The Miami-Dade County Commission continues to govern in the interests of insiders.
I spent last Friday at the commission chambers only to leave in disgust.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez and commissioners controlled the discussion, manipulated the optics and managed to silence requests of approximately150 speakers. In doing so, they missed the big picture. The majority of residents do not support the county’s immigration order and residents want these elected officials to resist this administration.
The mayor dug in his heels on a poorly planned policy change currying favor with the Trump administration to preserve federal dollars. He and Commissioner Sally Heyman maintained the change had been “in the works” and would not make local law enforcement officers immigration agents.
The opposition questioned the timing and necessity of the policy change. They stressed easing the requirement for detaining immigrants would lead to some of them, and legal permanent residents, being deported for lesser, non-felony charges. Further, the change would heighten their fear, characterize Miami as an unwelcoming destination and affect local businesses.
Each side talked passed each other, and the measure passed.
More disturbing than a bad decision was its chilling effect. Commissioners, particularly Rebeca Sosa, deflected the majority of testimony by attributing the controversy to partisanship or highlighting the few people who appeared before them fearing immediate deportation.
Commission Chair Esteban Bovo Jr., cut people off, turned the mic off and, ultimately, cleared the chamber. He even shut down a fellow commissioner, Daniella Levine Cava. At one point Sosa chided the packed commission for clapping, “Oh, you were doing so well.” Arrogant and disrespectful.
Damian John Pardo,