By: Ettore Sabatella
The year 2014 just started and Doral is making headline news again! First, there is the proposition of rotating the Mayor ship among the Council members. The Council member would become Mayor automatically during his or her last year in office. There are plenty of pros and cons to this proposition hashed out at the committee in charge of reviewing the city charter. Many of the members are honorable people. Many have plenty of experience in dealing with municipalities, but rotating the Mayor’s position that often sounds more as a musical chairs game than a serious charter proposition. For starters, how would the city maintain continuity and stability if the equivalent of a CEO in a company changes every other year? The logistics of this proposition are also difficult to imagine. Who is going to be Mayor and who Vice-Mayor at the end of 2015?
Doral has always come across as a municipality ran with private sector efficiency, at least until 2012. Leadership and leadership style are key in the corporate culture of any organization, whether public or private. Imagine if a hospital, bank, or any business would change its leader once a year, every year. The excuse that has been circulating in city hall is that current Mayor Luigi Boria did not have enough experience to become Mayor (money, yes, but not experience) and therefore the city went through the upheaval of 2013 and therefore all council members should have three years of experience as council member before becoming Mayor. The excuse is not only lame, but unfounded. There have been plenty of Mayors in South Florida with no previous political experience that did fairly well in performing their duties. Perfect example is the first Mayor of Doral, Juan Carlos Bermudez. Luckily, at the end Doral voters will decide if this new form of government makes sense or not.
What needs to be done by all Doral voters is to think twice before voting next time and making sure we are placing the best candidate at the helm of our city, and not necessarily the one that spends more money in a campaign, or the one who dresses well… Remember the saying “we cannot judge a book by its cover.” Let’s learn from experience.
And now that we are in a campaign year, keep in mind there are two posts up for grabs: Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez, who is finishing her first term in November and seeking a second term, and the post left by Boria in 2012. Councilwoman Bettina Rodriguez-Aguilera was elected to finish Boria’s term but now Doral voters need to elect a candidate for the full four-year term.
Elections in South Florida are sadly famous for its irregularities. Let’s not forget the “boleteras” case in Hialeah during the election for County Mayor covered wall to wall by El Nuevo Herald. Elections for congress’ posts, such as the ones with Rep. David Rivera and Rep. Joe Garcia. City elections with bizarre headlines, such as Miami and Homestead, while the rest of the community wondered what were they thinking. The Doral elections are still months away but it is never too early to follow the rules. Remember, don’t be a victim of election fraud. Cast your vote in person. If you vote absentee, fill it out yourself. And if you are unable to do it yourself, make sure a family member is the one that helps you fill out an absentee ballot application. And by no means accept money to vote for a particular candidate during political campaigns.
As the city charter committee continues its deliberations, there are other issues, and even more important ones, that still need to be addressed by Doral. Economic development should be a priority for 2014. Ok, we lost Miss USA, but there are plenty of opportunities in Doral that need to be tapped. Surrounding cities are doing it, why can’t we? We need to stop loosing what we already had. For example, for years Doral proudly hosted US Judo championships. Our understanding is that it will not take place in Doral this year. Why loose a great economic engine? Any conference, championship, and even a midsize event generate money for Doral. Hotels are booked. Restaurants are full. This is something that Mayors do across the nation. Looking for economic opportunities to make their cities shine. We need to see more of that in Doral. The goal is not to have the city run those events. Parks and Recreation does a fantastic job with the events they already manage. The goal is to invite companies, organizations, public agencies to come to Doral and think of the city as a perfect venue to run their events. This would be a win-win situation.
On the other hand, this past Wednesday, January 15, the Doral City Council approved a proposal from Vice Mayor Christi Fraga, which seeks to prohibit the identification of streets, public squares, and buildings of the city under the name of a living people.
Fraga, who proposed the measure, said that the resolution is preventive and does not plan on eliminating existing names of public places such as JC Bermudez Park, named in honor of the first City of Doral Mayor.