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Friday, June 12, 2015

Is this much ado about nothing?

Trying to avoid this.
Ken Russell who is running for District 2 Commission seat has a complaint - about his campaign signs. You see, the yard signs that have been placed on supporters' lawns have been removed because it is against city code to have the signs out longer than three months before an election. August 3 is the start date for these signs since the election is November 3. Ken thinks this is a Sarnoff ploy because he says that Dwight Danie, supervisor of elections told him that he could have the signs out now under city code. But he can't.

There is a new ordinance, about a year old, that apparently the election office was not aware of and it is not part of the election code handbook. Ken is claiming that his supporters have been intimidated. He says that Sarnoff voted on this new rule of three month signs. And so what? The other four commissioners voted for it, too and if I was a commissioner, I would have voted in favor of it. 

I like Ken, I really do, but is this an issue? If Ken can't have signs all over town, then neither can Sarnoff or anyone else. Isn't that fair? I personally think that three months is too long for those signs, all they do is litter the city and in many cases they are up for months after the election is over. 

To be fair to Ken, he sent this email to Dwight at the elections department on May 26, 2015: "We are about to receive our printed yard signs.  I was unable to find something specific in the handbook regarding the rules.  I just want to make sure we do things right.  Any info you can provide, or if you can point me in the right direction, that would be great."

Dwight replied that he could via a phone call and also sent Ken the city code which does not mention the three month period. Doesn't this make Dwight the person Ken should have an issue with? The law was passed at an open city meeting. It wasn't a secret and Dwight's department should have amended the rule book to include the new rule, which does exist.



The new rule was voted on at a Planning Zoning meeting in May 2014, it was introduced by the City Manager.  All five Commissioners voted for it. It was part of a massive sign related change to Miami 21 (which apparently allows for massive new buildings with billboards all over them, but not small signs on front lawns).  So the ordinance is legitimate.  The three candidates with signs out were acting completely on the Electioneering Handbook that we were given by the City.  The handbook was outdated.

"The rules that he gave us, including copies of the City code supplied to us did not have any time restraint on the placement of signs… only restraint was that signs needed to be removed 30 days after the election.  Code Enforcement cannot contradict the electioneering department.  And massive enforcement like this is not the result of a complaining neighbor.  Someone high up filed a big complaint," says Ken. "
And let's talk about the ordinance as well…. is it constitutional that anyone can tell someone else what they are allowed to place on their own personal property?" he asked.

Javier Gonzalez, also running for the District 2 seat, told me that Dwight's office called him and also Grace Solares, who is running, and they were told the three month rule and asked to remove their signs until August. They did.

I asked Mike Simpson about it, he is also running for the same seat. He knew about it, he sent me links to the whole thing here and here.


Rosa Palomino, also running for the same seat said, "
Since Miami 21 became effective at the end of 2009, there has been a political sign ordinance. The commission elections of 2013 which included districts 3, 5 and the mayor's seat had a lot of discussion about signage. It was the first time the political sign ordinance was enforced and led to the removal of dozens of signs, particularly those of Mayor Tomas Regalado and Commissioner Francis Suarez."
She went on: "If you want to be a serious candidate, you have to understand how the city works and what its rules are. The devil is in the details and they will be used against you. As per the aforementioned, my campaign is waiting to distribute our signs at the appropriate time. In the meanwhile, candidates should continue to reach out to constituents."

Lorry Woods, also running for the same office, says she was aware of the regulations: "I
was aware of the regulations and we're committed to complying with all regulations."

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16 Comments:

Anonymous Mike Simpson said...

The main issue here shouldn't be "They're out to get us!" but rather the breakdown in our law-making apparatus. This 61-page ordinance change appeared on the docket of six separate Commission meetings over the course of ten months. In that time, six different Commissioners (there was an election in there), their staffs, the support staff at City Hall, and I would hope at least the City Office of Management and Budget, the Zoning Board and the City Attourney's Office would have all reviewed the language prior to its approval. In all that time and through all those hands, no one prior to or in the year after its approval thought that it would be a good idea to include the City Clerk and the City of Miami Elections Coordinator on a single distribution list? Code Enforcement sure seems to have received their copy.

Our law-makers should be expected to read ALL the documents submitted for their approval. They should understand them and their effect on the community, even if that means asking the "stupid questions". They should, at the very least, be aware of laws, regulations, Departments and Offices that will affect or be affected by the law changes. In short, they have to do their due diligence.....ahead of time.

It is the responsibility of our law-makers to ensure that codes are enforced properly, and the easiest way to do that is proper communication of law changes so that violations are prevented (especially when the affected Office is 12 feet from the Commission chambers).

June 12, 2015 11:25 AM  
Anonymous That Guy said...

The important question here is whether we begin referring to this whole thing as Signgate or Signgazi.

I vote for the latter.

June 12, 2015 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grapevine is being very temperate and fair. BUT...people inside the City will tell you, if asked, that the Code Enforcement sign-removal action WAS prompted by a staffer for the City Commissioner husband of one candidate....so Russell isn't being paranoid....

June 12, 2015 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miami needs an obscenity ordinance against a surrogate wife running for her surrogate husband's seat.

June 12, 2015 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Russell isn't being paranoid... but he is acting like a baby.

This is what campaigns are about. If Sarnoff can press Russell's buttons this easily then what does he really offer us?

Russell should wait until he has more experience before running for office.

June 12, 2015 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Gabriel Mendoza said...

Any progressive politician should oppose the placement of plastic/cardboard political signs while campaigning. Not only are they a visual pollution, their materials are not sustainable and will only lay in land fills in the future. Materials, that when produced accelerate the carbon footprint that needs to be reduced. I'd like to see some creativity on the part of these candidates when it comes to branding themselves without materials that pollute our environment. The application of sustainable practices when campaigning leaves a much more positive impression on the health of our environment and its constituents.

Gabriel Mendoza

June 12, 2015 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just shows the disconnect in our very third world Miami from top to bottom, the whole system is based on cronyism (which by the way can also mean how much power you can exercise because of who you know)

June 12, 2015 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone active in South Florida politics knows that a 3 month rule regarding political signs is common among cities. In fact, most also have a bond requirement to pay for the city to clean up signs in case the campaign doesn't do it.

Ken is obviously well-intentioned but he's a political neophyte. This is a case getting into trouble for not knowing any better.

June 13, 2015 5:39 AM  
Anonymous Ken Russell said...

No thin skin or whining here. And I'm not trying to get the signs replaced before the designated time. My post is not to advocate for signs or the rights of candidates.

I have a big problem with the city's mistake and miscommunication between departments resulting in the threatening of residents with citations. The proper way to handle this, once the city recognized that one department had approved and allowed something that was not in line with the ordinance, was to contact the candidates, make them aware of the mixup from the city's side and request removal until the correct time.

Intimidating the residents and supporters of challenging candidates who were following the City's Electioneering Handbook (which has been revised and reissued today) is a poor way to resolve it.

Yes, sign wars are a part of politics and may seem trivial. But If calling the city out on their inconsistencies and their strong arm remedies makes me a baby (according to Anonymous) then pass me my bottle and change my diaper, because I'm just getting started.


Ken Russell

June 13, 2015 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Russell,

You stated that "we don't have a broken system - just a few broken people."

Yet, you are constantly calling out the city's system. You seem to believe the system works in your stump speeches, but like "calling the city out" when things don't work out in your favor. It seems you like crying over spilled milk, so be careful not to wet your diaper in the process.

Maybe you need to accept that you might at times be one of those "few broken people" or just a baby crying over spilled milk. You spilled your own milk, so stop blaming it on the milk man.

Along the lines of your thinking when it's not your spilled milk - We don't have a broken milk delivery system - just a few broken babies.

The Milk Man ��

June 14, 2015 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we're milking this analogy for a little more than it's worth. The mudslinging is getting udderly ridiculous so let's just Mooove along.

June 14, 2015 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Grove Mom x 3 said...

Who are voting for Anonymous? The old milkmann and his wife?

June 14, 2015 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the anon that started calling Russell a baby. But its because I think he's really young and inexperienced. Sarnoff is the biggest cry baby of them all especially when he doesn't get his way.

Ken, you have a big learning curve about how to get around the city. If you think you'll make a good commissioner, then show how to get things done with the city not just how well you complain about things.

June 14, 2015 7:51 PM  
Blogger Seth Sklarey said...

"Those who don't heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it."

The last time the city of Miami tried to enforce an unconstitutional sign ordinance it took Federal Judge C. Clyde Atkins 20 minutes to enter a restraing order against the city and he awarded our attorneys $25,000 in attorney's fees.
Can't wait to go to court on this one. Conspiracy to violate civil rights under color of law is a federal offense and the damages are collectable against individual violators.
Check out 42 US Code 1983. See ya in court suckers.

June 15, 2015 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Candidate Seth. Can you disclose if you have an interest in the sign printing business?

June 15, 2015 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Allen Pertuz said...

Is this a city commission race or a K-5 elementary Student Council campaign for president? Get over it! Put your signs up a few weeks before the election.

The whining isn't winning you any votes.

June 16, 2015 8:11 PM  

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