessness issues.
Although Logan and Barwin said parting of ways came together in the past week, a memo from Logan dated Jan. 15 listed “train my successor” as a priority for the next 90 days. Both officials acknowledged the impact of the records request on the mutual decision to have Logan return to the private sector.
“Good people doing good things shouldn’t be made to look like bad people trying to sneak around somehow,” Barwin said. “It’s not the truth, and people don’t need that distraction.”