By Esteban Bovo, Miami-Dade Commissioner District 13
Earlier this year the voters of Miami-Dade County made a historic decision to recall the Mayor and a long time sitting County Commissioner. What started as wide voter discontent with a budget proposal that increased taxes, quickly turned into a question of transparency and confidence in County Government as a whole. Reform became the battle cry for all those who want to reclaim their county government and make it more accessible and responsive to the needs of the community. The County Commission in 2007 created a taxpayer funded Charter Review Task Force with the goal of making reform recommendations that the voters could consider including term-limits for County Commissioners.
Over the last few months I have met residents, community activists, business leaders and several members of the 2007 Charter Review Task Force. They have expressed that not enough has been done to truly reform our government to best serve the interest of the people. Last Tuesday, October 18th the County Commission had yet another opportunity to address the topic of reform; unfortunately, the commission opted to postpone debate by invoking a “4-Day Rule” on the reform items. Ironically, the County Commission on July 18, 2008 also failed to move forward the vast majority of the recommendations, therefore stalling for 3 1/2 years from any chances of real reform. (The “4 Day Rule” states that an agenda item shall be furnished to the members of the commission not later than four (4) working days before a vote may be called on the item to allow sufficient time for a commissioner to be knowledgeable on the item.) I was quite surprised when the rule was invoked since the County Commission saw the same unaltered items 1,187 days prior. One can conclude that they had sufficient time to become aware of the Task Force recommendations.
At the next County Commission meeting scheduled for November 3, 2011, we will once again have a chance to debate and place critical reform issues for voter approval. I have placed on the agenda, for Commission discussion and vote, various resolutions that mirror the recommendations of the 2007 Task Force as they were originally presented. Those resolutions address the following: Public hearings on proposed charter amendments, Prohibit ordinances regulating petitions, Charter amendment petition process, Charter regulation of petition process, Requirement to hold a public hearing on any charter change, and Community Council appeals. Other items that are included in the Task Force recommendation and are sponsored for discussion include term limits, salary and outside employment for County Commissioners. Further inaction by the Commission will result in the continuation of restricting residents from petitioning their government and an opportunity to amend the charter. I urge all citizens of Miami-Dade County to pay close attention to the issue of charter reform. Do not allow your elected leaders to dodge, delay or confuse the issue. Demand a vote by your County Commission on these reasonable and well-vetted charter reform recommendations. I hope that this time the Board of County Commissioners will first and foremost address these pending items prior to any other charter reform resolution or discussion.