The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics heard two of my three cases involving the Village of Miami Shores today and issued the following rulings.
On the complaint about the failure of the Village administration to comply with the provisions of the County's lobbying laws, this was their ruling:
When I shared this ruling with a friend who knows a few things about politics and the law he pointed out that,
"With the money the taxpayers spend on that city attorney
you’d think he would be on top of this sort of thing. Of course
now he gets to bill the Village for his ethics training."
And that pretty much sums up the treatment that the Village has been getting at the hands of Village Attorney Richard Sarafan for years. He screws us coming in, and then charges us going out.
We'll see just how many Village officials agree to take the training and how successful the training turns out to be in providing them with the tools to change their behavior.
The Ethics Commission also heard my complaint against Steven Zelkowitz over the issues of his living outside the Village and his casting what I argued was an illegal vote on the issue of awarding a contract to RMA.
Here is their ruling on these issues.
It was a coin toss when I filed these complaints about the voter registration and residency issues, which is why on the issue of voter registration I also filed my complaint with the Florida Secretary of State and the Miami-Dade Board of Elections.
On the question of residency, Zelkowitz by finally changing his address to reflect the condo he rented on 105th Street did what he should have done no later than June, but didn't until after I filed my complaint with the Commission that included a copy of his voter registration that I obtained on October 2nd showing that he continued to claim that he lived in the house that he had signed over to his wife in August of 2016.
As to the issue of the vote in favor of the contract awarded to RMA, I once again disagree with the Ethics Commission, because the argument made in the above ruling is in direct contradiction with Sec. 2-11-1 (b)(7) which states:
"The term "compensation," shall refer to any money, gift, favor, or thing of value or financial benefit conferred in return for services rendered or to be rendered."
There was never a question that the contract between Zelkowitz, his law firm and RMA had been consummated - the legal challenge by RMA's competitor to that contract bid had claimed that RMA had lied and included misleading claims in their proposal, which resulted in the bid being thrown out - but at the time that Zelkowitz cast his vote, none of these issues had occurred, and were months from being resolved.
The only thing that Zelkowitz knew on the night he cast his vote in favor of RMA was that he had every expectation that the bid would go through, and he would be financially rewarded for providing RMA with his consulting services.
An analogy that I believe suitably fits this situation would be that a guy decides to rob a bank, writes a note, and walks in the bank. When he walks in and hands the teller the note, she tells him that she can't give him any money, because the contract with the armored car company expired, and the bank did not receive their shipment of money.
Would the guy succeed in arguing to a jury that because the bank never received any money, and consequently he didn't get any money, he shouldn't be charged with at least an attempt to rob the bank?
His intent to rob the bank was there, his actions leading up to the robbery clearly demonstrated that he had every expectation of walking out with money, and the only reason he did not walk out with money was solely because of actions outside of his control and that he had not anticipated would occur.
In any event, Steven Zelkowitz has to reveal his address and having the Village administration and the Village Council attend ethic's training is a good thing. Next year we'll see if they change their behavior so that I can spend my time more productively.