North Miami - NMB

Plans for North Miami city manager, city attorney searches finalized

North Miami’s city council set plans in place to find full-time replacements for their vacant city manager and city attorney positions at Tuesday’s meeting.

Council members voted to reopen the application process for city attorney for about a month and the city will accept proposals from law firms and individual attorneys. Councilman Scott Galvin voted against the item.

The city council approved Valria Screen as their choice for city attorney in November, but at a special meeting voted against approving her contract and then revoked their choice of Screen and restarted the process.

“I don’t have faith that this body is going to stick to the game plan when we’ve just shown that we are not going to stick to the game plan if it does not fit our needs,” Galvin said.

For the city manager position, the city council voted to allow themselves to select up to four finalists who would then be presented at the Jan. 26 council meeting and then scheduled for interviews with the city council.

There was back-and-forth discussion about whether the city should select a committee, submit names to the city’s personnel director on slips of paper or just make a determination from the more than 60 applicants that applied.

During the discussion, Vice Mayor Carol Keys said that the city manager decision has to come from the city council not public sentiment. She said selection committees, like the one used to narrow down the previous city attorney candidates, were “worthless.”

“They don’t get it unless they’re sitting here dealing with it,” Keys said.

The city has been without a full-time city attorney since June and without a full-time manager since October. Roland Galdos, former deputy attorney, has served since City Attorney Regine Monestime’s contract was terminated. Arthur Sorey, the former deputy city manager, has filled in since City Manager Aleem Ghany resigned.

Other business

▪ Adult center funding: North Miami will reinstate $50,000 in grant funding to the North Miami Adult Education Center after it was pulled following the arrest of former principal Jean Ridore.

The city discussed returning the funds in December after a plea from Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami Shores, and faculty from the school. Some members of the council expressed hesitance given the ongoing investigations into the center.

City staff received a report from state auditors pointing out deficiencies with the previous grant funding including a lack of verification that students benefiting from the funds were city residents, no identifiable goals of the grant program and no indication of the student’s economic hardship.

City staff, in a separate resolution, will bring forth formal guidelines for the council’s approval at the next meeting. Splitting the guidelines into a separate item caused some contention among the city council but Tuesday’s item eventually passed 4-1.

The city provided grant funding to the Adult Education Center since the 2012-13 fiscal year with initial funding totaling $50,000. The city took about $30,000 of the $100,000 it intended to give to the center to support the National Association of Haitian Professionals’ conference last month.

▪ Polystyrene prohibited: The city council gave initial approval to an item banning the use of polystyrene, better known as Styrofoam, on city property and by any contractors doing work with North Miami.

Council members hope to expand the ban over time but the interim city attorney recommended that the city work in smaller, incremental steps. North Miami will join municipalities including Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Bay Harbor Islands, Key Biscayne and others that have approved various polystyrene bans in recent years.

The next meeting

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 26

Where: North Miami City Hall, 776 NE 125th St., North Miami

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3