Miami-Dade County commissioners returned to the dais Monday for the first time after receiving a list of demands for charter reform from billionaire political activist Norman Braman, who led the recall of Mayor Carlos Alvarez.
Braman's demands were delivered to the commission Friday with a deadline of Monday. It took seconds for commissioners to table a redo of their proposed changes to government, as demanded in a letter from Braman. Instead, the commission let stand a series of proposed changes that it came up with instead of the seismic changes advocated by Braman.
Braman is fresh from leading a recall of Mayor Carlos Alvarez and has the money to launch other recalls against commissioners who he said "failed miserably" to heed the public's demand for government reform.
"There's nothing meaningful about any of the changes that they have proposed. They're really cosmetic pablum," Braman said.
The Miami-Dade County Commission proposed 12-year term limits, instead of eight-year limits, ending the strong mayor form of government, as well as raising their annual salaries to $92,000 and banning outside employment. But commissioners said nothing of eliminating slush funds or cutting the commission from 13 to nine people, with at-large members.
"I think, I continue to say, one of the reforms on the May 24 ballot is a good one, which is the ability of the charter review committee to put items directly on the ballot," said Commissioner Carlos Gimenez.
Gimenez, who also is a candidate for mayor, was outvoted on a list of reforms similar to those proposed by Braman. Others advocated taking the reform question to the people via town hall meetings or a charter review committee.
"Let's put it to real change, and let's put it to a general election where you have the majority of the people come out and vote," said Commissioner Jose Pepe Diaz. "I think that's the most common-sense thing we can do."
Braman said Monday he plans to sponsor a poll of Miami-Dade voters this week to get a sense of where people stand on the charter changes. He said if what the commission proposes ends up on the May 24 ballot, he will urge voters to vote against it.