Children's Board of Hillsborough County avoids possible vote on its existence

Panacek accurately knew that the vote in the Military and Local Affairs Policy Committee was absolutely uncertain, and thus a powerful message from one of the state's biggest counties (there are only 8 children's boards in the state) could make a difference, whereas a letter suggesting some amendments wouldn't.

That was the course of action that Jim Norman espoused.  The commissioner, ending his 18th year on the board and running for state senate, sounded almost like he was already in Tallahassee as he said that taxpayer supported institutions (like the children's boards) deserve more scrutiny these days, not less.

Yes, Panacek, countered, we absolutely do.  But she argued that the measure appeared somewhat punitive in that the first proposed referendum would be this year, when there's been zero attempt at getting the word out about what the organization does, seeming to almost doom it to go down to defeat.

Panacek and other sympathetic board members did agree that there is a bit of a communication problem in that many people in the community aren't aware of the good works that the Children's Board of Hillsborough County does.  Panacek said they had never budgeted any money for marketing, but understands that may now have to be the case.

Negron says he'll bring the bill up next year.

During Wednesday's discussion of a bill at the Hillsborough County Commission meeting  that would have required child services boards throughout the state to have to come before the voters to justify their existence every six years - beginning this year - board members questioned if they should dare forward a letter to legislators to "kill the bill", vs. politely request making adjustments.

The sentiment to throw out the legislation sponsored in the Senate by Joe Negron along with Hillsborough County's Ronda Storms was recommended by Commissioner Kevin Beckner, and strongly supported by Ken Hagan.

Whether that letter had any difference or not, the fact is that the Negron/Storms bill is done for this session, after the bill failed on a tie vote in the House Military and Local Affairs Policy Committee yesterday.

But during Wednesday's meeting at the BOCC, Luanne Panacek, the CEO of Hillsborough's Children's Board told board members that the Negron bill was "not a done deal," which is what some commissioners had said, in arguing that it might be counterproductive to alienate legislators.  

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