A regularly scheduled Cutler Bay Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, May 16, brought such a large turnout of hundreds of residents that even the spacious council chambers, perhaps the largest of any local city, could not hold the crowd.
“I got there a few minutes after 7 p.m. and the place was packed,” resident Bill Meiklejohn said. “I couldn’t get in or even hear what was going on, so I left. Some other people did, too.”
The record attendance was due to two different and unrelated issues — the recent firing of the town clerk and concerns over regulatory changes, according to Mayor Ed MacDougall.
“Virtually everyone called for the resignation of the manager,” MacDougall said. “It was pretty much that and the issue of the Land Development Regulations. It was a very well attended, vocal, citizen outcry meeting that was, I think, considering the heated issues, pretty smooth.
“We had J. C. Bermudez, the ex-mayor of Doral who was there with Richard Cooper, who is the executive director of the Miami-Dade County League of Cities. They’re doing a tour of cities so they were there. They walked in and J.C. and Richard came up to me and said, ‘What is going on in this place? We’ve never seen anything like this.’ I told them that we have some pretty involved citizens.”
MacDougall said that the issue of the clerk came up and the 12 questions, and everyone there wanted to know who made that list.
“I know the manager made it,” MacDougall said. “I’ve already spoken to the attorneys about it.”
The mayor said that regarding the other issue, a member of the public “who shall remain nameless” put out a notice that inflamed the situation.
“They told people that we’re not going to allow parking in the driveways of commercial trucks and all these different things that really were not the case,” MacDougall said. “It was the second reading on the Land Development Regulations and the public is right, it’s been rushed. We haven’t had enough input, so the council voted last night to have a minimum of one additional public input meeting which is scheduled for a week before the June Council Meeting [Wednesday, June 20].”
MacDougall said he thought that all in all the Town Hall Meeting was extremely positive.
The day after the meeting, town manager Steven Alexander addressed the matter of the list of 12 improvements for the town clerk by releasing an official statement to clear up the issue of who created the initial draft of the Clerk’s 60- day plan. The document was dated May 16, 2012, 4 p.m., and was signed by Alexander and town attorneys Mitch Bierman and Chad Friedman. That statement reads as follows:
“I have discussed this with the attorneys and this is our collective recollection of the events. The plan was generated after a discussion in January in which Mitch Bierman participated along with the mayor and manager. The discussion was initiated by the manager as an effort to better coordinate the work of his office and that of the clerk and in response to complaints from other council members about various issues.
“Previously the clerk was asked to provide a list of improvements and how she would make them. Chad, the manager and mayor had a subsequent conversation and the consensus was that the clerk’s response did not adequately address the issues, and so the manager took a stab at preparing a simpler list of achievable goals to be addressed.
“The mayor distributed the list to the council by email on Jan. 25, 2012 and the council held a brief discussion during the public portion of a meeting following a January executive session for the Bay Point Case. Following a brief discussion it was the sense of the council that they supported the plan and that the mayor should provide the list to the clerk with directions to take steps to address the issues in the next 60 days.”