Less than 48 hours ago, nine Miami-Dade County commissioners hemmed and hawed over a citizen-backed initiative that would have cut campaign donations to just $250 per person and banned people who get huge checks from the county from donating.
Those same commissioners decided Wednesday afternoon to prevent voters from getting a say on the idea after County Attorney Oren Rosenthal argued the bill’s language was illegal. Activists, though, said the county was just making up excuses to tank a bill it didn’t like.
A county judge has now sided with the activists. This afternoon, Judge William L. Thomas ruled that the Miami-Dade County Commission was either grossly incorrect or straight up lying to the public on Wednesday. Thomas said there was “no rational or legal reason” for the county to have killed the bill, and he ordered it be placed for a countywide vote this November.
In his order, Thomas wrote that “there is no legitimate issue as to the propriety of the form of the initiative petition, the manner in which it was circulated, nor of the validity or sufficiency of the numbers of voters who signed it,” according to a copy New Times obtained.
Gihan Perera, one of the activists involved in collecting petition signatures, says the petition’s supporters are feeling “completely vindicated” today.
“Our people went and talked to their neighbors about why they wanted this initiative,” he says. “Then, after we did that, it was one after the next of obstacles. This was a full civil rights movement in just three months.”
The judge unleashed a stream of criticism on the county for trying to block the measure. Perera sent New Times a series of videos showing Thomas berating the county’s attorneys.
“I’m trying to understand how we get to this point,” he said. “Everything’s been done, and then the legal eagles get ahold of this, and they say, ‘Oh, no. Sorry, can’t approve it.’ And then they’re out of time.”
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