Friday, January 05, 2007

Strong Mayor Debate: Dim Bruno a No-Show by geniusofdespair

I went to the Urban Environment League debate about the strong mayor between Bruno the dim Barreiro and State Senator Gwen Margolis. I was so looking forward to Bruno stringing a few sentences together. In my mind I pictured the Vile Natacha with strong coffee, brow beating the rhetoric into him. Unfortunately, he didn’t show up. Bummer. Most of us were crushed because we were so looking forward to seeing Bruno. Sally Heyman showed up in his place, with two fingers all bandaged up and sticking up curiously the whole time: skin cancer she said.

Sally and Gwen don’t get along so there was tension with the passing of the mike and no eye contact. The debate was a letdown because of Bruno but I will sum it up quickly: Sally’s main argument was that anyone could run for Mayor including an 18 year old with 3 years of residency. So hypothetically, we could have this teenager running the whole shebang as a strong mayor. That sounded pretty good to me. I would think it would assure us much better music on the county cable channel. Gwen said Sally’s scenario was ridiculous because where is an 18 year old going to get the $3,000,000 needed to run a countywide campaign.

Gwen’s main argument was that other large cities like New York and Chicago have strong mayors. And, it was more democratic to have a countywide elected person at the top then an appointed city manager. She also said, watching this commission on TV was horrible and that the daily reports in the newspaper about county corruption were embarrassing. She is right about that. Sally agreed about the corruption but she countered it went way back - before she got there. So, I guess that means we shouldn't change anything?? It is the status quo.

Gwen also mentioned something I didn’t know: that Mayor Penelas appointed her as Chair of the Commission. And I believe she also said he picked the committee heads (not sure about that). In any event, she explained that when she was Chair, the Mayor had more power. So, somehow the Commission took the power away from the Mayor – perhaps in a power grab. That sounds vaguely familiar...hmmm? Oh yes, that is what the Commission is accusing the Mayor of now. Things sure come around in that karma return.

I should have listened better and not drank that beer. I am sure one of you can fill in my blanks and correct me if I am wrong. The audience was split but I would say it was 60/30/10 with the strong mayor on top. The undecided 10%: what are you waiting for?

One odd thing: I didn’t see any Miami Herald reporter there. Too bad, they could have gotten a good photo of Sally's fingers. Are you listening new guy with the hard name to spell (Gyllenhaal). Where were your reporters? No news (or anemic news) and then an endorsement, that is the way of the Herald.


Bored Housewife said...

I attended the UEL debate. Above comments quite accurate. Sally Heyman kept implying that the County is just fine the way it is. Gwen Margolis described the media uncovering a "Scandal a Day". Even Sally Heyman admitted "three scandals in a week" were uncovered. Wow, but we should agree with her and maintain the status quo?

Sally kept threatening us with a 18 year old Mayor. Gwen pointed out the obvious that both Carlos Alvarez and Jimmy Morales, the last two candidates, were very well qualified and it takes a minimum of $3 Mil to get elected. "What 18 year old can raise $3 Mil?" stated Gwen.

Maybe 85 to 100 attended. Rebecca Wakefield from SunPost showed up.

Only "business as usual" supporters were people who profit from the $6.9 Bil in County revenues like the "community based organizations" and groups and unions who benefit from the no-show County jobs and perks. 75% of attendees for Strong Mayor.

Anonymous said...

I went to the "debate", too. It wasn't much of a debate which is too bad, because what the public deserves is to hear both sides rebut each others logic in a clear way.

What Heyman says is that this is a major "structural change". She provided no argument against the need for this "structural change". From the audience there were vague comments about 'disenfranchisement' of minorities etc through the election of a county-wide strong mayor. I'm not sure what that point is either: it's not like the interests of minorities have been well served by district county commissioners, except for handouts from office budgets to non-profits (who were apparently well-represented last night too.)

The subject of corruption came up repeatedly, and the responses were disorienting because both speakers--Heyman and Margolis-- acted as though there were nothing they could do about it as county commissioners. Margolis had been chair of the county commission etc. and now speaking for the strong mayor.

They both thanked the Miami Herald for exposing corruption, which seems the ultimate cop-out because first of all the Herald could do much more and secondly, the biggest link to corruption-- Natacha Seijas-- won't even talk to reporters!

Heyman praised the Sunshine Law, and said that she and her staff never meddled with county departments and only asked questions through the county manager's office... It is absolute nonsense to suggest that the county manager is not pushed and pulled by thirteen district elected county commissioners. Margolis alluded to the intense politicization of county departments.

Eyeonmiami is right, to write that it couldn't be worse than it is today in Miami.

Anonymous said...

Listen, is Sally Heyman an ineffective speaker for any position? Do all of the commissioners hate each other? Are they almost all corrupt? Are some of the commissioners complete idiots guided by staff or lobbyists? Do they treat citizens like sh...t? Does the commissioners deserve to get screwed? Is the system jacked? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES!

That being said, it is still wrong to vote for the strong mayor. Why would you want a more powerful official without election campaign reform? You can't even control the 12 idiots there now. Why would you want a more powerful Republican bully-pulpit in the community with all of the corruption and patronage that comes with it? Without electoral reform you will build a monster. The hatred of the commission is what drives many advocates of the strong mayor and yet the "solution" will only bit reformers in the ass in the end. Look at Raul Martinez, was he a progressive Democrat or even reflective of his poor conservative Republican voters, moreover was he a paragon of virtue and incorruptible?

Gwen claims that NYC, Chicago, and Atlanta had strong mayors and are well run, well sure if you are for the wealthy. Lets look at that happened to progressive strong mayors in those cities. Maynard Jackson I, first term, was a progressive and was beaten down on every proposal from his outreach to the very poor in the black community to his method of assisting neighborhood association in suburbia and the inner city. After business punished him for actually listening to the voters and providing a forum for neighbors to speak out no Atlanta mayor has ever pushed any progressive policy again, ie. Jackson's anemic subsequent terms, Andrew Young etc.. Even the fight to get MARTA into the car-less poor dense black neighborhoods, a long promised proposal (think Metrorail) was only honored after a bruising fight with the traditional allies of a black mayor. Look what happened to David Dinkins in NYC, one of the most Democratic cities in the country, again another one term mayor. Also, NYC the inability of Mark Green to get elected, who is a true progressive does not bode well for Miami. Mayor Rudy Giuliani even tried to remove Green's power when he was Comptroller, while the voters rejected it the election was pre-9/11 and very expensive for Green and his supporters. Now Mayor Bloomberg, a billionaire stand-in for the rest of the upper-east side power-elite. Chicago Daley father and son, both terribly corrupt and yet impossible to dislodge from their positions. The city council in Chicago votes to hold Walmart accountable the the mayor vetoes it. I mean what do you think is going to happen with the ethnic Republican machine here? Do you really believe that you are going to get an effective, clean progressive when it is so difficult in much more Democratic cities. Do you think that Alvarez or let alone Mayor Seijas is going to listen to environmentalists once they get the power? The system will only be jacked only worst.

Francisco A from the New Times was there.

Anonymous said...

The system couldn't be more "jacked" than it is today. Sally Heyman herself trashed election reform, which wasn't nearly as strong as it needed to be. (Too bad that wasn't brought up...) Give one example why we should defend county commissioners. Katy Sorenson? One of thirteen? The numbers don't add up to any kind of future. Will the Miami Dade Republican machine race to fill the vacuum? ... whoever gets there first, will. But here's the positive side: if they screw up completely, the public won't tolerate it, eventually. The key word is eventually. Under what we got now, there is no future for "eventually". Read gimleteye's post.

Miami Sage said...

Regarding the UEL Debate January 4, and the question about how there was once a strong mayor form of government for a few years, Gwen was correct. The Mayor appointed the chair and the committees.

Barbara Carey Schuler led the charge to change both of those formats so the commission could do the appointments and elect their own chair. Talk about power grabbing - and not for the better.

For starters, look at the chair of the Land Use and Environment Committee, our manatee eating commissioner! That alone is reason to vote for a Strong Mayor.

Genius of Despair said...

People are pointing out to me that there was a reporter there last night. There were at least 3 reporters there that I recognized. My point was:

Anonymous said...

The Herald has already made up its mind. They swing with Greenberg Traurig.

Miami Optimist said...

New York City is a great example of the benefits of a Strong Mayor system. Michael Bloomberg was elected after 9/11. He inherited a Multi-Billion dollar deficit. As a brillant businessman and with rocket scientist sharp staff he made tough decisions and he fixed most of the fiscal problems, and he is working on the rest. Bloomberg has been working to solve every problem in NYC and its boroughs. (10 Mil residents.) Just examine the NYC website. It is amazing. Bloomberg was just re-elected easily. Miami needs a Michael Bloomberg. What I mean is Miami needs a brillant billionaire concensus building savior. Bear in mind that Bloomberg donates $100 Mil to $300 Mil per year to charities. Has for years. Church needs a new roof? Bloomberg doesn't put in a request to the City, he writes a check. Need an issue researched? Bloomberg hires a Nobel Prize Winner, on his tab. Miami needs our Michael Bloomberg. Vote for the Strong Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Senator Gwen Margolis mentioned a fund that commissioners could give out to 501-c3's. I am curious to know how the fund came about. Maybe that is why some groups want to keep the commissioners in power, to make sure they get money from the fund forever? Twenty or thirty thousand to a struggling 501-c3 is major.

Anonymous said...

I hate to point out the obvious: But there will always be a hispanic mayor. As one of the speakers pointed out last night, the county is now getting close to 70% Hispanic. So, if you are black or white and subscribe to this ethnic/race bickering (only my own can take care of me) you would not want the mayor to be the strongest person in the county. You would want your 4 black commissioners or your 2 white commissioners to rule. I think Rudy Crew cares as much about his white, hispanic, and black students. Why do we think our politicians cannot care for the entire community? Perhaps because, when we listen to them on TV, they are indeed looking after only their own. One only has to listen to commissioner Seijas slamming blacks as "those people" like black residents in the county are from another planet.

Anonymous said...

Good point: in a county wide election for mayor, a powerful political official who is Hispanic and refers to African Americans as "those people" couldn't get elected. Seijas gets away with it, because she is protected by her fiefdom like gimleteye says. The moral corruption of the county commission is killing this place.

Genius of Despair said...

Last Anonymous:

think of a name for yourself because you should write often -- you said:

The moral corruption of the county commission is killing this place.

Moral corruption and lack of ethics is a way to think of it. An example, Gwen Margolis' Godson had an issue before the county commission years ago and Gwen Margolis recused herself and walked out of the room. Didn't have to under our piddlyshit ethics laws. But she did.

Barbara Jordan, on the other hand, heard and voted on an issue from her brother, where Jordan's sister was the lobbyist. Jordan did not recuse herself. That is what you describe: Moral corruption. So although we don't always have ILLEGAL corruption (Where we can put them in jail) we ALWAYS have moral corruption (Where we just want to barf because our hands are tied and someone is punching us in the stomach).

Anonymous said...

Enough Deus ex machina, somehow the great billionaire developer (Codina?) is going to come in and save use all. Wake up!

Moreover, the logic fails, if the county is 70 % Latino then divisiveness will rule and as long as an at-large mayor corners the Hispanic vote, whether thorough demography (Seijas) or whatever means necessary then he/she will dominate politics to the detriment of dissenters. Ask many Latino immigrants in Miami how this has worked out in Latin America

Anonymous said...

I was following everything until that last point. Maybe Dim Bruno wrote it?

Oh, yes! Of course. said...

Man, O Man

The fact remains, even if we have a strong mayor, the scandals will keep popping up. The scandals are like sealed bottles in the ocean...they are going to keep washing ashore, till they are all scooped up.

It would not surprise me if the commissioners are sitting one or two issues, waiting for the right moment to release their "discovery"... bet they cook up something about the mayor ... they will wait and offer it up just before the election. If they do, just remember it is a game to them and we are the pawns.

Anonymous said...

Very good point: "it is a game to them and we are the pawns." It IS a game to them, and it is an intoxicating game. How else would you react, to be paid $6000 a year and have men and women who are paid $6000 a day fawning over you, telling you how smart and intelligent you are?

Anonymous said...

I bet less than 50% of the 13 County Commissioners even graduated from college. And perhaps only 1 - 3 have the background and experience to make decisions regarding a $6.9 Bil budget. The current system is a blueprint for fraud.

Scallywag said...

The choices are difficult. Most everything written about the Commission is true. They are a dreary bunch of little thinkers and the current structure is not likely to produce anything better.

Meanwhile, however, we have a Mayor who - while basically honest and well-intentioned - is governmentally illiterate, unreceptive to ideas originating anywhere outside his tiny circle of former police officers and completely dysfunctional as a political leader.

Lord help us!

Anonymous said...

Carlos Alvarez has stated on the record that if the referundum passes and if the Courts determine that his job has materially changed that he will resign. To run for the new expanded Mayoral seat. If there is a new election for Mayor then any qualified candidate can run.

Scallywag said...


I'm printing my bumper stickers right now.

"Choose A REAL Scallywag for MAYOR!"

Genius of Despair said...

Sally Heyman will be happy to note, My 18 year old niece has expressed an interest to run. She said she is certain she could do a good job. And, knowing her (she can see through the bull in a second, and would probably hire the right professionals to help her), I think she could do a pretty good job! She did admit that Gwen Margolis was right, she did not have $3,000,000 at hand, working as a cashier in a Chinese Restaurant.

She had a summer job as a collection agent for a credit card company. She knows far more than most of the Commissioners about finance. She worked on a congressional campaign for Peter Deutch over another summer so she has experience with being part of a campaign.

Anyone, have $3,000,000 to spare?

Anonymous said...

We have already had a stronger mayor who pushed the hispanic card, who was corrupt, and who was re-elected and it was Penelas! Do we want to be betrayed again?