Doral

Doral

Doral residents to vote on changes to city’s ‘constitution’

 

Ballot Language for 2014 Doral Charter Amendment Questions

The first five charter amendment questions, as they will appear on the ballot. Each question will be followed by “Shall the above-described Charter amendment be adopted?” Voters can pick “Yes” or “No.”

CREATE INDEPENDENT CITY OFFICE OF CHARTER ENFORCEMENT; INVESTIGATION PROCESS FOR LAW VIOLATIONS

BY OFFICIALS; EMPLOYEES

It is proposed the Charter be amended to create the independent, City-funded Office of Charter Enforcement to investigate activities of City’s elected, appointed and charter officials and employees that may constitute violations of Federal, State, County, and City laws, headed by a committee-appointed Charter Enforcement Official, and authorized to receive complaints, conduct investigations and hearings, issue findings, refer violations to appropriate agencies, and impose fines and other penalties.

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION REQUIRED FOR HIRING CHARTER OFFICIALS; REVISED PROCESS FOR HIRING AND REMOVING CHARTER OFFICIALS

Currently, the Charter authorizes the appointing of the City’s Manager and Attorney by Mayor’s nomination, subject to City Council approval, and the removal of all Charter Officials (Manager, Attorney, and Clerk) by approval of the City Council. It is proposed the Charter be amended to require the participation and recommendation of a search committee to hire a Charter Official; to establish new procedures to remove Charter Officials; and to establish minimum qualifications for Charter Officials.

ALLOWING GROUPING OF COUNCILMEMBER CANDIDATES ON BALLOT FOR MULTIPLE SEATS; ELIMINATING RUNOFF ELECTIONS; SETTING TERMS

Currently, the Charter authorizes qualification of Councilmember candidates by seat; majority vote selection; runoff elections; terms commencing day after general election. It is proposed the Charter be amended to provide for placement of all Councilmember candidates in one Ord. #2014-18 group on ballot, with candidate(s) receiving highest number of votes elected; eliminate runoff elections and require random drawing to break ties; and provide for elected officials’ terms to commence at first City Council meeting following election certification.

INDIVIDUALS LIMITED TO TWO TERMS IN ANY OFFICE; TERM DEFINED AS TIME SERVED

Currently, individuals are limited by Charter to serving two consecutive elected terms as Councilmember and two consecutive terms as Mayor. It is proposed the Charter be amended to limit any individual to no more than two four-year terms in any elected City office, and to define a term to be a period of service in any office of more than one year if elected and more than six months if appointed.

VICE MAYOR POSITION TO ROTATE AMONGST COUNCILMEMBERS IN CERTAIN ORDER

Currently, the Charter provides for the City Council to elect a Councilmember to serve as Vice-Mayor at the first Council meeting after each regular election. It is proposed the Charter be amended to provide for the Vice-Mayor position to automatically rotate amongst the Councilmembers for one-year terms in the following order, Seat 1, Seat 3, Seat 2, and Seat 4.


jflechas@MiamiHerald.com

Everyone knows the United States has a set of rules it has to follow called the Constitution, the supreme law of the land that outlines the structure and the powers of our government, as well as our rights as citizens.

City governments have similar documents called charters. The city charter sets out basic rules like how your local elected officials get elected, how long they serve, and what powers the government has.

Like the U.S. Constitution, a city charter can be amended. In Doral, the City Council appoints a five-person citizen commission every five years to review the charter and suggest changes. These proposed amendments have to go to the city’s voters, who have the final say.

For the second time in the city’s 10-year history, Doral will consider changing its governing document this summer. This year’s Charter Review Commission has proposed 10 amendments. Voters will be able to vote yes or no on each amendment during the Aug. 26 primary.

To cast a vote in this election, you must register by July 28.

We’ll review five of the amendments here and the other five in July.

•  “Create independent city office of charter enforcement.” This would create a new, city-funded watchdog office to keep Doral’s elected officials and employees honest. This office would receive complaints, hold investigations and hearings and issue findings on possible violations of federal, state, county and city laws and report any misconduct to other agencies. The office could impose fines, too.

•  “Revised process for hiring and removing charter officials. There are three important jobs at the city that are designated charter officials: city manager, city attorney and city clerk. Currently, the mayor has the power to nominate each of these positions for approval by the whole City Council.

If this amendment is approved, a search committee made up of residents would be required to recommend two to four names for any charter official vacancy. The amendment also sets minimum education and experience requirements for each position.

For the city manager job — Doral is on its fourth manager in two years — the candidate would have to be 30 years old or older, have a minimum of a combination of a bachelor’s degree in public administration, business administration or other related fields and three years’ public administration experience or 10 years’ experience as a city manager or assistant city manager.

A new procedure would also be established for removing a charter official. In order for a council member to propose removing a charter official, he or she would have to put the proposal on a meeting agenda and provide documents with reasons for the proposal that would help the rest of the council make their decision.

Recently, the Doral City Council has suddenly fired a few charter officials during meetings without clearly stating it on the agenda, including a city manager and city attorney.

•  “Allowing group of council member candidates on ballot for multiple seats; eliminate runoff elections; setting terms.” This amendment changes the election process for the Doral City Council.

If approved, the city would no longer hold runoff elections. All candidates would be placed on one group on the ballot. In Doral, two council seats are up for election every two years. Voters would be able to pick any two candidates for City Council. The candidates with the highest number of votes and the second-highest number of votes would be elected. A random drawing would break any ties.

In a year with a mayoral race, the mayoral candidate with the most votes wins.

•  “Individuals limited to two terms in any office; terms defined as time served.” Right now, the charter limits people to serving two consecutive terms as a council member and two consecutive terms as mayor. This amendment would limit any individual to two four-year terms in any elected office.

•  “Vice Mayor position to rotate amongst council members in certain order.” In Doral’s weak-mayor form of government, the city manager runs the city’s day-to-day operations and the mayor has one vote on the City Council and acts as chairperson during meetings. The vice mayor takes on this responsibility in the absence of the mayor.

Currently, the City Council has to elect a vice mayor at the first council meeting after each regular election. If this amendment is approved, the vice mayor title would rotate among council members.

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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