May 3, 2011 2 Comments
About two months ago, Miami-Dade County voters decided to fire their mayor and one of their commissioners in a recall vote initiated by one of the county’s millionaire denizens.
According to the info in the article, since the Commission opted not to replace the mayor themselves, a special election is now required, its date slated for May 24th. The VP of Community and Government Relations from my employer e-mail-blasted this document, also encouraging we employees to register for absentee ballots.
I have concerns about many of the issues on the ballot, and opinions about all of them. Lemme break ’em down:
Commissioners would work full-time for $92, 097, and would be barred from employment anywhere else. The apparent reason for this is because these elected officials have received a salary of $6,000 per year, a measure established in 1957 (which, considering how it’s phrased, stirs a sense of temerity that something has stayed so stagnant for so long a time). This statutory formula justifies the increase. But I am wondering how they come to the base salary? I’m a layperson, not a lawyer: I couldn’t figure it out.
I used this inflation calculator, which shows that $6,000 in 1957 is equal to $47,715.37 in current dollars. Not bad for working part of the time. But the State is requiring the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County to pay our representatives nearly 52% higher because they’ll be working all the time, to make social and economic decisions for you and me. Say that this full-time status has the Commissioners working twice as much as part-time. Is something providing that they do their job twice as well? One might argue this is where voting comes in, and reelection signifies that the Commissioner is doing everything well, right? Well, see below what I think about Questions 3 and 4.
Here’s where I don’t feel we need to pay these people a penny more: there’s a snag in the language of the Charter Question that says the full-time Commissioner cannot maintain any outside employment. What’s employment? The State took care of determining that, too. Why do I classify an employee as a snag? The Charter Question does not disqualify that full-time Commissioners can receive compensation in clever ways (i.e. as a member of a Board of Directors or Governors, or a consultant of sorts).
Secondly, the per capita income in Miami-Dade County as of 2008 (the latest data available) was $19,431.71. To be fair a Commissioner’s $6,000 salary from 1957 would be $45,972.17 in 2008. How many workers might it take to pay the salary of one Commissioner, let alone thirteen of them? How can we conclude that this model is sustainable?
The right to petition appears in the founding document of our country. There’s an apparent conflict in the language used in the main passage versus the summary: the Question makes it seem like a recently dismissed Commissioner cannot petition the Board for simply asking them to cut a check to said dismissed Commissioner. If the true issue, though, is that they lobby, and happen to garner favor in the form of legislation, well, I’m afraid that’s what the right to petition permits in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. I’ll be contacting the Supervisor of Elections office, along with the Board of County Commissioners, including my own Commissioner‘s office, about this. Why don’t you consider doing the same?
What is the need for a Task Force to recommend Charter revisions? The tens of thousands of citizens assigned to each representative should handle this notion, as opposed to just 21 hand-picked drones. Look at this who’s-who last assigned to the Task Force by the Commission. The Board voted favorably for every recommendation submitted by the Task Force. I’ll be reading further into the impact of the previous recommendations, but traditionally, this is rubber-stamping. I’m not certain yet whether the Charter permits compensation in greenbacks or favorable legislation for these Task Force members, but what are the odds that 21 power-players would be on the lookout for the likes of you and me?
This makes me think that Kenneth Starr will be running rampant throughout County Hall, petitioning even uninterested, innocent passers-by to testify against all the evil-doers that have accumulated over time in the hallows of Miami-Dade proper.
There is no cap on power that this person would have, except after cumbersome debating among the Commission. It’s usually too late to sever the head off the serpent after its venom has entered the host, though. Allow the slow, cumbersomeness of the Commission that is now required to choose an Inspector General run its course. This latter method will have the necessary stopgaps and limitations for this position also addressed at that time. I am never in favor of the legal, moral, and fiscal hackneying that an individual with unbridled governmental support is permitted to carry out. This one is a no-brainer: no tyrannical players in local government are necessary.
A thousand time yes: let’s take away the strong mayor. How much opportunity did Mayor Alvarez have to take the temptation of the extra powers handed to him by the strong position? The same argument applies here concerning the Inspector General: one man does not need so much unchecked power. The Divine Monarch of the West can now only be found in history books and fairy tales. Let’s not reenact the wrong way things once were.
Any method that makes the impeachment of the elected more favorable for the voters to execute such a procedure must be voted for.