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Vote ‘NO’ on Bill of Rights – Miami-Dade Charter Amendment (Election: Nov. 2012)

Posted by FactReal on November 4, 2012

The 2012 November ballot for Miami-Dade County has several Charter Amendment Questions which will amend the home-rule charter (the “constitution” for Miami-Dade county.) Below is a quick background and recommendation for one of the questions:

QUESTION: BILL OF RIGHTS
Title: Charter Amendment Regarding Penalties and Enforcement of Citizens’ Bill of Rights
Language on the ballot:

Shall the Charter be amended to eliminate the provision providing for forfeiture of office if a public official or employee willfully violates the Citizens’ Bill of Rights and allow, in addition to suit in circuit court, the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust to enforce the Citizens’ Bill of Rights with penalties authorized by the Code?

RECOMMENDATION: Vote ‘NO’ on this proposed amendment which is aimed at protecting labor unions from being penalized or losing their jobs if they violate the Citizens’ Bill of Rights. The proposed amendment will take away the current penalty of losing his job for any public official or employee who violates the Citizens’ Bill of Rights. It also gives power to the county’s ethics commission to enforce the Citizen’s Bill of Rights and impose penalties “not otherwise prohibited by a collective bargaining agreement.” So, the ethics commission will impose penalties except to those with powerful union contracts. This sounds like some union members will be protected from being penalized.

The proposed amendment still leaves citizens with the option to file suit in Circuit Court to bring forward violation complaints…for now.

Details
Currently the Citizens’ Bill of Rights, which was created to protect the citizens and to make government more accountable, states that any public employee who violates the Citizens’ Bill of Rights article must lose his job: (Emphasis added)

(C). Remedies for Violations. In any suit by a citizen alleging a violation of this Article filed in the Dade County Circuit Court pursuant to its general equity jurisdiction, the plaintiff, if successful, shall be entitled to recover costs as fixed by the Court. Any public official or employee who is found by the Court to have willfully violated this Article shall forthwith forfeit his office or employment.

Here is the commissioners’ proposed change to section (C) on the Citizens’ Bill of Rights where they deleted the current penalty of forcing violators out of office and added an exception for labor unions: (Emphasis added to indicate protection for labor unions )

(C). Remedies for Violations. A citizen may bring a cause of action alleging a violation of this Article filed in the Dade County Circuit Court pursuant to its general equity jurisdiction and if successful, shall be entitled to recover costs as fixed by the Court. The Commission on Ethics and Public Trust may also enforce the provisions of this Article and may impose any penalty authorized by County Code not otherwise prohibited by a collective bargaining agreement, for a violation of this Article. Any penalty imposed by the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust pursuant to this subsection may be enforced in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.

BACKGROUND
Commissioners passed the resolution: 12-0 with 1 absent
(Agenda item 10A4 ALTERNATE on 8/23/2012)
Resolution Reference: R-656-12

MORE: NOVEMBER 2012 ELECTION
All Miami-Dade County Charter Amendments & Recommendations
2012 Florida Constitutional Amendments & Voter Guides
Vote ‘NO’ on $1.2 Billion School Bond

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