News: 2011 Miami Beach Candidate Financial Reports

By Anne Newport Royall

The most recent financial reports are in for those candidates involved in the two competitive races on Miami Beach:  Those for Mayor and City Commission Group 6.

First, a look at the Mayor’s race.

There are three challengers trying to unseat incumbent Matti Herrera Bower, who hopes to end her career as a three-term mayor on top.

And while the mayor continues to out raise her opponents, they continue to outspend her.  In continuing her trend of winning campaigns by spending very little of the thousands of dollars she raises, the most recent report for the period 7/1/2011 through 9/23/2011 reveals an additional $3, 800.00 in contributions for a total of $42, 943.00 collected for this campaign.

Several individuals made recent contributions to the first woman elected to serve in the middle chair.  They include Yaffa Dermer, mother of former Miami Beach mayor and current Miami Beach High School teacher David Dermer, former 41st Street retailer Beverly Aberbach, and Holly Wallack.

Three prominent players in the parking industry also contributed the maximum amount, in the form of $500.00 checks each.  They are Lariviere Parking Systems,

Associated Parking Systems and U.S. Parking, Inc.  What makes these three donations interesting is that the City is floating the idea of creating a valet parking franchise, whereby turning a valet provider into a contractor of the City.  These companies would be precluded from participating in such a system for the next two years, should the idea come to fruition.  This is due to campaign contribution laws that prohibit current or future vendors from donating to local political campaigns.

On the expense side, during this period, Mrs. Bower reported a measly $1610.00 in expenses, with her $1,360.00 qualifying fee accounting for most of it.  An additional $250.00 was reported spent on advertising to Margarita Armona of Collins Avenue.  This inspite of a plethora of signs, bumper stickers and robocalls that have blanketed the City in recent weeks.

For a comedian turned candidate, Steve Berke is taking the  financing of his campaign seriously. For this last report he loaned himself $16,023.98 while collecting checks from several residents including Kenneth Walker and Aaron Resnick. His expenses include $6,100.00 to Cornerstone Management Partners, LLC in New Jersey and Dodd Communications in Hialeah for a $7,805.50 mail piece and his qualifying fee. He has spent $21,698.81 dollars of $22,324.73 raised to date.

Dave Crystal added $8, 141.00 in contributions for the period, bringing his total haul to $17,499.00 of which he shows $2,966.59 left after spending $14, 532.41. His latest list of contributors includes Democratic blogger Larry Thorson, fellow candidate Maria Meruelo and her husband Richard and local activist and tax appeal attorney Rick Kendle.

Expenses listed for the report include $1066.00 to Republican political consultant Paul Yavis and admission to several community events as well as payment of his qualifying fee to the City.

Crystal’s campaign has benefited from soft money, in the form of several mailings from an election communication committee called Proven Leadership for Miami Beach.

Laura Rivero Levy’s report shows $2,500.00 in contributions, including a $1,500.00 self-loan to her campaign and $500.00 each from Leon Zwick’s 947 Lincoln Road Investments and Bahmaneh Deralshani Yazdani.  Her only expenses to date have been payment of her qualifying fee.

In the Commission group VI race, incumbent Deede Weithorn added $9,459.000 to her swelling war chest, bringing her total monetary contributions to date to $38, 036.00 her contributor list includes the Communication Workers of America (CWA), a City employee union PAC, Richard Berkowitz, a partner in the City’s co-development of the Fifth and Alton project who has written several checks from his various business entities, ArtZine publisher and bicycle advocate Harvey Burnstein, The Shore Club hotel, Chairman of the Board of Adjustment Sherry Roberts South Beach Boutique Reality, The Cameo Theatre, and the Mokai Lounge on Lincoln Road.

Also contributing at the maximum level are several parking companies, including SBJ Parking, Atlantic Parking Systems, Freddy Diaz, Sirgae Jewell, Lariviere Parking Systems, Associated Parking Systems, and Key Parking Systems.  These vendors are in the same boat as those who donated to the mayors campaign, and will be prohibited from becoming a vendor in the City’s planned valet parking franchise, should that come to pass.

Also making the list are fellow Commissioner Michael Gongora, La Gorce Pinetree Homeowners’ Association matron Rosemary Hansford, Gambling consultant Aaron Perry, whose wife is the CFO of Mt. Sinai Hospital, and Nightlife players Steve Polistar and Roman Jones.

On the expense side, $1,525.00 has been paid to consultant Miriam Almer and her MV Almer productions for consulting and campaign events.  Almer is also currently working for the Kate Callahan campaign for the District 2 seat in Miami.

Finally, Weithorn’s opponent, Realtor Maria Meruelo listed $3,120.00 in contributions, all loans from herself.  While she too has benefited from soft money mailings from the group Proven Leadership for Miami Beach, she lists her $2,902.71 in expenses as printing and mailing fees as well as her qualifying fee.

The next reports, covering the period 9/24/2011 to 10/7/2011 are due October 14.

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