Coral Gables Needs a New Platform for Community Dialogue

Dialogue Needed.  This city lacks a forum for open dialogues on community concerns.  There are many current concerns in the city, including city services, taxes, fees, the city’s budget, the economic future of the city, trends in business and commerce, the Hotel Biltmore matter, the Coral Gables Country Club, the museum, infrastructure priorities, community charity needs, the environment, education, youth, historic preservation, public security, among others.

Need.  There is need  for community dialogue that goes beyond blogs, newspapers and news websites and the Miami Herald.  There should be an open, neutral, fair and disinterested forum where political leaders, business people, teachers, students, community organizations can come together to talk about their concerns without the necessity to insult and raise personal attacks.

Organizations. There are many good community and related  organizations in Coral Gables, including business groups (Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Lions, Coral Gables business associations,etc.), charitable organizations independent of the city and others financed by city funds (Coral Gables Community Foundation, political action committees  and many others that are not listed here.  Unfortunately, these groups discuss current local concerns only rarely and not in the business of a having a forum of open and health debate.

Participation.  The city Commission is reticent to have more citizen participation.  Of course, there are many city boards that serve as in indirect filter for community opinions, but the board members are selected by the Commission members and, thus, do not always account for a wide swath of views.  Citizens are invited to express opinions at the city Commission session about very specific and limited subjects, and they are usually restricted to making a few minutes of comments under the sometime irritated or bored gaze of the commissioners.

There is no good single forum where highly different views can be expressed openly and freely

About Stephen E. McGaughey
International consultant in economic development programs and projects

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