Miami City Attorney Julie Bru pulled a
sneaky maneuver to ensure City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff continues to receive free legal
representation from her office. Near the end of last Thursday's city
commission meeting, Bru requested approval for a "pocket item" --
so-called because it was not included in the city's publicly noticed
agenda - authorizing one of her assistant city attorneys to
represent Sarnoff in his ongoing complaint against Coconut Grove
resident Reid Welch.
By bringing it up as a pocket item, Bru
basically ensured that no one from the public could speak against her
request. It's the kind of move leaves many Miami residents distrustful of city
Although the commission approved the pocket item, at least one elected official scolded Bru for bring it up under the radar. "I didn't like that it was introduced at the last minute," says Commissioner Francis Suarez. "I don't understand why it was done in that fashion. It's not the way I like to operate. She apologized."
Sarnoff says Bru told him she needed city commission approval two or three days before the meeting. "We have a trial coming up on Feb. 7," he says. "The agenda had already been published, but she couldn't wait since we have a hearing before the next commission meeting."
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Bru says she wasn't trying to hide anything. "This is a routine matter that requires authorization from the city commission," she says. "I wanted to formalize it." The problem is assistant city attorney George Wysong has been acting as Sarnoff's lawyer since December, when the commissioner successfully obtained a temporary restraining order against Welch, who has been accused of making a death threat against Sarnoff.
Welch, it should be noted, was identified as the victim in a police report detailing a dust-up he had with Sarnoff a few days before the commissioner was reelected this past November. If Bru needed approval from the city commission, she should have done so two months ago by placing the request on a public agenda so folks could voice their objections if they had any.