Written by Miami Today on February 4, 2010
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ETHICS OATH: Tuesday brought Commissioner Javier Souto’s first victory in his ongoing crusade for what he calls government "transparency." The Miami-Dade commission gave unanimous final approval to a measure requiring that all commissioners and the mayor swear in writing that they’ve read and will comply with local ethics laws. José "Pepe" Diaz chimed in after the Souto law passed to say he plans to propose wider-reaching legislation that would apply to other officials. "It shouldn’t just be us and the mayor, it should be everybody," Mr. Diaz said. Mr. Souto has proposed recently a slew of transparency measures, all of which had failed until now.
VOTE VISION: In another of his open-government proposals, Mr. Souto is hitting financial roadblocks in pushing for all county votes to be published in local newspapers. But that’s not stopping him, he said Tuesday. An alternative, the former state senator says, is to keep a log in public libraries so voting records are in print and accessible to the public. Now, they’re included online as part of the county’s legislative records, but not everyone has a computer or understands the system, Mr. Souto says.
BREAK FOR BUILDERS: Miami-Dade is giving construction hit by the economic crash a break. Commissioners Tuesday gave final approval to a measure allowing a one-time, two-year extension for certain development permits and agreements issued by the county’s Planning and Zoning, Public Works, Environmental Resources Management and Water and Sewer departments. The commission OK’d also a fee for the extensions — $79 or 10% of the initial permit fee, whichever is greater. That price means a longer extension for less money compared to existing extensions.
FEE FREEBIE: CEOs and other organization heads may soon be home free when it comes to lobbying fees at Miami-Dade County. Under a new proposal, if the principal comes to the county to support or oppose legislation on behalf of the corporation without receiving special compensation for the appearance, he or she could have required lobbyist registration fees waived by request should the new measure gain final approval. Commissioners gave the initial OK Tuesday and are to consider the ordinance again April 15 at their Health, Public Safety and Intergovernmental Committee meeting.