Dayton should study reform Miami style

For those thinking a “strong mayor” form of government is the answer- they should go down to Miami which made the switch in 2007 and now is looking to switch back.

Of course- it’s a countywide system in Miami already, so they are a huge step in front of us.

But, then there are the other things they are discussing as well- term limits (which if we had a system that took the money out of politics and encouraged serious debate– would be aptly handled by… elections) and an “inspector general’s” office (what I called a chief ethics official).

The discussion of salary vs. term limits- as well as blackouts on lobbying show that politics is no longer about public service in Miami- but about power and greed. We’ve not actually broached that subject here- we’re afraid to. When will the people of the community realize that as long as we pay pennies to politicians- they can easily be swayed to sell out for future considerations (if you haven’t noticed- former politicians make great money as lobbyists or working for “public utilities” or local banks- or cushy jobs in county government offices- like the Board of Elections).

Among other things, the commission, which is dominated by veterans, has proposed 12-year term limits that would allow them to stay in office until 2024 while getting a boost in annual salary to $92,097 from $6,000, in exchange for a ban on outside employment.

Commissioners also are asking voters to consider eliminating the strong-mayor form of government, which currently places the sprawling government bureaucracy directly under the control of the mayor. If the proposal is adopted, the commission would exert greater control over a government that includes Miami International Airport and the Port Miami. In 2007, voters embraced a strong-mayor system in a referendum — largely out of frustration with the commission.

“The passage of the commission-proposed charter amendments only serves to provide the commission with greater power, larger salaries, expansion of their ability to lobby, and reelection until 2024,’’ wrote Braman, who has put forth an eight-point plan for reform called “A Covenant With The People’’ that he wants the commission to embrace. Three leading county mayoral candidates have already agreed to the covenant…

In an interview, Braman said commissioners seem to be missing the clear message voters sent March 15 when they recalled Alvarez and long-time Commissioner Natacha Seijas by an 88-12 margin. The result is widely viewed as a stinging rebuke of county government as a whole, rather than just a rejection of the two once-powerful politicians….

Despite Braman’s wholesale rejection of the commission’s proposals, some of its ideas have been well-received, raising the question of whether they all should go. For instance, one proposal would allow a two-thirds majority of a Charter Review Task Force, which meets every four years, to place charter change questions directly on the ballot for voters to consider. Currently, charter amendments can only be put on the ballot by commissioners — who’ve largely opposed reform — or by a citizens’ petition drive, which is expensive and cumbersome.

Commissioners are also proposing putting the Inspector General’s office in the county charter to strengthen its role as a county watchdog. And they are proposing a charter amendment that would make citizen petition drives somewhat less onerous by removing the requirement that signatures be notarized.

via Braman to county commission: embrace reform or else – Miami-Dade Breaking News – MiamiHerald.com.

Note the parts about a Charter Review Task Force- which has the ability to place charter changes directly on the ballot- something Dayton would do well to adopt- since we too, only have the ability to do it via impossible petition (which is why I’m going to court) or by the good graces of the commissioners for life that we seem to have these days.

They also consider the requirement of notarized petitions to be onerous- imagine that.

The problems in Dayton aren’t of the form of government- as much as too many governments- and lackluster candidates coupled with a system that’s managed to outlast its usefulness by about 50 years. Times have changed- we haven’t, and it’s hurting us.

As pointed out by another reader (Greg Hunter)- Toronto, Ontario, faced many of the same problems we are facing, yet took the bold step (unwillingly- at the hands of provincial government) to reduce overhead, consolidate services and save a boatload of money. It’s time we started to realize that if we leave this up to the politicians and lobbyists who’ve come to live off the current system like parasites- we’re screwed.

The inspiration from this post came from the City of Dayton’s grand nemesis- Bill Kuntz, who was forced out of his real estate illegally by the City so they could build the failed “Arcade Tower” – One Dayton Centre – project.

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3 Responses

  1. Gone From Dayton April 3, 2011 / 1:16 pm
    Dayton (Dems, Repubs, Libertarians) could learn alot from Stephen Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis.  His ways didn’t work 100% of the time, but he helped change Indianapolis for the better.
  2. John Ise April 3, 2011 / 1:41 pm
    I lived through all this.  The public didn’t like a strong commission so they voted for a strong mayor.  Then, with some help from a pissed-off billionaire businessman, they voted to recall that strong mayor they just re-elected two years back!  A temper tantrum is what we Miamians are experiencing.  As the bumper sticker says here:, “Miami, Sunny Place…Shady People”

    I think more vital than the form of government (some places run well with strong mays, some with a strong commission, some with something in between) is an informed, engaged, and constructive citizenry.  Maybe that leads to greater regionalism.  But in the end, it’s the public that matters. George Carlin had it right, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIraCchPDhk.

    Screw it, I’m off to the beach!

  3. Bob from the Boro April 4, 2011 / 6:55 am
    First, you need to look at who the citizens of Dayton have voted into the mayor’s office the last two electections. If this is the best we have to run the anchor of our region then we are in deep doo doo.   I would rather be under the rule (yes, I don’t live in Dayton proper) of a group of idiots instead of just one.  At least the in-fighting between a group of idiots will prevent them from making too many stupid decisions.  If we had a strong mayor, then the twits that have held the office would be able to ruin  the city even faster than the current form of government is able to do.

    Will the last one out please turn off the lights?

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