Why do Miami-Dade School Board members Perla Tabares Hantman, Mari Tere Rojas, and Steve Gallon III want me off the Board’s Audit and Budget Advisory Committee (ABAC)? Because I speak candidly, honestly and objectively.
I have exposed a loophole in the Sunshine Law that these particular members have exploited, enabling them to have a “mini meeting” and discuss agenda items before voting on them during an actual meeting.
Six members of the school board regularly attend ABAC meetings. They are not there to casually observe, but to literally take over the meeting.
Is this transparency in government? I think not. The intent of the ABAC is to give guidance and support on matters of accountancy, reporting, and other issues deemed appropriate for our committee.
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The ABAC consists of 11 members, mostly CPA’s and lawyers. However, during our meetings, the non-voting board members participate as if they were serving on the committee.
This practice undermines the purpose for which volunteer committees exist. It also creates an environment which lacks transparency by allowing for select members of the board to share their opinions and ideas on agenda items before voting on them at their own “public” meeting.
The School Board must hold ABAC meetings in a venue where the committee members are segregated from the non-voting members. Meetings should be held in a room easily accessible to the public, not cloistered in a packed, ninth floor board room.
School board members should address the committee as any other member of the public, keeping in mind that vocalizing their opinion undermines the objectivity of the committee. The ABAC meetings should be run in a manner that enables the appointed citizen volunteers to freely express their opinions, and vote objectively.
Isaac Salver, CPA,
Councilman, Town of Bay Harbor Islands