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Our View: A way to improve City Hall

  • By
  • | 4:00 a.m. June 21, 2012
  • Sarasota
  • Opinion
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Everyone who watches the machinations at Sarasota City Hall knows it is a dysfunctional organization.

There are numerous reasons for that — people and their egos, personalities, abilities and agendas all fueling the dysfunction. But much of this malfunction is rooted in the way the city government is structured.
Just look at the accompanying organizational chart that Sarasota City Commissioner Terry Turner recently produced.

You don’t have to be a political science Ph.D. to recognize this structure is a recipe for guaranteed strife, power struggles, conspiracies and inefficiencies — all at the expense of taxpayers.

Why, pray tell, does it make sense to have the city’s public information officer (PIO) reporting to the auditor/clerk? It makes no sense at all. Likewise with information technology and, for that matter, pension administration.

What this structure has produced is the colossally unproductive struggles between Sarasota’s city manager and auditor/clerk. Before former City Manager Bob Bartolotta resigned, taxpayers heard daily about the strife that went on between his side of the organizational chart and that of Auditor/Clerk Pam Nadalini. Indeed, it ultimately led to Bartolotta’s departure.

Before that, there were conflicts that occurred between former City Manager Mike McNees and longtime Auditor/Clerk Billy Robinson. And, to make matters worse, past and present city commissioners fueled this cesspool of gossip and accusations by showing their favoritism to one or the other office.

Talk about an un-fun place to work.

Commissioner Turner has had enough.

In an effort to eliminate this strife and organizational dysfunction, Turner has crafted a proposal to amend the city charter. He is seeking voter approval to split the auditor/city clerk position into two positions — an auditor who remains a charter officer appointed by the City Commission and a separate city clerk who would fall under the supervision of the city manager.

All of those boxes below the “Audit” box in the organizational chart would shift under the city manager.
This makes a lot of sense. And while Turner’s proposal falls short of the one we would prefer — a charter amendment for an elected, CEO mayor — it, nonetheless, would provide an organizational framework that would improve the operations and management of the city’s affairs.

Some Sarasotans have defended the current structure as a way to create checks and balances and avoid annointing the city manager with too much power. To them, we would ask: How is that working for you?

If the next city manager is to have a chance at succeeding, this charter proposal would give him that opportunity. We would urge voters to sign the petition. Put the question on the ballot. |

Click here
to view, print and sign charter petition.


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