Like many Americans dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Winston Barnes spent most of the last year working remotely from his Miramar home. Due to health issues, Barnes felt working from home was best for his family. Winston Barnes, a longtime City of Miramar commissioner, attended all required government meetings via a webcam hookup.
Not wanting to run afoul of the law, Winston Barnes relied upon a legal document prepared by Miramar City Attorney Burnadette Norris-Weeks. According to Barnes, a November 11, 2020 memorandum written by Norris-Weeks states city commissioners are not required to physically attend meetings. Barnes claimed he relied upon Norris-Weeks’ legal opinion when he attended Miramar Commission meetings remotely from May 2020 to September 2021.
Barnes states official meeting minutes from that time period show he as present and participated in the meetings.
But on October 25, 2021 Barnes claims Burnadette Norris-Weeks “suddenly and surprisingly completely reversed course and now opined that participation is not the same as attendance, and that Commissioner Barnes could be relieved of his office by a majority vote of the City Commission.”
Now, Miramar Commissioner Maxwell Chambers submitted a resolution, drafted by Norris-Weeks, calling for the removal of Commissioner Winston Barnes. The resolution states:
WHEREAS, during the period of October 28, 2021, through September 29, 2021, Winston F. Barnes failed to physically attend a meeting of the City Commission for a consecutive period of more than three (3) months; and
WHEREAS, the Commission finds that it is in the best interest of the City and Commission that Winston F. Barnes be relieved of his commission office for his failure to physically attend meetings of the City Commission for a consecutive period of more than three (3) months.
The resolution will be heard at the November 15, 2021 commission meeting.
Also on the November 15th agenda is a resolution by Winston Barnes calling for the termination of City Attorney Burnadette Norris-Weeks. Barnes’ resolution includes a letter from his attorney Keith Poliakoff of Government Law Group. In that letter, Poliakoff shreds Norris-Weeks’ legal arguments and her interpretation of the law and Florida Attorney General opinions.
Burnadette Norris-Weeks is already embroiled in a costly legal battle surrounding her termination as city attorney by the Pahokee City Commission. She also serves as a legal advisor to controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.
Last week, Burnadette Norris-Weeks advised Holness during the recount process for the CD 20 election. Holness remains five votes behind Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick.
Holness enjoyed the support of Miramar Commissioners Maxwell Chambers, Yvette Colbourne and Alexandra Davis. The four were spotted together at numerous City of Miramar events during the election.
Unlike his fellow commissioners, Winston Barnes is not listed in the endorsement section of Dale Holness’ website.
Winston Barnes’ social media is devoid of any pictures or mentions of Dale Holness.
Is this removal process some sort of revenge against Winston Barnes?
Should Miramar taxpayers foot the legal bill for petty political shenanigans?
**UPDATE** An earlier version of this story said Keith Poliakoff worked for Becker Poliakoff . Mr. Poliakoff works for Government Law Group. We regret the error.
An obscure Broward political committee, with ties to allies of Dale Holness and Keon Hardemon, received most of its funding from political committee operated by a former Miami politician, records show. Founded in September 2019, the Resiliency Coalition political committee raised more than $75,000 to influence Broward elections. Yet, Broward Supervisor of Elections records show most of the money came from a political committee operated by former Miami City Commissoner Marc Sarnoff.
State elections records show the “Truth Is The Daughter Of Time PC” political committee was formed in May 2017. The chairman of the political committee is former Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. Truth Is The Daughter Of Time PC made four contributions totaling $44,000 to the Resiliency Coalition. Sarnoff is a lobbyist with the Shutts Bowen law firm.
Another prominent contributor to the Resiliency Coalition is B and B Professional Consultants Inc of West Park, a company owned by Barbara Hardemon, the lobbyist aunt of Miami-Dade Commissioner Keon Hardemon. In January, REDBROWARD exposed a growing alliance between Dale Holness and the Hardemon family.
B and B Professional Consultants Inc made contributions to the People Of Principle PAC operated by a Holness campaign guru. In June, REDBROWARD revealed Barbara Hardemon’s financial support of Miramar City Commissioner Alexandra Davis, a close ally of Dale Holness.
REDBROWARD also exposed how Barbara Hardemon formed the “Better Leadership” political committee in May 2021. The timing coincided with the launch of Alexandra Davis’ campaign for a seat on the Broward County Commission.
BROWARD PAC HIRED OPERATIVES TIED TO HARDEMON
In January 2021, the Resiliency Coalition made a $4,000 payment to B and B Professional Consultants Inc.
On February 3, 2021, made a $10,000 payment to The Donner Group in Miami. Two weeks later, Resiliency Coalition paid $5,000 to 527 Advertising LLC of Miami. State records show both companies are owned by Miami political consultant Keith Donner.
Throughout January and February, Resiliency Coalition made payments of $6,137.75, $8917.57, $5,117.75 and $5,993.56 to The Campaign Superstore of Miami. State records show the nearly $21,000 in payments went to a company owned by Charles Safdie, a lobbyist and former executive director of the Miami-Dade Republican Party.
UNFAIR ATTACK ADS TARGETED HARDEMON OPPONENT
In 2020, Keith Donner created an ad campaign attacking an opponent of Keon Hardemon. The Miami Times reported Donner is “longtime ally of the Hardemons, whom he calls his friends and clients.” Even though published reports state the attacks on Haitian activist Gepsie Metellus and her Sant La organization were false, Donner remains proud of his work for Hardemon.
“Had Gepsie not trash-talked the Hardemons, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Donner said. “She would have lost [in the Aug. 18 primary] and the dignity of her organization and reputation would not have been called into question. I’m sure a lot of what I did caused a lot of consternation among Miami’s white garden club members. They were beside themselves. The Hardemons are inviting targets and that’s the nature of the beast, especially in the City of Miami where nothing gets done unless you claw your way to get it done. Welcome to the NFL, Gepsie.”
On Wednesday, even though he easily won the election, Keon Hardemon kept up his attacks on Metellus. The Miami Herald reported Hardemon tried to change the county budget by removing $500,000 earmarked for Sant La, Metellus’ non-profit organization which serves the Haitian community. Hardemon’s move failed but he called for an investigation into Sant La.
Does Broward really want this type of Miami-Dade politics infecting our elections? Too late….
HARDEMON CAMPAIGN TEAM WORKED MIRAMAR RACES
City of Miramar election records show Hardemon’s campaign team worked for candidates in the March 2021 election. Commissioner Maxwell Chamber, another Dale Holness ally, paid $1,087.50 to B and B Professional Consultants Inc. He paid $1,000 to Epic Events Entertainment LLC a West Park company owned by Miramar employee Zakiya Kelley, the daughter of Barbara Hardemon.
But the big bucks for Team Hardemon came from Miramar City Commissioner Yvette Colbourne.
In February, Colbourne made a $10,000 payment to The Donner Group. Colbourne made multiple payments totaling $12,510.99 to The Campaign Superstore of Miami. Both companies received similar payments from the Resiliency Coaltion. One of Colburne’s paid volunteers, Lizca Francois of West Park, was also a paid volunteer of the Resiliency Coaltion.
Loyal readers of REDBROWARD will not be surprised to learn Yvette Colburne made three payments totaling $18,268.44 to B and B Professional Consultants Inc.
REDBROWARD previously revealed how an August 2013 investigation by the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission exposed the role Billy and Barbara Hardemon played in City of Miramar politics and Yvette Colbourne’s campaigns. The 2013 complaint alleged Billy Hardemon, then an employee with the Miami-Dade County Department of Public Works and Waste Management (PWWM), spent “substantial amounts of county time, taken without authorized leave, in the City of Miramar, in Broward County…during hours when Hardemon was understood to be working at his Miami-Dade County job.”
What was Billy Hardemon doing in Miramar? According to the complaint, Hardemon attended numerous City of Miramar government meetings as the “de facto chief of staff” for Miramar City Commissioner Yvette Colbourne. (Other employees claimed Hardemon served a similar role with Miramar City Commissioner Alexandra Davis).
In an interview with investigators, Colbourne admitted Billy Hardemon was her “advisor.” She said his role was to advise her and “attend meetings for and with her.” While he assisted with her campaign, Colbourne stated Hardemon was not paid or compensated in anyway.
However, investigators determined Colbourne’s campaign paid $2,000 to B and B Professional Consultants, Inc., a company owned by Barbara Hardemon.
Colbourne told investigators that Billy Hardemon and Barbara Hardemon were members of “Team Colbourne.” As to his employment in Miami-Dade County, Colbourne told investigators, “I felt that was being handled with his superiors.”
The whistleblower claimed Hardemon’s superior, PWWM director Kathleen Woods-Richardson, was fully aware of his violations.
When asked if she was aware of Hardemon working for Yvette Colbourne in Miramar, Woods-Richardson told investigators, “absolutely not!”
Investigators were shocked by Woods-Richardson’s denial. In addition to calling Hardemon a “friend,” Woods-Richardson’s assistant was Yvette Colbourne.
Additionally, the interview with Kathleen Woods-Richardson was held at the Miramar government center. After Colbourne was elected to office, Woods-Richardson was named Miramar City Manager.
While the investigator was not persuaded by the testimony of Colbourne and Woods-Richardson, he could find no evidence that Woods-Richardson “directed” Hardemon to work for Colbourne in order to increase her chances of becoming city manager.
MIRAMAR OFFICIALS PART OF HOLNESS CAMPAIGN TEAM
Now, Yvette Colbourne, Alexandra Davis and Maxwell Chambers are using their clout as Miramar City Commissioners to help get Dale Holness elected to the United States Congress. Holness is seeking the Democratic nomination for the CD 20 seat previously held by Alcee Hastings. Miramar is part of Congressional District 20. This explains Holness appearing alongside the Commission at numerous Miramar City events. Last month, Dale Holness posted photographs of his Miramar group seated at his campaign headquarters in Plantation.
Does Keon Hardemon and the Hardemon family have seats at the Holness table too?
Are the operatives for Hardemon and Colbourne working for the Holness campaign?