First Baptist Church of Venice

Original Save Venice – By Eileen Archibald

Original Save Venice is a group of Venetians who are dedicated to preserving Venice history, sharing love and positive intentions focused on preserving the diversity of Venice, de-gentrification interventions, and inclusivity of all socioeconomic status, culture, race, and ethnicity. All members are volunteers. Many current Venice residents and neighbors in surrounding communities invested their love, dedication, hearts, and funding donations with collaborative efforts to Save Venice. Unfortunately, there was a disappointment of trust, with alleged misappropriation of funds, which has created a divisive rift in Venice. As stated, all members are volunteers, no one was employed by Save Venice. The core group of Save Venice is now known as “Original Save Venice”.

In 2017, Laddie Williams and Pamela Anderson started meeting on the steps of the First Baptist Church of Venice to raise awareness of the sale of the property with the seven tied lots and the plan to develop a large mansion that would oversee Oakwood Recreational Center. A Go Fund Me account for legal funds was started, with Miguel Bravo as administrator. A total of $9,631.00 in funds were raised for legal costs. Miguel Bravo was informed by Laddie Williams on multiple occasions, with other Save Venice members present, to deposit the funds into the Venice Coalition to Preserve the Unique Community Character (VCPUCC) account, as two signatures are required for expenditures. Mr. Bravo did not follow directions and deposit the funds to the VCPUCC account. The Save Venice group was not aware that there was a problem with the accounting of the donations and expenditures. About May 30, 2021, I became suspicious after spending $98 for Venice Neighborhood Council voting outreach and asking Miguel Bravo for reimbursement at the First Baptist Church of Venice steps. I was informed by Mr. Bravo that there were no funds remaining to be reimbursed.

Mr. Bravo did not follow directions, and the transferred funds from Go Fund Me went directly to his personal bank account. On July 13, 2021, a meeting was held with Miguel Bravo, Laddie Williams, and Naomi Nightingale. At the meeting, Mr. Bravo gave some receipts and accounting regarding funds he had allegedly spent for the legal fund. All of the donated funds were gone. Mr. Bravo made a verbal commitment to reimburse any funds used for personal expenditures. At a Save Venice Zoom meeting recorded on July 15, 2021, Mr. Bravo admitted that some funds were spent on personal items such as food, vitamins, and electronic devices. Mr. Bravo stated, “I got comfortable with the money.” Mr. Bravo attempted to apologize, and agreed to present a detailed accounting of deposits and a re-payment plan for any personal expenditures at the next Save Venice meeting. Assistance was offered to utilize Excel for the detailed accounting to separate legal costs and personal.

Instead, Mr. Bravo ghosted the Save Venice family by changing his phone number and email, and blocked many from social media platforms. Ethically, when one makes a mistake, one owns the mistake and makes amends for it. At this crucial time in Venice, we need to be united and not divided. Allegedly, other websites, such as the Beachhead and Save Venice have been sabotaged and held hostage by Mike Bravo. False news is being spread about the Venice community on these pirated websites.

Many in Venice are feeling shocked and disappointed. Miguel Bravo disappointed the community who had expressed unconditional love and support to him. Mr. Bravo never followed through with the agreement made to reimburse Save Venice funds spent on personal items.

The Original Save Venice community is very disappointed about Mr. Bravo’s behavior, such as never following through on his commitments to reimburse Save Venice for any personal funds spent that were designated for legal funds. Save Venice members have provided every opportunity for Mr. Bravo to own his mistake, and to make amends to the community donors.