Doral City Council wants power to change or reject charter changes

07/14/2014 6:34 PM

07/14/2014 8:52 PM

As Doral voters consider 10 amendments to the city charter — the city’s constitution — that will be on the ballot in the Aug. 26 primary, some City Council members want to propose some changes of their own.

Council members discussed concepts for several potential amendments at a special meeting last week, including a change that would limit the power of the Charter Review Commission, the council-appointed citizens’ board that convenes every five years to study the charter and suggest revisions.

This year, the review commission proposed 10 amendments, which include imposing term limits on the council members and the setting new salaries for them. Under to the current charter, these proposals must go to voters without any changes by the council.

Mayor Luigi Boria, Vice Mayor Christi Fraga and council member Sandra Ruiz voted to instruct City Attorney Dan Espino to draft an amendment that would give the City Council the power to approve, modify or reject amendments proposed by the charter review commission before they reach the ballot.

Council members Ana María Rodríguez and Bettina Rodríguez-Aguilera voted against the idea. Rodríguez said she saw it as an attempt to usurp power from the review commission and the city’s voters.

“I think we will be disenfranchising the voter in our community,” she said. “I think it would be a slap in the face to our residents to not allow them to respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the items that are on the ballot.”

In support of the idea, Boria said the City Council should have the power to decide what’s good for the city.

“If it’s good for the city, we’re not going to say no. We’re not going to deny [an amendment],” he said. “If it makes sense, we’re going to follow it.”

Rodríguez-Aguilera said she supported allowing the council to modify or opine on the recommend changes but not to block them.

One concept that did not find much support on the council was making the City Council responsible for hiring and firing the city’s department directors.

Ruiz proposed the idea, which would radically alter the Doral’s council-manager system of government, but she attracted no support from her colleagues.

“The directors have to respond to and have to carry out the vision of the council,” she said.

The council did unanimously agree to go forward with drafting an amendment to require run-off elections to be held in December in order to avoid scheduling them for Thanksgiving week. The drafting of another amendment allowing the mayor and council members to hire, supervise and fire their own legislative aides was also unanimously approved.

The City Council will consider these drafts at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, at the Doral Government Center, 8401 NW 53rd Ter.

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