Sorenson Presents Expanded Plan For Charter Review
Written by Dan Dolan on March 8, 2007
By Dan Dolan
After talks with civic leaders and other elected officials, Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson last week revealed revised legislation designed to increase community involvement in a county charter-review task force.
Under her new plan, the 12-member task force would be composed of representatives of the League of Cities, the Latin Chamber of Commerce, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters and the Human Services Coalition.
Each of the county’s three law schools, the Miami-Dade state legislative delegation, the chief judge of the 11th Circuit Court and Mayor Carlos Alvarez also would name a member of the panel, which would study the local equivalent of the US Constitution.
All participating organizations and branches of government would nominate three people to serve on the panel. The county commission would make the final selection from the groups’ nominees.
"This is a very important job that will shape the future of our county," Ms. Sorenson said. "We need healthy feedback from all areas of the community. By having more community involvement, the charter review task force’s recommendations will be viewed as more legitimate."
But Ms. Sorenson new plan faces competition from her original proposal, which gave the mayor and each of the 13 county commissioners one task force appointment. Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz plans to revive that setup. Both proposals are scheduled for a vote March 13.
Government officials say Ms. Sorenson’s expanded task force may have a slight edge in a legislative showdown. Ms. Sorenson discussed her proposal with the mayor, who has indicated he favors broad community involvement in the charter-review process.
Community leaders have given Ms. Sorenson’s revisions their tentative blessings.
"We need independent thinking on any charter-review group," said Merrett Stierheim, a former Miami-Dade County manager. "If the group doesn’t have a degree of independence, people are just going to write it off and not take any recommendations seriously."
To avoid a legislative tussle, Mr. Stierheim suggested, Ms. Sorenson should amend her plan to give commissioners three representatives of their own and allow the mayor at least two appointments.
"This is a pragmatic approach," he said.