Written by Jeniffer Viscarra
Sunny Isles Beach is having a special election on Tuesday June 4, 2013 in order to vote for proposed charter amendments. According to our City Charter, which essentially is our City’s constitution, the City Commission has to appoint a Charter Revision Committee every ten years. This committee, which is comprised of City residents, reads through our
Charter and then proposes changes to the Commission. The Committee’s suggestions are reviewed and the approved amendments are then put up for a vote. This year’s proposed charter amendments and my recommendations are:
1. A proposal that candidates running for the office of mayor or Commissioner submit specific proof of residency at the time of qualifying with a valid voter’s registration and other documents.
- VOTE YES. Stricter standards are necessary. For background on this amendment, go to SIBR article: Two Thumbs Up for Proposed Charter Amendment no. 1: http://sibreporter.net/2013/05/two-thumbs-up-for-proposed-charter-amendment-no-1/
2. A proposal that the consent of the City Commission shall be required for the City manager to hire or fire the Police Chief.
- VOTE A RESOUNDING YES! This would put the Chief of Police on par with other non-elected positions, like the City Manager, and also prevents one person from making significant decisions without the input of our elected officials.
3. A proposal that the Charter be amended to permit the Charter Revision Commission to select its own Chairperson.
- VOTE YES…. OR NO. This is the least significant of the amendments, and its outcome is not likely to have much of an impact either way. Currently the Charter states that the Mayor has the authority to select the Chairperson of the Charter Revision Committee. Since all members of the Committee are chosen by the Mayor and Commissioners, and are presumed qualified, there should not be an issue with allowing future Committees to choose their Chairperson. Furthermore, doing so may even eliminate any perceived influence the Mayor or City Commission may have on the Charter Review proposals. That said, because the City Commission chooses the Committee members, I think the perceived (not actual) influence will remain.
4. A proposal that the Charter Revision Commission have 120 days, instead of 90, after being appointed to submit any proposed amendments to the City Commission.
- VOTE YES. This is a process that happens once every ten years. An extra 30 days every ten years is not a lot to ask if it helps get the work done.
5. The City Charter currently requires that the City shall utilize services of the Miami- Dade Fire Rescue Department to provide fire and rescue services to the City. It is proposed that this mandatory requirement be eliminated, even though the City will continue to use the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department.
- VOTE YES. This amendment would strengthen the City’s negotiating position and introduce flexibility and options should the current arrangement with Miami-Dade ever become unsuitable.
- OPPOSING VIEW: The SIB Reporter and I take different positions on this amendment. The position of the SIB Reporter is that if this amendment passes, the flexibility I favor would open the door to privatization and the City could potentially lose the excellent Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department services the City currently enjoys, including Technical Rescue (for trapped victims); Air Rescue (airlifting trauma victims); Marine Operations (boating fires & water rescue); and Rapid Care for heart attack and stroke victims. Not wanting to risk losing a good arrangement, the SIB Reporter’s position is to VOTE NO on this proposed amendment.
6. Correcting scrivener’s errors. The City Charter currently contains certain
sections with minor scrivener’s errors. There are also sections that need clarification for legal sufficiency.
- VOTE YES. A well written Charter is a good thing. The “legal sufficiency” language concerned me when I first read it, so I contacted the City Clerks’ office, and they kindly provided a Memo outlining the specific changes. I saw nothing alarming in the memo and am comfortable voting in favor of this amendment.
Charter revisions happen once a decade. This special election is an opportunity for us to improve our city’s constitution, so I hope to see you at the polls next week!
Only registered voters in Sunny Isles Beach will be qualified to vote on June 4, 2013. The polling places in SIB will be open for voting from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.