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Monday November 19, 2007

Heading to a ballot question near you: the results of the charter review, mainly a change in salary from $6,000 to $92,000 for county commissioners, and the requirement that they not have outside employment. Can we pass this, please? (Similar measure have been rejected by voters in the past.) Update: Pushed back, at least until November. It sounds like the Commissioners are having cold feet about having to give up their “other” jobs, and the possibility of term limits

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Thursday September 6, 2007

Ye olde charter review update. So far, the panel is shunning major changes.

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Monday August 20, 2007

The charter review is underway. Video of the task force’s first meeting is up at Miami-Dade’s webcast page (for 8/14/07), and I thought I was going to have to watch it, but luckily, Rebecca Wakefield did the dirty work for us. It’s all a little disappointing: panelists with vested interests, a limited number of topics under consideration, and interesting ideas from citizens given warm dismissals. Lots of interesting information available at the task force’s page.

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Thursday June 28, 2007

With 16 of its 21 seats filled, the Miami-Dade County Charter Review Task Force can get to work. Not joking: four Miami-Dade commissioners (Carlos Gimenez, Sally Heyman, Barbara Jordan, and Javier Souto) appointed themselves to the committee. I suspect that if anything positive comes from this it will be despite their participation, not because of it. In any case, the task force is supposed to submit its final report at the end of October.

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Thursday May 24, 2007

Miami Beach mayor sues Dade over petitions

claim (pdf) “It shall be unlawful for any person, entity, or elector intentionally to make or cause to be made any false statement concerning the contents or effect of any petition for initiative, referendum, or recall submitted pursuant to Article 7 of the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter to any person who is requested to sign any such petition or who makes an inquiry with reference to any such petition and who relies on such statement.”

So reads a law passed November 28, 2006, by the Miami-Dade County Commission. Pretty straightforward: the law makes it illegal to lie to someone to get them to sign a petition. Who could have a problem with that? Well, your suspicions might be raised when you hear that the law was passed by an embattled commission facing the strong mayor proposal, opposed by Katy Sorenson (widely held as the sole voice of reason on the commission), vetoed by Mayor Carlos Alvarez (veto overridden), and that Miami Beach mayor David Dermer is now suing the county over the law (here’s a (.pdf) copy of the claim, which includes the oridnance).

Here’s the counter-argument: let’s say you’re getting signatures to help the manatees by restricting boating speeds in canals. I’m a boater and I hate the idea. I call the cops and tell them you’re “making a false statement” about manatee populations. Next thing you know you’re in the back of a squad car, hauled off to MDPD headquarters. Even if my claim turns out to be bogus, you’ve had one unpleasant afternoon, and are going to be pretty discouraged from going back out on that corner. (And forget a countersuit — you’d have to show malicious intent.) So basically, the argument goes, this is just another attempt by the commission to consolidate their power by making it more difficult for citizens to get referendums passed, this time at the expense of first amendment rights.

Keep in mind that the referendum process is governed by the county charter (check it out, it’s a real page-turner), which by definition the commission cannot overrule. Keep in mind also that actually lying to someone in the process of collecting petition signatures is fraud, which is of course already illegal — the difference is that I can’t call the cops down to slap handcuffs on you then and there.

And keep in mind that getting a referendum on the ballot requires getting something like 100,000 signatures, which is hard enough without these bullshit obstacles. I hope the commission’s power-grab gets slapped down by the courts. But more importantly, I hope you people vote some of these turkeys out of office soon.

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Wednesday April 11, 2007

A poorly written update on the County Charter review from which I can’t figure out what’s going on.

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Thursday March 8, 2007

“Instead of having the mayor and commissioners name a [Miami-Dade charter] review team, Ms. Sorenson now wants experts and community organizations to nominate members.” Full steam ahead!

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Thursday February 15, 2007

More strong-mayor fallout in Miami Today: “[C]ommission chairman Bruno A. Barreiro revealed that he’s pushing a plan to gut the county’s budget department and bring key financial analysts directly under commission control — despite County Attorney Murray A. Greenberg’s opinion that the move violates the county charter.” Also, the charter review looks like it’s going forward.

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Wednesday February 7, 2007

Fallout from the strong mayor vote in last week’s Miami Today: Michael Lewis discusses the charter review (which will go forward despite the vote) and Dan Dolan gets into a couple of measures the commission is passing to restore some balance to the government (in other words, I guess, to undermine the voter’s decision).

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Friday January 19, 2007

“A department director eager to keep his job would be mindful of which bidder was favored by a less-than-ethical mayor.” Michael Putney on the strong mayor proposal. That quote is the strongest reason to vote for the proposal, though you need to read his piece to get the full perspective. He does a really good job of looking at the issue from all sides, and finds fault with the commission, the mayor, and even the Herald’s handling of the issue. Best case scenario: reject the strong-mayor proposal, and form a panel to do an independent charter review and make a comprehensive set of recommendations, as Commissioner Katy Sorenson has called for. Update: Michael Lewis hammers pretty much the same point.

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