Rules Committee Special Meeting Minutes

 March 21, 2017

Immediately following 1:00 p.m. regular committee meeting


Topic: Resume boards and commission review with the TRUE Commission and Commission on Elder Affairs


Location: City Council Chamber, 1st floor, City Hall – St. James Building, 117 West Duval Street


In attendance: Council Members Garrett Dennis (Chair), John Crescimbeni (Vice Chair), Greg Anderson, Danny Becton,  Jim Love, Tommy Hazouri, Scott Wilson; Council President Lori Boyer and Council Member Reggie Brown was were in attendance.


Alos: Peggy Sidman and Paige Johnston - Office of General Counsel; Heather Reber -Council Auditor’s Office, Allison Korman Shelton -Mayor’s Office, Jeff Clements and Colleen Hampsey - Council Research Division, Crystal Shemwell -Legislative Services.


The Chairman called the meeting to order at 2:30 p.m.


Council on Elder Affairs

Henry Cook, Council on Elder Affairs (COEA is an independent volunteer organization whose mission is advocacy on behalf of older adults) spoke about the phasing out/sunsetting of COEA due to lack of resources and support. This Council consists of 19 members, five appointed by the mayor and one appointed by each of the 14 district City Council members. Members must be at least 60 years old and cannot be employed by any government entity or a provider of services to the elderly. The COEA executive director is stepping down this month. Gloria Crawford, Chief of Human Services, stated that the state’s ElderSource agency and the private, not-for-profit Aging True have assumed many of the duties the COEA used to perform.


Council President Boyer mentioned that the geographical requirements for COEA appointments are challenging. Councilman Crescimbeni said that there is still a need and purpose for COEA and that the group should not be phased out at this time. In answer to a question, Daryl Joseph, Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, reported that the City has 20 senior centers, each of which has an advisory council of center users who communicate their concerns to the Senior Services Division.


TRUE Commission

Marc Hassan, Chair of TRUE Commission (TRUE), spoke about the role and actions of the commission past and present. Mr. Hassan indicated that TRUE is not utilized in the way that it could be and they do not receive sufficient support or coordination from council or the Mayor’s Office. Mr. Hassan mentioned that TRUE would be well served by a staff assistant and city council liaison and would welcome having specific assignments of tasks from the Council and Mayor to work on. He indicated that the commission is hampered in its ability to comment in a timely manner on pending legislation before the Council because of its monthly (rather than bi-weekly like the Council) meeting schedule.


Council President Boyer said that the commission’s authorizing legislation (Ordinance Code Chapter 57) provides that members should have financial backgrounds and that has been fairly liberally construed in making appointments over the years. She said that the commission used to do some very good in-depth studies in years past, apparently on the strength and expertise of the volunteer members since the commission has no full-time research staff. She suggested that the commission abandon the idea of commenting on current legislation and resume doing in-depth studies such as its past reports on contract management and the City’s Capital Improvement Program. Chairman Hassan said that the commission is currently in the midst of undertaking an internal review of its functions and operations. Council Member Crescimbeni asked about the current time commitment of the Research Division staff assigned to support the commission and suggested that, in his opinion, the commission does not make a sufficient effort to meet individually with council members and personally explain its studies and recommendations.


Council Member Becton noted that both he and Council Member Anderson are alumni of the TRUE Commission and he felt that a lot of good work had been done and good reports released over the years (i.e. the Banking Fund report and Police and Fire Pension Fund report). He believes the commission has a viable role to play in audit reviews and bringing a citizen perspective to the work of the government, offering insights that might not otherwise come from government employees. He agreed with the need for a better liaison relationship with council members on a regular basis. He felt that good, active members ready to work and not just seeking a line on a résumé are necessary to make the commission work productively. Chairman  Dennis expressed the opinion that the commission’s substantive research reports were all done more than a few years ago and questioned whether the TRUE Commission, with 2 alumni serving on the Council and 3 other unsuccessful City Council candidates currently serving, has become something of a political stepping stone to elective office. Council Member Hazouri felt that the Inspector General’s Office and the Council Auditor’s Office serve the watchdog function that the TRUE Commission may have once served.


Motion (Hazouri): recommend that the City Council disband the TRUE Commission – dies for lack of a second.


The meeting was adjourned at 4:03 p.m.


Colleen Hampsey, Council Research Division

Posted 3.23.17   5:00 p.m.