North Miami Beach Mayor Anthony Defillipo called a press conference Thursday to address what he said was a violation of a resident’s civil rights by City Manager Arthur Sorrey during a City Commission meeting over early this week.
“I called this press conference because one of our long-time residents, Mubarak Kazan, had his civil rights violated by our city manager, Arthur Sorrey III,” Defillipo said. “Who took it upon themselves to expel Mr. Kazan from a public committee meeting on the grounds that his audio recording device was a security issue, when nothing could be further from the truth.”
Defillipo says Sorrey had Kazan removed from Tuesday’s meeting after claiming Kazan’s recording device posed a security threat.
“Mr. Sorrey took it upon himself to take this opportunity to confiscate Mr. Kazan’s recorder and order the chief of police to bar Mr. Kazan from returning to the meeting,” Defillipo said.
Kazan, who also spoke at Thursday’s press conference, said he left the recording device at the stewards’ stage before briefly leaving the meeting.
While outside the auditorium, Kazan says he was approached by police as he attempted to return to the meeting.
“She said she wanted to talk to me outside the building,” Kazan said. “When I came out, she basically said I couldn’t go back into the building, and Arhtur Sorrey, the city manager, had informed her that Mr. Kazan had left something on the scene.”
In a video recording of Tuesday’s meeting, Sorrey can be heard explaining to Defillipo why Kazan was no longer present at the meeting.
“Mr. Kazan, I know the police told him he could come back, but he left,” Sorrey said at Tuesday’s meeting. “He came and put something on the stage and walked out of the building. And they came out and gave it back to him and told him you shouldn’t do that these days, put anything down and leave. So, he was told he could come in, but I guess ‘he left.
But by the end of Thursday’s press conference, Defillipo had publicly called for Sorrey’s resignation and alleged misuse of taxpayers’ money at the city manager’s discretion.
Defillipo said Kazan’s withdrawal from Tuesday’s meeting was the final straw that led to his decision to call on Sorrey to step down.
“I call on Arthur Sorrey III to resign and step down as City Manager of the City of North Miami Beach, and I stand with my residents by fully supporting their civil rights and free speech rights,” Defillipo said. .
Kazan says he has attended and recorded commission meetings for many years and says he is well known to commissioners and city employees.
He publicly criticized city spending under Sorrey. It’s a sentiment also shared by Defillipo.
“From illegal giving of gift cards to authorizing expenditures that are not in the public interest for North Miami Beach residents, and authorizing fellow commissioners, Commissioner Paule Villard, the use of a police officer and a driver with a tab exceeding $12,000 at this point of taxpayers’ money,” Defillipo said. a mayor or a commissioner, which I have never used a single day in the history of my mandate here.”
Defillipo was asked on Thursday if he thinks Sorrey broke the law.
“I don’t want to digress into any other topic other than what we’re here for today,” Defillipo said. “…It’s just an abuse of taxpayers’ money and I’ll leave it at that.”
NBC 6 reached out to Sorrey to comment on Kazan’s exit from the meeting and the mayor’s claims about inappropriate government spending.
“My number one priority is keeping our residents and elected officials safe,” Sorrey said in a statement. “At the Commission meeting held on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, staff notified our North Miami Beach Police Department when Mubarak Kazan left a device unattended on the stage and exited the Julius Littman Theater. NMB officers, who were present at the meeting, inspected the device to determine if it posed a hazard to residents and elected officials in attendance. After concluding that it was a recording device, it was immediately returned to Mr. Kazan and I publicly invited him back into the meeting. However, Mr. Kazan had already left. Mr. Kazan is invited to attend all future meetings of the Commission. During these difficult times in our community and our nation, we must remain on high alert at all public gatherings and be vigilant to ensure the safety of our residents, visitors and elected officials. We should speak up when we see unattended devices or bags. »
NBC 6 has also contacted and is awaiting comment from Commissioner Paule Villard, who was named by the mayor on Thursday as the recipient of services he described as an abuse of taxpayers’ money at Sorrey’s discretion.