One of what we suspect will be several "town hall" meetings and forums on the charter reform questions voters will see on the May 24 ballot is in Palmetto Bay Tuesday evening.
Commission Chairman Joe Martinez and newby Commissioner Lynda Bell, former mayor of Homestead, have invited the public to "share their input on changes they would like to see in the charter and the proposed amendments." Not that the input is going to have any actual, er, input. The proposed amendments -- watered down to self-serving red herrings, for the most part -- have already been decided and voted upon. What's the point?
Could it be to sway voters one way or another? Nah, they couldn't be up to something like that. Both said in their shared press release that they were just informing the public. And they are really going all out to do it. Martinez, who has two other town hall meetings planned before the vote, sent an email to constituents explaining why.
"These town hall meetins will allow residents to obtain information on the prposed Miami-Dade Home Rule charter amendments... while providing a venue for their opinions to be heard," Martinez wrote. "With the special election quickly approaching, I feel it is imiperative that the community's sentiments be heard and that they are provided with all the information available in order to make an informed decision. As such, I urge you to attend a town hall meeting near you." In the press release statement, Martinez said: "The special election is quickly approaching and it is imperative that voters know how the proposed amendments to the charter can affect the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter. As their representatives, it is our duty to make sure the residents have as much information available to so they can make an informed decision."
“I’m pleased to be able to bring this important meeting to my district and encourage residents to take an active role in their County government,” Bell's statement reads. “This is an opportunity for residents to take part in a public forum and learn more about the way their vote affects how their government will run.”
Ladra wants to "learn more about the way their vote affects how their government will run." But we are not sure we will make it to the meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Palmetto Golf Course Recreation Room, 9300 Coral Reef Drive. There is a good, actual paying job today, and contrary to what some politicians who may feel embarrassed by Ladra might say y Mami y Papi who are hoping some political grandpapi in the community will give me a "grant", we get no bones for this gig.
So if one of you, dear readers, would get that information on my behalf. Maybe even record the town hall meeting? Is that too much to ask? Yes, ask the two electeds how the government changes, but also ask one of the "representatives from other county departments" that are also expected to "be on hand to assist residents with answering any inquiries."
Then ask how much those staff members get paid to be at a town meeting that could either be a moot point or a campaign stop. I hope they are voluntarily informing the public. Because there are at least two more town meetings scheduled by Martinez, who is really bent on informing us. There will be one with Martinez and Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Mas Canosa Youth Center in Sweetwater, 250 NW 114th Ave., and another at the West Kendall Regional Library, 10201 Hammocks Blvd., from 7 to 8:30 p.m. May 4.
Now you can tell that this is important to them.