Monday, October 27, 2008

Oct. 27: Miami-Dade Initiatives: Yes On Strong Mayor and Salaries, No On Fire-Rescue Expansion

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Miami-Dade County voters will decide six county charter questions.

The first would complete an evolution to the strong mayor form of government by transferring duties of the county manager to the mayor and providing for the mayor's oversight of the county manager position. Voters should say Yes, and may it never be abused.

The second amendment would require county commissioners to be full-time and would raise their salaries from the $6,000 they've gotten for 51 years to the living wage provided by state formula - currently almost $92,000. Voters should say Yes; perhaps the quality would increase if salaries and responsibilities did.

The third amendment would amend the county charter to permit candidates for mayor or commissioner to qualify for office through petition or a qualifying fee. Voters should say Yes to this measure that improves the democratic process.

The fourth and fifth amendments would have the county clerk, instead of commissioners, approve initiative petitions; the fourth also would require the county commission to hold a public hearing on any such petition. Voters should say Yes to these measures that would do a lot to de-politicize the petition process.

The final amendment would require the county to provide a uniform fire-rescue service for unincorporated Miami-Dade and all cities except for Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Coral Gables and Key Biscayne. Voters should say No, because it is unclear that other cities would be able to opt out if they chose.

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