Dade Commission Chairman Moss Overhauls County Committees Names Chairs
By Risa Polansky
Miami-Dade’s committee system has been revamped by Commission Chair Dennis Moss.
He last week unveiled seven committees, tweaked from years past, and a chair for each. "What I’m going to be expecting out of committees," he said, "is for us to operate differently than we’ve operated in the past."
Most measures filter to the commission through committees that hold hearings and vote before pushing action forward.
Mr. Moss called the old committees "agenda managers." During two years as chair, "I want the committees to be more proactive in terms of looking at some of the major issues that are confronting the county," he said, so he’s altered them.
The Transit Committee has become Transit, Infrastructure and Roads, chaired by Barbara Jordan, who has cited reviving a northern Metrorail extension as an aim.
Budget and Finance became Budget, Planning and Sustainability, chaired by Katy Sorenson, in order to look at smart growth in tandem with available resources, Mr. Moss said.
Said Ms. Sorenson, "This is going to be all about having maximum efficiency in our use of resources."
With lower property and sales tax collections in a suffering economy, the county could face a $200 million budget hit — déjà vu from last year, she said.
Her plan: "make strategic cuts to our budget — I don’t believe in across-the-board cuts."
The Airport and Tourism Committee now covers the airport and seaport, led by Dorrin Rolle, and tourism has moved to Recreation, Culture and Tourism, formerly Recreation and Cultural Affairs, because, Mr. Moss said, facilities such as cultural venues and Miami Metrozoo "bring tourists to our doors." Javier Souto, last year’s chair, remains.
Governmental Operations and Environment has become Government Operations, headed by Carlos Gimenez, and Economic Development and Human Services is now Housing and Community Development, chaired by Audrey Edmonson.
"I’m going to place this responsibility on them to take a very focused and ongoing look at our housing agency," Mr. Moss said.
Health and Public Safety now covers health, public safety and intergovernmental affairs and encompasses also a State Intergovernmental Affairs Subcommittee, "because many of the issues we’re having with the government kind of come out of the health and public safety arena," Ms. Moss said.
Sally Heyman chairs the main committee, Rebeca Sosa the sub.
Ms. Heyman said she hopes to see President Obama’s commitment to healthcare benefit the county and said energy initiatives in a stimulus package "may be what we need here for our transit advancements."
At the state level, the subcommittee is to ensure legislative items "are the ones that affect in a positive way the residents of Miami-Dade County," Ms. Sosa said.
She plans to keep an eye on the stimulus package that could be distributed through the state, and said that though the county has fared well the past two years, "Miami-Dade County is a donor county, and that is one of the reasons why we need to work very close with our [legislative] delegation so our delegation can bring that message to the state and we can give them the tools that are needed for a better negotiation for us."
The new committees begin meeting Feb. 9.