Working for Key Biscayne’s biggest real estate developer has its price. This past May 21, the Miami-Dade ethics commission notified Village Mayor Robert Vernon that he cannot vote on a plan to expand the island municipality’s open green space. The reason: Vernon is a real estate broker for Edgardo DeFortuna’s Fortune International Realty Inc.
DeFortuna, under his development company SBR-Fortune Associates, has built several condo projects on Key Biscayne. He is currently seeking approval to redevelop the Sonesta Hotel. A citizen’s committee is recommending the village negotiate lease agreements or buy land from DeFortuna.
The ethics commission ruled that the committee findings give DeFortuna an “explicit advantage.” By voting on the plan, Vernon “could conceivably enhance your business relationship with Mr. DeFortuna at Fortune International Realty,” opined ethics commission Executive Director Robert Meyers.
Vernon, who has abstained from voting on other matters involving his employer, says he will abide by the ethics commission’s ruling. The green space plan will be heard by the village council at it’s June 5 meeting. “I will not be voting,” Vernon assured. --Francisco Alvarado
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.