The Herald recommends: Doral charter amendments

08/19/2014 7:06 PM

09/17/2014 3:26 PM

Doral is a young city, founded only 11 years ago, and its political growing pains are apparent. The city just emerged from a period of turmoil characterized by bitter public confrontations between Mayor Luigi Boria and former City Manager Joe Carollo and clashes between the mayor and council members.

Ten charter amendments proposed in a special city election on Aug. 26 reflect these conflicts. Voters should choose carefully for the good of their city. Here are the Herald’s recommendations:

QUESTION 1: This would create an independent city-funded Office of Charter Enforcement to investigate alleged wrongdoing by city officials and employees. This seems an expensive and redundant measure. Miami-Dade County already has the Commission on Ethics & Public Trust; the Doral police can also to handle such probes. Vote NO.

QUESTION 2: The charter would be amended to mandate that a committee is required to hire staff, establish new procedures for the removal of city officials and establish minimum qualifications for staff. Vote YES.

QUESTION 3: This proposes to put all council candidates on one ballot with those receiving the highest number of votes elected. This is a practical idea that will eliminate expensive runoff elections. Vote YES.

QUESTION 4: Limits individuals to two terms in any office but defines a “term” as a period of service in any office of more than a year. We’ll split the baby here. We agree with term limits for elected offices, but disagree with calling a period of service of little more than a year, a “full term.” Vote NO.

QUESTION 5: The charter question proposes making the position of vice mayor a rotating one among all council members. Vote YES.

QUESTION 6: This provides a process for the method the mayor and council members use to place items on the agenda. This amendment would prevent agenda items from being submitted without prior public notice; the only exception would be an emergency. Vote YES.

QUESTION 7: This amendment would revise the process for the City Council to establish boards and appoint individuals. It obviously stems from the controversy created by Mayor Boria’s appointment of friends and supporters to several boards. The members of the boards are unpaid. Currently, the council establishes boards whose members are appointed by the mayor, but are subject to council approval, so we consider this amendment unnecessary. Vote NO.

QUESTION 8: Voters are being asked to adjust salaries for the mayor and council members. Currently, the mayor makes $63,100 and the council members make $15,100. If approved, the mayor would make $60,000 and each council member’s salary would be 50 percent of the mayor’s salary. Elected offices in Doral are part-time, and officials have other jobs or businesses. Vote NO.

QUESTION 9: This measure would reduce the residency requirement for qualifying to run for mayor or council member from two years to six months. That is not enough time to get to know the needs, idiosyncrasies and workings of any city. Vote NO.

QUESTION 10: This would reduce the number of signatures required for initiatives and referendum petitions from 10 percent of registered voters to no less than 3 percent of those voters. This makes it too easy to clutter ballots with frivolous or vindictive initiatives, all too possible in a city that has already taken political in-fighting too far. Vote NO.

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