Letter to the City Manager Re: 3000 Shipping Ave

Carlos Migoya
City Manager
City of Miami

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dear Mr. City Manager,

Almost a week ago, I wrote a letter to City Attorney Julie Bru alleging blatant abuses of power occurring in the City of Miami. It was my mistake to direct that letter to her. Now it has become obvious to me that you should have been the recipient. I understand you are a public service rookie, so I’d like to take the time to explain something critical to you. Unlike in the private sector, where you have a clear-cut executive, Board of Directors, and stockholders who need to be answered to, as the City Manager you are a public servant. A public servant has one real boss – the public. You, as a public servant, took an oath to protect the residents of the City of Miami. You did not take an oath to allow yourself nor your subordinates to protect crooked politicians who believe they are above the law.

In John El-Masry’s original complaint, dated August 4th, 2010, he provided significant evidence to the Department of Code Enforcement that Commissioner Marc Sarnoff was in clear violation of multiple zoning regulations. After receiving a complaint from a taxpayer, your Code Enforcement inspectors are supposed to investigate in a timely fashion to ascertain if the allegations made are warranted. Instead, the Department of Code Enforcement, headed by Director Sergio Guadix, stalled for weeks, allowing Mr. Sarnoff ample time to rearrange the furniture in his office, have documents removed (as evidenced by video we have of a document removal service truck being loaded out front), and craft a long Memorandum (addressed to you) where he defended himself before an actual violation had ever been served.

Can you provide any examples in which a resident has been afforded such a luxury?

The day after Al Crespo and I wrote to the City Attorney alleging an abuse of power, Mr. Sarnoff was served with a notice of violation. That weak violation only addressed one of many issues we had with the business being run at 3000 Shipping Avenue, missing many of the key pieces of evidence that proved there were multiple violations (such as operating with a partner, using the parking provided for dog park users as customer parking, and failing to obtain a valid Certificate of Use).

Today, an article in the online version of the South Florida Business Journal entitled “Sarnoff cited for city violation,” your Director of Code Enforcement, Sergio Guadix, stated on the record that he personally inspected Mr. Sarnoff’s home on August 27th and found no violations. It is my understanding that this violation has now been “voided.”

Can you provide any examples in which a resident has been afforded such a luxury?

In my original letter, I stated: “As the Commissioner and those who have deemed it their mission to assist him in avoiding this charge believe in their arrogance that this will fall below the wayside, they are absolutely, dead wrong.” Do you think that by voiding this charge, Mr. Crespo, Mr. El-Masry and I are just going to pack up our gear and go home? The actions taken by Mr. Guadix (under YOUR watch) just further prove the point that Mr. Sarnoff continues to receive preferential treatment.

Furthermore, as I wrote the City Attorney: “[you] are potentially opening yourselves up to becoming part of a wider ethics violation and investigation by the State Attorney’s office due to your blatant misconduct. Should this [behavior] continue, you will be setting a precedent that would allow all residents who violate zoning code to defend themselves before they are charged.”

You know as well as anyone that a Code Violation is not much worse than a parking ticket. It is a slap on the wrist and allows the alleged violator ample time AFTER the notice is served to correct the violation or fight it in front of the City of Miami’s Zoning Board.

Mr. Sarnoff has proven over and over again as he digs himself deeper into a hole that his arrogance prevents him from ever admitting guilt. However, you and Mr. Guadix have aided him in digging this hole. It is only a matter of time before the both of you get pushed in with him.

Do the right thing.

Stephen Murray

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  • Disclaimer

    The contents of this blog do not reflect the opinions of the Coconut Grove Village Council, the Democratic National Committee, the Florida Democratic Party, the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, or any elected official or organization referenced herein.

    All opinions are exclusively those of Stephen Murray.

    All content (c) 2010 Stephen Murray

  • Credit

    Blog Layout and Design: Cassie Oswald (http://www.cassieoswald.com)

    Banner Photo Credit: Lindsay Brown for The Miami Hurricane

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