The Miami-Dade ethics commission has dismissed a complaint brought by a Miami Springs resident against Mayor Zavier Garcia, City Manager Ron Gorland and Finance Director Bill Alonso.
The complaint centered around 10,000 fliers disbursed throughout the city — three weeks before the election — to answer an “inflammatory flier” mailed from a group called “A Better Miami Springs.”
City Manager Ron Gorland said that A Better Miami Springs sided with the campaign of mayoral challenger Fred Suco and took “extreme liberties with statistical anomalies” that showed:
▪ the city had the highest incidence of rape since 2000
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▪ armed robberies were up 1,500 percent
▪ burglaries were up 186 percent
“Instead of the mayor responding with his own campaign funds, the city used taxpayer funds to send a flier to residents with the current crime statistics,” wrote Nestor Suarez, a business executive, in a complaint dated March 30, 2015, to the ethics commission. “It seems to me the city should have stayed out of it until after the election.”
After a 10-month probe, and multiple interviews with city officials, ethics investigators concluded that Miami Springs “spent nearly $2,900 in taxpayer funds, plus the hourly wages of several municipal employees who were involved in researching, producing and distributing 10,000 copies of the flyer.”
Investigators showed the city spent $2,895.86, as follows:
▪ $1,270.86 for postage and delivery
▪ $925 to print 10,000 copies of color postcards
▪ $700 for ads in the community newspaper, the River Cities Gazette
The ethics commission recommended that the case be closed on Jan. 5 because there was no direct evidence that the city manager or assistant city manager were ordered to produce the flier to bolster the re-election efforts of their five bosses on the city council.”
It also suggested that the ethics director send Gorland a “strongly worded recommendation advising that they [the city] should avoid participating in this type of ad campaign during future campaign seasons.”
As of Feb. 12, Gorland said he has only received a copy of the memo.
“As far as the future is concerned, the city administration will continue to take whatever measures it deems appropriate to correct clearly incorrect and/or misleading statements made in regard to the city,” wrote Gorland in an email Friday to the Miami Herald.
The city invites residents to speak about this or any other issue during open forum at the next council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, at City Hall, 201 Westward Dr.