BY CHARLES RABIN, crabin@MiamiHerald.com
As Election Day nears, challengers took a few more jabs at Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, with one candidate filing a complaint about Sarnoff with the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust, and another arguing that an early voting site adjacent to the commissioner's office in City Hall gives him an unfair advantage.
Coconut Grove attorney Michelle Niemeyer’s ethics complaint against Sarnoff argues the two-termer abused his government position as chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, when the DDA used taxpayer money to send out prepaid mailers to 31,000 residences in the district to help them receive absentee ballots, as part of a campaign to drive for voter participation.
“Its funding comes from a tax levied on area property owners. As such, the DDA has no business getting involved in political issues, in any way,” Niemeyer wrote in the complaint.
The DDA program, dubbed Downtown Miami Votes, was intended to give the now-flourishing neighborhood a bigger voice, which would lead to improved services. On Wednesday, Sarnoff denied knowing about the mailers.
In her complaint, Niemeyer produced the agenda from a July 11 DDA meeting attended by Sarnoff in which the voting outreach program was discussed: "Voter registration – Get Out The Vote campaign kicked-off with absentee ballot request mailer,” was listed as a topic in an update given from the DDA executive director.
Earlier in the day, another challenger, builder Donna Milo, also took a swipe at Sarnoff.
Using City Hall as a backdrop, Milo complained about using a conference room there that is less than 10 feet from Sarnoff’s office, for early voting. Her suggestion, just before entering City Hall to take a picture: Cover up the name on the glass front door of Sarnoff’s office, and move the office 100 feet away until the election is over. She said she took her complaint to Miami-Dade’s election department.
“This [voting site] wasn’t sanctioned by the state, it was voted on [by Miami commissioners] a few months ago. I think it’s a conflict,” Milo said.
The voting site at City Hall has been available to the public for years. The state responded to Milo's complaint Friday saying there was no conflict.
The election is on Nov. 1.