Category Archives: Coral Gables

2016 Ballot Recommendations — Coral Gables Charter Amendments

Only one of these amendments, number five, is really significant; otherwise I don’t think a lot rides on these–although I am going to vote against a couple of them in an excess of caution. The Charter Amendment process is really more a lost opportunity to do interesting things than anything else.

Amendment One YES It abolishes a Trial Board of Appeal that hasn’t done anything for a very long time.

Amendment Two NO Creates a method for removing Commissioners in case of incapacity. I am not aware that this has been an actual problem in the recent past, and it does create a theoretical avenue for abuse, so why look for trouble.

Amendment Three YES  The Mayor currently appoints the Vice Mayor, this puts that in the Charter. OK, whatever.

Amendment Four NO (?) Same issue as with Amendment Two; but this is actually a closer call than #2 because it aligns Coral Gables with state law procedures. So I can see why some people might think this was wise, or even necessary. Currently under the Charter it takes a 4/5 vote to censure or remove a Commissioner. This might make it easier to remove a Commissioner, but arguably the state rules control anyway.

Amendment Five YES! This will create a runoff procedure. That’s a good thing. I proposed to the Charter Revision Committee that they go for STV, also known as ‘instant runoff voting’ because they are fairer and cheaper, but they demurred on the grounds that it was ‘too complicated’ and ‘too hard to explain’ to voters. I think that was a great pity, but some runoff is better than none, given that currently Commissioners are getting elected with much less than 50% of the vote.

Posted in 2016 Election, Coral Gables | Leave a comment

Zika Ground Zero is About 7.5 Miles NE of Here

Wynwood to Coral Gables as the crow, er Aedes aegypti mosquito, flies.

(Corrected headline: NE not NW. Not that the mosquitoes care.)

Posted in Coral Gables, Zika | Leave a comment

Coral Gables Cops Offer Their Lobby as Transactional “Safe Space”

Coral Gables Central reports that the Coral Gables Police are offering their main lobby as a “safe haven” for people to meet to consummate internet-negotiated transactions. Think Craigslist deals.

The goal is to reduce the likelihood of a criminal act being committed. The Coral Gables Police Department is located at 2801 Salzedo St., Coral Gables, 33134

The department will not be involved in setting the meetings, but the lobby can be used for this transaction any day of the week between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

This is a good thing, and the Police should be congratulated for doing it. But note that the cops say they only welcome legal transactions, so unsurprisingly this may not be the place for drug deals, escorting meets, and, they warn, nothing lasting more than 15 minutes. And I’m betting it’s not just watched by a bored desk Sargent, but all taped on camera.

Posted in Coral Gables, Internet | Leave a comment

Why Coral Gable Should Use STV for Commission Elections

Because Coral Gables does not have run-off elections, there is always a risk in multi-candidate Commission elections that a person might elected with less than a majority vote.  Indeed, this has happened more than once in recent memory, with the most recent case being now-Commissioner Slesnick who was elected with 32% of the vote in a six-candidate race.

A run-off, however, would be expensive, and also risks declining voter participation. Voter participation is already low enough in the April off-year election. One solution would be to move the election to the ordinary primary date in August, and have any necessary run-off in November. I have detected very little appetite for this among Commissioners and other movers and shakers in the Gables. The reasons vary. Some people think that too many people are on vacation in August. Others think that too people who don’t care much about local government would vote (the polite term for this is ‘fear of low-information voters’). Still others think that the non-partisan character of the race would be overrun with the partisan fervor of the regular election. And yet others fear that come November UM students would have too much sway. I don’t agree with most of these views, but they’re out there.

Fortunately, there a solution to the problem of running a fair multi-candidate election that produces a majority winner without having to change the election date or having a second, runoff, election. The solution is to switch from the current first-past-the-post voting system to Single Transferable Vote (STV), also known as Instant Runoff Voting.

With the very able help of my research assistant,  Steven Strickland, I’ve written a memo which outlines some of the advantages of using STV and sent it to each of the five members of the Coral Gables Commission. I hope that Coral Gables will consider changing to STV for future elections to ensure that our elected officials have the support of the majority of the electorate, and are seen to have that support.

The text of our memo, reformatted to make it more web-friendly, is below.
Continue reading

Posted in Coral Gables | Leave a comment

2015 Coral Gables Commission Election Results

Coral Gables mayor Cason and commissioner Quesada re-elected, joined by newcomer Slesnick:

With 27 of the city’s 27 precincts reporting, Cason won 57 percent of the vote to Ralph Cabrera’s 43 percent. Quesada, 35, an attorney seeking a second four-year term, posted a commanding lead over Enrique Lopez, 62, an IT consultant and lobbyist: 73 percent vs. 27 percent.

And in the highly contested Group V seat … Jeannett Slesnick garnered 32 percent of the vote in the crowded field. Her closest opponent was Tony Newell with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Sandra Murado with 19 percent, Ariel Fernandez with 16 percent, P.J. Mitchell with 6 percent and Jackson Rip Holmes with 1 percent.

At some point I’d like to work out how much these correlate with campaign spending. Just eyeballing it, the correlation looks pretty high, which is sort of sad.

Update: Detailed results at CoralGablesCentral.com.

Posted in Coral Gables | 1 Comment

Coral Gables Commission Group V Election: Six Candidates in Search of a Plurality

There are six candidates for Coral Gables Commission Group V, so it will not take many votes to get a win in what has recently been a low-turnout election. There is no run-off (there should be). We’re fortunate to have so many candidates who mean well, and want to devote a substantial amount of their time to helping run the city.

Forget the so-called crime issue. The important questions are development and infrastructure. Personally, I am sort of middle-of-the-road on the development question. I am not against a substantial amount of development so long as the City manages it properly: demands parking, anticipates and resolves traffic bottlenecks, keeps spillovers away from residential areas, and generally beefs up City infrastructure to anticipate the new demands from all these new homes, offices, and businesses. Elections, however, don’t do nuance well.

One candidate stands out for his pro-development stance: Tony Newell (see Tony Newell is Not a Libertarian). If that’s what you want and can overlook the anger management moment from the second debate, I suppose that he’s your candidate. But he isn’t mine.

I’ve again decided not to vote for perennial candidate and convicted felon Jackson Holmes even though I’ll admit he does grow on you a bit over time.

I’ve also decided that I will not be voting for Ariel Fernandez (see Ariel Fernandez – a Grass Roots Candidate With a Past).

That leaves three candidates to pick from: PJ Mitchell, Sandra Murado, or Jeannett Slesnick.

Two candidates stand out for their anti-development stances: Jeannett Slesnick Jeannett Slesnick: the Big Name in the Race) and PJ Mitchell (see PJ Mitchell — Sincere and (Too?) Frugal).

Sandra Murado is the wild card. She’s tough, smart, and a diverse group of voters seem to like her enough to recommend her. But she’s also hard to figure out. (See Sandra Murado’s Confusing Candidacy.)

Slesnick seems committed to process values and brings a long knowledge of the city; Mitchell’s selling point is that he comes off as a really sincere person.

The negatives on Slesnick are (to some) her husband’s Mayoralty, to others her campaign warchest, and to yet others her age. None of these are good arguments. A better argument against her is that she hasn’t been an impressive public speaker and seems to be running as much on her experience as any particular program or vision; balanced against that is her demonstrated ability to put the development issue on the agenda.

PJ Mitchell is an outsider candidate. He also presents as one of the more conservative candidates; part of that might be his soft, slightly southern, accent, but part of it seems to be an instinctual aversion to spending.

All three of them make a credible case for our votes.

Who are you voting for, and why?

Posted in Coral Gables | 7 Comments