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For outgoing Miami-Dade commission chair, a legacy of early adjournments


When Rebeca Sosa took over as chairwoman of the Miami-Dade County Commission two years ago, she 'eliminated the lunch break and bumped employee-appreciation ceremonies off the main agend.

The result: Commission meetings that once reliably stretched to the dinner hour and beyond instead finished by the afternoon under Sosa.

"You did what you said would do," Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz told Sosa Thursday during her last meeting as chair. "We got out early most meetings. I think we broke all the records."

In January, Commisisoner Jean Monestime takes over as the panel's first Haitian-American chair. Chairs serve for two years, and are elected by the 13-member panel. The first change may come to the commission's committee system.

When Sosa took over for then-commissioner Joe Martinez in late 2012, she expanded the panels from six to eight (and celebrated employee milestones at those sessions). Monestime is said to be considering a return to six committees in order to have fewer meetings and more commissioners on each panel. A recent Finance Committee meeting, with a $570 million property-tax allocation for Miami Beach on the agenda, was cancelled for lack of a quorum. 

Monestime has the authority to set up the committees and name chairs, and he plans to announce the new set-up in January. 

"You've led this body with such grace," Monestime told Sosa. "I'm happy I was able to sit here and watch how fluidly you've allowed these meetings to go forward."

Commissioner Javier Souto described Sosa as a task-master with a gentle touch. "She brought the whip," Souto said, "with the Vaseline."

Sosa called her election as chair "an incredible privilege." "I have been honored and blessed," she said. 

She thanked the commission offices that fall under the chair's authority, and credited her fellow commissioners with cooperating in the new meeting regime.

"Whatever changes we made," she said, "we did it together."