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Issues and Voices that Matter August 11, 2011

Fallout and Followup

Fallout and Followup (photo & graphic - CMF Public Media)There is fallout to note and followup to share in this podcast. First, fallout from CMF’s initiative to address the resignation of a key player in the “community conversation” and our mention of the almost $1million dollars of public funding available for this provider project. Second, followup with the new facilitator appointed by county government to fill the vacuum as a result of that resignation. Feature length – 24:55


(Produced, reported and edited by Stephen McKenney Steck) Seminole County Board of County Commission budget workshop audio – courtesy Seminole Government TV

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We start with the fallout, briefly, and then take most of your time for the followup.

“Conversation” creator, convener and facilitator, Michele Saunders –then the director of Seminole County government’s department of community services — gave her resignation notice to the county; yet, for the next two group meetings, Saunders elected not to advise the group of providers of that fact. Additionally, she did not present during the group meetings that a substantial sum of new county funding – almost one million dollars – had been set aside in the previous fiscal year for probable use this fiscal year in funding some or all of the activities soon to be endorsed by the provider group.

Given the transparent nature of public funding and the public nature of the “conversation,” CMF maintains that the resignation and the funding were material, timely, potentially impactful and merited CMF’s public disclosure. In CMF news releases about and out podcast of conversation number 3, we announced the funding. In podcast number 4 we announced the resignation. Saunders fully addressed both in conversation number 5. Links to all podcast are posted below.

In Saunders’ public comment to the provider group assembled for the “conversation,” she did not take issue with CMF’s disclosure or either issue – resignation or funding. But, at the beginning of conversation number 5, when Saunders called for comments regarding a specific provider issue, two providers elected to raise the CMF disclosure themselves.

There was no further provider comment on the issue. CMF was not asked to respond, nor would CMF as the previous podcasts speak for themselves.

The second issue is a followup with the new conversation facilitator – Seminole County government staffer, Steve Fussell. Increasingly, you’ve heard him in the last several conversation podcasts as he helped Saunders advance the “process” side of the project. Now, Fussell will do double duty as facilitator of his own process.

Catching up with Fussell by telephone after the 5th conversation seemed like a perfect time to hear his answers to questions CMF asks about the county’s commitment to this project … when the “conversation” might conclude… whether the group will be expanded to include more than just providers… whether or not there is a consensus among providers for the expenditure of funds on certain needs… the prospect of folding the group into currently existing regional organizations… and questions regarding the stability of this interim transition. You’ll also hear excerpts from a budget update meeting, to which Fussell refers. It was a budget work session held by the Seminole County Board of County Commissioners on August 4, 2011 in preparation for receiving the new fiscal year budget proposal from county staff.

The next 90-days will yield more answers to these and other questions as the providers of homeless services in the county finalize their governance charter, adopt major strategies, await county government funding assistance and, presumably, move foreword to accomplish their stated vision: that “no person in Seminole County has to be homeless.”

In CMF’s extended 47-minute interview with Fussell, a link to which is posted below, he expands on his responsibilities… identifies other members of the team with whom he works…explains more about provider discussion regarding funding, consensus and committees… and whether or not conflict of interest “firewalls” exist in this process.

Additional Feature Information

Michelle Saunders, director, Community Services, Seminole County Government (photo - CMF Public Media)
Michele Saunders, director
Community Services, Seminole County Government

bio | website

Steve Fussell, manager, business processes, Seminole County Government (photo - courtesy Steve Fussell)
Steve Fussell
manager, business processes, Seminole County Government

bio

Presentation charts for Steve Fussell’s remarks to Seminole County Commissioners

Links to other podcasts produced by CMF Public Media featuring issues related to homelessness

Extended Interview

Steve Fussell, manager, business processes, Seminole County Government with Stephen McKenney Steck
Extended interview (47:02)

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Seminole County Board of County Commissioners budget workshop meeting – August 4, 2011 (segment only)
Length (19:21)

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Extended Text

Knowledgeable homeless service providers state that in 2010 between 700 and 900 chronically homeless people are on the streets in Seminole County. That number does not include the near homeless, the recovering homeless or public school students of homeless parents in Seminole County.

In the Orlando metro area – largely defined as the counties of Seminole, Orange and Osceola, Seminole represents approximately 20 percent of the overall homeless population, yet only 4 percent of the beds accommodating and sheltering such homeless people are located in Seminole County.

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