[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Strong Mayor

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Strong Mayor

Folks, sorry for the light posting this week. Work and family issues have prevented me from spending much time at the ol' puter.

Been trying to keep up with the goings on, and I can say that in light of fidel's recent diagnosis and prognosis, I know much more about the human intestine than I would have ever wanted to know.

Anyway...on to a topic of interest to the locals.

Next Tuesday, Miami-Dade County residents will get to vote on a strong mayor proposal that would give the county mayor position some much-needed teeth. This is something that has interested me since Carlos Alvarez began talking about it in 2005. In fact, one of the first posts in this blog addressed this.

In the last couple of weeks, I've read interesting and thoughful analysis and opinions from Critical Miami, as well as this Herald editorial and this letter to the editor from former County Manager Merritt Stierheim.

I will vote in favor of the strong mayor system, but not without some doubt. Stierheim makes a good case against the proposal, and the Herald while in favor of the strong mayor, raises some concerns.

To me, it boils down to accountability. I would rather have one screw up who we can fire in a few years than a handful of powerful but incompetent commissioners who have no term limits. Perhaps the strong mayor gives one person too much power. As many people have noted, we're not as worried about Alvarez as we are about his replacements. However, there is something we the voters can do to stop incompetent people from gaining power: not vote for them! Also, there will be enough checks and balances in place to avoid the disaster scenario of an out of control power freak.

In addition, anything we can do to reduce the amount of bureaucracy in county government, even if its only by a little, is beneficial. Thirteen commissioners with their own little areas is just way too much red tape to deal with.

As the Herald notes, the proposal is flawed. I understand Stierheim's concern about a professional administrator losing some power. These are things that, as negative as they seem, are an improvement over what we have now. More importantly, the strong mayor proposal is something that local leaders can use as a base on which to build future modifications to county government that with time can perfect the system.

Too bad that voter turnout is forecast to be somewhere in the 15% range. That's just terrible if it pans out.

Miami-Dade residents, vote YES on Tuesday, but please vote regardless. If not, don't complain about the state of our county afterwards.



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