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Changes ahead for Miami Beach boards and committees

 

cveiga@MiamiHerald.com

When Miami Beach voters ushered in a new mayor and commission in November, they also set the stage for a potential overhaul of city boards and committees.

That could mean new faces, new ideas and new dynamics on city bodies that decide important issues such as development rights, historic designation, and the city’s finances.

More than 300 positions on the city’s 50 boards and committees are vacant or will expire in the new year, according to records made available online by the City Clerk.

“These boards are extremely important, and they are vested under the law with staggering amounts of power,” said Henry Stolar, a member of the Planning Board who is term-limited.

Depending on the board or committee, members are appointed by individual commissioners or the member needs to be confirmed by the commission at large. Members’ terms run concurrent with the appointing commissioner.

“I know politics plays a part here, but we have to be sure that the members are there and they come prepared, and they understand this is a working job,” Stolar said. “Many of these meetings run 10 or 11 hours. So you’ve got to come with a hard butt and a big brain, and you’ve got to be prepared to contribute.”

Three new commissioners and a new mayor were swept into office during the latest round of elections. The new commission will decide either to pick new board and committee members, or to extend the terms of the current appointees — unless term limits apply.

Commissioners had the opportunity to make some board appointments at their regular December meeting, but deferred action until January.

Newly elected Commissioner Michael Grieco said he isn’t giving preference to current board and committee members.

“I’m all for opening it up for everybody,” he said.

Grieco added that commissioners were receiving “almost hourly” updates on new applicants for city boards. As someone who pushed for more resident involvement in his swearing-in speech, Grieco said he has been pleased to see that some applicants are residents who are getting involved for the first time.

“That’s such a great thing for the city to have new names and new faces involved,” Grieco said. “I want the right people for the right spots.”

Newly elected mayor Philip Levine has the authority to appoint elected officials to commission committees. Commission committees are different because membership consists only of elected officials.

The city has four commission committees: Finance and Citywide Projects, Land Use and Development, Neighborhood/Community Affairs and the newly-created Flooding Mitigation.

• Levine retained Commissioner Deede Weithorn as chairwoman of the Finance and Citywide Projects Committee. Commissioner Ed Tobin is the vice chair, and newly elected Commissioner Micky Steinberg was appointed as a member. Grieco is an alternate member.

• Commissioner Jonah Wolfson is the chair of the new Flooding Mitigation Committee. Grieco is the vice chair. Newly elected Commissioner Joy Malakoff was also appointed. Tobin is an alternate member.

• Malakoff now chairs the Land Use and Development Committee. Wolfson is the vice chair and Grieco is a member. Weithorn is an alternate member.

• Tobin chairs the Neighborhood/Community Affairs Committee. Steinberg is the vice chair. Weithorn is a member and Malakoff is an alternate.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.

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