Charter Review Proposals For November’s Ballot: Eleven Changes Have Been Proposed For The City of Hallandale Beach
By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper
May 5, 2022
Last week, I began to share with our readers about the Charter Review proposals for this November’s Ballot. Our Charter Review Committee has worked for the past year to review our Charter and debating changes to our governance and Charter positions.
The proposal is going to be discussed at a workshop where the Commission makes that final decision on what will be placed on the Ballot. In all, eleven changes were proposed. As of the writing of this article, I do not have the final questions that will go on the Ballot, but I will keep our readers updated.
The first of the eleven included changing pronouns, language on the Mayor being a spokesperson, requiring the Mayor and the Commission to hold a minimum of two Town Hall Meetings annually, one on the east and one on the west, clarification of Ex-Official Positions, attendance at meetings, clarifying vacancies on the Dais and the hiring of Special Auditors.
There are four more that are of significance. The first, is the addition of specific language and requirements for the City Attorney and the City Manager. The City Attorney and the City Manager, serve at the will of the Commission, in other words, the Commission has the right by vote to hire and fire these positions.
Over 4 years ago there was a political change on the Commission. After the General Election, the Commission fired both the City Attorney and the City Manager by a 3-2 Vote. While it is not unusual for these positions to change with a new majority of the Commission, the way it was done, it created two large lawsuits against the City.
The City Attorney filed suit against the City and lost her case. The City Manager on the other hand won his case and was awarded damages of $4 Million Dollars. While the case is still in the appeal process, I cannot go into the details but obviously if not overturned, it will have a chilling effect on our budget. I told the Commission at the time to simply fire the two without cause and to move on as I foreshadowed the Lawsuits.
The first thing the two Amendments do is to require that both the City Manager and the City Attorney have employment contracts. Currently, they both do as a best business practice, but this rule would make it a permanent requirement.
The two Amendments will not prevent the City Attorney or the City Manager from being fired but it does clarify the specific measures and how to go about the removal process. This sets guidelines and time frames for the appeal of the decision and chance for the employees to make their case. It also allows for separate resolutions to decide on the issue of Severance. The most important change would be to remove the City Attorney or the City Manager and would require a super-majority Vote of 4-1. These Amendments will go a long way in ensuring that protections are in place to prevent what transpired 4 years ago.
The third is the creation of major changes to the City Clerk’s position. Currently, the City Manager appoints the City Clerk. Their job is to give notice of meetings, keep all of the journals of meetings and to be Custodians of Public Records. The changes to this position were brought forth by the City Manager.
This creates a position that will be hired by the City Commission and will work directly for the City Commission. The City Clerk would be under contract and all of the other processes regarding firing the City Clerk will mirror that of the City Manager and the City Attorney.
Over the years, there have been internal issues with Commissioners getting Public Records. It is my understanding that the former City Manager would direct the City Clerk or the City Clerk’s Staff to withhold documents. In my tenure, I have only run into one issue where I could not get information and that was from a former CRA Executive. I am not sure what the reasons were, but the philosophy is that since the City Manager handles hiring and firing of the City Clerk, he or she has undue influence over said employee.
The last change is to the appointing of the Charter Committee. It changes the time and length of appointments. Currently, they must be appointed in November. The change is to move the appointments to May which will give the Commission more time for preceding the current Election. It also provides that work can be done over 12 months rather than six and provides that a budget be set for the Charter Committee. The major change provides Amendments that pass with a Unanimous Vote and must be placed on the Ballot. Currently, there is a Position Process for Amendments that may not make it through the Commissions, however, they must still be certified by the Commission.
As always, feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns and ideas on how to make our City a great place to live, work and play! I am available by Phone or Text At: (954) 632-5700. E-mail me At: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit my Facebook & Web-site At: www.MayorJoyCooper.com