Sarasota News Leader

11/01/2013

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Sarasota News Leader November 1, 2013 OPINION Page 82 Coupled with their stated discontent regard- Hines' contradictory reasoning only added to ing Reid's management style, this would have the overall awkwardness of the meeting. established a more reasonable basis for his The commissioners who had decided Reid no termination without cause. longer was the best person for the job should And Hines could have spared us his rambling have put forth well-reasoned and coherent justification for casting the fourth vote for termination. By siding with the majority, his explanations of their concerns. This, we feel, vote surely would have been assumed as a they did not do. And, despite any failings as a means of avoiding an awkward three weeks county administrator, Reid did not deserve to before another 3-2 vote sealed Reid's fate. be cast aside with such ignominy. % THE STATE'S SUNSHINE LAWS WERE NOT MEANT TO KEEP ELECTED OFFICIALS FROM SPEAKING WITH — AND LISTENING TO — CONSTITUENTS By Stan Zimmerman City Editor COMMENTARY I can remember when the Public Records and Open Meetings Laws were young, still malleable and not "barnacled" with appellate opinions, Supreme Court decisions and even a constitutional amendment. Florida circuit judges knew they were on a legal frontier, the entire nation waiting to see if the experiment in transparency would implode — or even, just maybe, lead to a more perfect union. Before the laws, school boards were particularly secretive across the state. Their meetings would last only minutes, because the issues were already decided behind closed doors. And Sarasota's near-legendary City Manager Ken Thompson used to pile the city commissioners into his enormous Pontiac and do an "educational" drive to work out the kinks in upcoming agendas. But the so-called Government in the Sunshine laws changed all that. They made members of committees and commissions personally liable for violations. One Sarasota County Commissioner — Beverly Clay — worried that her jewels could be seized if she abused the laws in any way. On Oct. 18, the attorney for Citizens for Sunshine Inc. filed a suit alleging a violation of the Open Meetings Act following a "pow wow" among downtown merchants, senior city staffers and at least two city commissioners. Both Commissioners Suzanne Atwell and Susan Chapman were cited personally as defendants for attending a get-together to talk about homelessness and vagrancy downtown.

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