The Sarasota County Charter is your local constitution! Here’s what happened at last night’s Charter Review Board meeting:
The Charter Review Board took a closer look at their bylaws and recognized that over the years they have been permitting presentations outside of their written procedures. Under CRB bylaws, when a citizen submits a proposed amendment, at the next CRB meeting that citizen is given time (20 minutes) to present on their proposed amendment.
Last October the CRB granted Bob Waechter permission to give a 15-20 minute presentation at last night’s meeting in the absence of any written amendment proposal. It is one reason why the focus of Mr. Waechter’s planned remarks were a mystery to the public. What would he be proposing? An appointed board instead of an elected board? Eliminating the Charter Review Board entirely (as CRB member Richard Dorfman reported at last week’s Republican Executive Committee meeting)? Reducing the time the CRB permits for public input?
The public was operating in the blind. Those who came to speak to Mr. Waechter’s proposal had no idea of the nature and specifics of the changes to the Charter that he would be advocating. Apparently this wasn’t the first time Mr. Waechter (and others) had been given presentation time for an amendment without submitting proper paperwork. Submitting the amendment ahead of time is critical to giving the public time to digest and understand what is going on.
Thankfully, the CRB recognized the importance of following their process. Instead of allowing Mr. Waechter to present, they followed their process. They accepted his amendment submission, and he will be able to present on his proposed amendment at the May CRB meeting.
- You can be sure that the great turnout at last night’s CRB meeting, along with the many citizens who requested speaking time to respond to Mr. Waechter’s proposal, were critical to the CRB rethinking their prior decision to provide a platform outside their bylaws for Mr. Waechter last night. Doing so would have undermined the public’s right to know what changes he was proposing to our County Charter. Showing up matters, e-mailing the CRB matters. It makes a difference.
- Go to the May CRB meeting! Mr. Waechter is proposing that our Charter Review Board be an appointed rather than an elected body. It will be critical for citizens to show up and speak out against this proposal.
Speaking out last night against an appointed CRB, Cynthia Crowe pointed out that the SRQ Airport Authority Board changed from an elected to an appointed board, and now those who are aligned with big money interests are appointed to that board. Last night’s biggest laugh occurred when Cynthia talked about the qualifications of big money/party boss appointees to the airport board: “Some of the people on that (airport) board know two things: the airplane goes up, and the airplane goes down”.
Vic Rohe echoed Crowe’s sentiments. “Don’t give appointment of this board over to the party bosses, which would make this board superfluous.”
A look at video of Mr. Waechter’s request for presentation time from last October’s CRB meeting shows him incorrectly advising the CRB on their processes. Unfortunately, they believe him, probably because Mr. Waechter has been favored with generous presentation time over the years. It’s a clear indication that Mr. Waechter, despite his criminal activity in undermining a local election, retains influence with the CRB.
Last night’s CRB meeting also focused on a common law grand jury. Today’s Herald Tribune article covers that particular aspect of last night’s meeting in detail. http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20160120/ARTICLE/160129952/2416/NEWS?Title=Charter-Review-Board-may-be-changed
The Sarasota County Charter is our local constitution. Over the years it has been an effective avenue for citizen participation in guiding and shaping our government. Term limits, borrowing limits, paper ballots and other safeguards in local government exist due to citizen amendment of the Sarasota County Charter.