By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A motion by Miramar Commissioner Maxwell Chambers to oust fellow Commissioner Winston F. Barnes for attending meetings remotely during the pandemic was withdrawn before it could be voted on it.

Barnes, 73, had attended meetings virtually since May 20, 2020, before returning to the chambers in October, when he shared his medical conditions and said a family member remains hospitalized in a coma.

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Before withdrawing his motion to oust his colleague, Chambers said staff had tried their best to provide a safe environment, including plexiglass shields and mask requirements in the chamber.

“When you’re here to do the people’s business, you have to be responsible, that’s why we are here. We all came back, staff came back, and there’s no excuse,” Chambers said.

Barnes, meanwhile, filed a motion to fire City Attorney Burnadette Norris-Weeks after asking for her legal opinion on whether commissioners must attend meetings in person and not online. Her resulting memo said that a failure to attend for three consecutive months can justify removing the person from office.

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A letter from Barnes’ lawyer said he had been marked “present” in the minutes for each meeting he logged into from May 20, 2020, through Sept. 1, 2021, and that he was never told he may be violating the city charter for participating virtually.

Barnes said Monday that the city attorney “literally set me up” by not telling him he needed to physically be in the chambers.

The commissioners ultimately decided Norris-Weeks should remain in her role and Chambers withdrew his motion.

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