July Update and Personal Message from Commissioner Michael Góngora

Dear Miami Beach Residents,

I hope you are enjoying our hot Miami Beach summer and are able to take time off to enjoy our beautiful City. Unfortunately, I have disturbing news.   Wednesday night in South Beach, I was shoved and called homophobic slurs by an unknown person. I felt unsafe and threatened — no one should feel this way in our City. I was quick to report the incident. The individual was detained and an investigation was conducted.

I want to thank everyone for the calls, texts and social media well-wishes — thankfully, I am fine. This behavior is unacceptable and partly why I have sponsored the anti-bullying task force and other initiatives. In addition to implementing the Taskforce, I have also strongly advocated for the Safe Place and No Place for Hate programs. Continuing my commitment to combating bullying in all its forms, the City Commission has recently approved the Taskforce’s recommendation to incorporate the definition of harassment in all City policies – expanding protection and rights for victims of bullying. Please immediately report any incident to the Miami Beach Police Department for investigation.

On a lighter note, I would like to highlight some other important items from the July 17th Commission meeting. First, back in May, I was the only “no” vote on the first proposed pedestrian bridge for the entrance of Miami Beach from the MacArthur Causeway because I wanted something colorful and unique for our city. The developer came back with a new design from famed French artist Daniel Buren and I love it! Please see the photo of the concept below which is still being developed.

Next, I am proud to have sponsored an item that honors my dear friend former Commissioner Jorge Exposito who lost his battle to cancer last year. I sponsored a resolution to name the dog park within the new Bayshore Park the “Jorge R. Exposito Dog Park”. Commissioner Exposito was a huge advocate for Bayshore Park and a compassionate dog lover so I think this is a meaningful and deserved tribute to him. 

In addition, the Commission discussed nine (9) potential ballot questions for the upcoming November election ballot. Three (3) out of the nine (9) did not pass. The six (6) that passed are:

1) Increase the mayor’s term from two to four years; change mayor’s term limit from three two-year terms to two four-year terms.  This measure passed 4 – 3 with Samuelian, Steinberg and me voting against it. I believe this is unnecessary and will dilute voter turnout in years the Mayor’s race would not be on the ballot and gives the voters less opportunity to weigh in on how the Mayor is doing. 

2) Should be amended to increase the annual compensation of the mayor and city commissioners. This ballot measure passed 6 – 1 and I voted in favor. The role of mayor and commissioner has increased dramatically since the salaries were established at the current amounts back in 1966.

3) To establish procedures for the filling of vacancies in the city commission by allowing sooner election dates. Currently, the City Commission must wait to schedule a special election to fill the position until after the vacancy takes place. As such, we can’t really have the election at a logical time when other elections are occurring. This ballot question passed unanimously and would allow more flexibility in holding special elections to fill vacancies on the commission when they occur.

4) Asking whether the main convention center park/p-lot (located generally west of Convention Center Drive, east of Meridian Avenue, and between 18th and 19th streets) shall be named “Pride Park”?  Since the City of Miami Beach is looking to re-name this new park next to City Hall it requires a vote of the residents.

5) Asking whether the city commission shall adopt an ordinance authorizing the use of new floor area within historic buildings for the adaptive reuse of such buildings. This is a limited ordinance that would apply to older historic theater-type buildings with large open spaces such as 1235 Washington Avenue to create new floors to market those buildings for other uses.

6) Adopt an ordinance increasing the maximum floor area ratio to 2.0 for buildings in the cd-2 district, along Washington Avenue and Alton Road for office uses.  This is currently allowed for residential and hotel uses and would allow the same increase in floor area ratio for office uses.

 

Finally, I hope to see you all at the Simon Bolivar event that the Hispanic Affairs Committee is hosting on Monday, July 22, 2019, at 10:00 AM in Collins Park. See the invitation below. Also, thank you for all the residents that came out to my Power Walk that was held last Sunday. I enjoy our Power Walks as it is a great opportunity to hear from the community and get some exercise. Stay tuned for my next Power Walk to be held in September near Triton Tower Condominium by Collins Avenue and 29th Street. 

Hope you continue to have a wonderful summer!

Your friend,

Save the Date for Upcoming Important City Commission Meetings and Other Meetings:

Neighborhoods/Community Affairs Committee-July 23

Land Use Development Committee- July 24

Finance and Citywide Projects Committee Meeting (Budget) – July 26

Finance and Citywide Projects Committee Meeting- July 31

Special Commission Meeting Regarding Adopting the Maximum Millage Rate- July 31

     Gloria Estefan and Commissioner Michael Góngora Attending the Ribbon Cutting of the Beautiful Cardozo Hotel 

 Ribbon Cutting for the Mid Beach Beachwalk! 

With good community service, we all benefit with a strong quality of life. It is as important to those who are dedicated to serving well as to the recipient. It is the best way to grow and develop. –Michael Góngora

          CITY COMMITTEE OF THE MONTH: SENIOR AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

Commissioner Góngora sponsored this committee to provide senior citizens residents the opportunity to represent the needs of seniors, to foster increased involvement in city government and to provide recommendations to the commission on issues and programs affecting our seniors. The mission statement for this committee is to be advocates for the betterment of our seniors by promoting the physical, emotional, and social well-being of adults aged 55years and older, living in our diverse community of Miami. This committee has worked diligently to provide caregivers parking located near the senior centers at metered lots and garages, additional information regarding reporting trolley issues to each senior center via posters, and free beach chairs and umbrellas for Seniors behind UNIDAD.

 Commissioner Góngora visiting the Senior Affairs Committee Hard at Work for the Senior Citizens of Miami Beach

CONDO CORNER

Owners Can Record Meetings; Free Speech Rights Unclear

By Joseph Adams

Q: I recently agreed to serve on the board of my condominium association. There is one owner who comes to many of the board meetings and sits in the front row with his phone device pointed at the head table. I assume he is recording the meetings, which I understand he has the right to do. My question is whether there are any limits on what this person can do with his recordings. For example, can he take photographs of me or other board members and post them on social media type sites? (J.L; via e-mail)

A: That is a very good question and there is really no established answer in the law.

You are correct that Section 718.112(2)(b) of the Florida Condominium Act permits condominium unit owners to “tape record or videotape” meetings of the board, the membership, as well as committee meetings which are open to the members. I am not sure current personal device recording is “videotaping” a meeting (since there is no “tape”) but I suspect the law would be applied.

There is no right in the statute to take still photographs of board members, but with current technology, those lines seem rather blurred. Rule 61B-23.002(9) of the Florida Administrative Code permits a board to adopt written rules governing the recording of meetings, including rules that require prior notice before recording.

However, neither the statute nor the administrative regulations address what the owner may do with this information once he or she acquires it.

For example, I have had board members tell me that they do not want pictures of them posted on social media or other internet platforms available to the general public. While I believe that we all have a reasonable expectation of legal privacy regarding our image, those rights can be waived by engaging in conduct where an expectation of privacy is not reasonable. A political candidate speaking at an event would be a classic example.

The extent to which an association can regulate these issues is a matter of some debate. As with many issues, the law is slow to catch up with technology and societal practices. However, a 2017 Florida appellate court decision involving a dispute between an owner and his condominium association is instructive.

The association sued the owner claiming he had engaged in a continuous course of conduct designed for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the association. The case was settled by an agreement where the owner agreed to cease certain actions.

Soon thereafter, the parties were back before the judge who found the owner in contempt for violation of the settlement agreement. The court ordered the owner to stop posting any pictures or information about board members (among others) on any website, blog or social media. The owner was also ordered to remove all such information from current postings and to not start any new platforms.

On appeal, the court recited long-established First Amendment case law on “prior restraints” of free speech. Though not addressed by that court, it does remain an open question whether free speech and other constitutional rights are applicable in associations, and at least one other Florida appeals court have ruled they are not.

The appeals court overturned the contempt order and sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings, instructing the trial court that content-based restriction on protected speech must involve “strict scrutiny”. I am not aware of what happened with this dispute after it was sent back to the trial judge.

 

To say the least, these are complex issues involving reasonably competing legal interests, free speech versus privacy. From my perspective, the fact that association board service is an unpaid, private endeavor aimed at managing one’s own property (all owners in a condominium own the common elements as tenants in common) tip the scale toward the privacy side.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

Michael Góngora

Miami Beach Commissioner

(305) 673-7106 michael@miamibeachfl.gov

Office of Mayor & Commission | 1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139



 

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