Death by Muck for Elder Abuse

MUCK

Death by Muck

by David Arthur Walters

Proposed penalty for abusing ALF residents in swampy Florida
DEATH BY MUCK

For People Who Neglect Poor Elderly and Mentally Challenged ALF Residents

Editorial by

David Arthur Walters THE MIAMI MIRROR

MIAMI BEACH—My heart was already racing from my second cup of coffee when I read the Miami Herald’s lead story on the front page this morning. By the time I had finished ‘Grand jury probes troubled ALFs’ the latest article in the rag’s “NEGLECTED TO DEATH,” I was infuriated, fit to indict, try and execute anyone at all involved in the abuse of poor elderly and mentally incapacitated persons wasting away in assisted living facilities in the swampy State of Florida.

Presuming that the Herald has gotten the facts right that led to the official investigation, the neglectful ALFs are chambers of horror into which poor helpless people are dumped. Those who resist are tied down and left to die of blood clots from the restraints, just for example. I felt my skin crawl at the thought of bloodthirsty bedbugs, and of rats scurrying across the floors, not to mention frustrated angels of death. I imagined Salpetriere, long before Princess Diana died there, when it was the dumping ground for Paris’ elderly and insane, a holding pen for prostitutes, and for criminals awaiting deportation to North America, before Dr. Phillippe Pierre stepped in with humanitarian reforms. I remember how the hospital was stormed during the Revolution, and compared the mob to Tallahassee politicians; 134 prostitutes were released, but 25 mentally ill women were dragged out into the streets in their chains and murdered.

Presuming the Herald’s horrendous accounts to be true, which I would fain do even though I have found a portion of a previous award-winning muckraking series to be untrue and probably libelous, I would first of all give the newspaper journalists, starting with investigative editor Mike Sallah, the highest possible award for muckraking, the Mucky-Muck Medal.

And then, still in a fit of rage, I would throw the caretakers, supervisors, executives, owners, regulators, legislators, and top officials, anyone for that matter who neglected or allowed the neglect to continue, into the foulest muck, having in mind the practice of ancient Chinese dynasts, who amputated the arms and legs of royal traitors and tossed them into latrines.

Yes, the penalty I would have imposed in all my fury, neglecting my liberal ideological religion, was certainly draconian: death by muck: eat the muck or not, the offenders shall die in the muck. Everyone is equally liable for the deaths in ALF. The charges would include both kinds of involuntary manslaughter: criminal negligence and constructive homicide, and aiding and abetting the same. As for those persons abused but not killed, the charge would be attempted manslaughter, with the same penalty upon conviction: death by muck.

Draconian indeed; let the punishment be a warning to voluntary murderers and abusers! The defense, “We accidentally put these persons to sleep forever because they wanted to take a nap,” shall only compound the crime wherever celebrities and propofol are not involved.

Now that I have calmed down somewhat, my liberal principles are coming to the fore. Let the matter be handled as it should be according to the current letter of the law, provided that the grand jury is supplied with Cuban coffee and runs amuck. As for the facts, whether or not they are true, everyone had better check on their elderly and mentally disturbed relatives confined to institutions; if you have none, go to an ELF, say you have an elderly relative, take a tour of the facility, post the infractions on the Internet and report them to the authorities.

If you are poor and getting old, and still have some wits about you, you might consider doing some research, leaving Florida in the muck if you can find a place where the elderly are treated better. Some parents in primitive times had their children stone them to death after thanking them for coming over to do the merciful deed, but that is illegal in this so-called civilized state.

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Noble M. Notas Notes on Why Freedom by George Bernanos

Bernanos

George Bernanos (1888-1948)

NOTES ON GEORGE BERNANOS’ ESSAY ‘WHY FREEDOM?’ BY NOBLE M. NOTAS[i]

George Bernanos, a Roman Catholic French soldier and writer ardently opposed to bourgeois ideology, foresaw and witnessed the “disgusting monstrousness” of fascism. What would he think of our friendly fascism? Could we survive without it?

Bernanos believes democracy in most countries is economic dictatorship. Surely that would not include the United States, the greatest nation on Earth, leader of world civilization! Well, it is true, for example, that a few, mostly white self-righteous males whom I did not elect, can, by manipulating interest rates, determine whether I have a job or not, and, if I have one, whether I can buy a house or car or refrigerator, but they do so for my own good, and they make plenty of contributions to my elected representatives to make sure everything is done in the interest of democracy. I am so happy they give me a few candidates to vote for.

According to Bernanos, those who are considered to be leaders of public opinion are only its exploiters. That is great news! At least it is my own public opinion being exploited!

He says the new form of civilization coincided with the introduction in England of the weaving machines. But of course! And now this great English-speaking Superpower of ours engineers the mechanical integration of the global ant colony, but I don’t want to be an ant. I want to weave my own life. Where are the Luddites when we need them? They would not bomb the ants but would disrupt the nervous transmissions with fiber-optic cable cutters. Bernanos thinks the multiplication of machines will lead to a Supermachine controlling all machines. That is a great idea! We should be a Super-power over all powers, the sole Superpower!

He thought France would refuse to go along with the sole Superpower because she is the Mother of Revolution. Her idea of Liberty must be recaptured. I see. That is why the Bush Whitehouse serves Liberty Fries instead of French Fries.. By the way, how can a devout Catholic approve of the French Revolution?

Capitalist enterprises will shrink in number as they grow in power, says the prophet, and he is right. Of course there are more small businesses sucking off the hind tits of the big cows. And the milk must be laced with alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and heroin to keep the hyperactive heifers believing there is such a thing as a free market. Holy Cow! The cow has horns!

Maximum efficiency makes liberty a luxury. There must be no limit to the luxury of the elite. Liberty is a threat to the quantity and quality of the average labor unit the machine feeds on.

The modification of man effected by machines is much more profound than the modification of the rest of Nature. A free man is a monster or a freak in this society. A man’s liberty is sucked out of him by the economic Supermachine, and he becomes an economic cog accounted for as a statistical unit, another speck of dust in the universe of economic discourse. Women too, for they are becoming equal to men hence they also suffer his destiny, being ground down to almost nothing. Dictatorship is the symptom of the disease. Corporations are run from the top down like military organizations – in the economic sphere they evolve towards the perfection of capitalism in fascism. We do not elect the corrupt corporate executives and directors who have command over our working lives. At least they have freedom in their criminality as they collude with the political leadership, whose crimes against alien humanity are ignored within their respective domains. At least they will not be sentenced to prison if the economy collapses due to their greed and corruption.

Technocrats determine the daily circumstances of our lives. Machines are collectivism’s coercive tools. Forget about oiling squeaking cogs, simply dispose of refractory individuals. I wonder: Is anyone besides myself sick and tired of having the latest update shoved down their throat? They want me to welcome their change, but I do not want to be a welcome mat for their change! But the change is often subtle, creeps up unseen. People think of machines in crude terms, such as a steam engine or drill press. But the Supermachine is unseen, and it is not God. The storm troopers no longer have to break down doors. The Supermachine is watching us, babysitting us, and we think we are watching television, reading the newspaper, surfing the Net. But we are not thinking. We are being thought by the Supermachine, being replicated in its image. The consumer is created by advertising. We are unwittingly being manufactured by propaganda. Hypnotized by the media, unable to make our own independent judgments, we have become indifferent creatures of habit. We are ripe for tyranny. Any threat to the social structure will terrify individuals and give them reasons to embrace a police state with open arms, to renounce in name those liberties they have already resigned in fact.

Bernanos says we are losing our autonomy as we are absorbed by the economic machine, and that the power of technocrats is far greater than that of the old tyrants. He does not think we will be led by robots out into the fields like slaves, or that machines will get so smart that they will kill off humans before humans get wise and pull the plug. The machines themselves are not the masters. The machines are not inherently dangerous, but those who own the machines and have power over them are exceedingly dangerous. The entire society can be manipulated with a few controls. Yet the Supermachine itself becomes dangerous as more and more machines are integrated; machine-life takes on a momentum of its own and works against the freedom of the builders of those machines. People come to believe the process is inevitable because they have succumbed to the loss of their freedom. What we have here is not a question of destroying machines but of restoring human dignity. Man is not an ant.

To truly hope, we must discard the illusions of our false hopes.

Our present age is not a mere stage in the progress of civilizations, but is rather an abortive anti-civilization, an error that must be denounced!

Liberalism thought machines could march along by themselves. Communism pushed the machines along with them. The so called progressive ideology of liberal Jeremy Bentham and of communist Karl Marx has destroyed and devoured many millions of men.

A mechanical utopia is only a paradise for degraded men. Only the divine freedom of man can make its realization impossible.

Humanity is critically ill. Without a great spiritual regeneration, it will soon die.

I wonder what sort of spiritual rejuvenation would suffice. Bernanos was a conservative Catholic. The Church, when not subservient or identical to the State, was a viable alternative to the hateful war of all against all; or at least the Church was a sanctuary for dissidents and hunchbacks. Paradoxically, by submitting to its hierarchically arranged absolute authority, the Catholic was freed.

There is no freedom in a vacuum; freedom is always from something or the other. Submission to higher or spiritual authority in order to be freed from lower or secular authority is not unique to Catholicism, but holds generally true of all religions. Yet this seems to be jumping from the frying pan into the fire, or going to prison to be free.

The monastery is a voluntary penitentiary for penitents. There are times when I would be a monk if only there were a god I believed in or a religion I approved of. But there are none yet. Someone said I have a “conflict with authority” and cannot be saved because I will not submit to authority, because I will not commit virtual suicide to be saved, and so on. There is a big demand for fraud: maybe I should lie to be good, even to be a saint.

Miguel de Unamuno, a devout enough Catholic I think, wrote a story about Saint Emmanuel the Good, Martyr, an atheist priest who lied to be good, and thus was the savior of his village. Only his assistant knew he was an atheist. Perhaps it is enough for an atheist to love the Church.

We know how corrupt the exoteric Church became, so much so that disgruntled monks fled once again into the wilderness, where the Church had found them before they became monks, when they were hermits, and organized them. The Cistercians prepared a retreat for the nobleman Bernard, the saint who denounced the corruption of the Church and became the foremost propagandist for the Crusade. The Cistercians did quite well economically given their cheap monkish labor, and contributed to an economic boom; then the merchants moved in and took over pending the next purge.

Every once in awhile there must be a cleansing it seems, led by a Savonarola or Muhammad if not a Lenin or Stalin. Under Savonarola’s plan, the excess wealth is taken to the town square and burned. Do not worry, however, for we learn that nothing really valuable was burned, just trinkets and the like. Man himself remains corrupt, so a baptism in a flood of blood is warranted.

Every once in awhile the fundamentalists had to come out of Arabia and set things right again, for the further away one got from the desert, the more the Islamic spirit was corrupted by things. The sacred fetishes of the pagans including the “educational” images of the Christian soldiers must be smashed by ghazis.

I would at least have a few holy possessions, which takes me back to the Church. If I were pope I think I would reform the Church. Everyone would have to have basic training in a monastery, to which they must return for three months every two years. And if someone takes his virtual suicide seriously enough to meet his maker now, he or she could have the lethal injection providing the appropriate conventicle approves. Priests and nuns who so choose could have group sex with each other once a month, for dyadic love relations weaken social ties. On the other hand, Christina might be born from a rib of Christ to take as wife, and then priests could marry nuns.

But I am not pope, so the Church is not for me. Still, I would love to be spiritually regenerated every two years or so. There should be some place people like me can go, a place where each person has their own free cell where they can get recharged, yet still have the company of their fellows, without having to commit a crime.

Noble M. Notas

[i] Noble M. Notas is the nom de plume employed by David Arthur Walters for his academic notes.

Can Miami Beach Fire Rescue save Miami-Dade Ethics Commission?

 FIRE

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH FIRE RESCUE RIDES AGAIN

Unearthed Fire Department Case Illuminates Nature of County Ethics Commission

28 November 2014

By David Arthur Walters THE MIAMI MIRROR

David Weston provided the Miami Mirror with hitherto unpublished Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust investigative report number K08-116, in the matter of gifts provided to fire department regulators by an auto show promoter. The dismissive report, dated 4 May 2009, illuminates the institutional blindness of the ethics commission’s investigative staff, especially in respect to the suspicious behavior of officials of the City of Miami Beach.

Weston, who has an engineering degree, was a consulting fire inspector or non-classified employee with the city’s fire department. He was terminated because he persistently complained that the city was failing to collect millions of dollars in fees, a claim that was deemed credible by law enforcement. Some of his claims have more recently been proven true by the Miami Herald even though Jimmy Morales, Esq., the city manager hired on April Fools Day 2013 to curb corruption, did exactly what he promised not to do, and brushed Weston’s allegations under the rug by referring it to the Human Resources Department, whose lawyer peremptorily dismissed the allegations.

Weston, characterizing certain city departments as racketeering operations, has persisted with his investigations and whistle blowing since his termination on the pretext that his investment in a boat docking business in which a private inspector also had an interest violated ethics code. A rumor was circulated among city employees that portrayed him as the leader of a corruption ring, and he says that he was treated at an initial meeting with law enforcement as if he were a criminal for blowing the whistle, yet not one iota of evidence has surfaced that he himself was corrupted in any way; quite to the contrary.

Weston is affluent, and his wife is a lawyer, yet he has thus far declined to bring a defamation suit against the city for refusing to purge his file of its allegedly false and malicious content because, he says, he believes defamation lawsuits are unproductive, he desires to remain on the good side of the government as a private inspector, and he has faith that government on the whole can be reformed with his help to that side.

Sylvia Batista, the author of K08-116, interviewed Weston, and her report mentions that “Weston was forced to resign from his City job on 3/21/08 ostensibly for committing an ethics violation involving his ownership of a business devoted to managing inspections and expediting permits. Weston recalled that in reality he was fired in retaliation for having come forward with information that led to an investigation by the FDLE (Special Agent White) and Miami-Dade County Police Department Public Corruption Bureau (Agent Alex Baldor). The information provided by Weston leading to the investigations involved permit fees not being properly assessed and collected by the City on very large and valuable properties.”

She did not mention in the report, concluded in mid 2009, that the county ethics commission for which she worked had cleared Weston of the ethics charges in a 2 September 2008 letter, in re File RQO 08-36, signed by Executive Director Robert Myers and sent to Weston, with a copy to Jean Olin, special counsel to the City of Miami Beach. In 2013 I provided City Attorney Jose Smith, who was appointed in 2006, with an opportunity to answer Weston’s allegations about the involvement of his legal department in Weston’s wrongful termination. Smith, who would resign in 2014, categorically denied any involvement of his office whatsoever. On 13 March 2013, he reported to the city commission that David Weston was not forced out of employment with the city, that he “was terminated from employment for violating provisions of the Miami Beach Code Article VII Standard of Conduct and several provisions of the Miami-Dade County, Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics ordinance.”

Batista’s investigative report asserted that information had been received that Sonia Machen, then fire marshal for the city’s fire department, had commanded a firefighter to pick up free tickets to an auto show, to be distributed to fire department employees, contrary to county and city policy prohibiting conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest tempt officials to use their offices for personal gain, which is the simple definition of public corruption.

Theoretically, if regulators with the fire department did not receive free tickets for themselves, family, and friends, they might over-regulate or wrongly regulate such events. Even worse, firefighters might drag their feet if the premises caught on fire. Of course, ethical fire inspectors and fighters are incorruptible; still it is best not to put temptation in the way and then rely on the consciences of the others; bribes of all kinds including tickets to auto shows should be absolutely prohibited.

A firefighter by the name of Renato Sejas, who happened to be the special events coordinator for the convention center where the annual South Florida Auto Show was to be held, testified that he had encountered the event’s promoter, who asked him if he needed tickets. He replied that the fire department’s no-gift policy, re-published in 2007 by Sonia Machen, fire marshal, prevented him from accepting tickets. Then Machen asked him if he had gotten tickets for the year. He said he told her that he did not understand how tickets could wind up at the fire department, and asked her if she still wanted the tickets. Yes, she wanted him to get the tickets. He asked how many she wanted. Two-hundred would do, she answered, so he got 200 tickets, valued at $2,000, from the promoter, and delivered them to Fire Chief Yuhr, putting them on his desk, saying, according to Chief Yuhr, something like “I don’t agree,” or “I don’t think anybody should accept tickets.” Yuhr said he kept 20 of the tickets for himself and doled out the rest.

The “zero-tolerance” no-gift policy Machen promulgated by email in 2007 was presumably based on the Miami-Dade County Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance Section 2-11.1 (g), which states that no person “shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or others except as may be specifically permitted by other ordinances and resolutions previously ordained or adopted or hereafter to be ordained or adopted by the Board of County Commissioners.”

The no-gift policy had already been established in a 13 August 2003 interoffice memorandum to all personnel signed by then Fire Chief Floyd Jordan:

“To maintain a high level of public trust an promote confident in our integrity and objectivity in Life Safety, Fire and Code Enforcement, the following directive shall be effective immediately: No member or employee of the Miami Beach Fire Department shall solicit or accept any gift, including money, services, loans, travel, entertainment, hospitality, or alcoholic beverages, which can be reasonably inferred or intended to influence, or reward for any official action taken by an Department employee, in their capacity as Firefighter, Fire Inspector, or Supervisor….”

A separate, 10,000 essay might be drafted elsewhere and entitled ‘The Nature of Reasonable Inference and Intention, and their relation to Prosecutorial Discretion.’ Suffice it to say here that whether or not a proposition is reasonable or not depends on critical scrutiny by the crowd that includes wits as well as dimwits, and not on a single investigator’s conclusion tucked away, out of sight, in a cabinet somewhere pending execution of a document destruction policy.

Sonia Machen told the investigator that she did not intend her no-gifts policy to apply to gifts distributed to employees by the city or their own department, as opposed to being received directly from event promoters. It stands to “reason” that a gift from your employer is not a gift from someone else even though your employer is the intermediary for the gift.

The ethics investigator apparently did not examine a copy of Machen’s 2007 email reiterating the policy. Machen admitted that the policy needed to be clarified in that respect. She explained to the investigator that the fire department received complimentary tickets each year for the auto show as well as for the home show, and, until very recently, for the boat show. The tickets are then distributed amongst fire rescue employees, including regulatory personnel from her department. The distribution of show tickets “has been done for years” in the fire department, she said, which receives 200 complimentary tickets every year and distributes them to its employees.

The lease agreement with the promoters of the show provided that the city was to get 400 tickets. The ethics investigator assumed those tickets were an ethical inducement for it to enter into a contract, not a bribe to the city at large or to the officials to whom the tickets were distributed. The issue, as she saw it, was that the 200 tickets provided for the fire department were over and above the 400 given to the city, so, in the future, tickets for the fire department should be included in the lease agreement. Still, the 200 this year could not be counted as bribes because they were given to the firemen’s boss and not to the firemen as individuals.

That rationale allowed the ethics investigator to dismiss inquiry number K08-116, apparently the 116th K file for the year 2008, and the ethics commission to file it away or brush it under the rug with other K files out of sight of the public instead of publishing it on its the website with C files, which are similar it in the formal sense that an investigation has been conducted and the suspicions dismissed for lack of probable cause.

Incidentally, one might wonder why the city, instead of including tickets in the contract, would not simply buy the tickets and hand them out to employees with their pay checks as bonuses, which is one way free tickets had been previously distributed. Well, the value of the tickets would probably be taxable to the employee. Perhaps a whistleblower might seek advice from the Internal Revenue Service as to whether the tickets to all events in the past years should have been reported as compensation to employees, and, if so, if income taxes should have been withheld and forked over by the city, or paid by the recipients.

By the way, what was the real value of the tickets? How much do people actually pay on the average to see automobiles advertised? The promoter told Batista that he did not know of the no-gift policy, and that the face value of the tickets was $10, but tickets discounted from that amount had been distributed around town. Who knows? Maybe they were worth a dollar. The fire department used to allow employees to accept gifts less than $25, but that amount had since been changed to zero.

Governments may or may not provide for the acceptance of gifts up to certain limits, and may or may not allow gifts of nominal value or trivial gifts to be accepted—would a fire department inspector sell his soul for a coffee mug? For example, take the recently published rules of just a few governments that mention tickets in their rules:

In Connecticut, if you are a public employee you may not accept gifts from entities you do business with or regulate except token items worth $10 or less aggregating $50 or less from a single source. Gifts between supervisors and subordinates must be less than $100.

If employed by New Jersey, you may not accept any gift whatsoever from anyone related to your official duties except gifts of trivial or nominal value offered to the public in general or gifts from supervisors or subordinates. State employees may not attend events in their public capacity unless a legitimate state purpose is served, and attendance must be approved beforehand by the Ethics Liaison Officer.

If you work for New York City, you may not accept gifts aggregating $50 or more from anyone that does or intends to do business with the city. Exceptions include tickets to functions encouraged by city policy, or where your agency has provided written approval on the grounds that your attendance would be in the interests of the city.

As for Washington State, you may not accept gifts when it could be reasonably expected that it would influence your official behavior. Unsolicited gifts of nominal value may be accepted such as flowers, plaques, and refreshments where your attendance is required, etc.

If you work for Maryland, you may not solicit or accept gifts, including gifts to sporting events, meals and alcoholic drinks, with certain exceptions such as gifts of nominal value such as coffee mugs, and, if you are a high official, you may accept tickets to a charitable, cultural or political event. Tickets with a value exceeding $20 must be reported on the recipient’s finance disclosure statement.

In Ohio you may accept gifts of nominal value such as coffee mugs, t-shirts and mouse pads from anyone, but you may not accept gifts of substantial value such as tickets to sporting events from entities doing business with or regulated by your agency.

The City of Miami Beach may want to prohibit all employees from accepting tickets not only from entities that contract with the city but from the city itself unless those tickets are paid for by the employee or included as compensation in payroll reports.

Although the particular issue here at hand is as old as Rome, it illustrates the methods enjoyed by ethics investigators, who are themselves public officials, to excuse what appears to be the unethical conduct of public officials, and even to make sure that inquiries about their conduct never become an published formal finding of no probable cause or a formal complaint filed with the Ethics Commission.

One principle often employed is that IF it is customary for public officials violate an ethics ordinance because no one has complained about it before, THEN they should not be prosecuted when someone finally complains. That is, custom trumps the law; a law unenforced is no law at all. When you get away with wrong long enough, wrong seems right. In a similar way, monumentally absurd Supreme Court decisions are allowed to stand unchallenged for so long that lawyers are leery of challenging them.

As we have seen in her investigation of Machen et al, the ethics investigator seemed to believe that the ordained prohibition should be ignored because it had been the venerable custom to ignore it. However, since the practice looked bad, and condoning it outright would look bad, she suggested strictly adhering to the workaround already worked out to sanction the venerable practice with a disguise: make sure the tickets for the firemen are included in the document leasing the city’s convention center to the promoter.

Another example, one that includes obeisance to tradition, is the opinion of ethics commission advocate Michael Murawski, Esq. in his published investigative report on the Club Madonna Affair. Leroy Griffith, the totally nude club’s owner, said that city officials, most of them lawyers, tried to extort him out of $30,000 to pay the legal fees of Jane Gross, whom he had sued for defamation, she being the wife of a sitting commissioner who opposed his application for a liquor license. Murawski leaned on the venerable tradition that wrongdoing by officials was usually not prosecuted by the commission when done under the advice of attorneys. After all, how would someone know that an act was wrong if the city attorney, the authority on the subject who was himself a defendant, said the act was legal?

I myself was asked at an ethics commission meeting, would I not rely on the advice of an attorney in ethical matters? I certainly would not, and not because I thought an attorney could not get me acquitted if I was charged with an offense, but because I believe sophistries have rendered all too many lawyers institutionally blind to the Good, and that every individual must look for his integrity or integration with the Good in his conscience after perusing the great classical conversation on ethics. Conservative authority does not like skeptics very much although the progress of civilization, if freedom is the ground of being, depends on skepticism outrunning dogmatism in the long run.

The reader may recall a similar case because it received a great deal of fanfare in the press, a 2011 case of allegedly criminal ticketing. There, 26 items of greater value than the 200 items in the Machen case were questioned because the city tried to get them into a contract.

According to a 20 October 2011 report by the Miami Herald, the Florida State Attorney’s office declined to bring criminal charges against Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez and his right-hand assistant Hilda Fernandez for demanding 26 tickets to every New World Center event plus $10,000 in tickets to the symphony’s gala fundraising event in return for making a $15 million reimbursement grant. The demand was reportedly made by Mr. Fernandez upon Neisen Kasdin, the New World Symphony’s chairman, who subsequently initiated the complaint. He declined to discuss the closing of the investigation with the Herald, stating that the issue had been worked out with the city. Chief Assistant State Attorney Jose J. Arrojo’s memo stated that a law prohibiting officials from “soliciting or demanding any gift” may have been violated, but he declined to prosecute the case because proof of criminal intent would be improbable given the fact that a longstanding city policy of obtaining tickets for distribution had been condoned in 1992 by the Florida Commission on Ethics, and that the City of Miami Beach had resolved a year later that such tickets were for distribution to the needy.

No doubt needy voters, not to mention wealthy voters, appreciated the expensive tickets to the annual wine and food festival. Hell would have frozen over before I received a ticket from the city manager. A recommendation was made to distribute such tickets randomly via blind drawings.

Apparently, the rulings of county and state ethics commissions, resolutions by city commissions, arbitrary opinions of state attorneys, and the institutional blindness of state governors and attorney generals who refer complaints about the negligence of the former right back to the former, trump criminal laws in the State of Florida, especially in South Florida.

Whatever the laws are, they might not be enforced for one reason or the other. Indeed, residents have long known that the violation of some laws is virtually traditional in Miami Beach, where ordinances are even passed to please people, the commissioners publicly patting themselves on the back with press releases, knowing very well that the ordinances they pass will never be enforced, wherefore disobedience will become a long tradition….

Another principle followed when the truth is outed is to caution officials to avoid similar appearances of impropriety in the future. Appearances of impropriety are best avoided because it reduces the probability that officials might be caught committing improper deeds. Of course illusive casuistry can make seemingly obvious appearances of impropriety appear quite proper. That is why lawyers have been called magicians.

Since the ethics report on the 200 extra tickets Machen wanted for the fire department was not published by the Ethics Commission, its advice was limited to the officials involved instead of warning all county officials, as is done in public Ethics Instruction, as well as to inform the public of what conduct is expected of public officials, and what the appearances of misconduct might be so they can notice it and file complaints accordingly.

According to David Weston, the Machen report was exceedingly difficult to for him obtain even though he was one of the persons interviewed on the matter. Rhonda Sibilia, the communications director for the county ethics commission, informed me that such reports are not posted on her commission’s website because there are too many of them. However, she said, they are available to the public as public records on request.

It follows that whosoever requests particular reports would have to know of their existence beforehand; otherwise, the proceedings of the public inquisitors would never see the light of day.

Mr. Weston was privileged to receive his copy as a PDF free of charge; therefore, since our editor is flat broke, we have asked Mr. Weston to obtain all the so-called K Reports for the last five years in PDF format with optical character recognition facilitated, and turn them over to the Press. That would help analysts illuminate the collective unconscious factor buried in ethics commission files, the submerged basis from which arise the conscious apex: i.e. the proceedings and judgments it deems worthy of being known on its website.

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ETHICS COMMISSION REPORT:

https://www.scribd.com/doc/248343952/Miami-Dade-County-Ethics-Commission-Report-in-Re-Miami-Beach-Fire-Marshall