Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan proposed that the county roll back the authority given to the county mayor three years ago in an obvious move to reduce the influence of the mayor.
A war has been brewing for the past several years as to who should have the ultimate power and authority to run the county. Jordan’s proposal, if approved by county voters, would transfer the day-to-day management of the county, back to the commission.
Today, the county manager is appointed by the mayor and his position ratified by the county commission. Jordan’s proposal would place the manager directly under the commission and return the mayor to a ceremonial position, cutting ribbons and welcoming visitors to Miami.
Jordan also brings back to the ballot the subject of a salary increase, a contentious subject that has been turned down by voters for at least the past 30 years. Currently, commissioners receive $6,000 a year salary, far too little for the responsibilities involved in the position.
County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez proposed limiting commissioners to no more than two consecutive four-year terms. Today, a commissioner can hold onto his or her position as long as they are reelected by the voters in their district.
Commissioner Audrey Edmonson proposed a three-term limit for commissioners, setting commissioner salaries, according to the Florida formula for counties with more than a million residents, at $92,097 a year.
Why did Jordan bring up the subject at this date? She must feel that with the public’s recent anger over the mayor’s now widely known salary increases for his key staffers — at the same time the county was formulating a salary reduction for all county employees in order to bring the county’s budget in line with reduced revenues — would translate into voter support of her proposed reduction of mayoral authority.
True, a substantial number of county voters, angered over the salary increases, joined an attempted recall of the mayor. The recall was unsuccessful. In my opinion it shows that the voters were unhappy with Mayor Alvarez, but not sufficiently angry to remove him from office.
The voters of Miami-Dade are unhappy with the mayor. But, the public is even angrier, more dissatisfied, with the actions of our county commissioners. Voters remember the commission’s going against all recommendations and moving the Urban Development Boundary (UDB) to please their financially supportive friends. Voters will not forget the commission’s constant efforts to remove citizen participation in government by refusing them the right to address the actions of the commission during meetings.
Jordan’s proposal goes against the concept of checks and balances. Who is watching out for the public if the commission is to make the rules by which our government operates and at the same time is responsible for its administration?
The public would turn down Jordan’s proposal, as presented, if it is placed on the ballot in August. I suggest that the vote would be around 70/30 in favor of the mayor retaining his power. The concept of a commission passing laws and a mayor implementing them and managing the government is basic to the separation of powers. Commissioner Jordan, don’t embarrass yourself and your fellow commissioners by pushing the issue as you propose. You want some leverage on the subject? Tie your proposal to a two-term limit and salary increase.
Then you may get the public’s vote. We appreciate your opinions on this column whether in agreement or disagreement.
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