Sarasota News Leader

03/28/2014

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back into mainstream society is … affordable housing. In political science, there is a term called "sat- isficing," doing the minimum necessary to paper over a problem; to say you have done something when all you have done is disguise it and left it to fester. But do not blame just the local policymakers for satisficing. Florida is famous for it. The Orlando Sentinel on Sunday, March 23, ran a front-page piece about the state's support for mental health assistance. "State funding for basic mental health services in Florida ranks 49th in the nation, having been cut an additional $15.2 million since 2012 despite an improving economy. Before that it remained virtually flat for at least a quarter century," Kate Santich reported. Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson stated recently that the county is not the entity providing mental health care. She is correct. This is a state responsibility, though legislators have stripped it of funds — just another variation on knee-jerk reactions. Sarasota County's homeless shelter policy is starting to smell of desperation. In one stroke, the county can be "cleansed" of the homeless and vagrants by seeing all of them trans- ported to Sarasota — but only if they choose to ignore the real consequences experienced in other communities. % LETTERS TO THE EDITOR To the Editor: On March 18, an expert on city planning addressed a packed house at The Francis. One city commissioner attended – Susan Chapman. Why do you suppose not even one of the other four commissioners showed up? I venture to guess that they feared the appearance of a second commissioner might provoke a new Sunshine Law claim. What a sad commentary. After his talk, the expert took questions. Let's assume that Commissioner Chapman had SUNSHINE LAWSUIT CONSEQUENCES BEMOANED asked a question (she did not) but, otherwise, did not utter a word. Would she have been deemed to have taken part in the discussion, another violation? The Sunshine Law is designed to prevent "backroom" deals. In any rational setting, no honest supporter of open government would dream of claiming violations had occurred in the two hypotheticals posed above. But that is not the case in Sarasota. A majority of the five commissioners have expressed the belief that it serves the taxpayers' interest to settle rather than to fight, even in such a dubious OPINION Sarasota News Leader March 28, 2014 Page 91

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