JUNE  6, 2016





I want to be very clear that the bad attitude I’ve acquired about the behavior of Ken Russell and his staff was not as a result of anything underhanded or sneaky on my part.  Starting in December, and ending in early April, I had 4 or 5 very clear and specific discussions with him about the list of gifts that he received during the Christmas holidays.

Not only did I have discussions with him, but I advised him on the need to make sure that these gifts were logged in and accounted for, and that I would expect that he report those gifts on a FORM 9, and that afterwards I would use that information to embarrass the Mayor and the other City Commissioners who in the last 6 years have never so much as declared a single bottle of Cuban Rum,  even though I had personally witnessed people walking into City Hall with large cellophane gift baskets, and had been told by insiders that the delivery of Christmas gifts was really a big deal at City Hall.

In Part I of this story I explained why filed an ethics complaint after I discovered that Russell did not include any of those gifts in the Form 9 that he eventually filed in April, and the admission on May 19th in a phone call where he admitted to me that the list had gone missing.

In the days that followed my story Russell attempted to minimize the number of gifts he received, and even posted a photo of a coffee mug I had given him, which he claimed was his first gift, thereby trying to shame me for being so hard on him for failing to provide me the list I had requested.

On Saturday, May 28th, I received the below email from Eleazar Melendez, Sarnoff’s Chief of Staff - who many are beginning to realize considers himself as the Deputy City Commissioner for District 2, and an arrogant and stupid Deputy City Commissioner at that - where he claimed they had recreated a list, and that I would receive it in the coming week.

That week has now come and gone and I have not received the list.

If, as Melendez had written me, “In the interest of disclosure, we have recreated from memory the list of small gifts the commissioner received around the holidays and can provide you with that next week.,” then the question becomes, if you had already recreated that list before you wrote me, then why didn’t you just send it to me instead of writing me some self-serving pap about studying the implementation of a paperless system in your office, and telling me you would send it to me later?

The other thing I find interesting is the new emphasis that Russell and Melendez have started making about a list of “small gifts.”  Is there a list of “BIG gifts?” 

In response to an email I received after posting this story let me clarify that I’m not talking about his receiving a box of Whitman Sampler chocolates here.  Among the items he told me he had received at the time were gift certificates for him to give away to his constituents and several very expensive bottles of whiskey.

Also disturbing is the willingness of Russell and Melendez to throw Pat Vegnani under the bus.  She was Russell’s campaign treasurer who he could not brag enough about after the election when he bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t persuade her to work for him full-time. She did however agree to work in his office during December, and she was the one that Russell says he tasked with making the list. 

Russell has tried to pin the loss of the list on her. The problem though is that she left in January, and I had two separate conversation with Russell after she left, where he assured me that the list was safe and in one of his filing cabinets.

In fact, the FORM 9 that Russell submitted for the last quarter of 2015 was not prepared and notarized until March 31st, which means that whoever prepared that list we can assume had to have looked at that list before determining that there weren’t ANY gifts whose value exceeded $100.

Or maybe not.  Maybe between the time that I first talked with Russell in December and explained to him what I would do after he submitted the gift list, and the time he actually did submit the list he had a change of heart and decided that allowing me to get a copy of the gift list as a way to embarrass the Mayor and his fellow Commissioners wasn’t a politically smart thing to do, and therefore maybe he, or someone else in his office conveniently “lost” the list, or maybe the list decided on it’s own to run away and join the circus.

We’ll never really know what happened to the list, or just what were the gifts he received and their value, but given the other disturbing and quite frankly stupid things that Russell and Melendez have done recently the email below does let me know one thing, Russell and his Deputy City Commissioner have made a very grave mistake in trying to Rope-A-Dope me.

It’s Miami, Bitches!