More transparency: Web site would outline Dade commissioner spending
By Risa Polansky
Miami-Dade residents may soon get the chance to track county commissioner spending on the Web.
At the suggestion of Commission Chair Dennis Moss, the county's Government Operations Committee agreed Tuesday to create a Web site tracking how commissioners allocate their office funds and the $300,000 district discretionary reserve fund that each of the 13 commissioners gets to distribute at will.
Should the full commission OK the move, the site would display each commissioner's name, the type of allocation, the amount and the recipient or purpose of the expenditure.
Now, commissioners call out allocations at the tail end of meetings, listing rapid-fire the charities and organizations they've chosen to receive discretionary funds.
The Web site would list that information as well as how commissioners spend office funds.
"I believe in transparency," Commission Vice Chair José "Pepe" Diaz said at the committee meeting Tuesday — and it shouldn't apply only to commissioners, he added.
Mr. Diaz amended the item to include the mayor's spending as well.
Commissioner Natacha Seijas said she didn't mind voting in favor of the proposal but feels that creating the site is unnecessary.
"Really and truly, it's [the information] in our agendas, we vote on it, it's posted everywhere," she said.
She asserted that tracking the information in a central location on the Web would serve only to make life easier for news reporters.
"This is just letting those that buy ink by the barrel work less," she said.
But, Ms. Seijas pointed out, the money is doled out "back to the people" through allocations to charitable groups, small businesses and community organizations.
So, she said, "I have nothing to be ashamed of."
Critics say, however, that the discretionary funds help ensure individual commissioners remain in office.