CORAL GABLES AMENDMENTS
Like other Miami-Dade municipalities, the city of Coral Gables took a look at its charter and determined that the 1926 document needed an update. A task force was appointed to study debate and, ultimately, craft a new charter. There are five charter amendments before city voters.
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Employee dismissal procedure
This amendment would get rid of a costly procedure to allow a dismissed employee to appeal the action. According to members of the charter-review task force, the process was last used in 1999. They say that there are other, more efficient ways in place to guarantee due process. The Herald recommends
Temporary commissioner suspension
This would allow City Commission members to temporarily suspend a commissioner who is extremely ill or incapacitated and cannot serve. On the surface, this is a pragmatic move that would allow the commission to then appoint a temporary replacement on the five-member board to prevent deadlocks. But we’re a little more cynical and find the measure just ambiguous enough to, perhaps, encourage political mischief unintended by its well-intentioned framers.
Vice mayor appointment
Currently, the mayor appoints the vice mayor. This amendment would formalize that process.
Here’s another amendment that raises our eyebrow. It would allow commissioners, through a unanimous vote, to remove another commissioner who has been accused of violating state law or for misconduct. A commissioner’s removal would be tied to the same standards that the governor uses to suspend from office someone who has been charged with a crime. We don’t see a compelling reason for commissioners to have the same powers as the governor to remove a colleague chosen by the voters. But, again, we see just enough wiggle room for something unseemly.
This amendment creates runoff elections in races in which no candidate gets a majority — 50 percent, plus 1. The two top vote-getters would face each other to choose a winner. This tracks with how many municipalities in the county — and the county itself — settle a race.
MIAMI CHARTER AMENDMENTS
Dade Heritage Trust Lease
This question is about helping preserve Miami’s history. If approved, the city will sign a 30-year-lease with the Dade Heritage Trust preservation group for the historic property at 190 SE 12th Terr. The building was the office of Dr. James Jackson, the city’s first physician, and since 1977 the lease has been renewed on a month-to-month basis.
The trust will pay $600 a year to the city and that cost will increase with the pace of inflation. The short-term lease has made it difficult for the trust to obtain funding from preservation grant-makers who see on paper the potential for the building’s situation to change at any time.
If approved, the city would move the city’s runoff elections for mayor and commissioner from the second Tuesday after the first Monday in November to the third Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Other cities are taking similar action.
Civilian Investigative Panel
If approved, this would increases the independence and strength of the Civilian Investigative Panel, the body that investigates and reviews the actions and policies of the police department.
The amendment changes details in how the panel’s members are appointed. It also backs up the panel’s right to hire or fire an executive director and independent lawyer and to issue subpoenas if it works with the State Attorney’s Office. The CIP has been criticized for its lack of bite.
Lawsuits over charter
Should citizens be allowed to sue the city?
If approved, this measure gives Miami residents the legal standing to take that action and challenge potential violations of the city’s charter. Without that “standing,” proponents of the proposal say Miami residents will be left with fewer tools to hold their government accountable.
Some view the measure as a way for residents of this city to have a check on their government.
If a resident is successful in court, they can recover court costs but not attorney’s fees.
A possible downside is that passage of the amendment could spark more lawsuits against the city.
The proposal is supported both by the city commission and Mayor Tomás Regalado.