Manatee County puts a premium on serving children

July 17, 2014 

Thank you for keeping us informed about the way our elected officials direct our tax dollars. Your July 9 editorial about the state of Florida overcharging counties for juvenile detention and ignoring the court's ruling put light on some important and revealing violations of public trust.

While the story normally ends there, with a broken political system leaving voters with a sense of hopelessness, there is an untold story behind the scenes of this rare victory for children and taxpayers.

As one of a few principal planners for our local children's initiative, it is a priority of mine to monitor the use of our tax dollars for the benefit of local children.

Along with our Manatee County Board of County Commissioners and its appointed Children's Services Advisory Board, we labored to meet the needs of abused, neglected and at-risk youth with the limited resources available.

Due to Commissioner Michael Gallen's research and perseverance, the injustice imposed on counties by the state was brought to the forefront of our local agenda.

His efforts and his motion resulted in Manatee County achieving this victory for local children and taxpayers. In Commissioner Gallen, these abused, neglected and at-risk children found a hero, and taxpayers found an elected leader willing to take a stand for us.

It says so much about his character in the way he fought for these vulnerable constituents, who are too young to vote.

In a time when self-interests, corruption and bad behavior seem to be the norm, it is heartening to find personal and specific examples in our local government getting it right.

Much recognition is due to the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners, the Children's Services Advisory Board and local taxpayers for your commitment to children, and to the efficiency and effectiveness of prevention education over incarceration.

Becky Canesse, CEO, Just for Girls


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