Moran puts hold on another appointment of psychologist to county’s Behavioral Health Advisory Council

Commissioner cites concerns about potential conflict of interest

Commissioner Michael Moran. File image

As part of their Consent Agenda of routine business matters for their June 4 regular meeting, the Sarasota County commissioners were asked to approve the appointment of a Sarasota psychologist to the county’s Behavioral Health Advisory Council (BHAC).

Chair Michael Moran pulled that item from the Consent Agenda, saying that he had concerns that the applicant, Robert Boxley, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, still is associated with Centerstone of Sarasota, which has been a recipient of county funding for services for a number of years.

Moran added that he would prefer to discuss the appointment the following day, as part of a broader agenda item involving county health services grants for the 2025 fiscal year, which will begin on Oct. 1.

County Administrator Jonathan Lewis responded that he would have an update for the board members in advance of their June 5 meeting.

Commissioner Neil Rainford then suggested that county staff contact Boxley for more information.

On June 5, Moran brought up the matter again, as he had indicated.

“I’m not sure how I feel about this,” he began.

Chuck Henry, director of the county’s Health and Human Services Department — and the county Health Official — had sent more information to the commissioners on June 4, Moran continued.

Appearing to read from an email that Boxley had written, Moran said that Boxley had reported that he had not been on staff with Centerstone since October 2022, and that he has “no current or anticipated contractual obligation to Centerstone.”

This is an image from the website of the Centerstone facility on Sawyer Road in Sarasota.

However, Moran continued, as of that morning, when he had researched Boxley online, Moran had learned from Boxley’s website that Boxley trains “future psychologists and psychiatrists at Centerstone.”

This is a copy of the email that Chuck Henry of the Health and Human Services Department sent the commissioners on June 4. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Then Moran said, “I do have a little trouble with this.”

He explained, “This board has gone to great lengths [to make] sure that these advisory boards are as transparent and non-stacked as possible. …

“My suggestion is to pause this appointment and keep it advertised and maybe talk another day.”

Unless any of his colleagues had an objection, he added, they would proceed with the pause.

No other commissioner offered a comment.

About five months ago, Moran held up a decision on another applicant for the BHAC.

During the board’s regular meeting on Dec. 12, 2023, he said, “To keep with our systems and procedures that we went to great lengths with” in regard to the work of the BHAC and the Human Services Advisory Council (HSAC), he wanted county staff to ask applicant Jody Kashden of Sarasota, a clinical psychologist, for a list of nonprofit organizations with which she had been associated, as she had not named them in the documentation she had provided county staff.

“We’ve actually declined folks [for seats on the BHAC and HSAC], given their intense relationship with some of the applicants related to the money that’s getting funded,” Moran pointed out that day.

During a number of discussions in recent years, Moran has explained his goal in reorganizing the health services advisory board processes as a means of eliminating what he has referenced as undue pressure exerted by — or what he has characterized as inappropriate relationships linking — past HSAC members to nonprofit organizations that routinely apply for the annual county grants.

Ultimately, after Kashden offered more details to staff, the commissioners unanimously approved her appointment to the BHAC.

A county staff memo in the June 4 commission agenda packet explained that Boxley had applied for the open BHAC seat for “a health services professional, psychiatrist, psychologist, or behavioral health professional, licensed to practice in the State of Florida …” The term is effective through June 2026, the memo added.

Robert Boxley. Image from his website

In his application, responding to the question about why he would like to serve on the BHAC, Boxley wrote that he has “been providing behavioral health services in Sarasota” for more than 20 years, both on an outpatient basis and in inpatient settings, so he feels his “breadth of experience will be helpful to deliberations regarding behavioral health services in Sarasota.”

He began practicing in the Sarasota-Manatee area in 1998, he pointed out.

He added, “While I have aspired to make a difference in my clinical practice, I now feel that I could also have a broader effect and make a difference in Sarasota generally.”

He is not serving on any other boards or county advisory councils, Boxley wrote in response to another question on the application. However, he did note that he has served on the board of the Postpartum Society of Florida, the Keiser University Advisory Board, the Arts for Health Sarasota-Manatee Board “and a number of statewide committees.”

1 thought on “Moran puts hold on another appointment of psychologist to county’s Behavioral Health Advisory Council”

  1. Moran is the one not being transparent. He seems to have his own agenda that is not in the best interests of Sarasota County as a whole.

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