Have you ever wanted to appear before the commission to discuss something that’s not a public hearing on the agenda? Did you think you can just show up? As many residents and activists have learned over the years in Coral Gables you must ask for permission first (unless it’s a Public Hearing Item).
In just about all other municipalities in Miami-Dade County you can appear at the beginning of the meeting and discuss almost any matter before your elected officials, but not in Coral Gables. As it is today, you must request via the Office of the Mayor Raul Valdes Fauli a personal appearance. In addition you must in-advance advise the mayor’s office of the topic you wish to discuss. It’s unknown if the Mayor’s office (or any former Mayor) has ever declined a personal appearance.
According to the City Attorney Coral Gables currently complies with the Citizen’s Bill of Rights of the Miami-Dade County Charter, by allowing “personal appearances” to address the commission.
Vice Mayor Vince Lago, who’s running for Mayor in 2021, wants to enhance the way Coral Gables Government hears from it’s residents and wants to adopt the policy of over a dozen municipalities in Miami-Dade County to create an open public comment portion at the start of every city commission meeting. The proposed ordinance would eliminate the ‘personal appearance’ practice and set 3 minute time limitation for those presenting.
This should be an easy ordinance to support, however you never know in Coral Gables. In 2019 Lago proposed meetings be held in the afternoons to accommodate working residents to encourage more engagement and he was met with the Mayor’s strong opposition and lack of support. The Mayor still taunts Lago’s evening meeting idea by mentioning what time it would be in the evening if the meeting had started after five. Its expected he may have his own perspective on Lago’s open comment ordinance.
The City of West Miami, City of South Miami, City of Hialeah, Village of Key Biscayne, Village of Palmetto Bay, City of Miami Springs, Village of Biscayne Park, Village of El Portal, Bal Harbour Village, City of Aventura, Town of Miami Lakes, City of Doral, Town of Surfside, Town of Bay Harbour Islands, North Bay Village, City of Hialeah Gardens, City of Sunny Isles Beach, City of Miami Gardens, City of Opa Locka, City of North Miami, City of North Miami Beach, and Miami Shores Village include a “Public Comment,” “Public Remarks,” “Comments and Questions,” “Requests, Petitions and Public Comments,” ‘Open Forum,” or “Good & Welfare” section in their Commission meeting agendas.