This summer, the Miami-Dade County Commission began a meeting in June and didn't adjourn it until July. That 16-hour marathon session, which started the morning of June 30 and ended in the wee hours of July 1, helped prompt Chairman Jean Monestime to announce new restrictions on citizens addressing the powerful board.
Under the prior practice, citizens were given two minutes at the start of each commission meeting to address commissioners on any agenda item that wasn't already scheduled for a public hearing later that day.
On Tuesday, Monestime announced changes were coming. Robert Cuevas, the outgoing county attorney, outlined the new procedures. People will still get their two minutes, but only for items that haven't already come up for public comment before the commission at prior meetings.
That means residents will have their chance before the full commission on "first readings" -- preliminary votes that rarely spark significant debate. Or they'll have to go before commission committees, which typically hold public hearings on items before they head back to the full commission for a second and final vote.
The commission's written procedures outline similar restrictions, but they weren't followed under prior chairwoman, Rebeca Sosa. "I always opened the meeting and allowed everyone to speak," Sosa said Tuesday. (She added that she thought it was too early to critique Monestime's change.)