Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19: Dade Charter Questions: Not Quite a Universal "No," But.....

By Sylvia Gurinsky

The Miami-Dade County Commission's attitude towards county residents in putting together the May 26 charter questions was similar to that of a teenager repeatedly told to clean up his or her room. A job done grudgingly is not a job well done.

Some community leaders, including Dade government button-pusher Norman Braman, have recommended a blanket rejection of the charter questions.

Uh, not quite.

The first question, relating to salaries and term limits, is chock-full of chutzpah on the part of those who put it there; while limits of three terms would be required, they wouldn't be retroactive to anyone currently on the commission. While that deserves a "No" vote, any commissioner who approved it virtually deserves to be term limited at his or her next election.

The question to undo the 2007 vote for a strong mayor also deserves a "No" vote. The system hasn't been given enough time to work. The problem was Carlos Alvarez' political tone-deafness, not the position.

And while the charter amendment loosening the requirement for petitions will probably be popular, it will also reopen the door to serious voter fraud. Those who vote for it will have short memories of Miami's absentee ballot scandal from the late 1990s. That measure also deserves a "No."

But the three other measures - a two-year lobbying prohibition for former county elected officials, a charter review task force and an independent inspector general office - deserve Yes votes.

They're not perfect measures; the lobbying prohibition isn't long enough (Five years would be a really good place to start), and there are some questions about the details of the inspector general measures. But they're worth voting for.

Dade commissioners made a half-hearted effort at reform. But their constituents can force them to go further by not being half-hearted about their message at the polls.

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