The January 19, 2014, City of Doral Council held another marathon council meeting which was held in two sessions, 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM.
The hot topic was that of the replacement of the City Attorney which Councilwoman Rodriguez Aguilera placed on the agenda as a “Point of Clarification”. She claimed that residents were “confused” and did not understand the process and wanted clarification of the decision made, or motion, at the January 15th meeting. In the audience were five law firms all of which had applied for the post, one of which was Mr. Herin’s firm, GrayRobinson. She said she brought this forward because the council was seen by the community as “flip flopping and in chaos”. Mayor Boria was quick to respond and disagree, “I do not think people think that, I think that is in your head.”
During public comments Jesse Jones and Jerome Reisman members of the Charter Commission. Mr. Jones spoke to the council and voiced his concerns as a resident. The city has lost key employees and that concerns him. On the issue of flip flopping he wanted to be clear that there was nothing wrong with that if it were being done for the right reasons. The public would understand that you needed to have all the facts before a decision was made. “If you flip flop for the right reason, then you’ve done your job.” stated Mr. Jones.
Mr. Reisman also voiced his concerns about what was taking place. “It concerns me that this city with all its potential, potential for growth…. this city is moving like a snake without a head.” said Mr. Reisman.
Mr. Herin’s contract with the city ends in May and at the meeting of January 15th, council approved on a 3-2 vote, with Rodriguez Aguilera and Rodriguez being the “nays”, to accept applications of other law firms. The issue at hand was that Mr. Herin was not devoting the time necessary and work was not being done in a timely fashion. Councilwoman Ruiz simply stated, “the work is not being done.” She mentioned that Mr. Herin not only the City of Doral and perhaps the workload is a bit much. Vice Mayor Fraga who was the decisive vote again reiterated that Mr. Herin had not been “terminated” per say but that the Council had the obligation to make certain that all options were being looked at. Mr. Herin had the time to address the council’s concerns and re-apply for the position.
The law firms that were present and ready to make a presentation were quickly dismissed when the City Manager, Joe Carollo, claimed he had had a conversation and been in contact with Mr. Centerino of the Ethics Department and that Mr. Centerino had confirmed that the Code of Silence had been violated. Mr. Carollo reached out to Mr. Centurino on two occasions, on the Friday before and earlier the morning of the council meeting because he was concerned that the Code of Silence had been violated, and Mr. Carollo said that Mr. Centurino sent him an opinion stating that the City was indeed in violation of the Code of Silence because the code of silence was in effect “up to the time when the Mayor makes his nomination that’s when it’s lifted…. Mr. Mayor, I believe that the Code of Silence was violated.” Stated the City Manager. The Mayor asked to disclose what he had. Mr. Carollo did not disclosure and the City Attorney interrupted I think we should see it.”
The Mayor stated, “I want to make it perfectly clear for the record I did everything exactly how you (addressing the City Attorney) educated me.” The City Attorney suggested to contact Mr. Centurino directly and confirm the conversations that the City Manager with him and make certain that all comply with the Code of Ethics and get direction from him. The Mayor was concerned that there was an impression that the Mayor had done something wrong. At which point, Mr. Carollo stated that he had no evidence that he, the Mayor, had done anything wrong. “I think because of this whole process is faulty and you have to start from point A.” Said the City Manager.
For the record, the Mayor made it clear that according to the Charter the City Attorney reports and answers to the Mayor and the Council, “and may be removed at any time.” The Mayor also stated that he had followed the direction of the City of Attorney at all times.
Under the recommendation of the City Attorney and motion of the Council, the subject was tabled until the opinion from Mr. Centurino was obtained by the City Attorney, Mr. Herin.
Lay Down Items
The topic of lay down items was also brought forth by Councilwoman Rodriguez Aguilera and the discussion was also lengthy She requested the elimination of lay down items from regular council meetings. Councilwoman Rodriguez Aguilera felt that there were too many items being brought forth as lay down items.
Councilwoman Rodriguez stated that simply the council needed to present all of the items to be placed on the agenda with proper back up.
Councilwoman Ruiz’ concern was that items that she had been pulled from the agenda without her being advised. Other Council Members are contacted by the City Clerk to let them know that back up was missing. City Clerk had reached out to Vice Mayor Fraga letting her know that there had been missing back up yet she pulled Councilwoman Ruiz’ items without contacting her.
After a very long and lengthy discussion, everything remained as it was. Lay down items can be presented and it is up to the council to decide whether they could hear the item or not by a vote of the city council. A motion was passed that allowed a 4-5 vote for lay down items and the back up for agenda items should be presented four business day prior to council meeting.
New Park on 114th Avenue
There were concerns for the 114th Avenue park was that the companies that had been contacted by management and Parks Director were keeping the vision that the council had previously approved. The City Manager stated that the companies that they had gone to had each presented their own idea and vision which presented the city with new ideas and options. The Mayor wants to know exactly what was going to be done in that area. The concern is that the vision of the council remained intact. Councilwoman Ruiz wanted to ensure that the vision that the Council had and had approved stayed true to form since the City Manager had stated that the companies had a different vision. Although, there was confusion as to the design and the presentations of the companies, the Council voted to go forward without seeing a presentation from the companies.The second was a workshop to be held on March 24th to have an update on all parks issue.
Monies and Sponsorships for Non-Profit Special Events
Vice Mayor Fraga proposed a policy to be placed as to the procedures and process for non-profits and community based events to request monies from the city. The Vice Mayor worked with the City Attorney and the City Clerk and a resolution was drafted establishing a process.
Councilwoman Ruiz agreed and supported the resolution and further stated that there had been instances where organizations coming forth as lay down items and this concerned her because it had been the same organizations coming forth again and again and a policy should be in place. Also, the organization needs to provide a report and status as to where the money is going and how it is being spent.
There were many other topics addressed at the meeting which ended at approximately 1:00 AM.