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Miami Beach

New Miami Beach leaders change meeting rules

 

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cveiga@MiamiHerald.com

With a new mayor and commission comes a new way of doing business.

The newly elected Miami Beach Commission on Wednesday voted to create a new committee to tackle flooding issues, to televise committee meetings, and to change the times for public comment during commission meetings. The commission deferred a decision on whether to establish separate meetings to give awards and presentations, which currently takes place before commission meetings.

Mayor Philip Levine, who proposed the changes, called flooding “one of the most important issues facing our city.”

Along with creating the new committee, the commission agreed to livestream and videotape committee meetings, which currently are only audio recorded.

“Obviously part of the mandate of this administration is to have greater transparency,” he said.

In the November election, a new crop of four commission members were elected, most of them over incumbents.

Lastly, the rules regarding all committees were changed to allow the mayor to appoint the chair and vice-chair.

Newly elected Commissioner Michael Grieco had a concern that this would allow the mayor to appoint himself the chair of all commission committees, making him “god of the committees.” Grieco clarified that he wasn’t concerned the current mayor would do that.

“I don’t plan on sitting on the committees,” Levine said.

“I know,” Grieco said.

Levine added: “My plan is just to make sure we get things done.”

The changes to commission committees will only be in place for a year, at which time the commission will evaluate how they’ve worked out.

In another change to the way meetings are conducted, commissioners decided to reschedule the time period for public comment, called the Dr. Stanley Sutnick Citizen’s Forum. The comment session will now take place from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and again from 1 to 1:30 p.m. It had previously taken place at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The commission did not decide on another proposal by Levine to split monthly meetings into two. One meeting would be solely for awards and presentations, which now take place before commission meetings. The presentations can take hours, during which the city recognizes outstanding police officers, local organizations, residents, schools and others.

In other business, commissioners:

• Gave preliminary approval to extend the off-leash dog park at South Pointe Park for another 120 days while the city explores a new location and hedge for the park.

The location of the park, near a commissioned sculpture called The Obstinate Lighthouse, has been controversial.

The arts community says the artist, Tobias Rehberger, has objected to his work essentially becoming the centerpiece of a dog park.

Others say a hedge is necessary to keep the dogs in the designated area, and separate the canines from scared humans. However others say a hedge will take away from the open feel of the park.

The commission needs to vote on the issue one more time, and allow for another public hearing, before the decision is final.

• Directed city staff to explore possible locations for a water taxi after being approached by the company Island Queen Cruises, which proposes to ferry people between Bayfront Park in Miami and Miami Beach.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.

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