Bell to Beacon Council: It’s Miller Time

by SDM

SDM admits that tonight’s post is inside baseball, but the topic is intriguing nonetheless.

The story began a couple months ago when local newspaperman and trouble maker Grant Miller stood up at a Palmetto Bay Business Association meeting and challenged Beacon Council President Frank Nero. Miller – echoing a common refrain in South Dade and elsewhere in the county – complained that the Beacon Council has been ignoring our community.

Miller followed up his comments with a column and that’s when the you-know-what hit the fan. Nero sicced a high priced law firm on Miller’s company, demanding a retraction. You can imagine where Nero got the money to pay for these attack-lawyers. (Hint: SDM doubts Nero paid for the services from his huge pay package.)

Unfortunately for Nero, his high handed tactics caught the attention of Commissioner Lynda Bell. Bell and Commissioner Suarez responded by proposing a resolution thatĀ could significantly alter the Beacon Council’s contractual relationship with the county. The item is on the October 16 Internal Mgmt. & Fiscal Responsibility Committee agenda and it’s a doozy.

Bell and Suarez are demanding changes in the Beacon Council’s relationship, including amendments:

A. Providing for an annual joint meeting between the Executive Committee of the Beacon Council and the Board on or before June 1 of each year at which the following agenda items are to be discussed:

(1) the economic development strategy to be implemented by the Beacon Council pursuant to the Agreement…;

(2) Board input regarding the [Beacon Council’s] economic development strategy…at least thirty (30) days in advance of the annual meeting;

[SDM Translation: 13 commissioners and the mayor will be sending “suggested” changes to the strategy…kind of like “make them an offer they can’t refuse.”]

(3) benchmarks and goals…;

(4) the Beacon Council’s efforts focused on creating, sustaining and/or growing local businesses, including businesses in urban and rural communities; and

[SDM Translation: South Dade and much of the urban core have complained for years that Beacon has ignored them. If this passes, those areas will be front and center in the discussion.]

(5) the Beacon Council’s annual line-item budget providing its anticipated revenues, salaries, and other expenditures and a report detailing the amount of the Beacon Council’s salaries and other expenditures which are paid by County funding.

[While SDM relishes the idea of forcing Beacon to justify their lucrative compensation packages, such a public flogging could easily drive away economic development professionals.]

The annual meeting shall be noticed as a public hearing [where regional economic development organizations like the] the Economic Development Council of South Miami-Dade…shall be invited by the Chairperson ofthe Board to speak…

[SDM predicts Beacon’s leadership will be torn by this provision. On one hand, the giant egos in Beacon’s administrative offices think every decision they make is the correct one, so they’re chomping at the bit to show up the “hicks” from EDC. On the other hand, many board members recognize the danger such public hearings will cause to Beacon’s highly controlled agenda.]

B. Deleting of the automatic renewal provision of the Agreement…and the addition of a more customary provision for renewal…

[SDM predicts an explosion over this idea. Forcing Beacon to annually renew will shift the balance of power back to the county and back to the politicians. Danger Will Robinson!]

C. Allowing the Board to appoint one (1) of the voting members to the Beacon Council’s Executive Committee.

[SDM Says: They should send Souto over there. Now that would be punishment!]

D. Requiring the Beacon Council annually to submit its line-item budget providing its anticipated revenues, salaries, and other expenditures and a report detailing the amount of the Beacon Council’s salaries and other expenditures which are paid by County funding.

E. Requiring the Beacon Council to create an advisory board comprised of regional economic development organizations to provide recommendations as to the development of the economic development strategy and any subsequent plans to implement such strategy.

[SDM calls this the Grant Miller provision. In fact, SDM Says: appoint Miller.]

F. Requiring other provisions or amendments which are necessary or appropriate to ensure that business tax dollars are being used responsibly and transparently.

SDM Bold Prediction: The Beacon Council will haul every one of its heavy hitters before the county commission to beg for a reprieve. If they were serious, however, they’d announce the end of the Nero era and they’d probably get one.

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