Who’s in charge of the public records associated with the Manasota League of Cities? It depends on whom you ask.
When the Manasota League of Cities shifted its base of operations from the city of Sarasota to the town of Longboat Key in July, Town Clerk Trish Granger thought it was only logical that league records would be handed over to Longboat Key staff.
But since then, both league members and town staff have found it impossible to retrieve some records associated with the league from the city.
At the Manasota League of Cities Jan. 14 quarterly board meeting, Granger informed league members that she has yet to receive all of the records from the city despite email correspondence seeking the records from city Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini.
“We’ve received some electronic records that we specifically requested, but not all the records,” Granger said. “When the league decided to move and have the town host their meetings, there was a motion made to transfer all the records from the city of Sarasota to Longboat Key. But we’ve had difficulty with getting the records.”
Granger informed the board Jan. 14 that Nadalini maintains she’s going to keep all of the previous paper records in their files.
“Florida statutes maintain that whomever has custody of the records is the record’s custodian and that all records should be transmitted to the current provider if the league moves to a different location," Granger told the Longboat Observer.
Granger said that if anyone requests a public document regarding the league prior to its move to Longboat Key, calls and public record requests have to be redirected to the city.
League members were frustrated to hear the news at their January quarterly meeting.
“It’s a simple chain of command,” said league treasurer and Venice Councilman Kit McKeon. “We’re a private organization. They are our records. In my mind, this is like like switching doctors. My records come with me. I vote strongly to have the records transferred to us.”
McKeon made a motion to draft a letter to Nadalini requesting a complete record transfer of the league’s files to Longboat Key.
But league member and Sarasota Mayor Willie Shaw urged at the meeting for “a more simple solution.”
“With your permission, I would like to go ahead and see if we can’t do this without a paper trail,” said Shaw, who wanted to talk to Nadalini about the matter privately and be in touch in a couple of days with an answer or resolution about the records issue. “I have no problem with the transparency, but if we’re able to get back to you in a day or so, let’s do that before sending a letter.”
Shaw’s simple solution, though, never materialized. Granger said she has yet to hear from Shaw or Nadalini and now must bring up the matter again at the league’s April quarterly meeting.
Neither Shaw nor Nadalini returned multiple calls for comment for this story.
Deputy City Auditor and Clerk Karen McGowan, though, told the Longboat Observer “the city of Sarasota has provided whatever the records the league has requested.”
“We provided a lot of records on a disc,” McGowan said. “We were their previous administrator, and there’s a large volume of records that lies in central records storage facility. If there’s a huge volume of records they want, we will have to charge some staff time to retrieve it.”
While Granger confirms that some records have been received, she says she just wants the town to be in compliance with Florida statutes by being the custodian with complete control of the records.
The league also paid the city approximately $2,300 a year for its services as its record keeper and pays the town of Longboat Key a similar amount.
“We’re not going to submit a public records request for records we are supposed to be maintaining,” Granger said. “Why should the league have to pay for copies of its own records?”
Manasota League of Cities President and North Port Commissioner Linda Yates told the Longboat Observer “there appears to be a communication problem” that will likely be discussed further by the board in April.
“I guess will have to wait and see what Mayor Shaw has to say at the next meeting,” Yates said.
In the meantime, Granger said she will make another update and request a letter be sent unless Shaw has news or a resolution to share at the meeting.