Will City Debate Clerk-Manager Relationship Anew?

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY DEC 11, 2018

The most recent fight over the future of a Sarasota charter official has put back into question the very form of government at City Hall. Sarasota City Commissioners last week placed City Auditor and Clerk Pam Nadalini on administrative leave amid accusations from current and former employees of retaliation and poor management.

An outside investigation by Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick presented a report last week alleging Nadalini’s leadership tactics had been inappropriate and exposed the city to liability, prompting City Commissioners to put her on administrative leave.

But the report also went further than Nadalini’s actions, and recommended the commission evaluate restructuring the city charter. “This is nothing truthfully having to do with her [Nadalini] at this point, but we do believe you should look at an overall restructuring and, frankly, hire a consultant to have you look at that,” said attorney Jennifer Compton.

The expansion into looking at the charter structure surprised many city observers, considering the investigation was supposed to look into Nadalini’s practices and style.

“Once again, we take issue—this is something to be dealt with by the commission, and somehow they’ve expanded this to another thing,” says longtime city activist Diana Hamilton. “I think it’s a power grab and I don’t like it. It’s concentrating even more power in the hands of an individual none of us get to vote for.”

Specifically, City Hall for years has faced debate about the structure of having an independent city auditor and clerk, city attorney and city manager. In 2012, more than 55 percent of voters shot down an amendment seeking to make the clerk report to the city manager while leaving the auditor as an independent charter official.

Mayor Liz Alpert, who has pushed for the current investigation of Nadalini, says she would entertain putting the question back to voters again. “It would make sense to me to have a more smoothly running city,” Alpert says.

But ultimately, a change in form of government would need to approved by voters before going into effect.

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