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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

APRIL 9 , 2012

ETHICS IN MIAMI?
I KNEW CHILD MOLESTERS IN PRISON WHO SHOWED MORE ETHICAL INTEGRITY THAN MICHAEL MURWASKI

April 8, 2012


Mr. Joe Centorino

Executive Director

MIAMI-DADE UNETHICAL COMMISSION

19 W. Flagler Street

Miami,  FL


RE: CRESPO V. CITY OF MIAMI OFFICIALS, ET AL.

C-12-07


Dear Mr. Centorino:


On February 3, 2012, I filed a complaint with your agency regarding what I alleged was a failure of dozens of City of Miami elected officials and public employees receiving tickets to events at the city’s owned Knight Center and Bayfront Park Amphitheater,  which is operated by the Bayfront Park Trust, a quasi-public agency whose board members are appointed by the members of the Miami City Commission – who had failed to report these “gifts” as required by law.


On March 27, 2012, Mr. Murawski, presented his findings regarding my complaint o the members of the Ethics Commission in closed session.


As was to be expected, Mr. Murawski, presented a skewed and at time flagrantly untrue representation of my complaint in his continuing effort to demonstrate that he is seriously contending for the title of dumbest lawyer in Miami.


Before detailing my catalogue of Mr. Murawski’s misbehavior in his presentation, I must address the lack of respect and derisive attitude shown Ms. Dawn Addy, the Commission’s Chairwoman, and another unknown woman, on learning that the complaint being heard was one that I filed.


In the audiotape of that meeting, you can hear Ms. Addy and another woman laughing and bantering about my attending Commission meetings. (From 19 seconds in to 32 seconds)


“Where’s Mr. Crespo,” (laughter) “He’s here all

          the time otherwise. I would think he would be here

          with bells on,”(more laughter) “…so you could be on

          camera, yes…”


Clearly Ms. Addy’s attitude is derisive about citizens exercising their right to attending Commission meetings, and her comments also reflect a dismissive attitude that diminishes my expectation that if I bring a complaint before the Commission it will be treated with the seriousness and respect that the Commission is expected to give every complaint that comes before it.


Also, spare me the rebuttal that the Commission did rule in my favor regarding my complaint against Mayor Tomas Regalado ‘s failure to filed a proper annual financial report.  Even your group couldn’t overlook the flagrant in-your-face disregard for the law that the Mayor demonstrated in that case.


ISSUE NUMBER ONE


The very first claim that Mr. Murawski makes is a lie.


“Complainant, Al Crespo (Crespo), filed the instant

complaint naming as Respondents, “[a]ll elected

and appointed officials named in [the] complaint.”    

Subsequently, it was determined that Crespo meant

to limit the named Respondents to the Mayor, City

Commissioners, City Manager, City Attorney and

City Clerk.”


That is not what the complaint that I filed stated.  In fact, while I did cite the elected officials, including the Mayor and City Commission, the first paragraph in my complaint spelled out whom I was filing my complaint against.


“This complaint, while involving specific individuals,

        who if possible needed to be publicly reprimanded,

        is also intended to be a request for an opinion regarding

        what appears to have become an uncontrollable abuse

        of “free tickets” provided to both elected officials as well

        as a small number of employees and members of

        public boards in the City of Miami, often in violation

        of the provisions of FS 112.3148, and Section 2-613

        of the Miami City Charter, and the Ethics Commission’s

        own restrictions against accepting gifts.”


- Emphasis added


In my next to last paragraph, I once again spelled out who I was filing against when I wrote:


        “So, from free parking decals, to free tickets

        to events at the Knight Center and Bayfront Park

        Amphitheater, to free tickets to the Miami Heat

        games, to free trips overseas, and to the persistent

        rumors of free meals and more, the City of Miami’s

        elected officials and a select group of employees        

        seem have found a way to cash in on the proverbial        

        gravy train.”


                                        Emphasis added


Additionally, after I had received a call from Assistant City Attorney Victoria Mendez, asking me if I had filed a complaint against her – prompted by a letter that she had received from your agency – I called Ms. Victoria Frigo, your staff attorney to inquire about this, and ended up our conversation by assuring Ms Frigo that Ms. Mendez was not on my list, but that the lists that I had submitted that included the names, specific events and number of tickets received by each individual were the persons who I had filed my complaint against.


If there was any question, as Mr. Murawski seems to imply there was by his statement that, “Subsequently, it was determined that Crespo meant to limit the named respondents to the Mayor, Commissioners, City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk,” he could have sent me an email or called me and asked me directly who my complaint was against.


He did not do that, but rather made his own determination of whom my complaint was against, which then allowed his to go forth with bogus arguments as a way to dismiss my complaint.


ISSUE NUMBER TWO: THE MAYOR’S BALL


In my complaint, I cited the 2 tables that Mr. Norman Braman had purchased for the Mayor’s Ball in January 2010, and a copy of an email from Ms. Ada Rojas, a senior member of the Mayor’s staff that stipulated that, “Table 3 will be all City of Miami Commissioners.”


Mr. Murawski while conceding that, “The acceptance of tickets to the Mayor’s Ball by government officials and employees which were paid for by Braman are reportable gifts, if their value exceeded one-hundred dollars ($100),” ignored the mention and the actual presence of the members of the City Commission and their wives, and instead grossly misdirects the reader by trying to spin this into a non-issue by stating:


“While the evidence supplied by complaint suggests

that the City Manager received a seat at the table for

his wife as well as for himself, the City Manager

provided evidence that he in fact paid for his own

tickets.


It also appears that at least one City employee,

received a seat at the table for himself and his wife.”


In fact, the 2 tables each seated 10 individuals, and if Mr. Murawski’s, were dealing from the top of the deck he would have acknowledged that City Commissioners and their wives did attend this function in his Memorandum.


Although he was able to determine that the City Manager and an unnamed city“paid for his own tickets.,”  that still left 18 of the 20 seats at those tables unaccounted for when it came to being legally responsible for reporting these tickets.


Moreover, there is a photograph of Commissioners Richard Dunn, Willie Gort, Francis Suarez and Marc Sarnoff all sitting at the table, with Gort, Suarez and Sarnoff’s wives beside them.




Since Mr. Murawski concedes that the acceptance of these tickets by any elected official and/or public employee represented a reportable gift, the fact that at least 9 individuals falling into this category sat in those seats represents a prime facie case for Probable Cause, and illustrates his bias and determination to exonerate these individuals at all costs, even to the point of engaging in a blatant act of misdirection.


ISSUE NUMBER THREE:  WHAT ABOUT THE 34 TICKETS FOR DON KING BOXING MATCH, PIETER BOCKWEG’S FREE TICKETS FROM THE ARSHT CENTER AND COMMISSIONER SARNOFF’S TICKETS TO CIRQUE DE SOLEIL?


As part of the exhibits that I included with my complaint – exhibits that in themselves put a lie to Mr. Murawski’s claim that I was interested only in pursuing a complaint against the “Mayor, City Commissioners, City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk.” - I included copies of various emails identifying events where tickets had either been offered of solicited.


In the Don King incident, I included an email from Ms. Lourdes Blanco, another member of the Mayor’s staff detailing a list of those individuals who the Mayor’s office wanted tickets for.


Like the Mayor’s Ball, there was also a photo of some of these individuals sitting ringside in the VIP section, including the Mayor, his oldest son Tomas Regalado Jr. Commissioner Frank Carollo, the Mayor’s bodyguard, and Ms. Ada Rojas.  In addition, the man in the tan coat in the background is Armando Rodriquez, another city employee, who you might recall as the individual who the Mayor and his daughter threw under the bus as the individual most responsible for the Mayor’s campaign financial reports being so screwed up.  Incompetence has its rewards.




Then there is Mr. Pieter Bockweg, the Executive Director of the CRA, who oversees the contribution of 25% of the Arsht Center’s annual operating costs from the CRA receiving 2 tickets shortly after he was appointed to the job.


Or how about Commissioner Sarnoff and the free tickets to Cirque De Soleil?


Somehow, in his rush to sweep this complaint under the rug, Mr. Murawski failed to address any of these “free ticket” issues either. 


As for the photos that I’ve included in this letter, it is true that I did not include them as exhibits, but given that you, and members of your staff are avid readers of my website, these photos could not have gone unnoticed when I wrote my story in conjunction with the filing of my complaint on February 6th.


ISSUE NUMBER THREE: RIGGING THE ARGUMENT TO REACH A BIASED CONCLUSION


In his analysis, Mr. Murawski bases His conclusion of “No Probable Cause,” on two arguments.  I am reversing their order for purposes of explanation.


ARGUMENT NUMBER ONE


“While it appears that there have, no doubt, been

instances where Section 2-11.1(e) was probably

violated by City officials and employees, the City’s

interpretation of Section 2-613 – that tickets received

pursuant to contractual agreement are excluded

from reporting requirements- precludes a good faith prosecution of individuals operating under this advice.”


                        - From Mr. Murawski’s Memorandum


As part of my complaint I provided the Commission with copies of the relevant sections of the Global Vendor Contracts between Global Spectrum – the company that has a contract with the City of Miami to manage the Knight Center – and the individual promoters who rent the facility for their musical acts.


I did the same for the Bayfront Park Trust and their promoters. Each of these contracts have a “Complimentary Ticket” rider that calls for the promoter to provide either Global Spectrum or the Bayfront Park Trust with a specified number of free tickets to these events.


Neither Global Spectrum, nor the Bayfront Park Trust has a similar contractual agreement that specifies, and/or spells out the number of tickets that the City of Miami is to receive as a result of these agreements.


In fact, I went so far as to incorporate within the body of my complaint a copy of an email from Assistant City Attorney Victoria Mendez, that spelled out in very clear and plain language that the City of Miami had no such contractual or written agreement with Global Spectrum:


“My understanding after speaking to my client

        is that the total number of comp tickets is negotiated

        by Global event by event.  Historically, the City

        receives 24 comp tickets per event when Global

        contracts allow for such.  There is no written

        policy for this.  I think this truly completes you pr

request.”

- Emphasis added


So, in the absence of any contractual or written agreement between the City and Global where did Mr. Murawski get off making his claim that the Ethics Commission couldn’t pursue prosecution because the, tickets received pursuant to contractual agreement are excluded from reporting requirements- precludes a good faith prosecution of individuals operating under this advice.”


In short, there was no contract with either Global or the Trust and the City of Miami sanctioning the giving of these free tickets!


The officials in the City of Miami have for years has been engaging in an informal, do whatever they want policy of giving tickets to their friends and cronies.


ARGUMENT NUMBER TWO:  THE PUBLIC USE EXCEPTION


While it is true that the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission recently adopted a series of suggested guidelines for cities and municipalities to use when it comes to the distribution of “free” tickets, Mr. Murawski has chosen to misrepresent my complaint and the supporting documents as a way to confuse the issue of “public use.”


In his argument Mr. Murawski cites the view of the City of Miami that:


“The City took the view that, because the tickets referred to in the complaint were obtained through a, contractually negotiated process, they were therefore considered “given for the use and benefit of the City.” Thus, in the City’s view, even after the tickets are distributed to officials or other government employees, they are not a reportable gift.”


Just where, pray tell, did the City cite this view, and what documentation did they provide to support that claim?


In fact, it was my request for that information that prompted the above response from Ms. Mendez that there was “no written policy,” for the acceptable and/or distribution of tickets.


Mr. Murawski at best, demonstrates a professional laziness in the manner in which he cites “legal opinions” favorable to elected officials while failing to provide any evidence that these legal opinions are anything other than bullshit,” after the fact, verbal “opinions” offered by people like Miami City Attorney Julie Bru, who has made a career of uttering these kinds of self-serving comments. 


Furthermore, the whole premise of “public use” is predicated on the notion that these individuals in question were “given” these tickets.  The facts provide evidence that dispels that claim.


All of the named individuals on the lists that I included as exhibits received “free” tickets only because they ASKED FOR THEM.


In fact, I included a series of emails illustrating how Ms. Ada Rojas, a senior member of the Mayor’s staff considered the Knight Center to be her entertainment venue of choice by repeatedly asking for free tickets for numerous events and her friends and/or family.


All of the tickets referenced in my complaint were requested by the individuals who received them thereby nullifying any claim that any of these individuals were “present in their official capacity, on behalf of the City.(5)”


MY CONCLUSION


I submitted my complaint for one purpose, and one purpose only.  To force all of the people who received free tickets to be required to report them as the law requires.


Making all of those people follow the law would have been the best possible way to transmit to ALL of the elected officials and employees of the City of Miami, and perhaps other cities and municipalities in Miami-Dade County, that the old way of doing things had to come to a stop.


I was in my rights to do what I did, and I did not deserve the smart-ass comments and laughter from the Chairwoman of the Commission that started the hearing on my complaint.


The attitude exhibited by the Chairwoman to a legitimate complaint about abuse of power by just about everyone in the City of Miami – even Robert Meyers, your former Executive Director was forced to agree with my contention that almost no one in the City of Miami ever files a FORM 9 – illustrates why many in the community believe that the Ethics Commission is little more then a handful of political hacks with an agenda to whitewash serious complaints against the connected and powerful politicians in this community. 


The arguments and evidence that I presented supported my claim and my intent, and Mr. Murawski clearly, for his own purposes, misconstrued, misrepresented and misdirected my efforts.


His failure to provide the members of the Commission with a copy of my original complaint and exhibits as part of their Meeting Packet – which I believe was done purposely - allowed him to be the only one privy to what I had actually written, versus, what he claimed I wrote.


In the land of the blind, a one-eyed man is King, and in our bureaucratic world, he who controls the paperwork often controls the agenda and the outcome.


I therefore demand this this complaint be reopened, and that the facts and evidence that I submitted be properly presented!


Cordially,



Al Crespo


Cc:  The members of the Ethics Commission

        The members of the Miami-Dade County Commission

The County Inspector General

The Crespo-Gram Report

 

PAGE LINK - COPY AND PASTE

Copy the link below, and it will be a permanent link to this page that you can post on Facebook, or anywhere else.

My first story of 2012 had to do with a Memorandum of No Probable Cause that Michael Murawski, the Public Prosecutor for the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission issued in rejecting the complaint filed by Michelle Neimeyer against Marc Sarnoff and the questionable Absentee Ballot campaign conducted by the Downtown Development Authority.


Murwaski first came to the attention of Crespo-Gram readers in January of 2011, when I did a series about antics of the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission and their handling of the purloined letters between then Executive Director Robert Meyers and Rodzandra Sanchez, a Commission secretary, and posted a video of Commission Auditor Christina Seymour tearing Murawski a new asshole for his behavior in that incident.  The video is the 3rd most watched video I’ve posted since I started this site.


On March 27th, Murawski issued a Memorandum of No Probable Cause in the complaint that I filed on February 3, 2012, concerning the issuance of free tickets to the Knight Center, Bayfront Park Amphitheater, The Mayor’s Ball, and other events by the city’s elected official and city employees.


Murawski did not disappoint in demonstrating that he is a nasty piece of work when it comes to lying and twisting the facts to justify his letting folks off the hook.


Here is his memorandum, followed by my response that includes  a few choice words to the Chairwoman regarding her behavior  and attitude towards me expressed at the beginning of the private meeting that was held to approve this Memorandum which I am distributing today.