Open mind in Cutler Bay

 

Re the Aug. 12 article, Lobbyists settle case with Miami-Dade ethics commission: Some important facts were missing from this article. In the early days of our incorporation the Cutler Bay town council wanted to be as accessible as possible to all residents and applicants when dealing with land-use issues, just as we are with other issues. We adopted an ordinance that permits council members to hear from the public and applicants prior to our meeting, but requires the council member and lobbyist to disclose the communication.

The first time the land-use application featured in your article came before the council I was contacted by the applicant’s lobbyist, but I didn’t feel that the requested variances would serve the town’s best interests, so I voted against it.

After the applicant made changes requested by the public during the first hearing, I felt comfortable that it would be a good product for the town and I voted for it. Since I began representing the town in 2006, I’ve made every decision based solely on what is best for Cutler Bay.

Any time I speak to someone about a quasi-judicial issue I disclose it immediately to the town clerk for the public record. If someone asks me a question about an upcoming issue that is quasi-judicial I explain that I must disclose the conversation. It feels right to be open with citizens and applicants. However, I always make it clear that I will not make up my mind until I’m sitting at the dais and have heard all the information from both sides.

Peggy Bell, council member, Cutler Bay

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