North Miami - NMB

If they ditch a meeting early, city leaders could be breaking the law

Councilwoman Phyllis Smith exits the Aug. 25 North Miami Beach special council meeting. The city is considering an ordinance that would make leaving before the end of a meeting a violation, except in emergency situations.
Councilwoman Phyllis Smith exits the Aug. 25 North Miami Beach special council meeting. The city is considering an ordinance that would make leaving before the end of a meeting a violation, except in emergency situations. City of North Miami Beach

North Miami Beach council members initially approved an ordinance Tuesday night that is intended to keep city council members from leaving city meetings before they’ve ended.

The item was approved with a 3-2 vote with Mayor George Vallejo, Councilwoman Marlen Martell and the item’s sponsor Councilwoman Barbara Kramer voting in favor of the item. Councilwoman Beth Spiegel and Vice Mayor Frantz Pierre voted against the ordinance. Council members Phyllis Smith and Anthony DeFillipo were absent.

The ordinance will require a second vote before final approval. It comes after two recent meetings in July and August where the council lost its needed quorum due to members leaving the dais.

If approved, the ordinance will add a new provision to the city’s quorum requirements, saying that if a council member leaves the meeting without stating an emergency, a voting conflict or giving another reason (like taking a bathroom break), that member would be violating city code and be subject to penalties from the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission. The ordinance does not specify if those penalties would be fines or other discipline.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3

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