Ethics commission tosses verbal abuse complaint Fabián Basabe aide filed against Aventura Mayor

Basabe Gonzalez Weinberg
‘“(T)here is No Legal Sufficiency for an investigation to be conducted into the Complaint, and the Complaint should be Dismissed.’

Turns out yelling at someone in public doesn’t rise to an ethics violation in Miami-Dade.

This week, the county Commission on Ethics and Public Trust dismissed a complaint against Aventura Mayor Howard Weinberg alleging that he berated an aide to Rep. Fabián Basabe.

The aide, Adrian Gonzalez, accused Weinberg of approaching him twice at a recent event and letting loose loud, profanity-laden outbursts about Basabe.

Several people who attended the event, including one Gonzalez named in his complaint, said the incident didn’t happen.

Not that it matters. The Commission dismissed Gonzalez’s complaint Wednesday after finding it lacked legal sufficiency. Commission attorney Etta Akoni said the complaint failed to “articulate a violation of any ordinance or code” of the county or city.

That’s because it couldn’t, she said.

“Weinberg’s alleged statements, as asserted in the Complaint, do not constitute a violation of the Miami-Dade County Citizens’ Bill of Rights, Aventura Code of Ethics, nor any other ordinance within the jurisdiction of the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust,” she wrote in the report.

“(T)here is No Legal Sufficiency for an investigation to be conducted into the Complaint, and the Complaint should be Dismissed.”

Gonzalez, 49, said Weinberg, 62, accosted him at Condo Connect, an Aug. 30 conference on condominium management and governance at the Hilton Aventura. Gonzalez was there representing Basabe, and said the first exchange between him and the Mayor happened shortly after he entered the hotel’s main banquet hall.

“He quickly turned this into a very hostile situation when he came aggressively at me and started yelling at me saying, ‘did you see what your boss F***** did to me?? Does he know who I am?’ and continued to tell me that everyone in the city loves him as he is so very popular,” Gonzalez said in a statement accompanying the complaint.

Gonzalez said Aventura Vice Mayor Amit Bloom was next to Weinberg and saw what happened. Later at the same event, Gonzalez said, Weinberg again shouted and cursed at him in reference to Basabe, whom he accused of trying to seek a recall election in the city with the aim of ousting the Mayor.

“I was completely horrified as people around just kept looking on and wondering if I did something wrong to upset the Mayor,” he said, adding that he has not yet received an apology. “I do feel his behavior is very unbecoming of an elected official and more importantly verbally attacking an employee of the Florida House of Representatives that has nothing to do with this issue is just unacceptable.”

Basabe later told Florida Politics that Weinberg had taken offense to a call Basabe made to Aventura City Hall to inquire about the process for recalling the Mayor. He said a constituent had repeatedly called his office for assistance in the matter and he was simply seeking information.

In a statement released to several media outlets, the freshman lawmaker suggested Weinberg should leave office if he is unwilling to work civilly with him and his staff. He said he witnessed a similar verbal altercation during a visit Aventura officials made to Tallahassee earlier this year, when Weinberg “publicly humiliated” Aventura City Manager Ron Wasson.

Weinberg, Bloom, Wasson and others denied Basabe’s claim. Weinberg said he’d spoken briefly with Gonzalez at the Condo Connect event, but never harshly.

“His fabricated allegations are a continuation of his efforts to return to his reality TV days,” Weinberg told Florida Politics in early October. “I have no interest in being part of his trash television program.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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