AM charter review proposes major change

In a break with the charters of many Florida municipalities, Anna Maria’s Charter Review Committee at its Oct. 31 meeting recommended amending a requirement that a former official cannot accept employment with the city until one year has passed since he or she left office.

Committee member Tom Breiter said he researched the issue and found a number Florida cities, including Sanibel, that allow a former elected official to take a job with the city if approved by four-fifths (80 percent) of commissioners.

Breiter said he was not advocating any position, just pointing out alternatives.

Committee chair Howard Payne noted that as the charter reads now, a departing commissioner could not give the city his or her advice or counsel on an issue and be compensated.

City attorney Jim Dye said the committee also should make it clear that an elected official can run for re-election or another office. As the charter reads now, there is some ambiguity.

“Employment is a mischievous word,” Dye said. “Is it appointed, hired or elected? Focus on the office and under what circumstances is it appropriate for the former official to be compensated,” he said.

Payne said he would draft wording that would make it clear that no current or former city official can hold a compensated office with the city within one year after leaving elected office unless approved by a four-fifths majority of the commission.

He will also write a separate section clarifying that the provision does not exclude an elected official from running for re-election or another elected office in the city.

Committee adviser Tom Aposporos said the four-fifths super-majority provision makes sense. Committee member George Barford agreed.

It keeps the “old boy network” from coming into play, he observed.

When the charter recommendations are completed by the committee, they will be turned over to the commission for review. The commission will ultimately decide what voters will face.

The next committee meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15.

Payne noted the meeting must be kept short because the city commission’s organizational meeting is at 6 p.m. that day.

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