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city commissioners Vote themselves an extended stay in office Declare: Public Has no Right to Vote

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The story so far:

The Coral Springs city commissioners made a mistake in 1994 when they asked the Citizens of Coral Springs if they wanted to limit city commissioners (including the Mayor) to no more than 8 consecutive years in office.  The Citizens voted for this change to the charter and the new ‘Law’ came into effect March 1996. What the city commissioners really wanted to have us vote on was that there should be a limit of 8 consecutive years of service for any city commissioners other than themselves.  So the city commissioners are simply changing the ‘Law’ that we the people passed to suit themselves so that they can remain in office for anywhere from 10 to 16 years.

Chart of city commissioners and their expected stay in office
commissioner Year First Elected Proposed Term of Office Expiry Year Consecutive Years Served to date Consecutive Years they will be allowed to serve
bill stradling 1990 2006 11 16
maureen berk 1992 2006 9 12
alan polin 1991 2004 10 13
rhonda calhoun 1994 2006 7 12
mayor john sommerer 1994 2004 7 10

They are not going to ask us to vote on it, as required by State Statute 166.031. The commissioners believe that we do not have the right to vote on a referendum clarifying a mistake that they made in 1994.  Their reasoning is only 17 percent of the population in 1994 turned out to vote on it. Then the population was 70,000 people, and now it is 120,000. The reasoning is faulty considering that the same 17 percent of the population voted these people into office at the same time the referendum was cast. It is these type of comments from the commissioners that state the case on term limits and how unreasonable politicians can become when selfishness takes over. 

The Constitution of the United States and most of the laws were written over 200 years ago. If our  city commissioners had it their way, we would have to raise the dead Citizens of that era to make any changes to the laws of our country. To the city commissioners , the Citizens of 1994 have more rights than the Citizens today. Just to clear this up, let me tell you that time has no bearing on being a citizen of the United States. Your rights are in the present and future and past. A citizen of our city has the same right to vote today as any other citizen in 1994. That is despite what the 5 commissioners have said and declared.  They might as well have declared that the spin of the earth will now go in the opposite direction.  However, unless something is done, that is precisely what the effect that these commissioners will have on our Civil Rights. 

What is quite evident is that this whole mess was pointed out to them last year and they swept it under the rug. Roy Gold, a concerned citizen spoke out at the City Commission meeting of January 18,2000.  On May 2, 2000 , the city commissioners adopted  RESOLUTION #2000-022, CREATION OF CHARTER REVIEW COMMITTEE with the specific request that any changes recommended by this committee be presented so that they can be placed on the March 2001 ballot. The commissioners at that May meeting refused to award a contract to Lance deHaven Smith serve as facilitator for the Charter Review Committee, even though the city attorney recommended it. They knew there was some problems with the charter, they formed a committee and refused to hire a consultant. What happened to this committee? Nothing. We inquired with the City Clerk’s office and they confirmed that no records exist of any Charter Review Committee meeting. No one was ever appointed even though the city ordinance required them to do so. They knew about all this ‘dirt’ last year and for the first time ever in the history of the city, they decided not to act on an ordinance that they past, even though it specifically required the changes to city charter were to be brought before the people in a referendum.  They swept it under the rug.

SPEAK UP CORAL SPRINGS!
3 city commissioners have exceeded the term limits defined in the City Charter. Should they resign?
Yes
No
I haven’t made up my mind yet.
I don’t care one way or the other

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At the City Commission meeting of June 5, the city commissioners passed the first reading of the ordinance allowing them to stay in office. Click here for the full ordinance .   It describes that this ordinance is in the interests of the Health Welfare and Safety of the Public. Instead, it should have stated  that this ordinance is in the best interest of the city commissioners currently holding office. This is clearly a conflict of interest. Theoretically the city commissioners are supposed to be operating in the best interests of the population. From their mouths came the comment “If we thought for a moment that this rule applies to us, why would we have voted on it?”. Simply put, you voted on it because you know it is right to have term limits. If it is good for any future commissioners then why not you?

At the previous meeting commissioner polin called himself the Champion of Term Limits (Click here for sound byte). Hay Champ, even Mohammed Ali didn’t serve retain his title for as long as you are going to be sitting as commissioner.

The issue is very plain. The government is not allowed to change the wording of a referendum after the Citizens have voted on it. The government cannot be able to further modify any portion of it to suit their personal interests. The government must bring any changes to a referendum voted on by the people, back to the Citizens to vote on.

These are not individuals worthy of our praise but rather our scorn. From their actions, commissioners calhoun, stradling, polin and berk along with our mayor show us they believe  they are more important than you or I. It is a shame that they have negated all of the good that they have done in this city, and might  only be remembered for this selfish act. The only reason why they are not bringing this issue to a vote is because they are afraid they might loose. If you think for a moment that they are doing it for the interests of the Health, Welfare and Safety of the Public as they state, give me a call. I have some swamp land for you to buy.

One way in which you can voice your opinion is to come out to the next City Commission on Monday June 18 and let them know that you are as important as they are. You could also vote 3 of these people out of office at the 2002 election. That way they will surely know that your vote counts in the past, present and future!

 

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Howard Melamed

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