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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

FEBRUARY 29, 2012

DDA LOSES BALLOT APPEAL
MAYBE ITS TIME TO REALLY START LOOKING AT THE DDA, AND WHAT THEY DO

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Last October, when I broke the story about the DDA, Commissioner Sarnoff and the Absentee Ballot scheme that looked like little more than a way to help further the Commissioner’s reelection chances, one of the very first thing that I did, was to make a public records request for those Absentee Ballot requests that the DDA had admitted copying.


Instead of giving them to me, Assistant Executive Director Javier Betancourt, wrote a letter to Assistant City Attorney Victoria Xiques, asking her to provide the DDA with an opinion on whether they could give me the documents.


It was all bullshit, and was meant to act as a stalling tactic. 


When I continued to press for copies of the Absentee Ballot requests, the DDA Board on November 18th, voted to ask the City Attorney to ask the Florida Attorney General for an opinion, as a way to block me from getting the requests.


In response I wrote my own letter - with supporting documents - to the Attorney General, and they soon decided that they didn’t want to get into this fight either, so they passed the whole thing off to the Florida Secretary of State, who oversees the Florida Elections Commission.


This morning, I received from the City Attorney’s office a copy of a letter dated February 10th - I guess it takes a long time for mail to get to Miami from Tallahassee - that in pretty dense legalize spells out in detail that the DDA was not, and is not, entitled to an exemption in trying to keep those Absentee Ballot requests from my hot little hands.


Of course, the irony is that in early January I went to the Miami-Dade Elections Commission and paid $20 for a complete list of all the Absentee Ballot information on all of the folks in Commissioner Sarnoff’s District who voted by Absentee Ballot, including the folks within the DDA’s boundaries.


So, from the very beginning this was a rearguard action to try and thwart my legitimate right to these documents, but which resulted in a lot more, including the  complaint that I refiled last month with the Florida Elections Commission against Commissioner Sarnoff for allegedly violating FS 106.15, having to do with his aide William Plasencia being part of the team that worked out the logistics on this scheme well before it was presented to the DDA Board.  Here’s the portion of the law that I have alleged Sarnoff violated:


            “ A candidate may not, in the furtherance of his

            or her candidacy for nomination or election to

            public office in any election, use the service of

            any state, county, municipal, or district officer

            or employee during working hours.”


All of this has convinced me that perhaps I need to start focusing a lot more attention on the antics of the DDA.


Besides this whole Get-Out-The-Vote/Absentee Ballot scheme, the DDA are the same folks, during the abbreviated reign of Commissioner Richard Dunn, who ponied up $75,000 for those ugly planters on NE 6th, 7th and 8th Streets by the AAA Arena as a way to supposedly chase away the homeless people, but always looked suspiciously like a way to eliminate city parking on those streets adjacent to the private parking lots that are owned/operated by DDA Board Member, and Chairman of the Committee that supposedly came up with this scheme, Nitin Motwani, who over the years managed to rack up a lot of Code Enforcement violations on those properties.


Yes, I think I’m going to start spreading some more of my happiness and joy with the folks at the DDA.  And I already know where I’m going to start.


Here is the letter from the Secretary of State.