Proposed Ordinance Would Expand Miamidade County Commission Chairmans Powers
Written by Risa Polansky on August 28, 2008
By Risa Polansky
The year after Miami-Dade’s mayor crusaded for — and won — expanded authority, the county commission’s chairman is proposing a power shift of his own.
A proposal sponsored by Chairman Bruno Barreiro to be heard Tuesday would eliminate term limits for the chair position and waive a measure requiring committee consideration on certain legislative items, among other changes.
Mr. Barreiro could not be reached on deadline, his re-election day.
With less than five months left in his two-year run as chairman, Mr. Barreiro is proposing to toss out the rule prohibiting back-to-back terms.
Under his proposal, the commission would still vote for a chairman every two years, and it would still take seven of 13 votes to win — but the reigning chair could also be re-elected, a no-no now.
Today’s procedures also mandate that legislative items filter through the county’s committee system before reaching the full commission for a vote.
Mr. Barreiro’s proposed legislation would waive that requirement for some items, allowing the chairman to put items he or she referred to committee directly on the next full commission agenda instead.
Now, committee heads are able to do so if the commission chairman agrees.
The new measure does include some checks and balances.
The chair would be unable to waive committee consideration of items a majority of committee members have agreed to lay on the table.
If the commission acted to assign an item to a committee, that item also could not skip the committee step without a majority vote.
If passed, Mr. Barreiro’s proposal would also let the chairman put items on committee agendas that even the committee head could not remove.
Now, committee leaders have unrestricted power to set committee agendas.
Commissioner Javier Souto, who heads the county’s Recreation and Cultural Affairs Committee, said Tuesday he had not been made aware of Mr. Barreiro’s move to alter the commission chairman position.
The county circulated the commission agenda Monday evening.
"That’s kind of interesting," Mr. Souto said upon hearing about the proposed ordinance from a reporter. "It’s a surprise. I didn’t know people were thinking along those lines."
Several other commissioners could not be reached on election day for reactions.
The full commission is to consider the proposed ordinance for initial approval Tuesday.
It’s to be heard by the Governmental Operations and Environment Committee Oct. 14.
Once given the final go-ahead, the measure would become effective within 10 days barring a veto by Mayor Carlos Alvarez.
The proposal does not affect the mayor’s role. Other than veto power, his authority over agenda matters extends only to sponsoring departmental items.