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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

NOVEMBER 8, 2013

THE MIAMI CITY COMMISSION NEEDS TO ALLOW CITIZENS TO SPEAK

The City of Miami has been abuzz since Yamilet Moreno showed up at the Miami City Commission Budget meeting several weeks ago and spoke about the working conditions at the Parks and Recreation Department.


Yes, she was brave, and yes, she’s the first city employee in memory to do what she did, but folks failed to appreciate that one of the reasons that city employees and others haven’t done a lot of this before is the way that the City Commission conducts its meetings. Yamilet Moreno managed to do what she did because she took advantage of the ability to speak during a budget hearing. She would have been hard pressed to do what she did at a regular Commission meeting given the normal restrictions.


Unless the agenda identifies the item before the City Commission as a “Public Hearing” item, the citizens of Miami are not allowed to speak on any of the issues without the direct permission of the Chairman. Occasionally the Chairman will allow some folks - and more often than not - those folks will only be allowed to speak because they are in support of the item up for discussion. 


If you go to any Commission meeting you will watch them discuss all kinds of items that have real impact on the citizens an on the employees, but no one is allowed to speak on those items because they are identified as Resolutions, or Discussion Items, or Pocket items.  No one other than the Commissioners and city staff ever get an opportunity to speak on any of those items unless it’s in the interests of one of the Commissioners to allow someone to do so.


The Miami City Commission, like  many other cities and counties needs to establish a period of time at each City Commission meeting where the citizens and employees of the city can come before the Commission and speak to them about whatever concerns they might have.


Even the City of Doral, with all of its craziness at the moment, sets aside time for citizens to speak on issues important to them.


The Commissioners might learn a lot more about what’s going on in their city, and the process of democracy and accountability of the city to its citizens and employees will be strengthened by allowing citizens the opportunity to tell them what’s on their minds!


It’s at the core of what it means to be an American citizen and being able to seek redress from your government! 

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