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Sarasota News Leader October 19, 2012 OPINION READER QUESTIONS NEWS LEADER POSITION ON CITY CHARTER AMENDMENT To the editor: The Sarasota News Leader's position on the proposed charter amendment that would split the duties of city auditor and clerk surprises me. A professional auditor as a charter official would provide essential checks and balances in much better fashion than the current ar- rangement permits. Under the current structure, an auditor who has no previous governmental auditing ex- perience works for the city. This person is called city auditor and clerk, but she is not an auditor and has allowed her own numerous departments to go unaudited. This is a clear conflict of interest that is impossible to elim- inate when audit and operation functions are combined under one person. The audits conducted of other city depart- ments are so superficial and infrequent that outsiders had to reveal numerous scandals. Recent changes in our administrative struc- ture placed the Information Technology De- partment under this same auditor and clerk. No other city in Florida has operating depart- ments reporting to an auditor, and IT usually is overseen by the city manager. This depart- ment was removed from oversight by our city manager in a highly political maneuver de- signed to provoke the manager's resignation. When that failed, unfounded accusations were used to force out the manager, and the com- munity has yet to see justification for those accusations. Historically, the manager and auditor/clerk have been at odds in our city. This has created bizarre turf wars through the terms of three different clerks. Instead of a focus on making the city run better and more efficiently, palace intrigues have ensued. In the majority of Florida cities, the clerk re- ports to the city manager to facilitate efficient delivery of government services. Clerks tend to report to the commission primarily in cit- ies that have converted from a strong mayor to a council-manager form of government. In cities where the clerk already had established a political base, it was a political decision to create a separation — not a good governance decision. Sarasota deserves good governance, and a "yes" vote on the proposed city amendment calling for a strong manager is a sound step toward that. Yvonne Lacey Sarasota Editor's note: From the outset, this proposed city charter amendment has been billed as the "strong manager" amendment. We find current efforts by supporters to reframe the initiative as a "strong auditor" amendment to be disingenuous. Furthermore, our oppo- sition to the amendment is a result of its addressing a symptom only, instead of the root problem, which is a factious and inept City Commission. We already have stated ed- itorially a path for the City Commission to follow: City's solution is simple. Page 66

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