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Our View: Unbondable credibility

  • By
  • | 4:00 a.m. June 28, 2012
  • Sarasota
  • Opinion
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Sarasota City Hall watchers have been clattering a lot lately over the inability of the city to obtain a bond on City Auditor/Clerk Pam Nadalini.

The perception is City Hall officials decided arbitrarily to ignore what is required by law.

What is up with that? citizens ask. It’s in the charter — the city must obtain a bond on the city auditor/clerk. That’s the law.

But now it is widely known that for two years the city has been unable to obtain a bond on Auditor/Clerk Nadalini — and city officials apparently let it go unaddressed. It looks like selective application of the law.

The facts, however, are quite revealing.

In 2010, soon after Nadalini was named auditor/clerk, the city’s top human resources officer and risk-management officer reported to then City Manager Bob Bartolotta they were unable to obtain a bond covering Nadalini, a charter officer who reports to the City Commission.

To protect the city from any financial liability, Bartolotta instructed his officers to purchase adequate insurance. Afterward, the issue faded, overtaken by other bigger, more pressing events.

A year later, the issue came up again: no bond. Bartolotta sent a memo to Nadalini, bringing it to her attention. By this time, the relationship between Nadalini and Bartolotta had become strained. Bartolotta chose not to enflame the issue; obviously, it would have appeared to the City Commission he was maneuvering to impugn her.

“I was not her boss,” he told us. “She reported to the commissioners.”

City Attorney Robert Fournier was aware of the issue as well. He, too, is a charter official who reports to the City Commission. “Frankly, it was not up to me to tell anyone. It was up to her,” he told us.

Nadalini, unavailable at press time, did not bring the issue before the full City Commission. Commissioners should hold her accountable. She has impugned her credibility.

+ Do you do SRQ?
Give credit to Rick Piccolo, president of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, and his team. Rather than do nothing and whine about AirTran’s pulling out of the airport (thanks to its merger with Southwest Airlines), Piccolo is being proactive.

Wednesday he unveiled the airport’s new marketing strategy to try to reduce the “leakage” that costs SRQ 1,460,218 passenger trips a year lost to Tampa, Southwest Florida and Orlando International airports.

If you translate those lost trips into dollars that could have been generated and spent in our region and on airlines flying into and out of SRQ, you’re talking about a serious economic effect. Piccolo figures our region loses $4.5 million alone in sales tax revenues that would be generated inside SRQ.

Likewise, if you imagine those 1.4 million trips going through SRQ, we would create one job for every 65 passengers. And here’s the part that really matters for everyone here who flies: The more people who use SRQ, the more flights the airport will attract.

To this end, Piccolo and his team unveiled the “Do you do SRQ?” campaign to try to persuade all of us to pledge to try as best we can to fly into and out of SRQ. Worth noting in this effort is the cost differential typically is not that great. Piccolo reported Wednesday that, on average, it costs only $27 more per passenger per roundtrip to fly out of SRQ.

So become an “SRQ Advocate” and take the six-point pledge: 1) If your business engages in corporate travel, have a designee review and approve any air travel not originating from SRQ; 2) Always check flights to and from SRQ before booking; 3) Support the airlines that serve SRQ (Air Canada, Delta, JetBlue, United, US Airways); 4) Recommend to inbound travelers that SRQ is your airport of choice; 5) Promote SRQ locally to others; and 6) Ask others to pledge their support.

We’re taking the pledge.

Do you do SRQ? We do!

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