Saturday, November 10, 2007

Michael Putney Explains it All

What's wrong with Miami-Dade County government? According to Michael Putney, one of south Florida's most respected journalists, it's the Miami-Dade Charter Review Task Force. And we agree. This week the Miami Herald ran a column he wrote regarding his personal observation of the task force at work. It's not pretty. Their job once every five years is to review the county charter and to recommend changes to make it better. He attributes the embarrassing state of county affairs (which gives this blog its meat) to the new strong mayor (we're not so sure that's a bad thing) and a 1993 court decision mandating single-member districts (we whole heartily agree with that assessment). Unfortunately, it appears that this task force won't be stopping or reducing the "parochialism of the most toxic kind along with self-interested commissioners whose top priority is protecting his or her own turf."

"The task force could stop or reduce this practice, but gives no indication that it will. What a wasted opportunity if it doesn't. I attended a task force meeting last week and came away disappointed and depressed. There are several knowledgeable people among its 21 members, but they're being drowned out by others who reflect the short-sighted self-interest of the people who appointed them."

Who are these bully-boys: lawyer/lobbyists Miguel de Grandy and Jorge Luis Lopez.

According to Putney, they basically "framed the issues and drove the discussion. Not surprisingly, both argue against any substantive charter changes."

Putney is still optimistic however. He's "convinced" the task force's chair Victor M. Diaz Jr really means well and wants the panel to "act boldly and produce some meaningful recommendations." To that end, he urges "anyone interested in fixing the problems with Miami-Dade government to call or write Diaz and the task force members:

Or show up at the next meeting November 20th at 10am at County Hall. As he writes, "Get in their face. Remind them that they have a unique opportunity. It would be a shame to blow it."

Right on, Michael!

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