Sarasota News Leader

11/15/2013

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Sarasota News Leader November 15, 2013 OPINION Page 88 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR SUNSHINE LAWS' STRICT INTERPRETATION CAN HINDER PUBLIC SERVICE To the Editor: The Sunshine Law was created to prevent behind-the-scenes deal making by government officials. It was not intended to hamper or to burden public participation in the policymaking process. Most policymakers know that citizens only rarely attend government meetings or town hall discussions. It is relatively rare for a citizen to take the time to write a letter or an email to a government official. Rather, citizens gather in groups such as business organizations, civic organizations, neighborhood associations and the like, and expect the policymakers to come to them. As an elected policymaker, I have attempted to understand the homeless issue from all perspectives. In that effort, I have toured The Salvation Army, Harvest House, and Pinellas Safe Harbor. I have interviewed people who helped to create efforts to help the homeless in various cities throughout the United States. I have attended three different presentations by Dr. Robert Marbut. I have spoken with a person with mental illness sitting on the sidewalk and others smoking some substance on To extend the Sunshine Law to prevent more the sidewalk of City Hall. than one policymaker to attend such a meeting I have considered the "housing first" models, is untenable and will only lead to ignorance the "shelter plus care" model, the religious of public opinion. conversion model, "tent city" models and Dr. How can one represent the public one is Marbut's jail diversion "wet shelter" model. elected to serve? I find it dispiriting that when I attended a Susan Chapman meeting to hear the perspectives of downSarasota town Sarasota merchants — at which I did not participate in a discussion — I find myself Editor's note: The writer is a city accused of corruption. commissioner. Take Your Time You Have All Week Enjoy The News Leader Anytime - Day or Night

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