Miami-Dade Commissioner Lynda Bell made a promise she hasn't kept

When Lynda Bell narrowly won her county commission seat last November, the Homestead politician promised she would reform the way Miami-Dade County government operates. Nine months later, we're still waiting.

In fact, since she took office, her decision-making has been from another planet. Consider her following missteps:

• In February, she appeared on Spanish-language radio station Radio Caracol and vowed to do "everything within [her] power to stop" Cuban artists from performing at a concert that was to be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway. When speedway officials canceled the three-day event in April, the American Civil Liberties Union demanded an investigation to determine if Bell had used her public office to stop the show.

• In May, Bell moved into a spacious new district office in Palmetto Bay that will cost taxpayers $170,000 over the next four years. She also spent $28,100 on office furnishings. According to Eye On Miami blogger Genius of Despair, who first reported about the commish's new digs, Bell could have remained in her predecessor's old office at the South Dade Government Center at no cost to taxpayers.

• She recently launched her first salvo to get rid of the county's department that protects the local environment. On July 7, she persuaded her county commission colleagues to form a task force to review how the Department of Environmental Resources Management designates sensitive wetlands, a move that has drawn criticism from the Tropical Audubon Society.

• And, oh yeah, one of her former legislative aides — an African-American woman named Lois Jones — has filed racial discrimination complaints against the white commish with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Jones declined to comment about the specifics of her complaints, but it is not the first time Bell has faced allegations of racism. When she was Homestead mayor, she and city council members were widely criticized for taking no action to ban the Confederate flag from the town's Veterans Day parade. Bell — who represents Kendall, the Redland, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, and Homestead — did not respond to three messages seeking comment.

 
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4 comments
John DuBois
John DuBois

You may not like Lynda's right of center political platform, however, saying that she hasn't kept her promise about reforming Dade County government is about as far from the truth as it can be for a single commissioner (out of 13) with a strong mayor. She has made local services available at the South Dade Government center that use to require residents to travel all the way downtown, she successfully lobbied the Mayor to keep the Agricultural center in the Redlands open which was scheduled for abolishment under the new budget and saved many jobs along with huge amounts of federal funding for the region, and she created a citizen task force with environmental experts to keep a leash on the most predatory government agency in the U.S. second only to the IRS - DERM. Although I agree with DERM's mission, they have moved from a great and important government agency with 75 people to a 485 employee bureacracy who receives no funding from the county so they must raise $48.5 million in fines, fees and other revenue to survive - and that's their new mission - they have turned into what is effectively one of the largest taxing authorities on Dade county taxpayers (both residents and businesses). It's no wonder Dade County's official unemployment rate is 12% while Broward is 9% - there is no DERM in Broward. The State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) provides duplicate service to DERM throughout the rest of the state. Dade County needs to jetison the extra 410 employees they don't need and let the State DEP do their jobs. - JohnD

Carolyn
Carolyn

Spending $200,000 to move her office when she could have stayed at the government center for free is fiscally irresponsible. Imagine what could have been done with that money. And her anti-environmental stance is shameful. I miss Katy Sorenson.

Jed212
Jed212

Thanks NewTimes for insinuating that she is racist because a black person filed an EEOC complaint against her. I guess the fct that a complaint was alleged by a FORMER EMPLOYEE and the fact that the Commissioner is white automatically makes her racist. Luckily we do have a Commissioner that is white and doesn't have to support EVERYTHING that is black or Latin. Lest we forget, being white non-Latin in Dade County makes you a minority.

- she must be a KKK member! - (please note my sarcasm)

John DuBois
John DuBois

Carolyn,

According to the New Times article, the new Commissioner Bell office at 144th and US-1 is actually about $42,500 a year to rent and $28,100 in furnishings. I would agree that it is extra money for the County government compared to staying in the downtown office that Katy used. However, if you factor in the number of commute hours saved by her and her staff along with all the time and money saved by her constituency not having to travel the extra 45 minutes plus parking hassles for people who live in Palmetto Bay and south of that, you may come to the conclusion that it covers the cost of the lease each year. She has had a lot of constituency visits since she's been in office, she chairs the budget committee on the Council which consumes a lot of hours every week, and I believe she is the only Commissioner that keeps office hours until 9pm along with her staff on certain days in order to allow the working people to visit her after business hours.

She will make mistakes as all politicians do, but give her a chance she may even give you a pleasant suprise. - JohnD

 
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