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Thursday, June 04, 2015

Shucking oysters and talking politics

It felt a little bit like the low country of South Carolina on Wednesday night, when supporters of Ken Russell were invited to shuck oysters, talk politics and raise money for his campaign at a little party in the North Grove. It was quite a turnout along the water's edge in one of the neighborhood right on the bay. Russell is running against the wife of term-limited Marc Sarnoff for District 2 commission seat, who many feel is ill qualified for the job of city commissioner and really only being a puppet so Sarnoff can remain in office. It's quite distasteful and embarrassing. And allegedly a money grab, so that they can still stay married to the developers and builders, who have overtaken the city.

It's interesting to note that every one of the major developers have given money to Teresa's campaign and have not given a dime to any of the many challengers. I've asked a few why and they have oystered, er, clammed up. Is it out of obligation? Fear? Or do they just have such a cozy relationship with Sarnoff, and getting their own way, by paying for it?

The host committee for the fundraiser included former Senator and Speaker of the House Dick Pettigrew whose recent editorial in the Miami Herald pulled the curtain back on corruption in Miami politics. There were eight other co-hosts including entrepreneur Jeff Hicks, County Intergovernmental Liaison Frank Balzebre, Josh D'Alemberte, Bob and Lyn Parks, Kathy Parks, Lolly Anderson, and Teresa Sarnoff's ex-husband(?!) Bill Whiddon, who has endorsed Ken Russell's campaign. The event took place at the home of Shell Lumber's former owner, Paul Naron.

After the crowd enjoyed cocktails and fresh oysters, Ken (left) spoke about traffic, homelessness, over-development, ironically with Grove Isle as his backdrop; and Miami's need for ethical reform. Ken is the first candidate to take a strong position against lifetime pensions for part time elected officials. Most of our city leaders do nothing after they are elected, sit around for a few years, and then collect a pension for life, as it stands now.  

Many at the party whispered about Teresa Sarnoff's candidacy allegedly being a placeholder between Marc Sarnoff's current office and the one he would like to hold that doesn't go to vote until November 2016, that would be the county commission seat, as opposed to the city commission seat. "Any gap of time when he or his wife do not hold office would eliminate his ability to leverage his elected position for developer contributions. For that reason, it is crucial for Sarnoff that Teresa fill that gap as Commissioner," said Ken.

According to Ken, a recent poll commissioned by his own campaign team using a research firm out of Tallahassee showed that Ken is tied for second closely behind Teresa with 60% of voters undecided.  Russell responded to the good news by loaning an additional $15,000 to his campaign and planning an aggressive next few months.

Ken left the crowd with a request for support and the suggestion that "It's time to turn the page…  Miami can do Better."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

How ironic that this took place at Shell Lumber's former owner's home, given that the store is now pro-Sarnoff. I try not to think about that when I have the absolute need to go in there.

June 04, 2015 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken is a nice guy but Grace Solares has decades of experience. If Grace wins she can be effective immediately while Ken Russell would need years to get up to speed. Teresa Sarnoff, of course, would not move a pencil (or make a vote) without Marc's permission.

June 04, 2015 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are these people dividing up the vote again? Sarnoff must be laughing his ass off that the Grove will once again assure his/her win. Along with Marc's messing around with absentee ballots, we will al be doomed to repeat history. Remember the splitting of the vote last time?

How many city meetings did Ken attend before the Merrie Christmas Park issue? How many other issues did he concern himself with besides the one in his back yard. Let's not forget that Sarnoff snowed us all with the Home Depot issue, only to move on and screw us all. Wait and see, Ken will personally assure that Sarnoff will win. We can only hope for a runoff. Wake up people. Throw your votes behind someone that has been there all along, speaking up for all the issues. It's nothing personal, but maybe he should wait for the next election and go to a few meetings first. When he proves himself and shows he can represent the whole district, not just the South Grove.

June 04, 2015 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many lawsuits against the city has Grace won?

June 04, 2015 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We desperately need change in Miami, Levine Cava was recently elected to the county commission and has changed the formula against same old politics, Ken will be an intelligent and young new face for Miami commission. Not an entrenched same old same old.

June 04, 2015 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If elected, poor perpetually angry and befuddled Grace would sit there like a potted plant while the people she has repeatedly sued and vilified would work around her with four years of nothing but 4 - 1 votes....leaving the District 2 Commission seat useless and impotent.....

June 04, 2015 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are basically two ways to fight the corruption and abuse of power by corrupt officials in City or County politics. You either run against the candidate to try to defeat him or her or mount a recall campaign to do the same. Or, you go to the courts to enforce the laws. Grace has done both. Unfortunately, in the case of suing the City to get them to follow the City Charter, she has lost on technicalities or as a result of an overly political judicial system that has been willing to buy into the distorted legal interpretations trotted out by our City attorneys. She has been fighting these legal battles on her own using her own money. Image what she and other citizen activists could do if they had the resources to hire the top legal counsel in this city. We'd see an entirely different outcome as the community did with 300 Grove Bay (Related Group Mercy Hospital condos) when the Viscayans hired Akerman Senterfitt to defeat that project. You need money to fight the developers and it is expensive....and courage which Grace and Ken and others in our community have demonstrated in their struggle to get the City to follow the laws and do what's in the best interests (sometimes subjective, I realize) of the larger community rather than a select group of developers. As regards to diluting the vote and the buying of absentee ballots through the boleteros and the historically anemic voter turnout (13% of the electorate - Sarnoff won with 53% of the vote with 2,873 votes - will decide who governs for the next 4 years), unfortunately that is the sad reality of Miami politics. We can change that by going out to vote (and bringing your neighbors with you) to make sure that Teresa doesn't get more than 50% and then defeat her in the likely runoff. Let's all hope as we need change in the City of Miami and that doesn't mean more density, traffic and assaults on our quality of life.

June 04, 2015 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Follow what Emerge Miami is attempting to do regarding voter turnout:


Vote!.... your quality of life depends on it.

June 04, 2015 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is foolish to think Sarnoff is looking for a runoff to win, he is going for first round knock out.

June 04, 2015 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken would make a way better Commissioner than Grace. How is she going to work with the very same people who she's been trashing for a decade?

June 04, 2015 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grace's symbolic no votes would do nothing to help this city. Being anti-Sarnoff doesn't have to mean being anti-progress.

June 04, 2015 5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's obvious that Ken is the closest thing to change and vitality out here. Solares seems like a dinosaur already.

June 05, 2015 7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, how many issues did Ken address before his NYMBY issue. How many city meetings did he attend? I like Ken too, but he's not ready for prime time. When it comes to politics, nothing is "obvious". In which "obvious" ways is Ken ready to produce change. In which ways do Solares, who has attended many meetings and has spoken out for the people a dinosaur. Facts only please.

June 05, 2015 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. 8:03 AM: If you think wanting a befouled city park next to where your children play....that has been contaminated by the City....to be cleaned up by the city......makes a person a NIMBY (if you are going to use the term, at least learn how to spell it correctly!), your views are of no significance to anyone

June 05, 2015 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken could perhaps get a job as a junior staffer?

June 06, 2015 1:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8;03 here. Still, I ask questions and don't get answers. We have lots of parks around that are contaminated. Its great that yours was cleaned up. Now what else has he done? Putting me down does not answer my questions and only makes you look like a bully. Is that what Ken's supporters are? No facts, but be mean to the people looking for them? Its a simple question, but, by all means, condemn me for my spelling and tell me my views are insignificant. You know what is significant? My vote.

When a person goes out of his or her way to put down another for asking questions, it does not look good for the candidate. Didn't we get enough of that with Sarnoff? Ken, I may want to vote for you. Maybe you would be so kind to answer my questions on what you have done in the past for the entire district, not just the park across for our homes?

June 06, 2015 4:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If "Mr. Poor Me, I'm just a curious little illiterate being bullied by a big bad intellectual who knows how to spell" is serious about his "questions" he would simply call Mr. Russell and speak with him,

June 06, 2015 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the answer to 4:59am, this is a form of democracy where everyone (except for some felons) has the right to run for office, anyone who wants to limit the ease of access for citizens to participate in the democratic process does not believe in our democracy and wants to monopolize the system. At the same time you have the right to ask questions as many times as you wish, but in a free democratic system no one is obligated legally to respond to your questions, especially when your questions are loaded with obvious agendas. So speak your mind clearly and say who you support, not who you won't support.

June 06, 2015 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many citizens have attended hundreds of meetings covering dozens of topics. No one has ever seen Ken Russell at any of these meetings. Other than working to get Christmas Park across from his home cleaned up what has he done? UDR. HEP, PZAB, CE, Commission, Village Council, MNU, Sierra Club... Perhaps he should learn to walk before he runs?

June 06, 2015 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last time an ego centric activist from Coconut Grove ran for office we got 8 years of Marc Sarnoff. Why do we need another ego centric activist in Ken Russell? Both of these individuals applied the same strategy of exploiting a relatively non-important or urgent issue to gain popularity in their monolithic voting bloc. They pander to the same non-corporate constituents from the affluent area of the Grove. Ken Russell has personally loaned his campaign $35,000 - as a self declared entrepreneur; that is a high risk for such a low return on his investment. Either he inherited his money or he is after the same returns which the former Coconut Grove activist Sarnoff is currently capitalizing from. Very few true entrepreneurs take such a high capital risk without the possibility of a high return on their investment.

June 06, 2015 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet more than half the people bringing up Ken's lack of experience voted for Obama. Was his lack of experience an issue for you?

June 06, 2015 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The voters of District 2 questioned in the recent opinion poll seem to think Russell's doing just fine in sprinting past the people who've shown up at all those meetings and accomplished nothing...

June 06, 2015 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 300 people sampled of which 60% are undecided on whom they'll support. If he's tied for second with only 40% of decided voters I would not be celebrating his lack of civic involvement. The results indicate that the majority would potentially even support an unknown. Get off your high horse 3:37 PM. It's still a very long race. They're might be a dark horse looming in the back....

June 06, 2015 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like Ken Russell must be doing a number of things right or the Grace Solares's supporters wouldn't be foaming at the mouth about a how important it is to have attended every worthless meeting of those largely self-serving "civic" groups that have largely failed to live up to their goals of looking out for the community. The only thing that they seem to do every year is each other awards for all the supposed good that they've done.

Smart money is beginning to understand that Russell is the real candidate in the field with qualifications and skills that can take on the Sarnoffians in the remaining months of the campaign and who will make a difference for the city after he's elected.

June 07, 2015 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel sort of badly for Grace and her supporters. I have to admit she HAS devoted a lot of time and effort to trying to thwart the worst schemes of the Sarnoff Cabal. Bu she has failed every time. And her supporters appreciate her efforts. But they jumped on her bandwagon without waiting to see if better candidates emerged. Several of them have told me they now have buyers regret. But in the end effort does not equal ability and as the poster above notes, everything about Ken Russell indicates he can handle the job of Commissioner. Yes he's come from "nowhere." No.. he has not attended the endless series of pointless meetings (also skipped by everyone I know and respect in the City) that have been complete time sucks. We elected Sarnoff because he fooled us into thinking Home Depot would be terrible for the Grove and that HE knew how to keep them out. Well it is NOT terrible and he DID NOT know how to keep them out. Two strikes right off the bat!!! THIS TIME we need to think this through carefully and not make another mistake. So far all indications are that this guy Russell is our best bet. A Magic Candidate might still appear. But until then my money is on Russell....

June 07, 2015 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are 9 candidates in the race with Sarnoff leading the pack. Teresa Sarnoff will win this race in the runoff, when even fewer constituents turn out to vote. The Brickell political machinery will get Sarnoff passed the finish line. District 2 is no longer swayed only by the Grove and its constituents. It's much broader and the Sarnoffs have built a coalition over 8 years that is much more influential and much more efficient thatn most on this thread would like to accept. Let's break down the poll: 2 out of 4 have already decided to support Sarnoff - 1 out of 4 Solares and 1 out of 4 Russell. Sarnoff has 50% of the votes if the election was held today based on the above mentioned poll, which would actually eliminate the need for a runoff. This election has the same rythem as the last one and we all know how that one resulted.

June 07, 2015 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please. Anyone But Teresa.

By the way, Grace Solares has spoken out hundreds of times on dozens of issues. The only
reason votes did not often go her way is because she refused to write checks to commissioners
and their campaign managers/aunts. She is right on the issues and too ethical to "pay to play".
Next time you wonder why a commissioner voted a certain way? Check their campaign reports.

June 08, 2015 3:28 AM  

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