Search committee to start process to hire a new city clerk for Doral

A search committee is set to meet at on Thursday, Jan. 8 at Doral City Hall to discuss their plan of hiring a new city clerk. On Dec. 10, Council members voted 4 to 1 to fire their longtime city clerk Barbara Herrera.

On the committee are Councilman Pete Cabrera, Vice Mayor Sandra Ruiz and Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez, along with longtime residents Eduardo Gomez and Pierre Christ.

The 6 p.m. meeting will be open to the public.

According to the city’s Charter section 3.02(a), each Council member gets to appoint one member to the search committee. Cabrera, Ruiz and Rodriguez appointed themselves.

Deputy city clerk Connie Diaz is taking on the city clerk’s role on an interim basis while a search for a new permanent clerk is completed.

It is still unclear how the committee will move forward with selecting a new city clerk. They can either hire a recruiting agency to search for candidates, rely on internal and external recommendations made by committee members, or have people interested submit an application.

They will be discussing their options on Thursday, according to City Manager Edward Rojas.

“At that meeting, they are going to decide how they’re going to go about the process,” Rojas said. “It’s not just handpicking somebody and bring them in, that’s why the committee is there, to bring a broader vision.

“We want this to be a transparent process. We want the most qualified person, the best, nothing less than that. I think that’s what is in mind. The committee will be very mindful of the process and that's why were going about it very carefully.”

According to the Charter, committee members have to submit two to four recommendations to the City Council within 60 days of the previous clerk’s termination. That gives them a deadline of Feb. 10.

Herrera, who was the city’s clerk for nine years, was fired at the City Council meeting on Dec. 10 — a week and a half after Cabrera called for her termination.

Cabrera, along with Vice Mayor Ruiz, pushed for the clerk’s termination, accusing her of making errors, being late, giving people special treatment and withholding records from their offices. Herrera contends that Cabrera's move is retaliatory for a lawsuit she filed against him in 2009 for gender discrimination in the workplace. They settled in 2011 for $34,000.

Herrera responded to Cabrera’s Nov. 29 request to have her fired by filing a federal discrimination complaint on Dec. 3. She told the Miami Herald on Wednesday that her attorney had been in contact with city attorney Dan Espino.

Council members offered her a three-month severance package plus any existing benefits, upon her signing a release. To accept the severance, she would have to sign a agreement, saying she would not not sue the city or talk to the media.

They have not yet come to an agreement, Herrera told the Miami Herald.

“I’m exploring my options,” she said. “The bottom line is that I’m doing what’s best for me and my daughter.”

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