Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Work continues on new ethics rules regarding receipt of freebie tickets to elected officials. Why is Councilmember Howard Tendrich without council support for creating ethic rules in Palmetto Bay consistent with the recommendations of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust?

The City of Miami Mayor is pushing a new city policy that would let event promoters for municipal venues distribute their freebie tickets to charities and the public on their own. The mayor, city manager and commissioners could request complimentary tickets, but only to use while conducting city business. See Miami Herald, June 24, 2012, Miami to clamp down on freebie event tickets flowing to City Hall

Miami-Dade County officials have been revamping policies, in part, based upon county ethics commission guidelines regarding gift tickets. The guidelines advise elected officials to get out of the business of distributing to the public complimentary tickets that flow through their offices. The goal is to avoid the use of tickets to curry favor with constituents.  See: Miami-Dade commissioners criticize new ethics rules on tickets, March 6, 2012, By Patricia Mazzei and Martha Brannigan

The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust has taken issue with the use of free tickets and has been pushing for stronger ethics rules regarding complimentary tickets. See: Miami-Dade ethics report rips ticket freebies, by David Smiley (2/21/2012).  Joseph Centorino, executive director of the ethics commission, was quoted as saying that “…even if the ethics commission adopts a ticket policy, municipalities aren’t necessarily required to pass their own versions. But elected officials could still face penalties if investigators find they violated the ethics commission’s rules.”

CLICK HERE to read the full Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust report.  You can CLICK HERE to read the addendum relating to “official function”

Said Centorino: “We’re putting people on notice.”

Well Palmetto Bay's Howard Tendrich has heard you loud and clear, but the message appears to be missed by the remainder of this current Village Council.  

Tickets have ranged from receipt of free tickets and parking to the entire Sony Ericsson tennis tournament to much lower value events such as in Palmetto Bay, where the only tickets I am aware of have been as a result of sponsorship agreements with The Deering Estate and the Cutler Bay Fireworks. 

Where has Palmetto Bay been on this recent issue? 

Current Palmetto Bay Councilmember Howard Tendrich, known as the current ethics watchdog on the council, has attempted to create more stringent policy in regard to freebie tickets. Unfortunately for residents, he has not had any support for to establish a policy consistent with the recommendations of the Ethics Commission 

I asked Councilman Tendrich for comment.  Here is his reply:

“I think the Council should not take tickets because the dollars given by the Village are village dollars given by the residents.  The tickets should not be given to council members to distribute because then it becomes a political toy.”

 The Deering Tickets have not been an issue for some Palmetto Bay council members who are paid members of the Deering Estate Foundation (including myself, while in office and continuing membership to this day) where admission to the events such as the Seafood Festival are free for paid Deering Estate members.  Of course, past council members like Paul Neidhart and current Councilmember Howard Tendrich are too busy actually working as volunteers at the events to attend as guests under free passes.

The other event is the South-Dade Fireworks Spectacular at Black Point.  Palmetto Bay currently notes on the official web site that: “The Village of Palmetto Bay celebrates its third year in a row as a primary sponsor of the annual South-Dade Fireworks Spectacular at Black Point.” 

Are there free tickets this year?  If so, how are they being distributed?

No mention is made as to whether there are any tickets provided this year and, if so, if any of the tickets are available to the general Palmetto Bay resident.  At least in the past, 10 tickets were/are made available for this event. 

The controversy concerning Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami have revolved about the use, that commissioners have in the past given the tickets to “friends” and “other important people.”

The rules are different now. What is the perception?

“The perception was that we were getting fringe benefits, and that the tickets were not being used to the benefit of the public,” said Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo, who has pushed for tougher standards on freebies.

The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust has prepared reports that have blasted other municipalities concluding that elected officials should play no role in divvying up complimentary tickets. In addition, it said public officials should use free tickets only when hosting dignitaries, visitors or community groups, or participating in public introductions or presentations.


  1. AnonymousJune 27, 2012

    Mr. Tendrich is right on the mark. The Council should not accept any free tickets. Not when the tickets are recived because the council donated our tax dollars. Let the council members buy their own tickets. They make a nice salary for the time they put in each month.

  2. AnonymousJune 27, 2012

    Any elected official who accepts free tickets should be immediately removed from office.

  3. AnonymousJune 27, 2012

    Resident tax dollars should not be used to feed or entertain elected officials. Hands off!