Friday, November 21st, 2014

Carlos-O-Meter

Create term limits


"For years, I have tried to get before the voters a charter amendment for two 4-year terms. In addition to offering more choices for voters, term limits eliminate the advantages of incumbency, break ties to special interests, improve the tendency for elected officials to vote their conscience rather than engage in quid pro quo, and open the door to fresh thinking and new ideas. In short, term limits inhibit political careerism. One of my goals as county mayor would be to make sure an 'eight is enough' law is irrevocably put in place."


Sources:

Gimenez campaign, "Eight is enough"

Subjects: Elections

Updates

Gimenez keeps promise to set term limits thanks to voter approval

On Nov. 6, Miami-Dade voters overwhelmingly decided to limit their county commissioners to two four-year terms, helping Mayor Carlos Gimenez deliver on an election promise.

Voters approved term limits by 77 percent to 23 percent, according to unofficial results.

Term limits had been rejected by county voters multiple times in the past. Most recently, in January 2012, voters rejected term limits for county commissioners, but that measure was coupled with a massive salary hike for the politicians. This time, the question was not linked to a big raise.

It will still take years to see the results of term limits: incumbents can serve eight more years. Some county commissioners have clung onto their seats for almost two decades, the Miami Herald reported.

Gimenez campaigned on the need for county commission term limits in 2011 when he was seeking to replace his recalled predecessor. The mayor is already limited to two terms. Auto tycoon Norman Braman also campaigned for change.

Gimenez said the term limits would lead to better local government. "For years, I have tried to get before the voters a charter amendment for two 4-year terms," he wrote on his campaign website on April 25, 2011. "In addition to offering more choices for voters, term limits eliminate the advantages of incumbency, break ties to special interests, improve the tendency for elected officials to vote their conscience rather than engage in quid pro quo, and open the door to fresh thinking and new ideas. In short, term limits inhibit political careerism. One of my goals as county mayor would be to make sure an 'eight is enough' law is irrevocably put in place."

Gimenez did not take any particular steps  to encourage people to vote in favor of term limits, his spokeswoman Suzy Trutie said in an interview a few days before the election. However, he did repeatedly encourage people to vote -- whether by absentee,  early or in person.

"I'm glad that our electors finally had the chance to vote on term limits for County Commissioners with no strings attached," Gimenez said  in  a statement after the election.  "This is a long overdue good-government reform that I've been advocating for several years, and our residents spoke loud and clear in support of it yesterday."

We rate this Promise Kept.

Sources:

Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog, "Miami-Dade voters back term limits for commissioners,” Nov. 7, 2012

Miami-Dade County, Election results, Nov. 7, 2012

Miami-Dade County, Mayor and Commission salary charter amendments on ballot, 1961-January 2012

Interview, Suzy Trutie, Miami-Dade County spokeswoman, Nov. 2 and 7, 2012

County Commission to discuss term limit ballot language in July

On Nov. 6, Miami-Dade voters will decide if they want to limit commissioners to two four-year terms, with the clock starting fresh so that incumbents can serve eight more years.

This could be one of Mayor Carlos Gimenez's toughest promises to deliver, because it is now in the hands of the voters. We rated this promise In the Works when county commissioners agreed in March to place it on the ballot. The county's Charter Review Task Force later agreed with that same recommendation about term limits.

On July 17, county commissioners are expected to agree on the exact language for the ballot question.

Earlier this year, citizen activist Vanessa Brito had said she would pursue collecting signatures to get a separate question on the ballot to make term limits retroactive. But Brito has now switched tactics and is trying to get a slate of candidates elected to the commission.

This promise remains In the Works until we see the results on election night.

Sources:

Miami Herald, "Activist Braman seeking ‘good' candidates to oppose Miami-Dade Commission incumbents;” March 30, 2012

Interview, Christina White, spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections, June 22, 2012

Interview, Suzy Trutie, spokeswoman for Miami-Dade County, June 26, 2012
 

Term limits will go on November ballot

Voters will have the chance to weigh in about term limits on the November 2012 ballot after Miami-Dade commissioners approved the measure on March 8, 2012

Voters will decide if they want to limit commissioners to two four-year terms, with the clock starting fresh so that incumbents can serve eight more years. 

In January, voters rejected term limits coupled with a huge salary increase for commissioners. This time the question on term limits will not include a salary hike.

Political activist Vanessa Brito plans to collect signatures to put a question on the ballot that will set the limit at two four-year terms and make that retroactive. Wealthy businessman Norman Braman, who bankrolled the recall of the previous mayor, said he would provide financial backing. If retroactive term limits passed, that would mean many commissioners could not run again.
 

The mayor is already limited to two four-year terms. 

If conflicting versions of the term-limit question land on the same ballot, its possible that a judge will be asked how the county should proceed. Former South Florida U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey said a judge might do nothing and await the outcome of the election.

"There is law suggesting if the election itself might sort out the problem for you, a judge should stand back," Coffey said. 

Gimenez argued for term limits during his 2011 campaign, and he reiterated that promise in his Feb. 28, 2012 State of the County Address. The vote by commissioners to place the question on the November ballot is a key step toward that promise, and now we wait to see the outcome in November.

We rate this promise In the Works.

Sources:

Miami Herald"Miami-Dade Commissioners to consider term limits amid grassroots campaign," March 7, 2012

Miami Herald"Miami-Dade Commissioners considering term limits as grassroots campaign gears up," March 8, 2012

Interview, Suzy Trutie, Miami-Dade County spokeswoman, March 7, 2012

Interview, Vanessa Puig, spokeswoman in the Miami-Dade County Commission office, March 7, 2012

Interview, Kendall Coffey, former U.S. Attorney, March 13, 2012

Term limits may land on November ballot

In January, Miami-Dade County voters rejected term limits for county commissioners, which was coupled with a massive salary hike for the politicians. 

Carlos Gimenez called for term limits during his 2011 campaign but said little as it headed for defeat on the Jan. 31, 2012, ballot. We rated his campaign promise Stalled after that vote.

When Gimenez sat down with the Miami Herald days before his Feb. 28, 2012, State of the County Address, he said he would urge commissioners to place a new term limit question on the November ballot or support a citizens" petition drive to pose the question to voters.

Gimenez spoke about term limits in his speech:

"First and foremost, I support placing eight-year term limits for commissioners on the November ballot. .... It's a vital reform that I have been pushing for since 2007, as a commissioner and active member of the charter review task force. Our residents wanted term limits back then, and they want them now. Whether by citizen-initiated petition, or the commission follows the lead of Commissioners Lynda Bell and Rebeca Sosa and places the question on the November ballot our voters have the right to decide on term limits for commissioners once and for all. No conditions, no tricky language -- just eight-year term limits. Period."

Commissioners will hold a special meeting March 8 to consider a proposal by Bell and Sosa to ask voters in November if they want term limits. (This link shows a slew of charter reform proposals by commissioners that will be discussed.)

A Feb. 9 press release from Sosa explains that the question would limit commissioners to no more than two consecutive four-year terms, excluding terms of service prior to 2012. 

"I believe residents have spoken loud and clear on this matter – they want term limits,” said Sosa. "It"s clear they also want to vote on this matter separate from the issue of commission salary. By placing this item on the ballot during the general election, the turnout should be much higher than the previous election concerning this issue, and the County saves taxpayer money by not holding a separate special election.”

Commissioner Barbara Jordan has proposed a separate amendment that would give commissioners a pay hike from $6,000 a year to $75,000, according to the Herald

Political activist Vanessa Brito is gathering voters" signatures to get a question about term limits on the ballot that would limit commissioners to two four-year terms and apply that retroactively.

Gimenez is now speaking out for term limits, and it appears that either citizens or commissioners could get the issue before voters in November. We rate this promise In the Works.

Sources:

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa press release,"Commissioners Rebeca Sosa and Lynda Bell push for Miami-Dade Commission term limits to be placed on November ballot," Feb. 9, 2012

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Text of State of the County Speech, Feb. 28, 2012

Miami-Dade County, Mayor Carlos Gimenez speech video, Feb. 28, 2012

Miami-Dade County,Proposed charter amendments 2012, Accessed Feb. 29, 2012

Miami-Dade County, Memo about term limit proposal, Feb. 21, 2012

Miami Herald"Miami-Dade mayor to push commission term limits, more reforms," Feb. 28, 2012

Interview, Suzy Trutie, Miami-Dade County spokeswoman, Feb. 29, 2012
 

Miami-Dade voters reject term limits

Miami-Dade County voters rejected a change to the charter that would have limited commissioners to two four-year terms to replace the current system of unlimited tenure. County residents voted 54 to 46 percent Jan. 31, 2012, against term limits.

It may not have been the idea of term limits that bothered voters but the fact that the term limits would have been accompanied by a massive pay hike for commissioners from the current $6,000 to about $92,097 a year based on a state formula that relates to population. 

The question on the ballot had three parts asking voters if they wanted to amend the charter to require that County Commissioners: 

• Devote full-time service to the office of County Commissioner and hold no other employment;

• No longer receive the $6,000 annual salary established in 1957, but receive instead the salary provided by state formula, adjusted annually (currently approximately $92,097)

• Serve no more than two consecutive four-year terms in office excluding terms of service prior to 2012

During the 2011 campaign for mayor, County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez argued that eight years was enough.

"For years, I have tried to get before the voters a charter amendment for two 4-year terms," he wrote on his campaign website April 25, 2011. "In addition to offering more choices for voters, term limits eliminate the advantages of incumbency, break ties to special interests, improve the tendency for elected officials to vote their conscience rather than engage in quid pro quo, and open the door to fresh thinking and new ideas. In short, term limits inhibit political careerism."

The promise of enacting term limits isn't dead, though. Vanessa Brito of Miami Voice, the group that spearheaded the recall of Commissioner Natacha Seijas in 2011, told the Miami Herald that she plans to collect signatures to get term limits on a the ballot in November, coinciding with the general presidential election. That election will get a higher turnout than the approximately 14 percent who showed up for the presidential primary on Jan. 31 -- and not all bothered with the charter questions.

Brito's proposal may stand a better chance since she is working toward only term limits -- not the salary increase. 

Term limits won't happen in the next few months, and we haven't seen Gimenez take much action. If Brito succeeds and gets a question about term limits back on the ballot, we may move the meter to In the Works. But for now we rate this promise Stalled.

Sources:

Miami Herald"Charter reforms may come from residents," Feb. 1, 2012

Miami Herald,"Miami-Dade voters reject term limits, salary hike for commissioners," Jan. 29, 2012

Miami Herald"Miami-Dade voters will decide on term limits, pay increases for county commissioners," Nov. 3, 2011

Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections, Election results, Jan. 31, 2012

Miami-Dade County Commission, Draft of meeting minutes, Nov. 3, 2011

Carlos Gimenez campaign website, "Eight is enough," April 25, 2011

Interview, Suzy Trutie, spokeswoman, Miami-Dade County, Feb. 1, 2011 

Miami-Dade commissioners vote to place term limits on ballot

It's a rare feat in recent years to oust a Miami-Dade County Commissioner at the ballot box -- these elected officials tend to hang on to their seats for as long as they want. 

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez says eight years is long enough for someone to serve as a county commissioner. 

"For years, I have tried to get before the voters a charter amendment for two 4-year terms," he wrote on his campaign website on April 25, 2011. "In addition to offering more choices for voters, term limits eliminate the advantages of incumbency, break ties to special interests, improve the tendency for elected officials to vote their conscience rather than engage in quid pro quo, and open the door to fresh thinking and new ideas. In short, term limits inhibit political careerism. One of my goals as county mayor would be to make sure an 'eight is enough' law is irrevocably put in place."

On Nov. 3, county commissioners voted to place a question about term limits on the ballot during Florida's Republican presidential primary on Jan. 31, 2012. The question will generally ask: Should commissioners be allowed to serve only two four-year terms instead of the unlimited tenure that exists now? The measure would also ban commissioners from outside employment and pay them $92,097 a year instead of their current $6,000.

The salary comes from a state formula based on the county's population. Commissioners will review the actual wording of the ballot question on Nov. 15.

The question only pertains to commissioners -- not the mayor, who already can only serve two four-year terms under the county's charter.

The vote passed 10-3. Commissioners Sally Heyman, Barbara Jordan, and Jean Monestime voted against the measure because they wanted it on the ballot in November 2012, when higher turnout than January is expected, according to a report in the Miami Herald.

Ultimately the voters could help Gimenez deliver on his promise to enact term limits for commissioners. The county has taken an important step by agreeing to place a question on the ballot. We rate this promise In the Works.

Sources:

Miami Herald"Miami-Dade voters will decide on term limits, pay increases for county commissioners," Nov. 3, 2011

Miami-Dade County Commission, Draft of meeting minutes, Nov. 3, 2011

Carlos Gimenez campaign website, "Eight is enough," April 25, 2011

Interview, Suzy Trutie, spokeswoman, Miami-Dade County, Nov. 7, 2011