The ultimate protection against governmental abuse in a democracy is the public’s ability to challenge the government up to and through elections.
But sometimes citizens can’t do it alone.
That’s why the Founding Fathers, in the US Constitution, established the system checks and balances through three competing branches of government. Executive. Legislative. Judicial.
Nothing could be more distant from this founding concept of America than the way “democracy” is generally practiced in Miami. And specifically, how democracy has been almost completely ignored in the case of the Flagstone Watson Island project.
- The City Administration (the Executive branch) has demonstrated repeatedly that it will go any lengths to reward the developer at the expense of the City’s residents and taxpayers, including breaking the law and taking every step possible to prevent public opponents for illuminating the issue.
- The City Commission (the Legislative branch) has been misled, lied to, had documents withheld, and pressured by campaign donor/lobbyists. Up to now, they have failed to give this project the scrutiny it needs.
- The Courts may be our last resort. With the help of the courts and their power to require testimony under oath can citizens effectively exercise their right to challenge official wrong-doing?
HOWEVER…for Years City officials seem to have been appalled by the idea that City officials and their staff and lobbyists be compelled to testify under oath and under the penalty of perjury.
That’s why, using the shabby defense of “standing” they persuaded to courts to try to end the right of residents to bring actions that would have brought out the truth. And in case after case in recent years the courts bought that argument disregarding 80 years of precedent.
The citizens rebelled. That citizen rebellion was clear when 84.32% of the voters of the Miami inserted the right of standing for residents into the City’s Charter – over the objection of the City Attorney.
So, if the Commission continues to ignore the citizens and favor the lobbyists and campaign contributors by failing halt the present attempt by Flagstone to expand the project, going to court may be the public’s only recourse.
That is expensive and time consuming – but thanks to Miami voters it is now available and with enough citizen support, the battle will continue and proceed in court...
THERE IS ONE OTHER AVENUE FOR IMMEDIATE CITIZEN ACTION THAT MAY CHANGE THE OUTCOME: ELECTIONS
This year – 2017-- there is race for Mayor. Citizens should express their views on this issue to the candidates. Click HERE to send a message to them.
And there are two Miami Commission seats up for election:
District 3. Presently held by Frank Carollo, who is term limited. Frank has been a consistently strong opponent of the Flagstone project. Will the candidates for this seat carry on Carollo’s tradition of standing up against powerful special interests and the backroom dealings of City staff?
District 4. Presently held by Francis Suarez, who is running for Mayor.Francis has raised serious issues, but has promised he would not vote again for any extensions.
District 5. Presently held by Keon Hardemon who is running for re-election. Keon has raised serious questions about the project and has demonstrated a capacity of being open to thoughtful arguments and public opinion.