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Miami Beach candidate uses fake 911 call in campaign

Melissa Beattie running for commission seat, says flyer a ‘clear message about the crime epidemic’

A Miami Beach commission candidate used a hypothetical 911 call on a flyer without labeling as such to deliver a message about crime in the city.
A Miami Beach commission candidate used a hypothetical 911 call on a flyer without labeling as such to deliver a message about crime in the city.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Melissa Beattie, a first-time Miami Beach commission candidate, is distributing a campaign flyer with a fictional scenario: It describes a woman home with her children calling for help as someone breaks in. The dispatcher tells her to hide, saying that due to increased crime in South Beach “we won’t be able to have an officer to your home for at least 20 minutes.”

Beattie, who is running for Commissioner Michael Góngora’s Group III seat, said the flyer presents a hypothetical situation based on an urgent need for preventive action.

“What I am doing is conveying a very clear message about the crime epidemic that we’re having right now,” Beattie told Local 10 News on Wednesday.

A political consultant who works in the city said the flyer is an example of fearmongering or scaremongering, a tactic to manipulate voters with lies about impending danger. Beattie disagrees and said crime is a real problem in Miami Beach.

“We got the message correctly. ... Perhaps we needed to be more clear that this was not an actual call,” Beattie said, adding, “I’m not going to apologize for drawing that attention. We need some solutions.”

Góngora is not allowed to run for re-election. Beattie, the Venetian Islands Homeowners Association president, is running against Alex Fernandez, Michael Barrineau, and Stephen Cohen.

Fernandez is a member of the Miami Beach Planning Board and was an aid for former Miami Beach Commissioner Deede Weithorn and former Miami Beach Mayor Matilde “Matti” Herrera-Bower.

Barrineau, a licensed real estate broker with Collins Realty Miami, and Cohen, who has a background in real estate investment and e-commerce, both ran for Miami Beach Commission seats in 2019.

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 4 and to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 23. Early voting is Oct. 18-31 and the election is on Nov. 2. If there is a Nov. 16 runoff election, early voting is Nov. 12-14.

Other elections in Miami Beach

Mayor: Dan Gelber is running for re-election against Carlos Gutierrez, Gus Manessis, Jean Echemendia, and Ronnie Eith.

Commission Group 1 seat: Commissioner Micky Steinberg won’t be running for re-election. The candidates are Adrian Gonzalez, Blake Young, Kristen Gonzalez, and Raquel Pacheco.


About the Authors:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.