NMB Charter Amendments: The lies, the hype, and the unvarnished truth

watch-outThe North Miami Beach Charter is a monstrosity of a document, full of antiquated ordinances, many of which are now ILLEGAL. It has not been fundamentally changed since 1958.

To give you just one example, Article IV.-Powers, Sec. 21 (6), states that the City of North Miami Beach shall have the power:  “To prevent the running at large of cattle, horses, hogs, sheep, goats and other livestock as well as dogs or fowl and other animals or birds, on the streets of the city or within the city limits, and to impound the same and provide for their disposition.”

And yet, in complete contradiction to the City Charter, a blurb on page 23 of the 2004-2005 Guide to City Services states, “Chickens, cattle, horses, farm animals and other livestock as well as undomesticated animals are prohibited within City limits.”

Apparently in 1958, around the time NMB sold its beachfront property, residents still owned livestock in North Miami Beach.

we-have-livestockThere you go!  Mystery solved!

Fortunately, North Miami Beach residents don’t have to beware of farm animals “running at large” in the streets.

Unfortunately, they can’t go to the beach, either.

(Or, as Donald Trump would say, that was a very bad trade deal.)

Needless to say, the City Charter is in extreme need of an overhaul.

Fortunately, there are ten proposed Charter Amendments on the ballot for November 8, 2016, which are summarized in a Miami Herald article dated October 18, 2016.

The most important Amendment on the ballot is the first question entitled, New City Charter for City of North Miami Beach, which is designed to “streamline and modernize” the city’s Charter.

Question 1 reads [emphasis mine]: “Shall the City Charter be repealed and replaced with a new reformatted/amended Charter, to conform/update municipal home rule powers granted by Florida law; incorporate non-substantive stylistic changes; delete obsolete/redundant/preempted language; restructure City’s Codebook by moving into Code “Canvassing Board” and “Water Board” sections, and Charter-designated City Departments (excluding Legal and Police); while retaining existing “Citizen’s Bill of Rights”, “Boundaries”, “Form of Government”, Charter Officer designation, and “Initiative/Referendum”?”

This one is a no-brainer and will hopefully pass by a huge margin.

The remaining ballot questions are straightforward, simply explained, and designed to make the city’s government run more efficiently.

In a nutshell:

  • Question 2 reduces the number of regular city council  meetings from 24 per year to a minimum of 11.
  • Question 3 removes Charter restrictions on the council’s ability to hire and fire the city manager.
  • Question 4 is intended to “clarify and further define existing powers and duties of the City Attorney and City Clerk,” and to allow the council to hire a law firm instead of an individual as its legal department.
  • Question 5 changes the city election date from May to November, in order to coincide with county, state and national election dates.
  • Question 6 changes a council member’s term limit from “eight consecutive years” to “2 consecutive 4-year terms,” which means exactly the same thing.  It also allows a former member to run again after a “2 year break in service,” and allows a council member an additional term if less than 50% of his or her initial term has been served.
  • Question 7 abolishes the city’s Civil Service Board, and also removes restrictions on employees only being fired for “cause.”
  • Question 8 grants the council the right to accept election results two business days after the official certification, as opposed to “election night,” in order to allow time for the county’s elections department to issue final election returns.  This amendment will also shorten the time for the city council to fill a council vacancy from 35-60 days to 35-90 days.
  • Question 9 reduces the number of council members needed for a quorum from five to four, “as authorized by Florida law.” [See FS 166.041(4)]
  • Question 10 changes the name of the governing body from “City Council” to “Commission.”

Most of these proposed amendments are based on common sense.

For example, changing the date of the city election from May (when traditionally only 10% to 15% of the electorate bothers to vote) to November (when there is a much larger turnout), is as much of a no-brainer as is replacing the outdated City Charter.  I have long been a proponent of this change.

As the Miami Herald article explained, “The change [in election date] would coincide with federal, state, county, school board and judicial races on the fall ballots.”

Doing so will also not only save the city tens of thousands of dollars per election, but will also encourage more residents to have a say in their own representation.

Arguments by former council members against a larger electorate (who depended on a low turnout to get re-elected), and the usual and customary terminally disgruntled residents (who resist any change, no matter what), are self-serving and ridiculous.  This Charter amendment is one of the most important ones on the ballot, and I urge residents to vote “Yes.”

Reducing the voting quorum from five to four council members also makes perfect sense – especially in light of Phyllis Smith’s intentionally staged walk-out of a council meeting on August 25, 2016.  Since it only takes a simple majority, or four out of seven, to pass legislation, requiring an extra body just to have a quorum is unnecessary.  I strongly encourage a “Yes” vote for this ballot question.

Another important amendment that I would encourage voting for is to change the name of the elected officials to “Commissioners.”  This is the term used by most Florida municipalities for their governing body.

Plus, since “Commissioner” is gender neutral, this change will satisfy the rabid PC Police, whose primary purpose in life is to look for signs of discrimination under every rock.

(Yes, in case you’re wondering, that was sarcasm.)

dont-like-my-sarcasmEven though amending the City Charter is necessary in order to have a much more efficiently run government, as I already mentioned there are a small handful of malcontents in NMB whose primary purpose in life is to complain whenever even the slightest change is being made.

The Mayor and Council also have to deal with the customary “outrage” manufactured by the NMB’s employees union, AFSCME Local 3293.

And now, as usual, union officials are intentionally disseminating misinformation about the city’s proposed Charter amendments on the November 8, 2016 ballot.

How do we know this negative campaign is being perpetrated by AFSCME?

Well, let’s connect the dots.

Remember when fake “Councilwoman” Phyllis Smith formed a fake “organization” called “Save Our Streets NMB,” replete with a temporary website, in order to steer her 2015 re-election?

Using the same slimy tactic, the North Miami Beach employees’ union apparently formed a similar fake “organization” called “No More Bull NMB,” which was concocted for the sole purpose of spreading false propaganda about the proposed Charter amendments.

It appears that this “organization” started up a tacky Blogspot.com website oddly similar to the one Phyllis had, which will also most likely disappear after the election.

This “organization” has also been sending out “newsletters” to as many North Miami Beach email addresses as possible.  The initial “newsletters” claimed that the “organization” were located at the address of City Hall, which is ILLEGAL.

Oddly, the latest “newsletter” being sent out is now using an address of 16831 NE 8 Avenue, which is actually a residence owned by Lai Ying Chan.  Hopefully, the owner of the home applied for a Business Tax Receipt with the City of North Miami Beach in order to LEGALLY run a business at this residence.  (Yes, a public records request has already been made.)

Like Phyllis Smith’s fake “organization,” this new one has also been viciously attacking Mayor George Vallejo, falsely accusing him of violating “numerous laws” by proposing the Charter amendments.

As such, “No More Bull NMB” has recruited one “Thomas J. Wahlberg” to file two complaints (click here and here) with the Florida Elections Commission against the Mayor.  These complaints allege that the Mayor and other officials interfered with the election to get the Amendments passed.

However, the complaints were never notarized, so it’s quite possible they weren’t filed (or even intended to be filed) since they are obviously without merit.

The allegations made in the complaints are obviously just as bogus as the alleged  “Mr. Wahlberg.”

The only Thomas J. Wahlberg I found lives in the City of South Daytona, has practically no internet footprint, and even his Facebook page has been disabled.  The “Thomas J. Wahlberg” who typed up the complaints used an address of 1451 NE 169 Street, which is an apartment building in North Miami Beach.  He didn’t list an apartment number, and the phone number he used belongs to Jackson North Medical Center.  Calls made to the extension he listed were a dead end.  Apparently, this “Thomas J. Wahlberg” has no discernible connection to North Miami Beach whatsoever.

It was even easier discovering the connection between “No More Bull NMB” and AFSCME.

A flyer posted on the “organization’s” website (hard copies of which have also been stuffed into residents’ mailboxes AGAINST FEDERAL LAW) posts a disclaimer stating, “PAID FOR BY WORKING AMERICA COALITION.”

Working America Coalition” is a Political Committee registered with the State of Florida.  However, since this committee is steering the North Miami Beach election, it should have also filed with the city.  It has ILLEGALLY failed to do so.

This PAC was formed on August 25, 2016, and its Registered Agent is Carlos Javier Carillo of 1688 SW 157 Avenue, Pembroke Pines, Florida 33027.

The vast majority of the $265,576.18 contributions this PAC has raised came from the AFL-CIO (both national and state chapters) and the AFSCME Florida Special Account.  The remaining contributions were received by various other unions from around the country.

“Working America Coalition” rents its local office from the South Florida AFL-CIO located at 4349 NW 36 Street, Suite 107, Miami Springs, Florida 33166.

Despite vehement protestations by Janice Coakley, president of the North Miami Beach AFSCME Local 3293, that she had absolutely nothing to do with the anti-charter amendment campaign, Captain Obvious alleges  that she most certainly did.

Now that we’ve ascertained that as a legitimate organization, “No More Bull NMB” is, well, full of bull, let’s look at some of the BULL it’s been spewing.

level-of-stupidThis “organization’s” main goal was to spread the lie that the Mayor’s desire to amend the Charter is nothing but a “power grab.”

This is complete nonsense.  The Charter is in dire need of revamping.  The proposed amendments are merely intended to “make the City’s Charter a concise and more clearly-worded document” and to streamline the workings of the city government.

Some of the proposed amendments are anathema to the employees’ union.  For example, the privatization of certain departments, such as sanitation, typically results in fewer union dues-paying employees.  Those coveted dues are desperately needed by union officials (like Janice Coakley) to stay in power.  In order to stay in power, the unions need money to pay for anti-progress propaganda – the same propaganda that’s now being spread about the proposed North Miami Beach Charter amendments.  (Yeah, it’s a self-perpetuating, ponzi-like scheme.)

“No More Bull NMB” also takes issue with moving the city election from May to November, claiming that the elected officials are doing so in order to increase the lengths of their current terms.

The “newsletter” even absurdly claimed, “The council had the choice to ask for an election this November.”

Um, no, the council could NOT have done this.

The council can’t simply change the Charter by waving a magic want.  The soonest the proposed amendments could be voted on is this November, and no changes to the May election date could possibly be made BEFORE the Charter was changed.

DUH!

Plus, the entire premise of this amendment is to move the elections to “coincide with federal, state, county, school board and judicial races on the fall ballots,” which are held in even-numbered years.  As such, doing so would necessarily increase the terms of the current elected officials.

Again, DUH!

the-stupid-it-hurtsThe “organization” also claims that changing a council member’s term limit from “eight consecutive years” to “2 consecutive 4-year terms” would “allow council members to run for office multiple times even if they already served 8 yrs. in office.”

This “rationale” makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  In fact, it’s so ridiculously stupid, it’s not even worth further comment.

special-kind-of-stupid“No More Bull NMB” also argues that reducing the city council quorum from five to four members “makes it easier to pass controversial measures.”

Seriously?  This comment is literally beyond stupid.

But [sigh], I’ll explain it anyway.

In order to pass legislation (or to even have a meeting at all!), there needs to be a quorum, which presently is five members.  Only four votes are needed to pass any legislation whatsoever, much less “controversial measures.”  Regardless of how many council members are present, it only takes a simple majority of four votes to pass anything at all.  It only makes sense that the same “simple majority” should be the same number needed for a quorum.

Plus, reducing the quorum will prevent idiots like Phyllis Smith from deliberately breaking quorum again whenever she feels like it.

DUH!

a-new-level-of-dumbBut the most insanely ridiculous notion by “No More Bull NMB” is why it’s against changing the title of the elected officials from “Councilmembers” to “Commissioners.”

Seriously, prepare yourself.

You really need sit down for this one.

It’s that  stupid!

After accusing the Mayor of trying to grab too much power, the morons behind “No More Bull NMB” completely contradicted themselves in their own “newsletter.”

It states, “Most of these charter amendment questions involve changing our form of government from a “council-manager” to “manager-commission,” where the manager has a stronger, more independent role and the people and their elected council has less say in the everyday running of the city.  This Charter Amendment changes the description of our form of government.

Wait, WHAT?

No, it doesn’t!

And I dare anyone to prove that it does.

Contrary to the nonsense this “organization” is spouting, replacing the word “Councilmembers” with “Commissioners” has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with changing North Miami Beach’s form of government.

youve-elevated-stupidPlease give these proposed Charter amendments the serious attention they deserve.  Pay no attention to the false information disseminated by bogus “organizations,” special interest groups or, especially, uninformed individuals who have no clue what they’re talking about.  I strongly urge you to research the facts, educate yourselves about the pros and cons of each one of them, and cast your vote accordingly.

Remember, the future of North Miami Beach depends on you, the stakeholders of your city.

PLEASE VOTE RESPONSIBLY!

Stephanie

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7 Comments

  1. Lois T. says:

    Stephanie, What is known about the Mayor that sends out emails also against the 10 questions. Is he a union member? I’m not sure I understand this. I never voted here before and It’s confusing.

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Those emails were sent by a former mayor, and he has his own agenda. Keep in mind that his administration was responsible for causing many of the problems NMB is facing today, which is why he despises the current mayor. The current administration has been in the unfortunate position of having to fix most of those problems. Some people tend to resist change, even when it’s in a positive direction. But the truth is, good things are finally happening in the city. You will continue to see positive changes in the next few years.

      I gave my opinion on those amendments about which I feel strongly. It’s up to you whether you agree with me or not. The residents should study the issues and come to their own informed decisions about all of them. I hope they take this responsibility very seriously based on their own research and not based on propaganda by special interest groups.

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  2. Lois T. says:

    Thank you. There’s always three sides.

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  3. Resident of 31 Years says:

    Lois, No, the former Mayor is not a union member, but he might as well be. He gave away the farm though when he was the Mayor and between him and the idiotic Mayor that follwed him, the city went nowhere, but the employees did well. This Mayor, as well as the economy, has brought much needed progress to an otherwise sleepy city. You don’t hear from the Mayor he defeated, but Mayor Marin seems to be lonely and missing out on attention. Lois, you should know that every (not the 7 now in office) past elected, including Mayors, receive lifetime health insurance. Included are past city managers and department directors. These are expenses NMB citizens shouldn’t have to bear. Opining about an outdated charter and moving a city foward with the little known facts I just gave you, should tell you not to listen to a former Mayor who couldn’t get this city moving in his decade plus tenure here.

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  4. Stephanie Kienzle says:

    I feel compelled to further comment on the bogus “organization’s” lie that, “Most of these charter amendment questions involve changing our form of government from a “council-manager” to “manager-commission,” where the manager has a stronger, more independent role and the people and their elected council has less say in the everyday running of the city.”

    If the morons who wrote this had any clue how local government works, they would know that elected officials are LEGALLY PROHIBITED from having ANY say in the “everyday running of the city.”

    The ONLY job of elected officials is to enact legislation. Period. It is absolutely illegal for any of them to insert themselves in the “running of the city.” That is the job of the city manager.

    The special interest group behind this false propaganda are counting on the voters not knowing the difference between “running the city” and “legislating.”

    Educate yourselves so you don’t fall into the traps set by special interest groups!

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  5. Lois T. says:

    Interesting politics in this city, I guess

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  6. Sergio says:

    I’m happy here. I see good change and I support the Mayor Vallejo and the 10 questions that was on the ballot.

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