Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 110690
   Clerk's Official Copy   

File Number: 110690 File Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: R-218-11 Control: Board of County Commissioners
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 3/24/2011
Agenda Date: 3/24/2011 Agenda Item Number:
Sponsors: Joe A. Martinez, Prime Sponsor
  Lynda Bell, Co-Sponsor
  Audrey M. Edmonson, Co-Sponsor
  Barbara J. Jordan, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed

Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

County Attorney 3/25/2011 Assigned Cynthia Johnson-Stacks

Board of County Commissioners 3/24/2011 Special Item No. 18 Amended Adopted as amended P
REPORT: Commissioner Jordan noted the Strong Mayor form of government required a learning curve for everyone involved. She noted she believed the Board was more effective when they communicated directly with the County Manager’s office. Commissioner Sosa noted her opposition to the Strong Mayor form of government as it lacked the system of check and balances inherent in a democracy. She said the ballot questions as currently written would create dissatisfaction in the community inasmuch as it appeared the Board was proposing to bring back the County Manager’s position. Commissioner Sosa noted the ballot question should propose the elimination of the Strong Mayor and the creation of an Executive Mayor. Commissioner Gimenez noted the County operated a very large government with many similarities to a large corporation. He said the Board of Directors of these corporations had the responsibility to hire or fire the Chief Executive Officer based upon his/her performance. Commissioner Gimenez noted the County’s founding fathers decided to run the County in an executive-corporate model called a council-manager form of government. He said he did not believe in the Executive Mayor form of government giving that person the power to appoint the County Manager. Commissioner Gimenez noted he supported hiring a professional County Manager that would run the Administration and be responsible and responsive to the Board, similar to the previous system. He said the Mayor would become a countywide position and the presiding officer of the Board. County Attorney Robert Cuevas responded to Chairman Martinez that the ballot question language as proposed by Commissioner Gimenez would need to be reworded. Commissioner Gimenez proposed that the County eliminate the Strong Mayor form of government; that a Council-Manager form of government would exist through 2012; and that a Mayor who was elected by a countywide vote would begin in 2012. He noted the mayor would break a tie vote. Chairman Martinez relinquished the Chair to Vice-Chairwoman Edmonson. Commissioner Moss noted an item should be presented to the voters to determine whether they wanted to continue with the current form of government based upon the experience over the past seven years. He noted concern that the Mayor would control the meetings in the Council-Manager form of government. County Attorney Cuevas confirmed Commissioner Moss’ statement that the Mayor was the presiding officer of the Board. Commissioner Moss noted that the County Commission would be at a disadvantage with the Mayor as the presiding officer of the Board and having control over the agenda process. He questioned the effect this structure would have on committees. County Attorney Cuevas responded that the Board currently had the authority to form Committees pursuant to the Charter. County Attorney Cuevas said that Charter language could be rewritten; however, it was not a simple task inasmuch as many interim Charter changes over the past 15 years creating the Executive Mayor, the Strong Mayor and eliminating the Manager’s position had been incorporated into that document. Commissioner Moss noted his support of Chairman Martinez’ and Commissioner Jordan’s proposed legislation. He noted he could not support the process where a Mayor controlled committee appointments and meeting agendas, inasmuch as commissioners who did not agree with the Mayor were locked out of the process. Commissioner Moss said the ballot should include an item where the community could reaffirm whether the Strong Mayor form of government should be maintained. He noted he preferred a Weak Mayor form of government over the Council-Manager form which previously existed, so that the Mayor would not control Commission meetings. Vice-Chairwoman Edmonson concurred with Commissioner Moss and noted her support for the proposed resolution. She said that no check and balances currently existed with the Strong Mayor form of government and that this was not the best way to run government. Commissioner Souto concurred with Commissioner Moss, noting that the Executive Mayor form of government was satisfactory. He said the Mayor should be an ambassador who would promote the County, bring businesses and jobs to the County, allowing the Commission to run the daily operations in conjunction with a Manager. Commissioner Diaz questioned the reasons why neither the old or new systems worked. He noted the Mayor’s current salary was currently $291,464 and questioned whether a new Weak Mayor should be paid the same amount. Commissioner Diaz said that over 3,000 County employees were earning over $100,000. He noted that the Mayor’s salary should be twice the amount received by County Commissioners and approved by the voters. Vice-Chairwoman Edmonson questioned and County Attorney Cuevas confirmed that the Commission had the authority to both set and change the Mayor’s salary. Commissioner Bell noted her support for the resolution. She noted the Council- Manager/Weak-Mayor form of government worked well in Homestead. Commissioner Bell said that structure brought government closer to the people and made the Manager more responsive and responsible to the elected commissioners. She noted that the Mayor would not have as much authority if the County Commission took back certain powers and responsibilities. Commissioner Bell said that a future Charter review was needed which would address bringing government closer to the people as proposed by Commissioner Gimenez. County Attorney Cuevas responded to Commissioner Bell’s question about Commissioner Sosa’s proposed language in relation to eliminating the Strong Mayor form of government. He said that although he liked Commissioner Sosa’s recommendation, a problem existed inasmuch as the framing of the Strong Mayor ballot question was challenged in court. County Attorney Cuevas said the ballot question was framed converse to this proposed language and that a model now existed which was approved by the court and which the ballot question was based upon. Commissioner Monestime noted he did not support the language as written and would like to see amendments that incorporated Commissioner Sosa’s and Bell’s recommendations. He said County government was a very large organization which required a very competent Chief Executive Officer. Commissioner Monestime noted a balance was needed between the roles of the Mayor, Manager and the Board. He noted he supported a Council-Manager form of government inasmuch as it gave the Board more responsibility and was closer to the people. Commissioner Monestime noted that term limits tied to salary did not require additional vetting; however, more public input was needed on the form of government question. He said he supported this resolution with revised language which provided salaries that were more comparable with other large counties. Commissioner Gimenez responded to Commissioner Moss’ concerns. He noted that an elected Mayor would become the presiding officer of the Board in the event the County went to a Council-Manager form of government. Commissioner Gimenez said that the Commission established organizational and committee rules as well as determined the powers assigned to the Mayor and that the Mayor did not need the powers currently assigned by the Board to the Board Chairperson. He noted that an Executive Mayor model would not work and that this model did not exist anywhere else. Commissioner Gimenez said the Executive Mayor model was established after the Mayor’s position was eliminated by a judge and created the 13 Districts. He said he was not in favor of a Strong Mayor. Commissioner Moss noted that the presiding officer gave that person the opportunity to control many Board functions and that individuals with strong political skills knew methods to manipulate the process. He questioned the powers which the Mayor would have under the Council-Manager form of government other than presiding over the meetings. Commissioner Gimenez responded that the Mayor would be a countywide elected official; would be the presiding officer of the Board; and would have one vote. He said that the Mayor’s power was slightly above that of a Commissioner and the amount of power would be determined by the Commission. Commissioner Gimenez said the Executive Mayor was not a good model and that the Council-Manager form of government was the pure model. Commissioner Jordan emphasized that the character, the ethics, or the management style of the person elected as Mayor could not be controlled. She said that the County would be at risk with the wrong person in that position before any real changes could be made. Commissioner Jordan said that the check and balances lie with the Council-Manager form of government. She noted the Executive-Mayor could be considered; however, noted concern with the Mayor appointing committee chairpersons. Commissioner Martinez said that a Charter change sponsored by former Commission Chairwoman Barbary Carey-Shuler was previously approved giving the Board the authority to make committee chairperson appointments. Commissioner Jordan noted that the change in committee process was critical to retaining the desired check and balances. She said that she preferred an Executive Mayor over a Strong Mayor based upon the Board’s recent experience. Commissioner Jordan noted that although she believed Mayor Alvarez was both honest and had integrity, she noted that it was not known in advance whether the person being elected was someone with these attributes. She said that the Board members should not sacrifice one for the other because they believed that a Strong Mayor would be better than an Executive Mayor. Commissioner Jordan noted that either the Executive Mayor or the Manager-Council form of government would give the community greater check and balances. Commissioner Diaz asked that the motion be amended to include the Mayor’s salary in the Charter at twice the rate of the County Commissioners’ salary. Commissioner Martinez did not accept the amendment proposed by Commissioner Diaz. He noted that all 13 commissioners were opposed to the Strong Mayor form of government inasmuch as there were no check and balances. Commissioner Martinez said he was not sure whether the Executive-Mayor or Council-Manager form of government would work in a government the size of Miami-Dade County. He noted that although a Mayor was needed to serve as the designated head of government; that person did not need to be involved on the dais and should focus on executive and legislative functions. Commissioner Martinez noted that an Executive form of government was implemented to respond to the desire for a professionally managed government. He said the Mayor would appoint a Manager to run the daily operations and he/she was not to be involved in the hiring or firing of other personnel. Commissioner Martinez said that former Commission Chairwoman Barbary Carey-Shuler placed the committee chairperson appointment issue on the ballot due to the fact that Senator Gwen Margolis was always selected as the Committee Chair. He noted that Commissioner Moss previously explained that he did not attend committee meetings because committees were assigned by the Mayor and Board members did not have the ability to organize themselves or select committee chairpersons. Commissioner Martinez said he realized that there was no reason to defer items under this structure because Board members were not controlling the legislative body. He noted the Board gained the ability to organize its committees and the importance of Commissioners to attend committee meetings. Commissioner Martinez said the Mayor did not become that much involved in committee work and that committees worked closely with administration. County Attorney Robert Cuevas responded to Chairman Martinez’ question about whether the Charter amendment that granted Commissioners the ability to obtain information from department directors would remain. He said that the provision to talk to department directors would continue under an Executive Mayor form of government. Commissioner Martinez said that this proposed resolution was important inasmuch as many individuals were considering running for the Mayor’s office and the powers of that office could affect one’s decision to seek that position. He asked County Attorney Cuevas to provide revised language reverting back to an Executive Form of government. County Attorney Cuevas noted that this language would be provided shortly and suggested that in the meantime another item be addressed. Later in the meeting, Assistant County Attorney Oren Rosenthal read the ballot question on the amended version of the foregoing proposed resolution. There being no further questions or comments, the Board proceeded to vote on the foregoing resolution as amended subject to including the election date to be decided upon later in the meeting. Later in the meeting, it was moved by Commissioner Sosa that the Special Election on the proposed Charter Amendment be held on May 24, 2011. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Heyman, and upon being put to a vote, passed by a vote of 12-0. Chairman Martinez resumed the Chair.

Legislative Text

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