Miami Beach voters will see four municipal issues on their ballots on Nov. 6:
Question No. 1
Everyone knows seven bosses are better than one, right? Especially if those bosses are elected?
Yet the Beach Commission wants voters to approve an ill-advised power grab in which commissioners could appoint, remove and hold accountable the city clerk. Right now, the city clerk is hired by, fired by and answers to the city manager, who is appointed by the commission. Replacing one boss with seven is an unnecessary and potentially treacherous move. The duties of the city clerk are straightforward, nonpolitical. The position should be shielded from the whims of commissioners who, by the very nature of their positions, often pander and play politics from the dais. The commission-led circus that led to this year’s resignation of former City Manager Jorge Gonzalez should be enough of a red flag to voters. There’s nothing broken here. The Herald recommends NO to Question No. 1.
Question No. 2
So much of Miami Beach’s cachet is built upon the foundation of historic preservation. Where would South Beach be without the renovated Art Deco hotels? But there is a constant push-pull between preservation interests and business development. Witness the Lincoln Road Apple store’s failed quest last year to demolish a storefront in the historic district. Preservationists have an influential voice, but deep-pocketed developers, whose projects can incrementally change the landscape that has served the city so well, can speak softly and still get the ear of decision makers.
That’s why voters should demand a voice in any attempt to weaken the powers of the city’s Historic Preservation Board. This question would require that any changes to the city’s code that reduce the board’s powers or weaken historic preservation standards and rules be approved first by Miami Beach voters. The board does a number of things, including recommending the designation of historic buildings and districts, providing guidance to the zoning board and developing evaluation criteria for developments proposed for the historic district.
After losing the Apple store fight, some business interests took aim at preservationists. This question is an appropriate push back. The Herald recommends YES to Question No. 2
Question No. 3
Anyone who wants to qualify by petition to run for city office has to submit the petitions to the clerk’s office no later than the second day of the four-day qualifying period. This sometimes does not leave a lot of time for the county elections department to certify that the petition has valid signatures from the required 2 percent of Miami Beach voters. If the department can’t complete its certification process in time, the potential candidate either has to pay a fee to qualify — an alternative many better-funded candidates choose — or is out of luck. It’s not really fair when the holdup is not their fault.
This question would change the deadline to turn in petitions for those going the petition route to no later than noon of the 14th day before the first day of the qualifying period. This would compel signature seekers to hit the ground running earlier, but would also give them a better chance of ensuring their hard work gets them on the ballot. The Herald recommends YES to Question No. 3
Question No. 4
This item is related to Question No. 3. If someone seeking office jumps through all the hoops to gather enough petition signatures, but the county elections department fails to verify them in time, the potential candidate has to pay the qualifying fee instead — or abandon the quest. This only adds insult to injury. After all, they complied with the rules. This question would waive the qualifying fee — which is 71/2 percent of the salary of the office being sought — for people caught in this squeeze. It’s only fair. The Herald recommends YES to Question No. 4.