CHARTER REVIEW COMMISSION
OCTOBER 3, 2017
CHARTER COMMISSION: District 1 – Josh Strzalko
- Tom Boyko
- Vice Chairman Tom O’Hanlon
District 2 - Edward L. Schons
- Colleen Hufford
District 3 - Robert O’Malley (6:40 p.m.)
- Robert Levy
- Pasha Baker
District 4 - Kevin Grace
- Bob McMillan
- Chairman Strickler (6:35 p.m.)
District 5 - Michelle Smith
- James Dicks
ABSENT: District 2 – Michelle Ertel
District 5 - Robert Turnage
Desmond Morrell, Assistant County Attorney
Grant Maloy, Clerk of Court & Comptroller
Joel Greenberg, Tax Collector (6:43 p.m.)
Jane Spencer, Deputy Clerk
The following is a non-verbatim transcript of the CHARTER REVIEW COMMISSION MEETING, held at 6:30 p.m., on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, in Room 3024 of the Seminole County Services Building at Sanford, Florida.
CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL
The meeting was called to order by Vice Chairman Tom O’Hanlon and a roll call was taken. The Vice Chairman advised that a quorum was present.
Chairman Larry Strickler entered the meeting at this time and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion by Tom Boyko, seconded by Pasha Baker, to approve the Official Minutes of August 29, 2017.
All members present voted AYE.
Chairman Strickler stated that the members’ homework from the last meeting was to go through the binders they received, especially as it relates to the various charters in other counties. Mr. Boyko remarked that some of the items from the other counties’ charters that Seminole County does not have may not fit. Many of the counties in Florida come to Seminole County to pick up items rather than Seminole picking from the other counties. He believes that is a good sign.
Chairman Strickler pointed out that the majority of the people on this Commission were not on the last Charter Review Commission (CRC); so he wants to make sure that, as they go through the learning curve, they offer the opportunity to discuss and learn. Colleen Hufford stated she believes the Seminole Charter was very well written and not cumbersome. The facts are there and it is very directional. Ms. Hufford felt like some of the other charters were getting into the minutiae a little too much. She stated that is what this Commission is all about, whether they do need more minutiae or whether they don’t. A lot of times when you get minutiae, it is really hard to change. She believes Seminole County did a good job of keeping the charter neat, simple, and directive. Mr. O’Hanlon agreed with Ms. Hufford about the brevity and simplicity and believes Seminole’s Charter is concise.
Robert O’Malley entered the meeting at this time.
Mr. Boyko stated Seminole’s Charter is understandable as it should be.
Chairman Strickler advised that he has some bullet items that he wants the Commission to consider. The Chairman explained that the things that have changed in Seminole County with regard to Charter Review are the elected officials have changed. They have gone from the last Charter Review, where everyone was pretty much a veteran, to bringing in some rookies. In the County Commission, they will have at least two changes, maybe more. He believes it is incumbent on the CRC to set up a process where the CRC’s learning curve goes down and they accept that new people in their positions are involved in a learning curve as well. The Chairman emphasized that they are representing the taxpayers; they are not representing the County Commission or any other elected officials in the County. He believes their goal is to set up a system, as long as it can be legally done, that makes things work smoother, creates more of a cooperative relationship, and has fewer lawsuits.
Joel Greenberg, Tax Collector, entered the meeting at this time.
With respect to the learning curve concept, Chairman Strickler stated he would like to throw out some ideas. During the next few meetings, he would like to invite the Board of County Commissioners and the Constitutional Officers to present to the CRC some things that will better educate them so they can make better decisions as it relates to the CRC. He mentioned that he will list a few items and emphasized that he does this not as a recommendation but to solicit some dialogue. The Chairman advised that the charter lists all of the Constitutional Officers and his list applies to all of them and also involves the Board of County Commissioners as well.
Chairman Strickler stated he wants to schedule presentations by all these entities at future meetings. Depending on what else is on the agenda, he would like to schedule one to two entities at each meeting. The presentation would last about 15 minutes but might go longer depending on questions. He stressed the goal is not anything but the CRC learning from the presenters and what they know. The ultimate goal of doing this is also to develop some educational pieces for the Commission because he is finding out the rules are different for almost every elected official.
Chairman Strickler detailed the following questions: What is the role and responsibility of each entity? What is the budget approval process for each entity since they are all different? How about the approval of expenditures? How is total transparency achieved? The Chairman reiterated that they represent the taxpayer and that is why he is throwing this stuff out to the members. What auditing process do they use? How is customer service measured? How is cost efficiency measured?
Chairman Strickler stated he is asking the Committee to allow him, as the Chairman, to invite these entities and get them scheduled so they can come in and share with the members. The CRC will learn some of the struggles that they are dealing with. This is not one‑sided. This is not County Commission versus Constitutional Officers. This is about everybody presenting (as best they can) what legally they are responsible for, how they accomplish it, how they are doing, and what kind of report cards they use internally. Unless there is some state law that prevents it, he ultimately feels like the Charter Review Commission might be able to require these reports as part of the charter because that creates transparency and that helps everybody and they don't get these head‑banging sessions. The Chairman requested input from the members as to whether they agree, disagree, or have a different approach.
Mr. Boyko agreed with Chairman Strickler that they are representatives of the people of the county. He thinks they have to keep out of the picture any political views that they have and make sure to keep that aside in their decision and when they are talking about something. Mr. Boyko stated that right now there are some issues. There are issues that are anti‑Constitutional Officers and so forth, and some of these issues may be brought before the CRC. He asked the Chairman if he wanted to "run with that."
Chairman Strickler stated he will throw out two examples. He advised that he is not going to pick sides because he doesn't think he has enough information. He stated that Mr. Greenberg got crosswise with the County Commission very quickly because he wasn't going to bring back a pocketbook the size that Ray Valdes did. The Chairman remarked that he does not know if that is right or wrong and suggested that maybe Mr. Greenberg identified some customer service issues that needed to be elaborated on. He doesn't know and that is why he is bringing it up. There are some differences of opinion on the County Commission’s side and on the Constitutional Officers’ side and everybody needs to put all of their cards on the table face up. Don't play games with each other because taxpayers lose when someone does that.
With regard to Mr. Maloy, the Chairman stated he does not know if there is a lawsuit involved but he knows there is a disagreement on Mr. Maloy's approach to the Clerk of the Court. Grant Maloy, Clerk of the Court & Comptroller, advised that the County filed a lawsuit; he did not. Chairman Strickler advised there is a disagreement and a lawsuit involved because Mr. Maloy thinks one way and the Board of County Commissioners thinks another. The Chairman suggested that maybe that needs to be reviewed by this Charter Review Commission so there is minimal chance that happens in the future. He added that maybe there is a misunderstanding and maybe there is not; he does not know. Discussion ensued with regard to who can propose or petition an amendment to the Charter. Chairman Strickler advised that the reason he is bringing this up is because there is a trend here; and the trend is as veterans leave and new people come in, there is going to be a tendency for disagreements. He explained that he wants to figure out a way that this Charter Review Commission can put in place some potential remedies for that. He added they are going to talk about an attorney later but advised that is why they need legal representation during this process at some point. Mr. O'Hanlon stated that for the most part, the agenda is the Chairman's prerogative but he fully agrees with the agenda and thinks that is the best way for the Commission to learn how all of the various parts of the County work together in synchronicity for the benefit of the taxpayers as opposed to wasting money filing lawsuits.
Mr. Boyko stated he likes what Mr. O'Hanlon and Chairman Strickler said, that it is for the sake of the taxpayers and suggested they keep that the focus. The more they keep their focus on that, the better off it will be in all areas. Edward Schons stated that he is very excited with what was just presented and hopes that everyone sees the opportunity. Michelle Smith stated she thinks it is a wonderful way to approach problem solving and believes it is a wonderful way to have some thoughtful conversation. Ms. Smith requested they have two presenters per meeting and then some time as well for questions and answers. She reiterated that she believes it is a constructive way to have a thoughtful conversation.
Ms. Hufford cautioned that they will need to be very careful of the fact that they will take in all of this information and have to decide whether it goes with the Commission or whether the Commission encourages them to look at ways of solving their problems. It may not be with the CRC. She advised that they might be able to generate discussions and say we would like to see it but this might not be the pigeon hole it should be in but it still needs to be addressed. Chairman Strickler explained that what he has found over the years is that anybody you are dealing with in business (elected officials or bureaucrats or whomever), if you are coming to them as a group of volunteers, concerned citizens, it gives you a lot more credibility and a lot more clout. The listening ear will be there as long as they are talking about a level playing field for discussion. He stressed that is really what he is after. Upon inquiry by Robert Levy, discussion ensued with regard to the process of the Charter Review Commission’s recommendations being presented to the BCC and then being placed on the ballot.
James Dicks agreed that inviting the Constitutional Officers to make a presentation is a great idea. Mr. Dicks stated he would like to see that scheduling in advance so they could have a bio on who is going to be presenting in advance so the members could do a little research themselves. He also wants to make sure that it is for informational purposes for the CRC to digest after the fact. He wants to stay out of the politics side. He noted they can also get lost in trying to create efficiencies for them, which the CRC does not want to do. He believes it is really more of a transparency issue; are the voters having access to the information that they deserve and also based on the charter.
Mr. Dicks suggested they should probably give the presenters an outline of bullet points that the CRC would like to hear. That would allow the Commission to digest the information specifically as it fits into the charter. He pointed out that having counsel may be good. He does not want to get involved in whether they should or shouldn't have a lawsuit since that is really none of this Commission's concern. The CRC's concern is are the voters being represented based on the charter and do they have that ability to make that decision on the ballot. Having the Constitutional Officers make a presentation will clearly give the CRC a better thought process to do that. Chairman Strickler stated if the structure of the charter changes and more than just encourages mediation as opposed to lawsuits, they will win something just right there.
Mr. Dicks stated that regardless of the inefficiencies of the Constitutional Officers (and he is not saying that they have them although everybody has them), there are inefficiencies within the charter; and he thinks that is what they have to identify. A part of those inefficiencies comes with the technology changes which allow them access to more transparency and the ability to deliver that. He emphasized that it is the responsibility of the CRC to look at that technology and what that allows them to be able to do and make that change within the charter so that it is available to the voters because it is the CRC's responsibility to be able to recognize that and pass that on. He thinks the Constitutional Officers should take that into account, and they should be able to tell the Commission what technology has changed to allow them to present what they do in a transparent method. He stated he can assure everyone that there are inefficiencies because that technology wasn't there six years ago. As they look at the charter, and not just for the Constitutional Officers, he suggested they think just for a moment about what technology can do as they read the charter. Clearly there is some stuff in the charter that he read that was written prior to any technology.
Mr. Boyko asked about the format of the meetings with the Constitutional Officers and the BCC, and Chairman Strickler explained that each entity will make a presentation to this group. There should be one or two presentations per meeting depending on what else is on the agenda. The Chairman advised the CRC will invite them with the layout of what kind of information they want. It will be broadly stated and they can fine tune it. The goal is to educate the CRC about what they do, what they do for the taxpayers, who approves their budget, how they spend their money, what their transparency is, what kind of reporting they do on behalf of the citizens, and those types of things. Discussion ensued with regard to the presentations. Chairman Strickler stated they are going to tell the CRC what they do in their particular organization for the county and "for the county" means for the taxpayers. Then questions can be asked. Kevin Grace stated he is okay with the agenda and thinks it is a good idea to have those folks come. He added that what he does not want to do is get into the political squabbles and be the referee. He does not think they can turn their charter into something that will totally avoid petty political squabbles. He cautioned they will get bogged down if they go there and try and fix that.
Chairman Strickler agreed with Mr. Grace and added that what they are doing is developing a process that will give up‑to‑date access about the overall performance of the County Commission and all of the other elected officials (the Constitutional Officers) that the average citizen can have access to. If they can get that where it is easily accessible, everybody wins. Nobody has anything to hide. What they are doing now is moving from the way things have been done in the past to a way it maybe should be done in the future so they minimize the chance of disagreements. The Chairman suggested if you are going to disagree, do it based on facts, law, et cetera, and not based on politics. Mr. Grace stated with personalities, it is hard to design something that will avoid personality conflicts. Chairman Strickler agreed but stated if it is structured right, anybody doing that can be called out very quickly. If they are an elected official, the next time around it will be used against them. Mr. Grace added the voters will take care of that. Chairman Strickler stated they have to design a structure so that everybody is focused on the taxpayer. That is his goal.
Mr. Dicks stated he thinks one of the things they will find is that the Constitutional Officers don't want the Charter Review Commission making any decisions any more than the CRC wants to make decisions without knowing what the Constitutional Officers do. He believes the Constitutional Officers know what the CRC is doing and will probably present a case as to what they do and what their organization does. The Constitutional Officers know exactly what the CRC does so they will present valuable information, which he thinks the CRC needs. He stated if the CRC makes decisions without knowing what the Constitutional Officers do, that could cause its own issue. He agreed that there should be 15 minutes for presentations, with 10 to 15 minutes of questions and then move on.
Chairman Strickler stated prior to the presentation he is going to try and get the County to provide a spreadsheet that shows for each Constitutional Officer and their organization what they are responsible for and who approves their budget. The County Commission does not approve all of the budgets. They might bless them. He pointed out that Mr. Greenberg's approval for the budget is the Department of Revenue. With some of the budgets, the County Commission has more authority and more input than others. He stated they don't want to get into trying to change any of that. That is set in state law. He wants to set up a system that is codified in such a way that anybody that is not playing well together stands out like a sore thumb; and then politically, they will have to pay for it. He thinks everybody will make a legitimate presentation. Chairman Strickler asked the Constitutional Officers sitting in the audience if anybody has got a problem with what he has been talking about. Mr. Maloy stated he is more than happy to make a presentation. He reminded everyone that he has been inviting everybody to come over to the courthouse and the Comptroller's Office.
Pasha Baker stated if the end goal is the taxpayer, she thinks the Chairman has put together a very comprehensive list to get the Commission started. Ms. Baker stated she would like to add one, which would be a SWOT analysis. It would be high level and very brief with maybe one or two things per each quadrant. Like others have said, things have changed since the last Charter Review Commission. Some of those inefficiencies and inaccuracies have led to the disagreements that the Chairman is talking about. With regard to the SWOT analysis, Chairman Strickler asked Ms. Baker if she is talking about one per entity to which Ms. Baker confirmed it was per entity. Chairman Strickler added that strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats would be part of the presentation. Ms. Baker agreed that those things would be included because some of the Constitutional Officers are new into their roles so they have obviously gone through this at a high level. They could come back to this body and say this is what we have identified as a strength or weakness or opportunity or threat. The CRC could go back and say this does not align with the charter; this is an inefficiency. She stated this would be something they could take on and maybe correct, which would help the taxpayers at the end of the day. Chairman Strickler pointed out that if you read the charter, there is very little in there that talks about the relationship between the County Commission and the Officials. It doesn't give details. It just basically says to the County Commission "hands off."
Bob McMillan stated he thinks the second item on the Chairman's agenda to discuss is the need to get legal counsel on board and talked about how the CRC is constrained by the constraints of state law. Mr. McMillan explained that it may very well be that much of what this Commission wants to see happen between the Constitutional Officers and the Board of County Commissioners is simply beyond what can be done on an organizational basis unless they are ready to de-constitutionalize those offices and make them County offices. It isn't that they can take this little piece and put it over here and say the County is requiring this. There are some cases that say you either take it all or you take none of it.
Mr. McMillan stated he is not here to issue those opinions; but in order to properly evaluate what it is they are hearing and what the scope of the Commission's ability to deal with this is, he thinks they need to get somebody who is very familiar not only with the law but also somebody who is familiar with charters statewide and has worked on them before and has done ballot language and understands the constraints of state law and what you can and cannot do in the charter. He explained that it is not like you can take a state officer and force mediation necessarily with the County Commission through some imposed process. They can evaluate all of that; but he thinks they need to have somebody, as part of the education process, who can come in and say here is the overall structure of how the Constitution works and talk about what they can or can't do in a charter. He believes they need to have that overall umbrella view simultaneously with looking at all of the specific issues that they are dealing with.
Chairman Strickler stated that he agrees but the thing that he comes back to is that he does not know any elected official in this county that doesn't care about what the taxpayer thinks. He announced that he does not know what they can put in a charter but believes they should put it on the table and talk about it. Mr. McMillan stated he does not disagree that they should put in on the table and talk about it but he thinks they are going to need the overall legal counsel there. Chairman Strickler stated they are going to talk about counsel in a minute to see where the Commission may want to go with that.
Mr. O'Hanlon stated he would like to understand how everyone measures the efficiencies of their office. He added that to him, Seminole County is a quality county. All in all they are doing a good job here. One of the elements of quality is quality charts. He stated they need to get an idea of what type of reporting, maybe annually, that everyone needs to be doing that basically shows that they are doing a good job. If it shows they are not doing a good job, then the voters can make a decision. Chairman Strickler remarked that to be clear, they are not just talking about Constitutional Officers. They are talking about the Board of County Commissioners too. Everybody; anything related to local government within the county. He believes they have some good folks that have been elected; and he thinks that over the years, they have gotten used to veterans running everything and they never really had problems other than technology.
With regard to outside counsel, Chairman Strickler pointed out that they received one resume from Dana Crosby‑Collier (copy received and filed). He referred to the last Charter Review Commission and noted that he, along with Mr. McMillan and Mr. Boyko, served on a subcommittee to try and identify potential attorneys that might represent the charter last time around. He went back and thought about what they went through. The Chairman stated that it turned out that they didn't need an attorney because they weren't going to recommend any changes, but he thinks this year is going to be different. He referred to the list of criteria that he made. After he made the list, he went and looked at Ms. Crosby‑Collier's resume and saw that most of the criteria are in there. He added that there may be some need for advertisement and getting additional input.
With regard to the criteria, Chairman Strickler stated the attorney needs to have charter review experience, not to serve on a CRC but to have represented a county or been on the county payroll and been the liaison from the county to the CRC. He talked about how their experience needs to be in Florida, both private and public, and pointed out that his preference is that they be part of a law firm that has access to other experts in charter review. The Chairman discussed the need for the attorney to be relatively local (so they are not paying travel fees) and that the attorney can have no conflict of interest. Upon inquiry by Ms. Smith, Chairman Strickler confirmed that was the criteria that they used last time and added that what they found was there was nobody local; they were going to have to bring people in from Fort Lauderdale and Miami and the travel costs were unbelievable.
Discussion ensued with regard to Ms. Crosby‑Collier's resume and the need for the CRC to have legal representation. Mr. Applegate advised that to him, it is important that the Charter Review Commission have independent counsel. He cautioned that it cannot be anyone connected to his office, anyone that he has retained as outside counsel on anything or any members of their firm, anybody who represents the Constitutional Officers, or anybody who represents cities in the county to avoid any issues. The CRC may be discussing issues about city/county relationships. Mr. Applegate added that six years ago they did not hire anybody because the CRC didn't make any recommendations. He pointed out that six years earlier, the Charter Review Commission spent a great deal of time proposing propositions to the people and the voters voted for those propositions. He is not sure whether it was one or two but the Constitutional Officers challenged those propositions and all of that work went down the drain when the court ruled that they were unconstitutional. Mr. Grace questioned if they had legal counsel. Mr. Applegate advised that they did have legal counsel.
Mr. Applegate reiterated that he thinks it is very important to have independent counsel. He stated that he is present with Mr. Morrell in case the CRC needs any administrative help. Once the CRC hires legal counsel, that legal counsel will be sitting here. He pointed out that he will do whatever the CRC wants to do regarding searching for counsel. He stated he does know Ms. Crosby-Collier and she is eminently qualified. He added that he sent the resume to the members of the Commission because he thought it would be important for them to see someone qualified. Mr. Applegate reported that he made some calls to other lawyers to see if they would be interested because they did not have conflicts and they were not interested. He stated he thinks this will be one of the CRC’s most important decisions.
Chairman Strickler talked about the process the last Charter Review Commission went through regarding legal counsel. Mr. Applegate talked about the need to have legal counsel so the moment a conversation comes up, but before the Commission goes too far afield, the attorney can say you are wasting your time here. Ms. Hufford stated she is interested in learning more so if she sees there is a problem that the CRC can help solve, they can put it before the voters; but what she is hearing is that some people have already decided that there will be changes. She stated she is not sure that really will be the case. They may not be able to make those changes. Like she stated before, this pigeon hole may not be the right one to make those changes. Mr. Grace stated he echoes what Ms. Hufford said, that he hasn't decided if it needs changes. He thinks the charter has served them well. The only argument he has heard so far is that they have young people in office and that they have got some political squabbles. That is not evidence to him that they need to make changes.
Mr. McMillan stated he doesn't know whether the charter needs any changes or not. All he is saying is if there is a significant discussion that is going to occur that may result in proposals, then they need to get counsel on as soon as possible. Mr. McMillan stated the fact of the matter, like Mr. Applegate stated, is one of the best things that independent counsel can do is keep the CRC members working on things that can be accomplished rather than going out and spinning their wheels, going off in a direction thinking that you have come up with great ideas, spend months working on them, and at the end hearing that was really a great idea but you can't do it.
Mr. Dicks talked about the last Charter Review Commission six years ago and advised he felt like they didn't get an opportunity to make the changes that were potentially necessary then because they were bogged down with what had happened the six years prior to that. He stated they basically reviewed all of the changes that that CRC had suggested that made it to the ballot and then got unwound. That is what they spent their time on and then decided they fixed it and they solved it. Where his frustration came in was they had this very same conversation at the first two meetings and the conversation was do we need counsel or do we not. Then they decided they were not sure and had an ad hoc committee. The issue was they were having all of these conversations when they should have had the attorney sitting there to counsel. He felt it was a waste of time by not having counsel. It was kind of penny wise, pound foolish. Mr. Dicks stated that quite frankly, he thinks if they can't look through the charter and find some efficiency or inefficiency that needs to be looked at after 12 years of no change, then they have failed the voters. He added that there is no way that their charter doesn't need any changes somewhere. They may not find where that change is but they are talking about 12 years with no changes. Chairman Strickler noted that the problem with the charter is that none of that stuff is addressed in the charter.
Mr. Dicks stated he doesn't want to be sitting here six months from now saying we have had a lot of conversations so let's bring the attorney in now and rehash everything that we have talked about for the last six months. He believes that is a waste of time. With an attorney, the CRC can turn right to them and ask can we do this or can we not do this. Chairman Strickler confirmed with Mr. Dicks that Mr. Dicks is saying get an attorney and start the process.
Motion by Mr. Dicks, seconded by Mr. O'Hanlon, that the Charter Review Commission hires legal counsel. Mr. Dicks added that before they hire legal counsel, they should receive at least three resumes of qualified people based on the information provided at the start of the discussion as to their qualifications, review those resumes, and then hire legal counsel.
Under discussion, Mr. O'Hanlon stated he wants to have counsel at the table. If the County Attorney works for the County and can't be at the table with the CRC, then they need to hire someone. Mr. O'Hanlon assumed Mr. Applegate would be the counsel. Chairman Strickler pointed out that Mr. Applegate has a conflict of interest. Mr. O'Hanlon reiterated that he thought Mr. Applegate would be the CRC's counsel; and if he is not their counsel, they need to hire counsel. Mr. Schons stated the Commission is taking their time and doing this for the citizens of Seminole County. He advised that the most important thing they can do is get this moving. He does not know how long it will take to get counsel on board, to review and make a selection, but that is dead time. Mr. Schons stressed that they need to do this right away.
Chairman Strickler pointed out that while looking for the three people, they can still move forward with the presentations; it is not going to be totally dead time. The Chairman stated he feels uncomfortable moving forward for too long without a legal person sitting there and keeping the Commission straight because they will be wasting time on certain things if they don't do that. Mr. Levy asked what kind of budget the Commission has to work with. Chairman Strickler noted that it was public money. Mr. O'Hanlon pointed out that the Clerk, Mr. Maloy, is in the audience. Chairman Strickler stated that he knows Mr. Maloy is not the Chief Financial Officer. He added that he may be the Comptroller. Mr. Applegate advised he is not sure what the budget is but he wants to say $5,000. He promised to get back with the Commission with that answer. Mr. Applegate added that it is not going to be a problem. Mr. McMillan advised the BCC can't hamstring the CRC with the budget; the BCC cannot try to control this CRC by the budget process. There is a provision in the charter that deals with that.
Mr. Boyko asked Mr. Dicks to clarify if his motion was to have an attorney present regardless of whether they have any item on the agenda. Mr. Dicks replied he thinks that is a great question. He stated that he expects to have an agenda for every meeting. If he modified his motion at all, it would be regarding the resumes. He believes he said three resumes; but if they can't find three resumes, he does not want that to affect what the motion is. Mr. Dicks clarified that the motion is to seek counsel, hire the counsel, and have them present for the CRC meetings. Mr. McMillan stated he understands the motion is to hire counsel and they will deal with issues as they come up. It is not predicated on the fact that first they decide that they have an issue. Mr. Dicks stated that is what they had last time and he does not want to do that this time. Mr. McMillan added they will get an attorney on board, get him to the table, and then discuss anything the CRC wants. He advised that he is in favor of the motion and the only question he has is the process of getting the resumes, which they can deal with after the motion.
All members present voted AYE.
With regard to process, Chairman Strickler informed the Commission that last time they had an ad hoc committee. Mr. Dicks remarked that he does not think they need to spend that much time and effort. They will have a problem trying to find three resumes. He thought the Chairman had some great criteria and believes, since the Chairman did this as an ad hoc committee member last time, he is well‑equipped to look at the two or three resumes and make that decision. Mr. Dicks reminded everyone that the number one criterion is that there is no conflict of interest.
Mr. McMillan stated he does not know about making the decision. He suggested the Chairman bring the resumes back and maybe recommend one of them. He added that he doesn't know if they need to advertise because he is not sure what good advertising will do. He suggested if anyone on the committee might know someone who might be qualified, they should forward a resume or bring a resume to the next meeting. Chairman Strickler reiterated that they want someone with CRC experience (both at a public level and a private level), experience with charters in Florida specifically (both public and private), part of a law firm who has resources in charter review that the person can draw on, relatively local to minimize travel, and has no conflict of interest, which would include anybody that person might want to draw on from their law firm that might have a conflict. Mr. McMillan agreed that is good for what they are looking for. He would not want to think that if somebody came in who missed out on one point, that they did not meet the minimum qualifications, they were out the door. Chairman Strickler emphasized that these are suggestions. Mr. McMillan stated he would also mention experience in drafting ballot language because ballot language is very tricky to do. There are a limited number of words. He added that then, of course, it will be all of the members of the Commission trying to rewrite the charter ballot language and turn it into something totally different.
Mr. O'Malley asked if there are procurement procedures that they have to follow in hiring an attorney. Chairman Strickler replied that he does not think so. Discussion ensued with regard to how they obtained resumes for legal counsel for the last Charter Review Commission. Mr. Applegate remarked that he has defended a number of charter cases in Orange County years ago, and he doesn't think they will find a lawyer worth his or her salt who is going to guarantee that the ballot language they write will withstand scrutiny. He believes they have great criteria and list of qualifications. If they want to advertise, the County will take care of that. Chairman Strickler stated the question really is about getting consensus about the process. He agreed that he does not want to set up an ad hoc committee but he does not want to make the decision on his own either.
Mr. Dicks agreed with Mr. McMillan's idea, that the Chairman get the resumes, look through them and bring three to the Committee. Mr. Dicks suggested that if they could get those resumes prior to the meeting, they can all do their own due diligence and be ready to make that decision at the meeting as opposed to going home, looking at the resumes, and then scheduling another meeting. Chairman Strickler advised they will "shoot" for getting that before the next meeting. Mr. Schons confirmed with the Chairman that this is for the solicitation because he thinks that is the most transparent way to do it. Mr. Applegate advised that his office will work on that and get it out. Chairman Strickler asked if there were any concerns about that and no objections were voiced. Discussion ensued with regard to ways of sending out the solicitation information.
Chairman Strickler stated he would like to have the review of the resumes and selection of legal counsel as an agenda item by the next meeting. Mr. Schons stressed that the main thing is they have to all be transparent and he is afraid that it could look like they were not if they do not take the route that they are discussing today because the voters need to know what the CRC is doing. Chairman Strickler pointed out that it will be public record. Mr. Schons noted that the group will make the decision but they need to solicit, however that is done. Chairman Strickler stated that if it was sent out to 20 firms, that is public record; and if somebody questions it, then they can share that. He just does not want to delay the process because he thinks next year is going to creep up on them if they do make changes. Mr. Boyko stated they are pushing and pointed out they have got a lot of time to do this. Discussion ensued regarding the CRC’s timeline.
Mr. Applegate reiterated that his office will streamline the solicitation and it will be public. It will be on the web page and the Florida Bar if they have to. Mr. Dicks pointed out that if the County Attorney is fine with the process, with regard to whether the CRC is being transparent or not, that is going to be on him. If Mr. Applegate is okay with the way that he is going to do it, Mr. Dicks stated he feels that is absolutely fine. Chairman Strickler stated the County Attorney will get the word out and the CRC will get the word back. Whether or not they make a decision at the next meeting, he hopes they do; but if not, it will be at the meeting after that. Mr. Schons remarked that is as expedient as they can do it and hopefully they will get a number of resumes to look at.
Ms. Hufford stated she feels much more comfortable in waiting a month, which is two weeks beyond, just so they can make sure that people have had an opportunity to apply for this particular position. Chairman Strickler agreed that it will probably take that long. Ms. Hufford wants to go very cautiously in that because it is all perception. They don't want to look like they are railroading right now. She stated she is not dragging her feet, but she also believes that the citizens don't like a real fast process. They are used to going slowly so they have a chance to speak and ask their friend to apply or whoever it is to have a chance. Chairman Strickler asked Ms. Hufford to clarify. Ms. Hufford explained that they probably can find some people in two weeks but she would feel better to make sure that everyone has had a chance to vet it, to try it, to come back to the CRC. Chairman Strickler confirmed when the next meeting is and advised that he would prefer to present whatever resumes they have if everyone is comfortable with that. Mr. McMillan stated that from what he understood from the Chairman’s comments earlier, the first several meetings after this are going to be primarily presentations by the Constitutionals and the Commission, which aren't critical for having the attorney. The people they are talking about hiring ought to already have a pretty good idea of what the relative role is of each one of the Constitutional Officers and the County Commissioners. Mr. McMillan suggested that it is not critical that they have the attorney at those meetings as long as they are able to hit the ground in November.
Chairman Strickler reminded Mr. Applegate that at the first meeting he volunteered to develop rules for public hearings and asked if that is correct. Mr. Applegate stated that he and Mr. Morrell have been talking about that. What they would like to suggest is to keep it very simple with number one, Robert's Rules of Order and number two, the public has a right to speak just like they do at a County Commission meeting for three minutes individually and six minutes if they represent a group. He added that the Chairman always has discretion to allow more time. Chairman Strickler asked Mr. Applegate if he could reduce that to writing so they can put it in the minutes. Mr. O'Hanlon commented that he thinks that is overly generous. To him, it should be two minutes and four minutes and they need a clock. Mr. Applegate emphasized this is the CRC's call. He is only going to be submitting recommendations. Chairman Strickler requested that Mr. Applegate put in that the Chairman has discretion. Mr. O'Hanlon explained why he would like it to be two minutes and four minutes.
Chairman Strickler advised that at the last meeting, they talked about three public hearings, which are required if the CRC recommends changes. He believes those can be scheduled at a later date. No objections were voiced.
With regard to public participation, no one in the audience spoke and public input was closed.
Chairman Strickler asked if there were any Constitutional Officers who would like to come to the next meeting to make their presentation. Mr. Greenberg stated he would be happy to make his presentation. Mr. Maloy advised that he would not be in town. Chairman Strickler stated he will contact the Supervisor of Elections. He then advised Mr. Greenberg that if he had any questions about the bullet points that the CRC wants addressed to call him or speak with him tonight. Mr. O'Hanlon reminded that one of the bullet points is how he measures the efficiency of his office.
NEXT SCHEDULED MEETING
Chairman Strickler announced the next scheduled meeting is October 17, 2017 at 6:30 at the County Services Building.
Hearing no objections, Chairman Strickler adjourned the meeting at 7:54 p.m., this same date.