Civics 101

civicsSince a handful of North Miami Beach residents are obviously confused about their own city’s charter, I decided to do some actual research about the city council’s intention to propose a draft version of a “New and Improved Charter.”

After a little digging into the laws of the State of Florida and the County of Miami-Dade, as well as the section of the NMB Charter that deals with “Charter Review,” I came up with some interesting findings.

The most interesting one of all is that this isn’t rocket science.

We’ll start with the City of North Miami Beach’s Code of Ordinances, Part 1 – Charter, Section 121. – Charter Review, which states:

“The city council shall appoint a Charter Review Committee composed of residents of the City of North Miami Beach to review this Charter and make recommendations to the city council regarding necessary or desired amendments no less than once every ten (10) years.”

Make a note that this Section was added to the City Charter by Resolution No. R2009-12, Section 2, and approved by a referendum (vote by the electorate) on May 5, 2009.

This Resolution clearly states that a Charter Review Committee is to be appointed by the city council at least once every ten years.

That’s all it says.

Nowhere does it say that the appointment of a Charter Review Committee is the ONLY method of amending the charter.

Any questions so far?

Good.

Florida Statute 166.013, subsection (1) states:

“The governing body of a municipality may, by ordinance, or the electors of a municipality may, by petition signed by 10 percent of the registered electors as of the last preceding municipal general election, submit to the electors of said municipality a proposed amendment to its charter, which amendment may be to any part or to all of said charter except that part describing the boundaries of such municipality. The governing body of the municipality shall place the proposed amendment contained in the ordinance or petition to a vote of the electors at the next general election held within the municipality or at a special election called for such purpose.”

Let’s examine this Statute.

The term “governing body of a municipality” refers to a city council (or commission).  The statute is very clear that the city council may “submit to the electors of said municipality a proposed amendment to its charter.”

Well, what do you know?  Under the laws of the State of Florida, the city council of a municipality – any municipality – can actually propose an amendment to its own city’s charter!

This Florida Statute also states that a charter amendment can be proposed by a “petition signed by 10 percent of the registered electors.”

How cool is that?  Not only does the city council of North Miami Beach have the power to propose amending the charter, but if ten percent of the city’s registered voters decide they want to propose an amendment to the charter, they also have that power!

What’s critical to note here is that the Florida Statute doesn’t override Section 121 of the North Miami Beach charter, which still must appoint a Charter Review Committee every ten years.  The Statute merely provides an additional method by which a municipality may amend its charter.

PLEASE NOTE:  Once an amendment has been proposed by either the city council or a petition of the voters, the proposed amendment must then be placed on the ballot for a “vote of the electors” at the next general election or a special election.  In the end, the voters of North Miami Beach still have the final word whether or not to approve the proposal.

Any questions?

Good.  Let’s move along.

Article 6, Section 6.01. Continuance of Municipalities, of  Miami-Dade County Home Rule Amendment and Charter, states:

A.  Except as provided in Section 6.04, any municipality in the county may adopt, amend, or revoke a charter for its own government or abolish its existence in the following manner. Its governing body shall, within 120 days after adopting a resolution or after the certification of a petition of ten percent of the qualified electors of the municipality, draft or have drafted by a method determined by municipal ordinance a proposed charter amendment, revocation, or abolition which shall be submitted to the electors of the municipalities. Unless an election occurs not less than 60 nor more than 120 days after the draft is submitted, the proposal shall be submitted at a special election within that time. The governing body shall make copies of the proposal available to the electors not less than 30 days before the election. Alternative proposals may be submitted. Each proposal approved by a majority of the electors voting on such proposal shall become effective at the time fixed in the proposal.

B.  All municipal charters, amendments thereto, and repeals thereof shall be filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Although a bit more verbose than Florida Statute 166.013, it basically reiterates that either the “governing body” (by adopting its own resolution) or “ten percent of the qualified electors” (by having its petition certified) may propose a charter amendment, revoke its charter, or abolish it altogether, provided that the proposal is “submitted to the electors” within 120 days.

In summary, despite all protestations by the NMB Peanut Gallery to the contrary, by proposing its own draft version of a new charter, and offering that draft up for discussion at a Charter Workshop, the North Miami Beach City Council was operating well within the laws of the State of Florida, the County of Miami-Dade, and the City of North Miami Beach.

Whatever proposals the city council eventually submits to the electorate, the voters will still have the last word.

I hope you’ve been paying attention to this valuable lesson.  Now you have absolutely no excuse for sounding like a complete moron the next time you open your mouth at public comment.

Just saying.

Class dismissed.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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7 Comments

  1. TC says:

    There will be a few more “workshops” as well as a public hearing before a final draft will be voted on by the Council to go to the voters. The public should attend these meetings to learn of the changes as well as voice their opinions.

    I am wondering why Frantzie was asking the City Attorney all those questions about petitions and time frames. Is he trying to start a grass roots effort to make changes that he knows he can’t get a consensus from his colleagues?

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Wonder no more! L’il Frantzie P is campaigning on the Identity Politics ticket by attempting to include districting in the charter. He’s been seen and heard at Washington Park telling residents that the “white folk at City Hall” don’t care about WP and that the ONLY way for them to be represented is to have districting. He’s trying to convince them that unless the charter mandates that there be a representative from specific neighborhoods, that no one in Washington Park can be a council member. Here’s the thing: NO ONE FROM WASHINGTON PARK EVER WANTS TO RUN FOR OFFICE! He’s trying to insinuate that they’re not allowed to run! In essence, he’s implying that WP residents are too stupid to realize what he’s up to. How insulting is that?

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      1. TC99 says:

        As you may know, I believe in districting myself, but have come to learn that it’s not that popular in the city’s electorate. To win an election you need to carry basically two areas of the city, Washington Park and Eastern Shores. These are the areas that seem to turn out in greater percentages than the rest of the city. I can only hope that the people of North Miami Beach can overcome the “race” card and vote to what will be the best for the city.

        Also did you notice that the two people in favor of tighter term limits are the ones who would be ineligible to run this year if they were not grandfathered in when the charter changed in 2009. Great point by Barbara last night.

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  2. Pass the Popcorn says:

    Frantzie P really hit a home run at this meeting. Not only did he piss off Kramer, but I hear Ketley Joachim just filed in his seat for the May election. Phyllis will try to keep her seat warm for another 4 years as she’s not removing her tuchas, she just filed as well. The fun begins Stephanie. Pass the popcorn!

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Frantzie has already drummed up at least three people that I know of to try to unseat his own colleagues: He dug up an ex-boyfriend of Lucie Tondreau to run against George, MIRAMAR resident Pradel Vilme for Marlen’s seat, and a retired Miami police officer to run against Phyllis. I’m not sure where Hans Mardy fits in, but you can count him to run for something. Hey! It’s election time!

      Since Frantzie is also counting on staying put, he’s h̶a̶l̶l̶u̶c̶i̶n̶a̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶b̶o̶u̶t̶ envisioning a four-Haitian council.

      Are your sides splitting yet?

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  3. Craig says:

    Districting is a terrible idea for a city this size, this diverse and in many ways, divisive. From my observation of seeing the cast of characters that come out during election time, not only in North Miami Beach, but in many cities, districting will enable those ill intended individuals to have a greater chance of getting elected. Personally I do not mind having an at large council as long as they are representing the entire city, which I think this council does. Quite frankly, the four council members that live in Eastern Shores seem to concentrate their concerns more in the other parts of town, then they do over there. If you don’t think this city is divisive now, imagine what will happen when council members fight over their districts and who is getting what. You see this in the County, which should have districting, but they still whine like little children because the attention in their community isn’t getting the same as their colleagues community. I have no doubt that the selection of candidates will definitely hinder on ones ability to choose. I must say too, that many hard working individuals will find it impossible to make the time needed to fulfill the role of a council member. This is probably why you see the majority of council members, past and present, in their own businesses. The nine to fiver just can’t dedicate as much time as I see many of the current elected officials putting into their positions.

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  4. Lil Ernesto says:

    Lil Frantzie and Phyllis are thick as thieves. They are cut from the same cloth.

    He’s not putting in a real candidate against her in his scheme of world domination and life-time insurance benefits.

    His carpetbagger opponent against the Bumble Bee will keep other Haitian-Americans from jumping in. Phyllis will probably be in a runoff with Frantzie’s sock puppet opponent.

    Then Frantize’s bitch suddenly drops out against Phyllis.

    Just more business as usual in NMB.

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