Mayoral authority plan gets mixed reviews in commission
Sebastian del Marmol
plan by Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas for an independent authority
to operate Miami International Airport is poised to create a rift
in the county commission, with numerous commissioners already weighing
in on the plan.
drafted, the mayor would create a five-member Aviation Authority to
function as a corporate board of directors. The authority would appoint
an aviation director who would control the airport's billion-dollar
authority members would be chosen by the commission and one each by
the mayor and governor, according to the Penelas plan. All members
would be selected from a list compiled by a nominating committee of
representatives for local business organizations.
facets of the plan appear to have been included to appease commissioners,
many of whom are leery of losing more power, there is concern about
the intent and potential effectiveness of the plan.
Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, who will probably be Mr. Penelas' primary
challenger in this year's mayoral election, blasted the plan, saying
that instead of fixing what was wrong with the airport it would institutionalize
the shortcomings of the current system.
Diaz de la Portilla said he has long criticized operations at the
airport for allowing political cronyism in decision-making.
current system has been very good to Mr. Penelas and his cronies.
Now they want to institutionalize it to make sure it will continue
to be very good for them and very bad for the people of the county,"
Mr. Diaz de la Portilla said.
he said the status quo must change at the airport and that an independent
authority may be the best solution, he said the mayor's plan is not
general the concept of an authority is viable, but it depends on the
specifics," he said.
Diaz de la Portilla said the method of selecting authority members
would not insulate them from the meddling of politicians.
the mayor convened a special blue ribbon committee to look at airport
governance issues last year, he ignored one of its major recommendations
in drafting his plan. The committee sought to put most authority selections
under the control of the governor.
Mr. Penelas said his plan would model management of the airport after
systems at a highly rated business, he said the plan might need work.
suggested governance structure is a work in progress," he said.
"I look forward to the input and recommendations from my colleagues
on the commission."
mayor is likely to count on the support of Commission Chair Gwen Margolis.
Ms. Margolis had previously considered her own authority ordinance
but chose instead to ask commissioners to pass a resolution calling
for a countywide vote to determine governance of the airport.
Margolis deferred a vote on her resolution last week in deference
to the mayor's proposal.
spokesperson for Ms. Margolis, who was out of town, said the resolution
along with the mayor's ordinance will be discussed at a June 13 commission
other commissioners have not yet voiced opinions on the mayor's plan,
many have already taken a stance on the authority issue.
Carey-Shuler sponsored an ordinance creating another kind of airport
authority one that did not have budgetary powers earlier
this year but has been otherwise against an independent authority.
the failure of the previous airport authority ordinance, Jimmy Morales
said he supports creating an independent body to run the airport.
makes sense to have the issue go to a referendum before the commission.
That way you prevent argument on the specifics of the authority until
its creation is assured," Mr. Morales said.
Diaz de la Portilla disagreed.
felt that was one of the problems with" the resolution sponsored
by Ms. Margolis, he said. "It has no specifics. If you allow
a proposal to go forward that way, you'll let cronies write it the
way they want."