Letter: Poor comparison of 2004 bill to HB 1039
Rep. William L. Proctor
District 20 Florida House of Representatives
Former Rep. Doug Wiles and I differ as to the provisions of House Bill 1059, which he sponsored in 2004. It is reported that he intended that the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind be treated as a school district or a state university.
School districts and universities are required to participate in inter-local agreements, and both have the power of eminent domain. Wiles’ bill would have forced the school to engage in inter-local agreements but omitted any reference to eminent domain. Therefore, one could not reasonably have intended that the school be placed in a situation comparable to that of a university or a school district.
As to requiring the school to enter in to inter-local agreements, the Department of Community Affairs is the agency charged with administering the inter-local agreement requirement of Section 1013.33 FS.
The Department wrote in a letter dated Nov. 5, 2003 that the school was not required to engage in such agreements and noted, “several of the requirements for school board participation in the inter-local agreement makes little sense when applied to the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.” In that same letter, the Department added, “the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind serves an entirely different population: hearing-impaired and visually-impaired students throughout the State of Florida.”
In summary, House Bill 1059 would have imposed upon the school a duty that the Department of Community Affairs deemed inappropriate, while failing to grant to the school the eminent domain authority currently conferred upon 10 universities, 28 community and state colleges, and 67 school districts.
As to requiring FSDB to cooperate, the minutes of the March 13, 2010 meeting of the Board of Trustees of the school include the following statement, “Ms. Rakoncay, President of the Nelmar Terrace Neighborhood Association, spoke in support of the restoration of Collins House.” Additionally, in these same minutes, City official Mark Knight is reported to have said, “If not renovated, Collins House could be returned to the state, or they could do nothing — and it sits there. If nothing were done, it would not be good for FSDB or the neighbors.” In a spirit of cooperation, the school restored the house.
As I forewarned the Board of Trustees, the resulting discord has come to pass. Almost any action on the part of the school, regardless of how necessary and reasonable, will be misconstrued and opposed by some parties.
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