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MIAMI Commissioners Amendments vs. Braman’s Plan for Reform (Info for May 24, 2011 Election)

Posted by FactReal on April 5, 2011

Updated by FactReal on May 8, 2001

UPDATE:
Sample Ballot (PDF)
Candidates’ Biography, Record, Campaign Finance

ORIGINAL POST

Here is a one page analysis of the amendments proposed by the Miami-Dade county commission on March 24, 2011 for the May 24, 2011 election. For each amendment, I included: a brief summary, Norman Braman’s comments and proposal, sponsor of the amendment, how each commissioner voted, how it would look on the ballot, how the charter will be amended, and pertinent links to the county’s website.

BACKGROUND

COMMISSIONERS DISREGARD VOTERS AND INVENT NEW BENEFTIS FOR THEMSELVES
On March 24, 2011, Miami-Dade commissioners met to supposedly respond to the wrath of the voters who are demanding fiscal responsibility and reform of county government and overwhelmingly voted last week to remove mayor Carlos Alvarez and commissioner Natacha Seijas for raising property taxes, for shenanigans with the unions, mismanagement, and other dictator-like conduct.

But the commissioners perverted the voters’ message and voted for items to benefit themselves. After almost 9 hours of ramblings debate, the 12 remaining county commissioners agreed on 6 amendments to the Miami-Dade charter (the county’s constitution) for citizens to vote on a special election set for Tuesday, May 24, 2011.
May 24th will also be the election for a mayor and a commissioner for district 13, but the commissioners have to return on April 11th to formally schedule that vote. I hope that scheduling doesn’t take another 9-hour debate…some of us have a life to live.

ANALYZING THE COMMISSIONERS’ PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

SOURCE: COMMISSIONERS’ SPECIAL MEETING OF MARCH 24, 2011:
Published Purpose: To call for county-wide special elections to fill vacancies in Office of Mayor and County Commissioner for District 13 and to consider approval of Charter Amendments of the Home Rule Charter.
Video and Agenda
Amendments proposed by Commissioners for the May 24, 2011 ballot:
1) INCREASE SALARY & SET 12-YEAR TERM LIMIT:
2) NO LOBBYING:
3) TASK FORCE:
4) INSPECTOR:
5) NO STRONG MAYOR:
6) EASIER PETITIONS:

SOURCE: NORMAN BRAMAN’S 4/1/2011 LETTER TO COMMISSIONERS AND HIS PLAN FOR REFORM TITLED ‘A COVENANT WITH THE PEOPLE’
Letter and Plan (PDF)
FactReal’s Report

1) AMENDMENT: INCREASE SALARY & SET 12-YEAR TERM LIMIT:

SUMMARY:

To increase commissioners’ base salaries from $6,000* to $92,097 a year in exchange for them not having outside employment and to set three consecutive four-year terms limits for county commissioners beginning after the 2012 election. (*But each of the 13 commissioners already receives almost $1 million for their annual budgets which they use as they please — with few restrictions and no questions asked — plus $11,500 annual retirement contribution, unlimited free gas, $55,388 benefit package that includes an $800 monthly car allowance, etc. They will get great pensions and benefits for the rest of their lives…all paid by taxpayers. After all the mismanagement and abuses they want to increase their salaries and guarantee themselves 12 consecutive years as commissioners. The key word here is “consecutive.” After the first 12 years, will the commissioners run for re-election after a short resting period…securing for themselves another 12 years in power? When will it end? This sounds like lifetime dictators with vacation periods in between. Would a new pension kick in every time they temporarily retire?)

NORMAN BRAMAN’S 4/1/2011 LETTER & PROPOSAL TO THE COMMISSIONERS:

Braman’s comment: “[T]his proposal will give each Commissioner an immediate salary increase to a minimum of $92,097 and allow current members of the Commission to be reelected until 2024, with an added potential for their subsequent reelection (proposed term limit is not a lifetime ban on reelection).”

Braman’s proposal: Item #1: “Revamp the county commission and reduce the cost of government by reducing the number of commissioners from thirteen to nine.” Item #2: “Preserve political diversity while promoting a more regional focus by providing for seven district county commissioners and two at-large commissioners.” Item #3: “Transform the office of county commissioner by imposing a term limit of 2 four year terms (ensuring turnover), barring commissioners from outside employment (eliminating unseemly conflicts of interests), barring them from lobbying activities for ten years after leaving office (closing the revolving door of local politicians/lobbyists), in exchange for which they would be paid a reasonable salary (making public service accessible to young people and others who are not wealthy or willing to be corrupted).” Item #4: “Eliminate the manipulation of election dates by requiring elections for county mayor and commissioners to be held concurrently with elections for other state and national offices.” Item #5: “Resize, restructure and reduce the cost of county operations, including capping public pension costs and streamlining a top heavy bureaucracy, in order to enhance delivery of necessary and quality of life services.”

COMMISSIONERS’ PROPOSAL:
File #: 110688 (Resolution: R-214-11) (Original file #110630)
Sponsors: Sally A. Heyman and Lynda Bell
Vote: 7 – 5. Voted ‘No’: Sosa, Gimenez, Souto, Martinez, Diaz. Absent: District 13-Vacant

Top
Ballot Question for voters to approve:
HOME RULE CHARTER AMENDMENT
RELATING TO SALARIES, SERVICE, AND TERM LIMITS OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

SHALL THE CHARTER BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT COUNTY COMMISSIONERS SHALL:
* DEVOTE FULL-TIME SERVICE TO THE OFFICE OF COUNTY COMMISSIONER AND HOLD NO OTHER EMPLOYMENT;
* NO LONGER RECEIVE THE $6,000 ANNUAL SALARY ESTABLISHED IN 1957, BUT RECEIVE INSTEAD THE SALARY PROVIDED BY STATE STATUTORY FORMULA, ADJUSTED ANNUALLY BY THE COUNTY’S POPULATION (CURRENTLY APPROXIMATELY $92,097); AND
* SERVE NO MORE THAN THREE CONSECUTIVE FOUR-YEAR TERMS IN OFFICE EXCLUDING ALL TERMS PRIOR TO 2012?
YES
NO

Charter to be amended:
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOME RULE CHARTER
ARTICLE-11
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
* * *
Section 1.06. SALARY AND SERVICE AS A COUNTY COMMISSIONER.
Each County Commissioner shall receive a an annual salary of $6,000 per year payable monthly determined pursuant to general law applicable to non-charter counties and shall be entitled to be reimbursed for such reasonable and necessary expenses as may be approved by the Board. Such salary shall be payable monthly. County Commissioners shall devote full-time service to the office of County Commissioner and hold no other employment.

* * *
ARTICLE-3
ELECTIONS
Section 3.01 ELECTION AND COMMENCEMENT OF TERMS OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS.
* * *
E. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Charter, effective with the term of Commissioners scheduled to commence in 2012, no person shall be elected as Commissioner for more than three consecutive four-year terms. No service as a Commissioner prior to 2012 shall be considered a part of or counted toward the three term limit.

[NOTE: Words stricken (stricken) through shall be deleted. Words in red constitute the amendment proposed. Remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.]

2) AMENDMENT: NO LOBBYING

SUMMARY:

To ban elected officials from lobbying the county for compensation for a period of 2 years after leaving office.

(The keyword here is “compensation.” This would ban county officials from working as paid lobbyists. What happens if they get “gifts” for lobbying instead of compensation? Why only 2 years…how about 20 years after leaving office?)

NORMAN BRAMAN’S 4/1/2011 LETTER & PROPOSAL TO THE COMMISSIONERS:

Braman’s comment: “[I]nstead of imposing stricter lobbying prohibitions for Commissioners, this proposal actually weakens existing County law by allowing Commissioners to lobby so long as no compensation is received. The County Ethics Code currently prohibits Commissioners from lobbying the County for two years regardless of whether they receive compensation.”

Braman’s proposal: Item #3: “Transform the office of county commissioner by…barring them from lobbying activities for ten years after leaving office (closing the revolving door of local politicians/lobbyists)…” Item #8: “Avoid conflicts of interests in county lobbying activities by requiring public disclosures related to lobbying activities and prohibiting any person or entity who lobbies on the county’s behalf from lobbying county government on behalf of others during such county representation.”

COMMISSIONERS’ PROPOSAL:
File #: 110687 (Resolution: R-215-11) (Original file #110662)
Sponsors: Sally A. Heyman, Lynda Bell, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Audrey M. Edmonson, Barbara J. Jordan
Vote: 12 – 0. All commissioners voted Yes. Absent: District 13-Vacant

Top
Ballot Question for voters to approve:
HOME RULE CHARTER AMENDMENT
PROHIBITING LOBBYING FOR COMPENSATION BY ELECTED COUNTY LEAVING OFFICE

SHALL THE CHARTER BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT ELECTED COUNTY CHARTER OFFICERS SHALL BE PROHIBITED FROM LOBBYING THE COUNTY FOR COMPENSATION FOR A PERIOD OF TWO (2) YEARS AFTER LEAVING OFFICE?
YES
NO

Charter might be amended as follows:
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOME RULE CHARTER
ARTICLE-91
GENERAL PROVISIONS
* * *
Section 9.02. RESERVED PROHIBITION ON LOBBYING.
A person who has been elected to any County Charter office shall not accept compensation to encourage the passage, defeat, or modification of any ordinance, resolution, or decision of the County Commission or any action, decision, or recommendation of the County Mayor, County administration, or any County official, board, committee, or instrumentality for a period of two (2) calendar years after leaving office.

[NOTE: Words stricken (stricken) through shall be deleted. Words in red constitute the amendment proposed. Remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.]

3) AMENDMENT: TASK FORCE

SUMMARY:

To allow the Charter Review Task Force (an appointed board that reviews the county charter every five years) with super-majority vote (that is, approved by two thirds of the panel) to bring proposals directly to voters. (Currently only county commissioners or a difficult and expensive citizen’s petition initiative can propose amendments to voters.)

NORMAN BRAMAN’S 4/1/2011 LETTER & PROPOSAL TO THE COMMISSIONERS:

Braman’s proposal: Item #7: “Encourage future reform by allowing the Charter Review Committee to place directly on the ballot additional recommendations for reform.”

COMMISSIONERS’ PROPOSAL:
File #: 110691 (Resolution: R-216-11) (Original file #110663)
Sponsors: Sally A. Heyman, Lynda Bell, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Audrey M. Edmonson, Carlos A. Gimenez,
Barbara J. Jordan, Jean Monestime, Rebeca Sosa
Vote: 12 – 0. All commissioners voted Yes. Absent: District 13-Vacant.

Top
Ballot Question for voters to approve:
HOME RULE CHARTER AMENDMENT
RELATING TO CREATION, APPOINTMENT AND
POWER OF CHARTER REVIEW TASK FORCE

SHALL THE CHARTER BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE FOR CREATION OF A CHARTER REVIEW TASK FORCE WHO SHALL MEET ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEARS TO PROPOSE CHARTER REVISIONS; TO PROHIBIT ELECTED COUNTY CHARTER OFFICER FROM SERVING AS MEMBER OF THE TASK FORCE; AND TO SUBMIT THOSE REVISIONS APPROVED BY TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY OF THE TASK FORCE DIRECTLY TO THE ELECTORATE ON THE SAME BALLOT AS THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS?
YES
NO

Charter might be amended as follows:
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOME RULE CHARTER
ARTICLE-9 1
GENERAL PROVISIONS
* * *
Section 9.08. REVISIONS.
At least once in every 5 year period the Board shall review the Charter and determine whether or not there is a need for revision. If the Board determines that a revision is needed, it shall establish a procedure for the preparation of a proposed revision of the Charter Commencing in 2012 and every four years thereafter, the Board shall convene a Charter Review Task Force for the purpose of considering and preparing proposed revisions to the Charter. The Board shall provide, by ordinance, the qualifications, method of appointment, and terms and conditions of appointment and removal of members and membership to the Task Force; provided, however, any elected County Charter officer shall be prohibited from serving as a member of the Task Force. The Board shall place on the presidential general election ballot any proposed Charter revisions that are approved by a two-thirds vote of the Charter Review Task Force members present. The Any proposed revision that is approved by a simple majority vote of the Charter Review Task Force members present shall then be presented to the Board for review, modification and approval at the Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting and as approved. If the Board approves such proposed revision, either with or without modification, it shall present such proposed revision be presented to the electorate at the next presidential general election ballot in accordance with the provisions of Section 9.07(C) and (D). Simultaneous elections may be held on a such proposed revisions and on any individual amendments that the Board may propose pursuant to section 9.07(C) are proposed. The result of all elections on charter amendments shall be determined by a majority of electors voting on the proposed amendment.

[NOTE: Words stricken (stricken) through shall be deleted. Words in red constitute the amendment proposed. Remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.]

4) AMENDMENT: INSPECTOR GENERAL

SUMMARY:

To put the Inspector General’s office in the county charter to supposedly bolster the office’s presence as a county watchdog and insulate it from commission intervention. (Will the commissioners appoint this “inspector”?)

NORMAN BRAMAN’S 4/1/2011 LETTER & PROPOSAL TO THE COMMISSIONERS:

Braman’s comment: “[T]his proposal pays lip service to an “independent” inspector general without saying whether he is elected or appointed, and, if appointed, by whom, and to whom he or she will report.”

COMMISSIONERS’ PROPOSAL:
File #: 110689 (Resolution: R-217-11) (Original File #110647, PDF)
Sponsors: Joe A. Martinez, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Sally A. Heyman, Rebeca Sosa, Sen. Javier D. Souto
Vote: 11 – 0. All commissioners voted Yes. Absent: Jordan, District 13-Vacant.

Top
Ballot Question for voters to approve:
HOME RULE CHARTER AMENDMENT
ESTABLISHING INDEPENDENT INSPECTOR GENERAL

SHALL THE CHARTER BE AMENDED TO CREATE THE OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL WHO SHALL BE INDEPENDENT AND SHALL, AT A MINIMUM, BE EMPOWERED TO PERFORM INVESTIGATIONS, AUDITS, REVIEWS AND OVERSIGHT OF COUNTY CONTRACTS, PROGRAMS, PROJECTS, ABUSE, WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT AS WELL AS COUNTY FUNDED CONTRACTS, PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS AND PROVIDE INSPECTOR GENERAL SERVICES TO OTHER GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES WITH SUCH OFFICE’S APPOINTMENT, TERM, POWERS, DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES TO BE FURTHER ESTABLISHED BY ORDINANCE?
YES
NO

Charter might be amended as follows:
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOME RULE CHARTER
ARTICLE-91
GENERAL PROVISIONS
* * *
SECTION 9.11. INSPECTOR GENERAL.

There is hereby created and established an Office of the Inspector General. The Inspector General shall head the Office of the Inspector General. The minimum qualifications, term, powers, duties and responsibilities of the Inspector General as well as the organization of the Office of the Inspector General shall be set forth by Ordinance. Such Ordinance shall, at a minimum, provide that: (1) the Office of Inspector General be sufficiently independent to assure that no interference or influence external to the Office adversely affects the independence and objectivity of the Inspector General; (2) the Office of the Inspector General be empowered to perform investigations, audits, reviews and oversight of County contracts, programs, projects, abuse, waste and mismanagement as well as County funded contracts, programs and projects; and (3) the Office of Inspector General be empowered to provide inspector general services to other governmental entities and municipalities upon the approval of a request to provide such services by a majority of the Board of County Commissioners.

[NOTE: Words stricken (stricken) through shall be deleted. Words in red constitute the amendment proposed. Remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.]

5) AMENDMENT: NO STRONG MAYOR…POWER BACK TO COMMISSIONERS

SUMMARY:

To eliminate the strong-mayor and give back those powers to the commission.
(In 2007, Miamians voted to amend the charter to put the county bureaucracy directly under the control of the executive office as a way to reduce the power of the commissioners. Now the commissioners want that power back?)

NORMAN BRAMAN’S 4/1/2011 LETTER & PROPOSAL TO THE COMMISSIONERS:

Braman’s comment: “[R]ather than imposing restrictions on the Commission’s power, this proposal returns powers to the Commission that the voters recently gave to the strong mayor.”

COMMISSIONERS’ PROPOSAL:
File #: 110690 (Resolution: R-218-11) (Original file #110655)
Sponsors: Joe A. Martinez, Lynda Bell, Audrey M. Edmonson, Barbara J. Jordan
Vote: 10 – 2, No: Barreiro, Gimenez. Absent: District 13-Vacant.

Top
Ballot Question for voters to approve:
[No legislative text currently available online.]
UPDATE Here it is from the Sample Ballot (PDF):

Charter Amendment Pertaining to Powers of County Commission, County Mayor and County Manager

Shall the Charter be amended to undo the “Strong Mayor” form of government
approved by the voters in 2007 by returning the powers and responsibilities
of administering County government from a “Strong Mayor” to an appointed
County Manager who may be removed by the Commission or the Mayor with
Commission approval?

Also read here the clerk’s official copy or the original file #110655.

6) AMENDMENT: EASIER PETITIONS…not really

SUMMARY:

To eliminate the requirement of having all signatures notarized for citizens’ ballot initiatives.
(All the other onerous and ridiculous requirements imposed by the commission remain).

NORMAN BRAMAN’S 4/1/2011 LETTER & PROPOSAL TO THE COMMISSIONERS:

Braman’s comment: “[T]his proposal fails to repeal all of the existing County Code language which serves as a major impediment to citizen recall and initiative petitions and whose existence will forever serve to restrict the public’s ability to initiate change in County government.”

Braman’s proposal: Item #6: “Restore accountability by repealing any non-charter restriction on the people’s right to petition their government for change or to recall a politician; and to require any proposed future restriction to be voted upon by the people of Miami-Dade county and be enshrined in the county charter.”

COMMISSIONERS’ PROPOSAL:
File #: 110692 (Resolution: R-219-11) (Original file #110672, PDF)
Sponsors: Joe A. Martinez, Bruno A. Barreiro, Lynda Bell, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Audrey M. Edmonson,
Carlos A. Gimenez, Sally A. Heyman, Barbara J. Jordan, Jean Monestime, Rebeca Sosa,
Sen. Javier D. Souto, Dennis C. Moss
Vote: 12 – 0. All commissioners voted Yes. Absent: District 13-Vacant.

Top
Ballot Question for voters to approve:
HOME RULE CHARTER AMENDMENT REGARDING PETITIONS

SHALL THE CHARTER BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT PETITIONS FOR CHARTER AMENDMENT, INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM AND RECALL SHALL NO LONGER REQUIRE A SWORN AFFIDAVIT OF A CIRCULATOR AND SHALL INSTEAD ONLY REQUIRE THE NAME AND ADDRESS OF A CIRCULATOR?
YES
NO

Charter might be amended as follows:
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOME RULE CHARTER
ARTICLE-8 1
INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM AND RECALL
* * *
SECTION 8.01. – INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM.
* * *

2. The person or persons circulating the petition shall, within 60 days of the approval of the form of the petition, obtain the valid signatures of voters in the county in numbers at least equal to four percent of the registered voters in the county on the day on which the petition is approved, according to the official records of the County Supervisor of Elections. In determining the sufficiency of the petition, no more than 25 percent of the valid signatures required shall come from voters registered in any single county commission district. Each signer of a petition shall place thereon, after his name, the date, and his place of residence or precinct number. Each person circulating a copy of the petition shall attach to it a sworn affidavit stating the number of signers and the fact that each signature was made in the presence of the circulator of the petition. Each petition for charter amendment, initiative, referendum or recall shall contain space for the name and address of petition circulators and shall not require a sworn affidavit of petition circulators.

[NOTE: Words stricken (stricken) through shall be deleted. Words in red constitute the amendment proposed. Remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.]

6 Responses to “MIAMI Commissioners Amendments vs. Braman’s Plan for Reform (Info for May 24, 2011 Election)”

  1. […] MIAMI Commissioners Amendments vs. Braman’s Plan for Reform (Info for May 24, 2011 Electi… […]

  2. […] MIAMI 2011 ELECTION: – Next election: May 24, 2011 – Candidates (Bio, donors) – Amendments' Analysis […]

  3. […] MIAMI 2011 ELECTION: – Next election: May 24, 2011 – Candidates (Bio, donors) – Amendments' Analysis […]

  4. […] MIAMI 2011 ELECTION: – Next election: May 24, 2011 – Candidates (Bio, donors) – Amendments' Analysis […]

  5. KEITH W. ROUSE said

    THESE BANANA REPUBLIC CROOKS THINK WE ARE DUMB, THEY SMILE AND TAKE OUR TAX DOLLARS FOR THEIR OWN
    USE …. ALL NEED TO BE KICKED OUT …. JUST LIKE THE PROFESSIONAL CROOKS … THESE COMMISSIONERS ARE
    CAREER TERMED ENTITLED USERS OF OUR TAX DOLLARS ….. THE CHARTER CHANGES ARE A JOKE
    DON’T TREAD ON ME

  6. Lily Martinez said

    All these amendments and proposals seem to focus on protecting the interests of the politicians, rather than on a serious plan/strategy for accountability. It is obvious that all these amendments are filled with “holes”. Any chance to make them “whole”? Thank you for the information.

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