Doral Charter Review Commission Submitted Final Report
By: María Alejandra Pulgar
NAHJ #37172 / SPJ #10009939
DORAL, FL – The Doral Charter was up for review this year and the Review Commission concluded their work in April. They submitted their final report to Council through the City Clerk. Amendments proposed will be placed on the November 2020 ballot for the electorate to approve them.
According to Article VI of the City of Doral Charter, the charter review “is a controlled process, defined within the rules that regulate the City’s form of government, to periodically update its procedures, and keep them within the vision and interests of the citizens.”
The document should be reviewed every five years by a commission of five members, each of them designated by an elected official in the Council. One of the commission members needs to have participated in the previous Charter review process. Last November the residents designated as members of the commission were Jesse Jones, Frank Patrick Cuneo, Oscar Puig-Corvé, Ricardo Morales and Belinda Leon. Mr. Jones served in the past commission in 2014, and also participated in the development of the first charter of the City at the time of incorporation 15 years ago.
As mandated by the Charter, the Review Commission meetings were open and announced in advance. They took place in the evenings to allow for the public to be present, however, a low turnout of residents attended during the process.
Proposed amendments to be voted in 2020 (*)
After reviewing 24 items that were brought to consideration during the meetings, the final 2019 Charter Review Commission transmittal describes six amendments proposed, in the order and with the wording that will be included in the ballot for the referendum.
The changes proposed impact articles on the Charter related to the implementation of the Office of Charter Enforcement; the naming of city property or facilities; qualifications for choosing a City Manager; qualifications for choosing a City Attorney; City elections cycle and runoffs, and Charter Review cycle and Commission time of service.
CRC Resolution 19-01 – Office of Charter Enforcement:
This was an entity created through an amendment that passed during the last Charter Review process, to oversee and ensure that elected officials and employees in the City of Doral comply with the City Charter when serving on their offices and positions. However, the provisions required for creating the entity proved difficult to implement and prompted the current review commission to adjust the article.
The modified article includes “revisions to the Office of Charter Enforcement providing for the expansion of the Office’s role to include investigations of violations by persons doing business with the city. Establishes minimum qualifications and revises the requirements and process for the appointment of the selection committee responsible for selecting the Charter Enforcement Official. Establishes minimum qualifications for the Charter Enforcement Official and provides for funding for the Office of Charter Enforcement.”
CRC Resolution 19-02 – Naming of City Property/ Facilities
The update provides clarification on the criteria and procedures to be used for naming City properties and facilities, not limiting the naming and designations to posthumous nominees. With this change, for example, a City property or facility can be designated by ordinance to honor a donor or corporation. It would be in the hands of elected officials to make the decision.
CRC Resolution 19-03 – Qualifications for City Manager
This amendment revised the qualifications for the position of City Manager to include the requirement of a Master Degree in Public Administration, Business Administration or other related fields.
CRC Resolution 19-04 – Qualifications for City Attorney
This amendment increases to ten years the minimum requirement of experience for a City Attorney at the time of appointment, and of those, it should be “no less than five years’ experience in the practice of Law for Local Government.”
CRC Resolution 19-05 – Elections
Currently, Doral elections happen along with general elections, in November. It time it has proved to make partisanship an influence on Doral voters. Local governments in Florida are nonpartisan by law, and the incorporation of a municipality is the embodiment of Home Rule, “the power of a local city or county to set up its own system of self-government without receiving a charter from the state”. It allows communities to ensure the quality of their services is paired with their hopes and demands.
The proposed amendment changes the General Election date to May of each even-numbered year and eliminates run-off elections. Also includes a provision for a Special Election in the event of a tie.
If approved, this amendment will increase in a few months the service time of current elected officials, who were elected in November; therefore it includes a provision with “extensions of the terms for the Councilmembers elected in 2018, and the Mayor and Councilmembers elected in 2020 to account for the change of the election date.”
CRC Resolution 19-06 – Charter Review Committee Sunset
It changes the appointment of the Charter Review Commission from every five years to every six years and includes a “sunset” provision for the commission to expire after the day after of the general election.
If needed, the Council may discuss and add other charter amendment proposals by November 2020. All those will be placed on the ballot for Doral residents to decide if these changes, which impact the foundations of the operation of the City, will be adopted.
(*) Sources: Final Charter Review Commission Transmittal and information contributed by Review Commission Members Oscar Puig-Corvé and Belinda Leon.