What can an elected official do with 400 e-mails on a very hot topic slated for a future zoning hearing? Just about nothing, except acknowledge receipt and send them on to the City Clerk for disclosure and record purposes. This is the latest example of the "Jennings Rule" in action.
The Matheson Hammock project creates antagonisms and frustrations both for those concern as well as the elected officials who want to be responsive. The frustrations created were discussed in a prior South Dade Updates blog post: ‘Jennings Rule’ protects everyone’s due process rights, April 23, 2011 Click on the article title to re-review the full rule.
“The commission and the city manager have received many letters from members of the public related to this matter, and that’s understandable as it’s an important matter to the city, but they cannot respond,” City Attorney Craig Leen told the City Commission at its meeting Tuesday. “They can acknowledge receipt, but I’ve asked that those letters be forwarded to the city clerk and so placed into the record...."
The reason: The city will have to decide whether to approve the $18 million structure, and part of this approval process will be “quasi-judicial,” meaning that commissioners must act like judges and make their decisions without pre-judging and based only on information provided at a public hearing. And, as the Coral Gables City attorney says, "Everyone is entitled to due process and fair process.”
Every involved person will have to be patient and work hard to achieve a result in their favor, whichever side they are on.