Sunday, February 12, 2012

Miami citizens take matters in their own hands

The voters of Miami had had enough. In March 2011, they threw out a rapacious and incompetent mayor via a lopsided recall election and called for real reform of the county commission including 8-year term limits.

The commissioners trembled in light of the 88 percent vote to fire Mayor Carlos Alvarez. We hear you loud and clear, they said. Real reform is indeed needed. And then they put a 12-year term limits proposal on a special May 24, 2011, ballot.

It didn't work. The reformers opposed the proposal and the voters shot it down. When the politicians initially tried to claim the voters had rejected term limits, the clamor grew louder. No one believed it. Like everywhere else, 12-year term limits are just a ploy by politicians to avoid the shorter limits that the people demand.

OK, OK, they said. We hear you now, 8-year term limits it is. No problem. And the commission put genuine 8-year term limits on the ballot for voter approval, but this time it was linked to a huge pay raise from $6,000 to over $92,000 a year. The term limits would go into effect in eight years; the salary increase was immediate.

Again the voters scorned them, rejecting the scam initiative 46 to 56 percent on Jan. 31.

Now the reformers are taking matters in their own hands, starting a citizens initiative to put genuine 8-year term limits on the ballot themselves under the auspices of the Miami Voice political committee. It won't be easy, as access to the ballot will require 120,000 valid signatures.

Maybe commissioners will step up and put the standalone 8-year language on the ballot. Two are saying they aim to do just that. I'll believe it when I see it.