Spring 2001 – Plastic surgeon’s office-1900 Brickell Avenue

President’s Column: Our “Alice-in-Wonderland” City Commission, By T. Sinclair (Tory) Jacobs

In retrospect, the Miami City Commission’s ruling on January 25, 2001 — the 242nd anniversary of Scotland’s renowned poet Robert Burns’ birth — seems disappointingly fitting.

The Miami City Commission voted 3-to-2 to uphold the City’s Acting Zoning Administrator’s ruling about the clause in City Commission Resolution 97-73, enacted January 23, 1997, for the 1900 Brickell Avenue property: The Health Clinic (Medical Office) shall be used only for consultation relating to plastic surgery; no medical or surgical procedures of any kind shall be performed anywhere on the property. Apparently the above does not mean that no medical procedures of any kind shall be performed anywhere on the property.

The Zoning Administrator’s ruling (supported by the Commission’s 3-to-2 vote) is that the Resolution only prohibits surgical procedures even though it says “medical or surgical procedures.”

You may well ask how precise English language can be interpreted completely opposite to its customary reading. You may need to go through the Looking Glass to the upside-down world of Lewis Carroll for the answer: “When I use a word” Humpty-Dumpty said, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

It is an awesome power to be able to create your own meaning from unambiguous language. Think about it. . .isn’t this an egregious threat to our cherished rule of law?

Surely, the Commission may vote to change its Resolutions. . .but to rule it doesn’t mean what it clearly says! What kind of topsy-turvy world do we have at the foot of Pan American Drive? Perhaps a world more familiar to denizens of Alice’s Garden.

To quote the bard, Robert Burns:

“It’s hardly in a body’s pow’r,

To keep, at times, frae being sour.”

From BHA News, Spring 2001, Vol. XI, No. 1