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Front Page » Opinion » Will Commissioners Roadblock Progress Or Let Us Vote

Will Commissioners Roadblock Progress Or Let Us Vote

Written by on August 23, 2012

By Michael Lewis
Today, Aug. 23, 2012, Miami-Dade voters will learn whether county commissioners plan to keep roadblocking progress.

Safely past last week’s election, the 13 have no excuse of election pressure. Their votes whether to let the public act in November on 16 changes that a mandatory charter review duly proposed will be telling.

Commissioners, let the people decide.

For years, commissioners have overridden thoughtful recommendations of charter reviews that they themselves initiated under charter requirements.

They seem ready to do so again, although before the charter team ever met commissioners solemnly pledged that they would send straight to a public vote every recommendation it made by two-thirds margin.

After seeing recommendations, however, some commissioners last month said the task force deliberated too little — although the commission itself limited the time — and was just plain wrong.

We agree: some proposals are wrong. But it is the voters, not Miami Today and not commissioners, who must be allowed to make that decision without censorship.

Commissioners, let the people decide.

One proposal commissioners seem likely to roadblock would, ironically, raise their own pay from an abysmal $6,000 for a year’s work to a still-low $46,000 to handle billions in public funds.

That’s just one of four proposals that got a two-thirds review team recommendation. Twelve others won majority OKs.

All should go on the ballot for voter decision, right or wrong. None is illegal, so why not? What do commissioners fear?

Commissioners, let the people vote. It’s their charter, not your toy.

It’s the right thing to do, commissioners, out of principle if nothing more (commissioners don’t always exhibit principles, but surely they know the concept). You pledged no tampering with anything that got a two-thirds vote, and out of principle anything a charter review team recommends by vote belongs on the ballot.

Frankly, few of the review team’s proposals are vital. Many are technical and seldom apply. But all come duly recommended.

Commissioners, let the people decide.

Ideally, the charter team would have firmly recommended on such critical issues as whether county hall should get out of the business of acting as a city too by developing real two-tier government.

Ideally, the team would have looked at what the county might lose by continuing to have every mayor act as manager rather than requiring by charter an impartial professional administrator.

Ideally, the team would have found a way to keep the commission from meddling with contracts, would have limited campaign spending, would have eliminated commission slush funds and limited as well the criteria for recalling elected officials.

Ideally, too, the charter team would have recommended electing some commissioners at large and would have looked at right-sizing the commission.

None of those happened. But in the review’s short span, it did a credible job by proposing a two-term limit for commissioners and targeting issues of public concern.

Commissioners, let the people decide.

Before the election, the commission ducked action. Of the three commissioners who voted to delay and who were up for election last week, one won, one lost and one faces a runoff. Charter delay probably wasn’t central in those decisions.

But breaking a solemn pledge to put on the ballot any proposal that got a two-thirds charter team vote, and failure to uphold principles by putting the other recommendations on the ballot too, would put character in question.

Principled commissioners will do what they should do every five years: send to the ballot every charter team recommendation and let the people vote.

Thoughtful commissioners will also look at key concerns upon which the charter team did not act with the aim of putting measures on future ballots offering such changes.

There is only one principled stance, commissioners: let the people decide.To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e -Miami Today, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.   Top Front Page About Miami Today Put Your Message in Miami Today Contact Miami Today © Copyright 2012 Miami Today designed and produced by Green Dot Advertising and Marketingvar gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”));var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-4990655-1”);pageTracker._initData();pageTracker._trackPageview();