By Greg Tremain
Miami Beach City Commissioner Jerry Libbin launched a campaign to create a permanent position of Condominium Ombusman Wednesday evening at a general meeting of the Miami Beach Taxpayers Association at the Shelborne Hotel.
Libbin, who also is president of the MiamiBeach Chamber of Commerce, said he needs approximately 4,200 signatures on a petition to place the matter before the public at a regular election.
He said he preferred to obtain the signartures rather than ask his fellow commissioners to simply place the position on tne ballot.
“Without public support, I am not sure the position of condo ombudsman would be funded,” Libbin said when asked why not bypass the petition method.
Libbin said the ombudsman would help all city residents by shortening lines at such locations as the building deparrtment. There are apprioximately 42,000 Beach residents who live in condos or cooperatives, Libbin said. He said they comprise more than half of all Miami Beach voters.
His proposal makes the new position report directly to the city manager. “That will give him or her the clout necessay,” Libbin emphasized.
The manager, in turn, would have to issue quarterly reports to the entire city commission on the ombudsman’s activities.
Libbin asked members of the audience who live in condo boards to arrange for him to appear before their respective condo boards so he can enlist their support in granering the necessary signatures.
Taxpayers Association president Jared Galbut said his organization will be asked to formally endorse Libbin’s proposal at its next board meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the Shelborne Hotel, 1801 Collins Ave. on Miami Beach. The board meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m.
Libbin said the ombudsman would not lobby the state legislature on behalf of condo residents. “That is not in his job decsription.”
Russell W. Galbut, program chair for the association, said there is a need for another ombudsman, just for Miami Beach taxpayers, but applauded Libbin’s idea and urged its support by other Miami Beach civic and business groups.
Libbin said he will not ask the Beach Chamber to endorse the ombusman petition, because of a possible ehics question raised when he accepted the Chamber presidency.
The next general meeting of the Tax Payers Association will be held Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 5:30 p.m., also at the Shelborne.