As the elections near, we’ll hear lots of promises from politicians.  They’ll say the typical things we’ve all heard a million times:  “Lower your taxes” and “Fight against crime” etc.  Then, when they get in, reality hits ’em aside the head and they don’t have the power to single handedly lower your taxes or reduce crime.  So today, we want to share a little bit about how the Miami Springs Power Structure works and if change is really needed, where should that change be directed.

Voter Power

As a resident of Miami Springs, you have the right to elect a mayor and four (4) different council members every two (2) years.  You also have the right to run for these offices.  But that’s it.  You can’t vote for the City Manager or the City Attorney or the Police Chief.  Even the City Council can’t hire or fire a Police Chief.  More on that in a moment.

Miami Springs City Council

The City Council and Mayor do not work on day to day activities.  Instead, they serve more as a Board of Directors.  They officially meet twice a month (more if a special meeting is called) and approve or deny requests from the City Manager and City Attorney as a body.  The City Council can pass new laws or ordinances. The Council can change zoning.  The Council approves the budget and approves large contracts and purchases.

The Miami Springs City Council can only hire and fire three people:

  • City Manager
  • City Attorney
  • City Clerk

The Council cannot hire / fire the Police Chief.  The Council can’t hire / fire the Public Works Director or the City Planner.  That power is held by the City Manager.

Each council member only gets one vote.  They can each make motions, second a motion, and propose ordinances, resolutions, projects, etc.  For anything to pass, the Council needs to have three votes in favor.

The Mayor acts as the presiding officer.  The Mayor does have executive powers under certain emergencies, but has a single vote just as any other member on the City Council.

Miami Springs Power Structure
Miami Springs Power Structure

City Manager / CEO

The most powerful position in the City of Miami Springs is the City Manager.  That position is currently filled by William Alonso.  The City Manager acts like a CEO or Chief Executive Officer.  He’s responsible for day to day operations in the City of Miami Springs.  The City Manager overseas all the various department heads including:

  • Finance
  • Police
  • Building and Zoning
  • Planning
  • Public Works
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Golf Operations
  • Elderly Services
  • Human Resources

Again, residents don’t get to vote for the City Manager.  The idea is not to make it a popularity contest.  The goal is have the City Council choose a professional executive who can manage the day to day functions of the City of Miami Springs while also making progress on the goals set forth by the City Council.

To repeat:  Only the City Council members can vote to hire or fire the City Manager.

Naturally, the City Council members are sensitive to the demands of the residents and can provide a vote of confidence in the City Manager if they feel the City Manager is doing a good job.  On the other hand, it’s within the City Council’s rights to provide a vote of No Confidence in the City Manager if they feel the City Manager is not doing a good job.

It’s no secret that we have shared our concerns of day to day operations with the current City Manager, William Alonso.  Here are just some of the concerns we’ve shared on over the last year:

Administration Needs to Be Held Accountable…

Too much on his plate?

Did you know that William Alonso is not only City Manager, but is also the acting Finance Director?  Alonso was hired as the Finance Director.  And by all accounts he did a fine job in that role.  But now he holds two hats:  City Manager & Finance Director

Does William Alonso have too much power?
Alonso not only serves as the City Manager, but also the Finance Director. Is that too much power?

The cynical argument is that the City Manager has too much power that is ripe for corruption.  As a singular individual responsible for finances and day to day operations, that’s the kind of position a corrupt individual would covet.

Now, let me be clear.  We DO NOT believe nor have any evidence to believe that the City Manager is in any way corrupt.

However, I’ll point you to the practical argument.  Maybe Alonso simply has too much on his plate.  Maybe, the City of Miami Springs might benefit from having an independent Finance Director.  That would definitely free up time for the City Manager to be a better City Manager.

Let’s be honest.  We can’t take on annexation with the current structure.  If the City of Miami Springs annexes the area to our west, we would absolutely need a separate Finance Director and City Manager instead of one person doing both jobs.

I know Bob Best has proclaimed in the past that the city saves money with William Alonso because he does two jobs with one salary.  That may be shortsighted.

As a tax payer and a 34 year resident of Miami Springs, I’d feel better separating some of the power that’s been consolidated in one individual.

But let’s be practical.  What if Alonso were to resign tomorrow.  We’d have no choice but to replace him with two people, right?  What if annexation goes through?  There’s no way he can handle both jobs and do them both well?  We’d have to hire a new Finance Director.

Maybe it’s time to seriously look at hiring a new Finance Director and give the City Manager an opportunity to succeed as City Manager.

City Attorney

The City Attorney also wields a lot of power as the opinions provided by the City Attorney can impact how to move forward on certain items.  Furthermore, as we saw with the Gateway Overlay District ordinances, the City Attorney has the power to craft an ordinance in ways that may get approved by a City Council, but not pass the smell test under further scrutiny.

The City of Miami Springs was represented by former City Attorney Jan Seiden for approximately 30 years.  When Jan retired, former Councilman and current Miami-Dade County School Board Member, Dan Espino, was brought in as the City Attorney.  When Dan Espino left, the City Council continued with Espino’s handpicked successor, Haydee Sera.  Sera is from the Espino’s former law firm, Weiss-Seroata Helfman Cole + Bierman. The firm represents multiple cities within its government practice, but it also promotes other practice areas including:  business transactions, labor and employment, litigation, and property.

Back in December, Miami Springs Councilwoman Jacky Bravo gave early indications that she was not confident in the legal status. While it was short of a vote of no confidence, it was as close as you could get.

Councilwoman Bravo Signals No Confidence in City Attorney

City Clerk

The City Clerk is currently Erika Gonzalez.  This is the final position the City Council is authorized to hire and fire.  By most accounts Gonzalez works hard, is very responsive, and has served the City well.

According to the City of Miami Springs, “the City Clerk is the official records custodian of the City and is also the Records Management Liaison Officer (RMLO). The City Clerk provides secretariat services for the City Council, several citizen Advisory Boards, the Board of Adjustments and the Municipal Corporation.  The City Clerk is responsible for giving notice of public meetings and maintaining an accurate record of all proceedings. The City Clerk also serves as the municipal Supervisor of Elections, administers the publication of the City Code and Charter, and maintains custody of the City’s vital records including agreements, contracts, minutes, ordinances, proclamations, and resolutions.”

The only controversy with the City Clerk dates back to 2015 and the election between then Mayor Zavier Garcia and his opponent, Fred Suco.

In the run up to the election, Zavier Garcia, the mayor at the time, submitted the treasury form on Jan 12, 2015, but all his signatures (except one) were obtained prior to Jan 12th.
That is contrary to Florida State Statute:  106.021 and 99.095
106.021 Campaign treasurers; deputies; primary and secondary depositories.—(1)(a) Each candidate for nomination or election to office and each political committee shall appoint a campaign treasurer. Each person who seeks to qualify for nomination or election to, or retention in, office shall appoint a campaign treasurer and designate a primary campaign depository before qualifying for office. Any person who seeks to qualify for election or nomination to any office by means of the petitioning process shall appoint a treasurer and designate a primary depository on or before the date he or she obtains the petitions.
99.095 Petition process in lieu of a qualifying fee and party assessment. Signatures may not be obtained until the candidate has filed the appointment of campaign treasurer and designation of campaign depository pursuant to s. 106.021 and are valid only for the qualifying period immediately following such filings.
According to this Florida Statute, the petitions were invalid.  The City Clerk should have disqualified these early in the process to give Garcia a chance to get new signatures.  By not disqualifying the petitions early, Garcia was improperly qualified as a candidate for mayor.

After the election which was won by Garcia, Suco sued Garcia, the City Clerk, and the City of Miami Springs.  However, the Judge never touched the issue on whether Garcia had qualified or not.  In an article written by Theo Karantsalis and published in The Miami Herald, Judge Marin was quoted in his signed order:

“To whatever extent Garcia’s qualifications were at issue, the time to have challenged his qualifications to run for office was prior to the election, not after.”

In other words, while Suco appeared to be correct, he waiting too long to challenge Garcia’s qualifications.  Nevertheless, the legal battle ended up costing the City of Miami Springs unnecessary legal fees.

The City Clerk could have completely avoided the lawsuits if she had disqualified the signatures in a timely fashion.  That being said, every election since then has appeared to run flawlessly.  The City Clerk is very pleasant to work with and has done a great job after that 2015 election.

In our opinion, this was an early mistake that has never come up again.  As a result, the City Clerk has earned our confidence in the job she’s doing.

Final Thoughts

Folks, Miami Springs is a gem that we all love dearly.  Miami Springs must protected.  We can only share the information.  The true power in Miami Springs lies in the small population that actually gives a damn and gets out and votes.  The ones who email their council members.  The ones that call City Hall.  You are the ones that have the power to protect Miami Springs and improve Miami Springs.

With that said, what do you think?

  • Should the City of Miami Springs bring in a full time Finance Director to help the City Manager?
  • Should we replace the City Manager?
  • Should we keep the status quo?

Your opinion matters most.  Let us know what you think in the comments section below or via social media.


    • Miami Springs constantly votes Republicans into office, yet the FB page and everything else is full of people complaining how the city is run. It certainly is a Republican thing.

  1. Miami Springs constantly votes against their self interests and continues to vote Republican, so I’m sure this guy isn’t going anywhere.


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