ON TUESDAY, THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COMMISSION FACES A CHOICE OF SHOWING COURAGE OR COWARDICE IN DECIDING WHETHER TO APPROVE PUTTING A REFERENDUM QUESTION ON THE BALLOT THAT EVEN ONE OF IT'S PRINCIPAL SUPPORTERS NOW ADMITS IS FLAWED
In any event, here you have the Executive Director of the local Democratic Party conceding that one of the county's constitutional officers who should be subjected to the proposed reforms in the referendum isn't, and that the members of the Miami-Dade County School Board and the Members of the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts who shouldn't be included are, and then goes on to argue with a straight face that even in spite of these glaring, and legally disqualifying errors, the County Commission has a duty to put this referendum on the ballot because:
SEPTEMBER 5, 2016
The problem with political reform is that it's almost always political.
No matter how principled or high-minded the rhetoric accompanying an effort to change the way we govern ourselves, it's often little more than a convient mask used by those pushing reform to distract from the fact that what is often at stake is not so much an effort to enact reform as it is an effort to shift the balance of political power or advantage so as to give one group, or one political party an edge that they can use to further their own political goals.
That unfortunately is what is happening in Miami-Dade County with this effort to change the campaign finance rules.
Had this been a real effort to initiate campaign finance reform, you would have expected that those making up the Advisory Committee for An Accountable Miami-Dade would have reached out to the community for input and participation in coming up with the ideas for how best to reform a process that everyone in one way or another would agree is in need of reform.
Unfortunately, the folks above didn't do that, because the referendum package that including the 14 page draft ordinance that voters would be asked to approve was submitted to the Clerk of Court for approval as to form before the paperwork creating their Political Action Committee was filed.
In short, these people were never involved in the discussion or drafting the the referendum proposal that they signed on to support or promote.
WHO ARE THE "EVERYDAY PEOPLE" WHO WANT TO CHANGE THE COUNTY'S CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW
In the first two comments below, Cuba agrees that the failure to include the Property Appraiser was a major problem, but because the language in the ordinance accompanying the referendum ballot question cannot be changed, it is a problem that can't be corrected before the item goes on the ballot.
Secondly, he also agreed that the Miami-Dade School Board and the Members of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts should not have been included, although I am at a loss as to how anything that I've written would imply that that this inclusion would not be a problem.
While the members of this Advisory Group might claim to be a voice for "reducing the power in Miami-Dade politics," their voice, as evidenced by the referendum package they signed on to support, only speaks to a very narrow and partisan portion of a larger set of concerns that shoulda, woulda, coulda been addressed had this really been part of a community effort, rather than a handful of partisan players engaging in an effort to skewer the process to favor their own, or their organization's political agendas.
Take for instance Juan Cuba, the Executive Director of the local Democratic Party.
Last Friday, Cuba along with Eric Zichella, a local lobbyist who represents clients before the County Commission appeared on the Channel 2 public affairs show, Issues, to debate the proposed campaign finance referendum.
After the show, Cuba and Zichella continued their debate on Twitter, where I ended up joining in.
It was a spirited exchange that lasted for several hours, and produced Twitter comments from Cuba agreeing with the legal opinion that Oren Rosenthal, the Assistant County Attorney had made during the Special Commission meeting held on August 22nd about language in the ordinance accompanying the referendum ballot that he had stated he believed disqualified the issue being put before the voters.
Here are Rosenthal's comments to the County Commissioners so you can better understand the significance of Cuba's comments.
If you're one of those people who believe that words have meanings, and that when you use words they should reflect those meanings, then a look at a Merriam-Webster Dictionary would show you that the meaning of mislead is, "to cause (someone) to believe something that is not true."
What better example of misleading people is there then admitting that you're aware that the language in an ordinance that you support and want voters to approve excludes an elected official who should be included, and includes several dozen elected officials who should not be included, and then claim that it's the duty of the County Commission to put that referendum on the ballot because, in addition to all the people who will be asked to vote on this flawed referendum, there are also approximately 125,000 people were misled as to the language in the petition but who no one should upset by telling them that the petitions they signed are invalid thanks to the sloppy work done by the petition writers.
THE HIDDEN AGENDA BEHIND THE EFFORT TO GET THIS REFERENDUM ON THE BALLOT, AND IT'S ALL ABOUT MONEY
In spite of the revelations of how this petition effort was financed by a Washington D.C. non-profit group that I was able to detail from the financial reports submitted by the An Accountable Miami-Dade PAC, a bigger question about money that I didn't address in Part I of this series was how much money Every Voice Center expects to raise as a result of this effort.
The $597,408.63, that this group spent to date in underwriting this petition effort was money that came from somewhere else other than Miami, and it's obvious, because all of these non-profit advocacy groups, whether they be Republican, Democratic or Libertarian operate in the same way when it comes to fundraising, that the money that they rely on keep operating is based on the success of one campaign to raise money for the next campaign.
That's why Juan Cuba and everyone else associated with this effort has been so insistent that regardless of whether or not the ordinance accompanying the referendum is factually correct, they want the Commission to put the issue on the ballot.
This Every Voice Center group, along with the members of this so-called Advisory Committee know that the average voter won't know, or care whether the Property Appraiser is excluded, or the School Board and the Soil and Water Conservation Conservation Districts are included, because once the referendum is put on the ballot they will soon be distracted by an ad campaign that will hammer home the idea that voters have to support this referendum because it's the only way to put an end to "the appearance of ethical impropriety associated with large campaign contributions and gifts from lobbyists..."
Passage of this referendum will allow the folks with Every Voice Center to declare that they were instrumental in a victory having been won on behalf of "Everyday People" wanting change, and within days you can bet that a fundraising letter and campaign will start to raise money to go and di this in another city, county or state.
That bad part about all of this is that if the arguments I'm raising actually make it into the public debate and the voters are told that a few "errors" shouldn't stop them from voting to approve this referendum because those errors can be fixed after the election, they will have been lied to again because the way the County Charter is written there can be no changes made to an ordinance approved by referendum until a year after the election, and in a year a lot of mischief can take place, including a year for these unions and their supporters to consoliate their foothold, and then after that you can expect the same usual suspects to be back arguing against any changes for fear that their sweetheart deal might be affected.
WHAT WILL THE COUNTY COMMISSION DO ON TUESDAY
It's easy to predict that there are at least several County Commissioners beholden to labor unions, including the SEIU, who will, regardless of the opinion of the county attorney's office that this is a flawed referendum with misleading language who will none-the-less vote to put this item on the November ballot.
The big question is, how many Commissioners are beholden to the unions, and how many other Commissioners willing to stand up and tell those 125,000 folks who signed petitions that the language in those petitions was put forward by a partisan advocacy group in Washington, D.C., who cared so little for the people of our community that they didn't even show us the respect of having someone proof read their proposed referendum to make sure that it included the relevant language in the existing ordinance.
It's Miami, Bitches!
A CRESPOGRAM EXCLUSIVE