Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 112352
   

File Number: 112352 File Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: R-942-11 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: CALL SPECIAL ELECTION TO AMEND CHARTER TERM LIMMITS Introduced: 11/4/2011
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 11/3/2011
Agenda Date: 11/3/2011 Agenda Item Number: 11A34
Notes: THIS IS FINAL VERSION AS ADOPTED ALSO SEE 112113. Title: RESOLUTION CALLING A COUNTYWIDE SPECIAL ELECTION IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, TO BE HELD ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2012, FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUBMITTING TO THE ELECTORS OF MIAMI DADE COUNTY THE QUESTION OF WHETHER TO AMEND THE HOME RULE CHARTER TO PROVIDE THAT: EACH COUNTY COMMISSIONER SHALL DEVOTE FULL-TIME SERVICE TO THE OFFICE OF COUNTY COMMISSIONER AND HOLD NO OTHER EMPLOYMENT; NO LONGER RECEIVE THEIR CURRENT $6,000 ANNUAL SALARY ESTABLISHED IN 1957, BUT RECEIVE INSTEAD THE SALARY PROVIDED BY STATE STATUTORY FORMULA, ADJUSTED ANNUALLY BASED ON THE COUNTY’S POPULATION (CURRENTLY APPROXIMATELY $92,097); AND SHALL SERVE NO MORE THAN TWO CONSECUTIVE FOUR-YEAR TERMS IN OFFICE EXCLUDING TERMS OF SERVICE PRIOR TO 2012
Indexes: CHARTER AMENDMENT
  SPECIAL ELECTION
Sponsors: Rebeca Sosa, Prime Sponsor
  Lynda Bell, 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 11/4/2011 Assigned Oren Rosenthal 11/5/2011

Board of County Commissioners 11/3/2011 11A34 AMENDED Adopted as amended P
REPORT: Commissioner Sosa noted several Charter Review Task Force members who were present could not remain until the County Commission reconvened at 2:00 p.m. She requested that those members provide their statements before the Board went into Executive Session. Commissioner Sosa noted she agreed with the Charter Review Task Force’s Final Recommendations and would abide by its recommendations; however, she questioned whether Issue 2 – Mayor and Board of County Commissioners Compensation and Issue 3 – Study of Term Limits, expressed the true intent of Task Force members. She asked Task Force members to indicate whether the proposed term limits would only apply to future service after the adoption of any Charter change, and not be retroactive. Mr. George Luis Lopez, Charter Review Task Force Member, responded that the minutes properly reflected the Task Force’s deliberations and were very well documented by the Clerk of the Board. He confirmed that the Task Force members’ intent was quoted properly by Commissioner Sosa from the meeting minutes. Mr. Lopez said that the term limit issue would have a prospective application, if the County Commission put it before the voters. He noted he served on the Task Force to make recommendations to the County Commission and not to place issues directly before the voters. Mr. Miguel A. De Grandy, Charter Review Task Force Member, noted he agreed with the statement Commissioner Sosa read from the minutes. He said he reviewed all Task Force minutes and did not find any mention of retroactive term limits. Mr. De Grandy said Charter review was about structural reform and by its nature was prospective. He noted a commissioner could be removed from office by either election or recall; therefore, this question need not be addressed by Charter reform. Mr. De Grandy said Charter reform was more appropriate to address issues relating to the structure and future of government. Commissioner Sosa noted for the record that Mr. Carlos A. Diaz-Padron, who was her appointee to the Task Force, could not attend today’s meeting due to the death of his father. She said he communicated to her that it was not his intention for term limits to be retroactive. Ms. Elizabeth Hernandez, Charter Review Task Force Member, noted pursuant to page 18 of the Final Recommendations, the proposed term limits would only apply to future service after the adoption of any Charter change. She said many of the resolutions on today’s agenda accurately reflected the specific language of this report. Ms. Hernandez reiterated that the Task Force was only a recommending body and respected the decisions that would be made by commissioners who were elected to serve and represent all County residents. Mr. Murray Greenberg, Charter Review Task Force Member, confirmed to Commissioner Sosa that the minutes accurately reflected the vote of Task Force members. However, he noted a problem existed with the Task Force’s structure since members were selected by the County Commission and as a result, the community believed its recommendations were being filtered through the Commission. Mr. Greenberg said that Task Force recommendations should be forwarded directly to the voters for true Charter reform to occur. Mr. Greenberg explained that in addition to serving as a member of this Task Force, he was the County Attorney on every Task Force since 1980. He noted this Task Force’s deliberations from 2007 to 2008 were the best, most in-depth, and most serious that he had ever experienced; however, he stated that nine of the ten commissioners who were on the Commission at the time, and who still are on the Commission, ignored the Task Force’s recommendations. Mr. Greenberg noted Mr. Robert Ginsburg, Charter Review Task Force Member, could not be present today and asked him to forward the following comments: 1) salary proposals initiated by this County Commission were doomed and needed to be endorsed by an outside entity; 2) term limits should not be tied to salary increases; 3) another Charter Review Task Force was not necessary; 4) and Charter reform issues should be placed on the January ballot. Commissioner Barreiro noted the Task Force unanimously recommended placing Charter Amendments on the General Election ballot. He questioned whether Mr. Greenberg was now recommending against that proposal. Mr. Greenberg responded that a General Election generated a greater voter turnout; however, he noted he believed that issues needed to be presented sooner, based upon the perception that the County Commission was delaying the vote to ensure its members another term of office. Commissioner Sosa noted changes in government were needed for future generations and should not be based upon personalities. Ms. Yvonne Soler-McKinley, Charter Review Task Force Member, indicated that term limits were fully debated and the majority vote on this issue was presented to the County Commission. She noted she concurred with Mr. Greenberg that the Task Force members constituted a good cross representation of this community and that their recommendations should be presented to the voters. Commissioner Diaz noted the County Commission established the Task Force to avoid being blamed for proposed Charter revisions. He questioned when the Task Force, which was established to be an advisory group, changed to a body whose recommendations were mandatory. Commissioner Diaz pointed out that the Commission already implemented many Task Force recommendations through ordinance, rather than by Charter revision. Mr. Greenberg clarified that the Task Force was an advisory body in accordance with the resolution which created that committee. He noted he concurred with Mr. De Grandy that the electorate should consider all Task Force recommendations, because they would not pass through the political filter of the Commission. Mr. Greenberg indicated that many Task Force recommendations were ignored and not fully discussed by the County Commission. He pointed out that a number of recommendations would not have been considered had Mayor Gimenez, who also served on the Task Force, not put forward several proposals. Chairman Martinez noted the Task Force’s composition was the County Commission’s fault. He said that the Task Force was not a good cross representation of the community as it primarily consisted of attorneys, elected or former elected officials. Commissioner Moss noted the Task Force consisted of outstanding individuals who understood the process well. He said that the County Commission would decide which Task Force recommendations to place on the ballot. Commissioner Moss indicated that some Task Force recommendations, which the Commission did not previously support, may need to be reexamined. He said that he did not believe it was necessary to convene another Task Force since the items currently under consideration were similar to those that were considered by the previous Task Force. He acknowledged that the public desired some change, and his suggestion would be for the Commission to use the Task Force recommendations as a starting point. Commissioner Moss proceeded to inquire about the Task Force’s position on At-Large and Single Member Districts. Mr. De Grandy responded that issues pertaining to At-Large and Single Member Districts received the Task Force members’ most extensive debate and staff analysis. He noted staff reviewed the different models throughout the nation; the intricacies of the Voting Rights Act; and the issues surrounding polarized voting. Mr. De Grandy said the Task Force voted 14-1 to maintain the existing system after discussing legal issues, the law of unintended consequences, and the perception of money and politics. He pointed out that three of the mayoral candidates in the previous election raised over $1 million whereas a Commission race raised only $250,000 for a viable election. Mr. De Grandy said At-Large elections would create a system in which it would be difficult to seek office at the grassroots level as candidates would have to raise $1 million to compete. He stressed that this would disqualify a large number of people who would otherwise be interested in participating in public service. Mr. De Grandy expressed concern that the public sentiment was to implement the proposed Charter Review Task Force recommendations and then to deal with the Single Member District issue. He said that the Task Force recommended against implementing the Single Member District, but rather to maintain the current system which produced a government that was reflective of the ethnic and racial diversity of this community; and this recommendation should be considered as valid as the other recommendations. Chairman Moss questioned Mr. De Grandy about term limits. Mr. De Grandy responded that he did not believe in term limits; however, he noted sometimes issues needed to be considered from the public’s point of view. He said he believed that voters should be given a reasonable compromise. Mr. Lopez clarified that he, Mr. Greenberg, Mr. De Grandy, and Ms. Hernandez all clearly understood that Task Force members were to serve in an advisory capacity and that he would have declined the invitation to serve if the Task Force had the authority to place items directly on the ballot. He noted he concurred with Commissioner Diaz that some proposals were legislative and others administrative and did not have to be amended by the voters. Mayor Gimenez noted he served on the Charter Review Task Force and he agreed that the intent was for the recommendations to be prospective. He said he believed that the Task Force members’ recommendation on term limits and salaries would have been approved if placed on the ballot. Mayor Gimenez indicated that he changed his mind on many issues during the process as a result of the quality of deliberations. He recalled particularly a compelling argument presented by Task Force Member, Mr. H.T. Smith, about Single Member Districts that changed his mind. Mayor Gimenez said that the Task Force was comprised of many bright individuals who deliberated in the best interest of the County. He noted he would not change his mind on some recommendations now that he was the Mayor, because he believed in those items then and continues to believe in them now. Mayor Gimenez indicated that some protections as well as separation of power from the Mayor were needed in appointed positions. He said that he was privileged to have participated on this Task Force noting it was composed of an extraordinary group of individuals. Commissioner Heyman indicated that 12 of the 18 recommendations had already been addressed: two were recommended to be left alone (tax collector and Single Member District), one became State law, three were approved and another three were defeated by the voters, and four could be considered by ordinance. She noted she concurred with her colleagues that the County Commission should discuss the Charter issues and not convene a new Task Force. Commissioner Heyman noted, however, Task Force Member Ms. Lynn Dannheisser recommended a future Task Force should be convened to address issues related to the Strong Mayor and a potential vacancy in that office. Commissioner Jordan expressed her desire that Task Force Members address the Task Force’s recommendations and not individual member’s opinions in today’s afternoon discussion. The Board of County Commissioners recessed into Executive Session in the Conference room on the second floor at 12:57 p.m. Following the Executive Session and recess, the Board of County Commissioners reconvened at 3:00 p.m. Chairman Martinez noted both he and Commissioner Sosa requested the County Attorney provide a report summarizing the Charter Review Task Force’s recommendations; the Commission’s history in considering those items; whether a ballot question was presented to the voters, and if so, the results of that vote; and whether the recommendation could be adopted by ordinance and/or resolution. He noted he requested the County Attorney to prepare legislation for every ballot question whether proposed by a County Commissioner or by the Task Force, and that any question not specifically sponsored by a commissioner be placed on the Agenda under his name. Chairman Martinez noted he believed that the voters were primarily interested in term limits; in a January 2012 election; and in reforms becoming effective after the November 2012 election. He questioned whether members of the Commission wanted to discuss all 23 proposed items or only those related to term limits. Commissioner Jordan indicated that a January 2012 election would jeopardize the Democratic process with only a limited number of voters, mostly Republicans, going to the polls. She said that all ballot questions should be presented in the November 2012 General Election at which time both Democratic and Republican voters would be represented. Chairman Martinez asked commissioners to indicate whether they supported term limits and whether they preferred Charter Questions to be placed on the January 2012 or the November 2012 General Election ballot. Commissioner Jordan noted she was opposed to term limits but would support them, even though eight years was not sufficient to understand the complexities of County government and to enact change. Commissioner Suarez indicated that he supported eight-year term limits based upon the public sentiment. He said he supported placing Charter revisions on the January 2012 ballot for the following reasons: 1) the November 2012 ballot would contain many items and the Charter issues would not be a priority; 2) the consensus of the Commission would probably be for a January 2012 election; and 3) the media had commented the Commission was not acting expeditiously. Commissioner Bell noted she supported eight-year term limits as evidenced by her co-sponsorship of Agenda Item 11A34, based upon her constituents’ sentiment. She said she supported placing Charter revisions on the January 2012 ballot and it was the voters’ responsibility to go to the polls, and not the Commission’s responsibility to make them vote. Commissioner Sosa noted this was the second time she sponsored legislation for a salary for commissioners, no outside employment and a two-term limit. She acknowledged Commissioner Bell for her co-sponsorship of this proposed resolution as recommended by the Task Force. Commissioner Sosa said the public wanted commissioners to serve only two terms, as did the President, State Senators and Congressional Representatives. She noted she believed the public was interested in change and that a January 2012 election would have a greater turnout of voters who were interested in the ballot questions. Commissioner Souto noted he supported eight-year term limits and a January 2012 election. Commissioner Diaz noted he respected his constituents’ desire for term limits although he considered that four-year term limits were already in place. He also indicated that due to the low anticipated voter turnout, only a few items such as term limits, salary and perhaps the creation of a few departments should be placed on the ballot. Commissioner Diaz said other significant issues should be presented in November 2012 as public input was needed on these issues. Commissioner Monestime expressed his support for eight-year term limits; however, he indicated that he did not support placing Charter questions on the January 2012 ballot since that election was primarily to select a Republican Presidential nominee and would confuse voters. Commissioner Barreiro indicated that although the electorate wanted term limits, he had not seen any research which documented that term limits were the solution. He said he had previously proposed legislation for 12-year term limits with one additional four-year term for commissioners who had already served 12 years. Commissioner Barreiro noted he represented the entire County even though he was elected by a single District and a January 2012 election would disenfranchise voters. He said an issue of this magnitude should be presented in a General Election and should not prevent commissioners re-elected on August 14, 2012 from serving an additional term of office. Commissioner Moss noted he was opposed to term limits; however, voters wanted change and he was prepared to support eight-year term limits. He indicated that he favored a November 2012 election even though the community sentiment was for a January 2012 election date. Commissioner Moss pointed out that a certain number of commissioners in office today would receive another two terms with a January election; and that all commissioners would not be up for reelection at the same time. Assistant County Attorney Oren Rosenthal clarified that pursuant to Task Force Recommendation No. 4, commissioners up for reelection in 2014 would be eligible for two additional terms of office after the expiration of their current term. Commissioner Heyman said she had always considered the County Charter a sacred document for the foundation of government. She noted, according to media reports, the public was asking for the Charter questions to be placed on the January 31, 2012 ballot because they wanted to be heard and wanted to be heard now, although she believed commissioners listened to their constituents continually. Commissioner Heyman said there was insufficient time for public meetings to provide information about ballot questions before a January 2012 election. She noted she concurred with Commissioner Barreiro that ballot questions should be considered at the General Election as recommended by the Task Force to allow for maximum voter participation, public meetings and electorate education. Commissioner Heyman indicated that she opposed eight-year term limits noting cutting the tenure short would shortchange Miami-Dade County’s voice at the regional, State, and federal levels. Commissioner Heyman noted she supported 12-year term limits so that commissioners could successfully work on issues which impacted the entire County. Commissioner Bovo noted he supported the Task Force’s recommendation for eight-year term limits. He said that he considered the election date a nonpartisan issue and that elections provided a fresh perspective on the public sentiment. Commissioner Bovo said he believed that placing Charter reform on the January 2012 ballot would not disenfranchise voters. He indicated that the community was disillusioned with the County Commission since they had the opportunity to place Charter issues on a previous General Election ballot but chose not to do it. Commissioner Edmonson asked whether the Task Force recommended that Charter reform be considered in the General Election and that commissioners serve two, four-year terms of office. County Attorney Cuevas confirmed that the Task Force recommended that proposed Charter Amendments be considered at a General Election and that commissioners serve two, four-year terms of office. Commissioner Edmonson indicated that she supported the Task Force’s recommendations. She said that commissioners were either voted in or out of office or recalled. Commissioner Edmonson noted the media and a few individuals were saying that the people were in favor of commissioners serving two four-year terms; however, this was not the sentiment from within her District. Commissioner Edmonson stated that she represented the entire County; that everyone deserved the opportunity to vote, whether Democratic, Republican, or Independent; and that one category should not have an advantage over another. Therefore, she said, she did not support a January 2012 election. Chairman Martinez noted most commissioners seemed to favor either eight or 12-year term limits; however, they seemed to be evenly divided as to whether Charter questions should be considered in the January 2012 or the General election. He pointed out that Miami-Dade County was not a Democracy, but an Oligarchy ruled by the few who actually vote and by a small group of individuals such as the media and community/civic leaders. Chairman Martinez noted term limits/salaries and petition issues were the main items to be considered today and many proposed items were placed on the Agenda for discussion purposes, if so desired. Chairman Martinez indicated that he would support eight-year term limits even though he did not agree with them. He said that County residents did not like the County Commission as a governing body but they approved of their individual District Commissioners based upon the good they did within those communities. Chairman Martinez expressed the belief that if an eight-year term limit was adopted it would be felt ten to 12 years later when people realized that only the bureaucrats and the lobbyists possessed institutional knowledge. He said he was informed that lobbyists commonly wrote legislation for State representatives and they would essentially be running County government in the future. He noted Miami-Dade County was larger than 77 countries and 19 states and he believed that twelve-year term limits were needed for commissioners to learn the intricacies of County government and effectively represent the community. Chairman Martinez noted he concurred with Commissioner Bell that it was the duty and responsibility of the electorate to vote on these issues. He expressed support for a January 2012 election to allow the eight-year term limits to go into effect prior to the November 2012 election. Chairman Martinez explained that Charter reform was a difficult and timely process and that many of the proposed reforms could be addressed administratively through ordinance, allowing the flexibility to make changes in the future as needed. It was moved by Commissioner Sosa that the foregoing proposed resolution be adopted as amended to be consistent with the Task Force Recommendation No. 4; to include two, four-year term limits; no outside employment; and a salary based upon the State formula. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Bell. Following the vote on the foregoing resolution, the Board engaged in the following additional discussion relating to the proposed Charter amendments. Commissioner Suarez asked Assistant County Attorney Oren Rosenthal to provide an overview of all proposed Agenda Items pertaining to term limits. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal explained that four Agenda Items existed relating to term limits as follows: 1) Item 11A12, sponsored by Commissioner Barreiro, provided three consecutive, four-year terms and that current commissioners with term limits would receive one additional four-year term; 2) Item 11A25, sponsored by Commissioner Heyman, provided three consecutive, four-year terms and that current commissioners would receive two additional four-year terms. He noted Commissioner Heyman had requested that this item be amended to provide only one additional four-year term, similar to Commissioner Barreiro’s proposal; 3) Item 11A27, sponsored by Commissioner Jordan, provided three consecutive, four-year terms moving forward, not counting terms already served, and would apply upon expiration of the current term; and 4) Item 11A34, sponsored by Commissioner Sosa and co-sponsored by Commissioner Bell, provided two consecutive four-year terms. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal read into the record proposed amendment(s) to the foregoing proposed ballot question: to insert the following language on handwritten page 4, line 1 of the ballot question “…as of January 31, 2012” after “Shall the Charter be amended to provide that, …”; and to remove from the second bullet point, line 4 the word “statutory” and from line 5 the language “by the County’s population”; and then proceeded to read the entire ballot question as amended into the record. He also noted a proposed amendment to insert the following language on handwritten page 7, at the beginning of line 1and at the end of line 5 before the word “County” in Article-1, Section 1.06 of the Home Rule Charter, “Commencing January 31, 2012…” Pursuant to Commissioner Diaz’ question as to whether two consecutive ballot questions could be presented to voters on a particular item, County Attorney Cuevas replied that the courts would rule that two questions would be confusing to the voters. Responding to Chairman Martinez’ question as to what would happen in the event that both ballot questions passed, County Attorney Cuevas noted the item which received the most votes would prevail. Commissioner Barreiro asked whether Commissioner Sosa would accept a friendly amendment that current commissioners would be permitted to serve one additional four-year term. Commissioner Sosa responded that she sponsored the proposed resolution exactly as recommended by the Task Force and that the Commission should uphold the rules established by the electorate. Commissioner Jordan questioned whether outside employment was restricted by other communities that provided commissioners with a salary based upon the State formula. County Attorney Cuevas responded that he was informed by Assistant County Attorney Cynthia Johnson-Stacks that all Florida counties, other than Miami-Dade, provided commissioners with a salary based upon the State formula and that those counties did not restrict outside employment, pursuant to the results of a survey conducted by the Task Force. Commissioner Jordan expressed concern that many commissioners currently in office and those considering holding office in the future would be precluded from outside employment. She said that $91,000 was a decent salary; however, it was not adequate for many professionals and others interested in holding public office. Commissioner Jordan noted her constituents were not concerned about the salary issue and that Miami-Dade County should not be different from other communities that had adopted the wage ordinance based upon the opinion of a select few individuals. Commissioner Heyman expressed her opposition to the proposed resolution as amended since voters opposed term limits as a method to remove commissioners from office. She also noted other counties established commissioners’ salaries based upon State formula and did not preclude commissioners from holding outside employment. Commissioner Heyman said that Miami-Dade residents clearly communicated that they were opposed to commissioners having conflicts of interests, but she pointed out that this did not preclude commissioners from holding legitimate jobs and practicing their profession. Commissioner Heyman noted the only eligible candidates for office under these criteria would be pensioned, senior citizens who did not require employment or other individuals who could not otherwise obtain employment. Commissioner Monestime pointed out that he owned a business and did not support including a prohibition on outside employment in the proposed resolution. He asked the sponsor of this proposal to accept a friendly amendment to remove the language that required each County Commissioner to devote full-time service to the office of County Commissioner and hold no other employment. Commissioner Sosa responded that her proposed resolution was based upon the Task Force members’ recommendation. She reiterated that she wished to keep her motion as originally stated according to the publics’ sentiment with no outside employment; a salary based upon the State formula; and two, four-year term limits. Mayor Carlos Gimenez explained that the Task Force voted 14-0 that while a $6,000 annual salary for a County Commissioner may have been a decent salary in 1957, it was no longer appropriate to consider commission service as part-time employment. He said that the $92,000 salary as determined by State formula was approximately twice the local average family income; that this salary would open the process up to more people willing to serve on the Commission; and that Task Force members believed that commissioners should devote 100 percent of their time to the office in return for this salary. Commissioner Monestime noted he made a choice to serve the community when elected to the County Commission and his decision to seek public office was not based upon the salary. He said that although he fully supported the eight-year term limit, he could not support the proposed salary and prohibition on outside employment. Commissioner Monestime stressed that the salary earned by a commissioner outside his/her County responsibilities should not be anyone’s concern, unless a conflict of interest existed. County Attorney Cuevas clarified that the proposed resolution for commissioners to devote full-time service to that office and to hold no other employment would become effective immediately if approved on a January 31, 2012 ballot. He said in that case Commissioner Monestime’s options would be either to resign from the Commission or to receive passive income from his business, rather than salary income. Commissioner Bovo noted he concurred with Commissioners Heyman and Monestime; however, the Commission should vote for or against the Task Force members’ recommendation. He expressed his opinion that commissioners held public office to provide a public service and to make a difference in the community, rather than to earn a salary. Commissioner Bell said that she supported the proposed resolution in its present form as originally presented and unanimously recommended by the Task Force. She said she believed that the voters wanted their commissioners to dedicate full-time service in exchange for a salary and to hold no outside employment. Commissioner Diaz noted firefighters, police and other County employees were not prohibited from holding second jobs. He questioned whether any other municipality, city, or State limited outside employment. Commissioner Jordan answered that no other municipality, city, or State limited outside employment. Commissioner Diaz noted Commissioner Monestime chose to serve the community knowing that the office provided a limited salary and benefits, even though he needed to continue providing for his family. He said the Task Force members specified that recommendations should not be placed on the ballot without obtaining public input. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal confirmed that the Task Force members recommended that public hearings be held on all proposed Charter amendments at the time the County Commission set the election date. County Attorney Cuevas advised that six public meetings were required. He said that a difference existed between a public meeting and a public hearing, noting that the public had the right to appear, speak, and be heard at a public hearing. Commissioner Diaz pointed out that the public was being removed from the Charter reform process; yet, the media was encouraging public input over the gambling issue. He noted he concurred with Commissioner Jordan that approximately 16 percent of registered voters would exercise the right to vote in the January 2012 election, whereas 50 to 60 percent of voters would vote in the General Election. Commissioner Diaz urged his fellow commissioners to think carefully about this issue before reaching a decision. Commissioner Monestime clarified that this was not a personal issue and did not want to be the focus of this discussion. He indicated that he chose to serve the community and at the same time continue to maintain his business as other commissioners have done. Commissioner Edmonson noted many of her collegues maintained professional licenses which would now become inactive or which would not be renewed if they were unable to work the requisite number of hours for certification. She said the Task Force was an advisory body and its recommendations might not be in the best interest of the community when evaluating all related issues and their consequences. Commissioner Edmonson noted only retired and unemployed individuals would be able to seek public office once working professionals were disqualified. She said that the public needed to vet these issues and not rely on the media or a chosen few individuals for this information. Chairman Martinez pointed out that Commissioners Sosa and Bell, co-sponsors of the proposed resolution, both said that they did not wish to amend their proposal because they wanted it to be consistent with the Task Force members’ recommendations; however, he asked why Commissioners Sosa and Bell did not suggest that their proposal be placed on the General Election ballot as the Task Force members had recommended. County Attorney Cuevas confirmed that one of the proposed Task Force members’ recommendations was for Charter Amendments to be placed only on the General Election ballot which occurs in November every two years. Commissioner Sosa said she was informed the Task Force members recommended that Charter Review questions be placed on the General Election ballot upon a 2/3 vote, so that Special Elections would not be held at the taxpayers’ expense. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal clarified the Task Force members’ recommendations as follows: that residents be given 120 days rather than 60 days to gather signatures for proposed Citizens’ Initiative Petitions; and that proposed Charter Amendments must only be placed on a General Election ballot. In response to Commissioner Sosa’s comment that the recommendation would become effective upon voter approval, Chairman Martinez pointed out that Commissioners Sosa and Bell were inconsistent when they said they supported the Task Force members’ recommendations and a January 2012 election date when the Task Force recommended Charter Amendments be considered at a General Election. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal further clarified that pursuant to Recommendation No. 9 on Page 22 of the Charter Review Task Force Executive Summary, which passed by a 14-0 vote, “The Home Rule Charter should be amended to provide that the time periods to collect signatures for proposed Charter amendments and citizens’ initiatives be extended to 120 days and that proposed Charter amendments must only be placed on the ballot during a General Election.” In response to Chairman Martinez’ request, Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal confirmed that the language applied to any Charter Amendment, which would be presented either by the County Commission or through citizens’ initiatives. Commissioner Bovo pointed out that the County Commission ignored the Task Force by not including any of their recommendations in either the 2008 or 2010 elections. He suggested that the Commission should vote on the 11 Task Force recommendations that were not previously considered by this body. Chairman Martinez commented that the public wanted two-term limits and no outside employment; however, he reiterated that the proposal as presented was not a true reflection of the Task Force members’ recommendation. Commissioner Sosa asked County Attorney Cuevas for clarification as to whether once the question was placed on a ballot the recommendation would become law immediately upon a successful public vote. She also asked whether a rule existed requiring that Charter questions be presented to a public vote in a General Election. County Attorney Cuevas responded that the law would go into effect upon certification of the election and that a rule did not exist which required that Charter questions be considered only in a General Election. Commissioner Sosa commented that the foregoing proposed resolution was consistent with the Task Force members’ recommendation since currently a rule did not exist which required that Charter questions be considered only in a General Election. She noted County employees were permitted to hold outside employment; however, they did not vote on issues affecting County government. Commissioner Sosa said the community believed that County Commissioners should be able to vote on all issues presented before that body, without conflict. She inquired whether Mayor Gimenez had scheduled a public meeting on Friday, November 4, 2011 to discuss Charter reform issues and whether additional meetings would be held, in accordance with previous legislation proposed by Commissioner Souto. Mayor Gimenez indicated that a public meeting was held yesterday, Monday, November 2, 2011 and that the Administration did not have sufficient time to hold the six required public meetings. He noted additional meetings would be scheduled in the future to keep the public informed about Charter issues. Commissioner Sosa clarified that teachers were required to complete 120 credits every five years to renew their license and were not required to be in a classroom; and that many employers provided their employees a leave of absence thereby allowing them to return to their job at a later date. Commissioner Sosa noted she had previously presented this proposal in response to the public sentiment, and not her personal interest. Commissioner Bell noted she believed the public was asking for the changes that were included in this proposed resolution. She said that it was disingenuous to say no public input was sought on the proposed Charter reform issues, noting discussions were held during her campaign for the District 8 Commission seat, during the mayoral election, and during Town Hall meetings recently held on other issues. Hearing no further questions or comments, the Commission proceeded to vote on the foregoing proposed resolution as amended.

Legislative Text


TITLE
RESOLUTION CALLING A COUNTYWIDE SPECIAL ELECTION IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, TO BE HELD ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2012, FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUBMITTING TO THE ELECTORS OF MIAMI DADE COUNTY THE QUESTION OF WHETHER TO AMEND THE HOME RULE CHARTER TO PROVIDE THAT: EACH COUNTY COMMISSIONER SHALL DEVOTE FULL-TIME SERVICE TO THE OFFICE OF COUNTY COMMISSIONER AND HOLD NO OTHER EMPLOYMENT; NO LONGER RECEIVE THEIR CURRENT $6,000 ANNUAL SALARY ESTABLISHED IN 1957, BUT RECEIVE INSTEAD THE SALARY PROVIDED BY STATE STATUTORY FORMULA, ADJUSTED ANNUALLY BASED ON THE COUNTY’S POPULATION (CURRENTLY APPROXIMATELY $92,097); AND SHALL SERVE NO MORE THAN TWO CONSECUTIVE FOUR-YEAR TERMS IN OFFICE EXCLUDING TERMS OF SERVICE PRIOR TO 2012

BODY

WHEREAS, Miami-Dade County established an annual salary of $6,000 for County Commissioners in 1957, when the County’s Home Rule Charter was adopted; and
WHEREAS, the demands of the position of County Commissioner have grown substantially, while the salary has remained the same; and
WHEREAS, Miami-Dade County is now the most populous county in the State of Florida with a population of over 2.4 million residents and a budget in excess of $7.3 billion; and
WHEREAS, other counties in the State of Florida compensate their Commissioners pursuant to a state statutory formula based on population,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, that:
Section 1. A countywide special election is hereby called and shall be held in Miami-Dade County, Florida on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, for the purpose of submitting to the qualified electors of Miami-Dade County the proposal for amendment to the Home Rule Charter in the form attached hereto and made a part hereof.
Section 2. Notice of such election shall be published in accordance with Section 100.342, Florida Statutes.
Section 3. The result of such election shall be determined by a majority of the qualified electors of Miami-Dade County voting upon the proposal. The polls at such election shall be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on the day of such election. All qualified electors of Miami-Dade County, Florida shall be entitled to vote at said election. The County registration books shall remain open at the Office of the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections until twenty-nine (29) days prior to the date of such election, at which time the registration books will close in accordance with the provisions of general election laws. The question shall appear on the ballot in substantially the following form:
HOME RULE CHARTER AMENDMENT
RELATING TO SALARIES, SERVICE, AND TERM LIMITS OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

SHALL THE CHARTER BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT, AS OF JANUARY 31, 2012, COUNTY COMMISSIONERS SHALL:

• DEVOTE FULL-TIME SERVICE TO THE OFFICE OF COUNTY COMMISSIONER AND HOLD NO OTHER EMPLOYMENT;

• NO LONGER RECEIVE THE $6,000 ANNUAL SALARY ESTABLISHED IN 1957, BUT RECEIVE INSTEAD THE SALARY PROVIDED BY STATE FORMULA, ADJUSTED ANNUALLY (CURRENTLY APPROXIMATELY $92,097); AND

• SERVE NO MORE THAN TWO CONSECUTIVE FOUR-YEAR TERMS IN OFFICE EXCLUDING TERMS OF SERVICE PRIOR TO 2012?

YES

NO

Section 4. The form of the ballot shall be in accordance with the requirements of general election laws.
Section 5. Early voting shall be conducted in accordance with the requirements of general election laws.
Section 6. Absentee paper ballots may be used by qualified electors of Miami-Dade County for voting on this question. The form of such absentee ballot shall be in accordance with the requirements prescribed by general election laws.
Section 7. A sample ballot showing the manner in which the question or proposal aforesaid will appear at this election shall be published and provided in accordance with the applicable provisions of general election laws.
Section 8. This special election on the proposal aforesaid shall be held and conducted in accordance with applicable provisions of the general laws relating to elections and the provisions of the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter. The County Mayor or his or her designee, the Finance Director, and the Clerk of the County Commission are hereby authorized and directed to take all appropriate actions necessary to carry into effect and accomplish the provisions of this resolution. This election shall be a nonpartisan election. Election officials in connection with this election shall be appointed in accordance with the provisions of general election laws.
Section 9. This election shall be canvassed by the County Canvassing Board, in accordance with the provisions of Section 3.07 of the Home Rule Charter.

OTHER


MIAMI-DADE COUNTY HOME RULE CHARTER

ARTICLE-1 1

BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

* * *

Section 1.06. SALARY >>AND SERVICE AS A COUNTY COMMISSIONER<<.

>>Commencing January 31, 2012, e<<[[E]]ach County Commissioner shall receive [[a]] >>an annual<< salary [[of $6,000 per year payable monthly]] >>determined pursuant to general law applicable to non-charter counties<< and shall be entitled to be reimbursed for such reasonable and necessary expenses as may be approved by the Board. >>Such salary shall be payable monthly. Commencing January 31, 2012, County Commissioners shall devote full-time service to the office of County Commissioner and hold no other employment.<<

* * *

ARTICLE-3

ELECTIONS

Section 3.01 ELECTION AND COMMENCEMENT
OF TERMS OF COUNTY
COMMISSIONERS.


* * *

>>E. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Charter, effective with the term of Commissioners scheduled to commence in 2012, no person shall be elected as Commissioner for more than two consecutive four-year terms. No service as a Commissioner prior to 2012 shall be considered a part of or counted toward the two term limit.<<


1 Words stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] shall be deleted. Words underscored and/or >>double arrowed<< constitute the amendment proposed. Remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.



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