The anonymous photo-shopper strikes again.

APRIL 27, 2011



APRIL 27, 2011


Last Wednesday, the Daily Business Review did a second story on Mark’s Siffin’s latest effort to breathe new life into his 500’ LED Billboard project, and like the first story it was based on information broken by The Crespo-Gram Report - although the real media never dignifies the fact that they are being forced to rely and plunder the work of bloggers without even a cursory thank you.

The interesting thing is how the Daily Business Review came to be the “paper of record,” on this story, and more importantly how portions of the story are being “managed.”

For regular readers of the Report, you’ll recognize the name John Dellagloria, who last year popped up to “represent” Sarnoff when I threatened to sue him over the use of his Sarnoff and Bayer email address to conduct public business. I even published a couple of his letters.  Here’s one of them:

The upshot was that I didn’t pay for the search, and Sarnoff ended up sending me approximately 8500 emails, among them this email:

I had wondered how Dellagloria had come to “represent” Sarnoff in my request for emails, and this letter, although dated before my request, revealed that Dellagloria was merely giving a little payback for Sarnoff’s pitch to get him inserted in the deal flow of what might become a very lucrative opportunity for a select few attorneys and law firms who managed to get selected to represent the city or advise them in these cases.

So, to see Dellagloria’s name in this latest Daily Business Review story last Wednesday, set an alarm bell off, because of ALL of the real estate lawyers in Miami who could have been quoted, for it to be Dellagloria stretched the boundaries of coincidence beyond credulity. Dellagloria is definitely on the list of Sarnoff’s useful hand puppets and when you see Sarnoff and Dellagloria’s names together the odds are that it wasn’t by the luck of the draw.


The Business Review article went on to mention several property owners whose addresses were included in the Siffin working agreement that I published on last Monday, and two of those folks expressed great indignation over their property being included in this document without their knowledge and/or permission.

Another one of those property owners, Eleanor Kluger did not respond for comment.

Kluger is not only a long time OMNI property owner, but she’s also the mother of Jeffrey Kluger, who, again, applying 2 Degrees Of Separation is someone I wrote about last November as being one of the individuals that Burt Gonzalez, Sarnoff’s pretend thug-in-residence at the OMNI CRA, had written asking him to write a letter of support to the Miami-Dade School Board supporting the CRA’s purchase of the Skill Center.

Eleanor, his mother, can also be seen in this You Tube video (1:10) about the wonderful addition the exercise equipment makes to Margaret Pace Park.

It seems that Sarnoff and company consider Eleanor and her son part of the sock puppet brigade when they need a letter or a little sound bite.

I cannot move on before pointing out the egregious Sarnoff statement justifying the misuse of CRA money for this equipment, who says on the tape:

    “During the downturn in the economy, a lot of people

    couldn’t afford their gym memberships, and there’s no     

    reason it should ever cost you anything to work out.?

Yes, there’s no better use for money intended to eliminate “slum and blight” then to make sure that folks living in the high-rise condos bordering the park can exercise for free.

But back to the OMNI WEST group.

This is a group of property owners, that I was told recently originally included Kluger and Melo. They supposedly hired Ben Fernandez to represent them in lobbying efforts with the city.

Melo is reported to be a pretty smart guy who has invested - and also lives inside the OMNI CRA District - and while it’s always possible that he’s completely clueless about any Siffin schemes, smart guys don’t last long if they become clueless when it comes to potential deals involving their bottom line.

For a fact, numerous discussions, involving lots of people over the last couple years have centered on various potential development plans for this area and even back in 2008 the notion of sticking LED towers up in the CRA District was proposed.

In 2008, local lobbyist Rosario Kennedy started representing Eugene Rodriquez, the owner of the Ice Palace Studios, the Vera Hotel and several other properties clustered around NW 14th Street and Miami Avenue, in his own efforts to get City approval for his own LED advertising tower.

In addition, the new Miami Zoning Code, MIAMI 21, Section 6.5.4,includes specific language supporting the establishment of LED advertising towers in the CRA Districts.

Although the version on-line only mentions the SOPW CRA, last summer’s approval of theSiffin/Herald LED tower project also included a change in this ordinance.

So, the notion of LED advertising towers cannot in principle have been a secret to anyone paying attention, and most likely Siffin decided to camouflage his actual property of choice by surrounding it within a larger collection of properties, so as not to draw undue attention until he was ready to pull the rabbit out of the hat.


Call me Nostradamus, but I’ve been writing about it since last summer:  The Miami Skill Center building on North Miami Court between 13th and 14th Street.

Of all the properties, this one has a critical benefit that none of the other properties offers.  It’s now owned by the CRA.

Between Sarnoff and “Billboard” Bockweg, Sarnoff’s toady CRA Executive Director, who as the former director of the City’s Zoning Department office in charge of billboards allowed Siffin’s attorney’s Ben Fernandez and Jeffrey Bercow to rewrite the zoning ordinance specifically for Siffin last summer, it would appear that they are now poised to carry Siffin’s water bucket one more time.

Because the OMNI CRA owns this property, it offers the simplest and cheapest way for Siffin to do a deal making it possible to pay the City anywhere near the millions that he alluded to in meeting with the firefighters, where he claimed  he was prepared to give the city as much as a $20- $30 million payment, while promising them $10 million for their support.

If Siffin is required to go out and purchase properties owned by Kluger, Melo, or any of the other properties included in his latest proposal to the City, the deal becomes infinitely more expensive and complicated, and could potentially lock him into years of dealing with these folks and contractors.

His scheme only works financially if he is able to limit the amount of money he has to put out to obtain a property on which to build his tower, or parking lot and tower.

The only other viable property in the immediate area is Eugene Rodriquez’s currently abandoned, 7 story Vera Hotel which site across a small vacant lot from the Skill Center used for Ice Palace event parking.

To appreciate the value of the Skill Center, take a look at the Google Map below.  The Skill Center is the A Teardrop.  and Siffin’s original site is the Red Dot.

Imagine a 500 foot LED billboard display at both locations and figure out which location offers the possibility for more eyeballs to see the LED advertising signs.

From the original location across from the Miami Herald building, the view would be limited to I-395 and Biscayne Boulevard and the McArthur Causeway.  From the Skill Center or Vera Hotel location location a 500 foot billboard could easily be seen from I-395, I-95, and the Dolphin Expressway exits to I-95.

When it comes to making money from billboards, it’s all about the number of eyeballs you can promise advertisers will see their advertising as they drive by.


The big question now though is what will happen in the next two weeks in Tallahassee. 

The poison pill language in the Florida DOT bill that would limit the city’s ability to collect no more than $500 per billboard which was inserted as a help to Harkley Thornton and Santiago Echemendia’s efforts to force the city into a pretty reprehensible deal, makes the $20 - $30 million inducement offered by Siffin to the City to approval his deal nothing more than a pipe dream.

Billboards, like dope deals, have been attractive to folks in Miami City government because of the huge amounts of money offered as little more than legal bribes - along with the illegal bribes and campaign contributions funneled through “Campaign Managers” needed to get the required ordinances passed.

If HB 1353 knocks out the financial incentive for any more deals, then why incur the wrath of the anti-billboard crowd and the condo owners along the Boulevard who would still be adversely affected by these 500 foot LED towers.

The pot boils, and the plot thickens as we all wait to see whether Commissioner “Ethics” will try to pull a new rabbit out of the hat for his pal and benefactor Siffin at this week’s City Commission meeting by coming up with a “revised” settlement deal for Thornton and Echemendia, thereby getting the poison pill withdrawn.

As I wrote in my first piece about Siffin’s appearance before the firefighters a couple weeks ago, he seems to be the kind of guy who expects the politicians that he buys to stay bought, and Commissioner “Ethics,” while we can’t actually see it,  I’m sure has a tattoo on his spandexed little buttock that says, “This ass belongs to Mark Siffin.”

APRIL 27, 2011


You know things are really bad inside the Miami Police Department when a memo like the one above is sent to the Chief of Police, and then leaked to me.

The Chief’s supposed response when he got the memo was: “Fuck the memo, and fuck him.” (Him being Lt. Socorro.)

There will always be fluctuations in crime statistics, and there are a lot of variables from year to year that can come into play when statistics like this are cited, but for a City the size of Miami to have a 23% decrease in arrests, while also having a 45% decrease in SWAT arrest warrants and most importantly a 16.5% decrease in self-initiated in calls by officers on the streets should be of concern, and even more so the 2nd set of statistics that address “the fear of becoming a victim of crime.”

These are not good, and when you consider the downward level of service that the police provide folks in the rich enclave of the South Grove to the poor folks in many other parts of the city, the above memo, whether intended or not, IS a scathing negative critique of the current leadership of the Miami Police Department. It does reflect how badly in measurable terms things have become under the leadership of Chief Miguel Exposito and his minions. 

That the amount of time that it takes for a police to respond to a call has almost doubled in 2 years is quite frankly astounding!

It’s all turned to shit in the City of Miami, from a police department under the control of a couple gunzels more interested in engaging in a pissing match with the Mayor, to a dimwitted City Manager afraid of his shadow, and those supposed photos of him and Miss S. - yes Crapphead, I’m zeroing in - to a couple City Commissioners in the bag to special interests, and senior city officials too stupid, or duplicitous - it doesn’t matter which - to look out for the city and taxpayer interests on any number of contracts and settlement deals, to just a general belief by many top employees that the city and its resources are there for their plundering.

It’s one thing to accept that the Miami Herald has turned into little more than the liner for your garbage can, but what about the business press? 

More importantly, what about the Miami Chamber of Commerce and the other business groups?  These kinds of crime statistics are the death knell for business recruitment and job development.

The City of Miami has been in a death spiral now for too long for these supposed “civic leaders” not to have stepped forward and weighed in about putting a stop to the craziness.

It is not by chance that today’s Photo Of The Day features Mayor Tomas “All City Services Are Free For My Friends” Regalado, and Katherine “The Queen Of Swag” Fernandez-Rundle.

They are in their own way extraordinarily culpable for what is happening to Miami, and so too is Police Chief Miguel Exposito and his right-hand man Major Al Alvarez!


I’ve only told a few close friends, but I am excited about the upcoming wedding of Prince William and the commoner, Kate Middleton. I’ve managed to keep my enthusiasm under wraps because it’s not cool to be a royal watcher, even if it’s just from the grocery store check out aisles, eyes roving the magazine racks for the latest on Will and Kate.

My chances of being “in” with the royal family and getting invited to the big event were dashed by my husband many years ago aboard the royal yacht Britannia. This is a true story.

I was a correspondent, covering the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Mexico for the BBC. Martin Bell was the Beeb’s man in Washington in those days but he was on assignment elsewhere. So being based in Mexico and having worked often for the BBC, my cameraman husband, Carl Hersh, and I were assigned to the story in Acapulco.

In the days before she had to give up the ship, the Queen had a custom of inviting the press of whatever country she was officially visiting onto the yacht for a small reception before lifting anchor, a nice parting p.r. gesture.

Although it was billed as “informal,” we did receive invitations embossed with the royal seal. I spent an inordinate amount of time deciding what to wear, while internally debating whether or not to curtsy. Although she is not my sovereign, Carl and I did live in England for four years and love British customs.

For reasons I have never been able to explain, I used to have dreams about driving through the English countryside in a convertible with the Queen. Of course, we had the top down. She was wearing one of her famous scarves. “I do fancy a pint, don’t you?” she said as we passed a quaint pub. We were given our own room in the back, of course. I was astonished at how relaxed Her Royal Highness became after knocking back her beer. She kicked off her shoes and put her stockinged feet up on the table. “There, that’s better.”  Some dreams have a way of convincing you that you’ve discovered some essential truth in a parallel universe like the royals really are just like you and me except by accident of birth. Given a nudge and wink, they’d probably welcome a chance to get a little loosey goosey.

When the moment came to board HRH’s yacht, I was coiffed, perfumed and on my best behavior. I should have spent more time coaching my husband. But even if I had, I could never have anticipated his complete breach of decorum.

After going through the receiving line, bowing my head respectfully as I shook the famous gloved hand, we members of the press were given glasses of orange squash and something to nibble.

The Queen then visited each cluster of the press. Since Carl and I were taping for the BBC, we were, I expect, given some deference and chatted for several minutes with the Queen, accompanied only by her head of household.  The Falklands War had just ended. Carl had covered it and since we had been living in Latin America for five years, the Queen was eager to discuss the geopolitical ramifications. She was exceedingly well-informed and attentive. We were able to give some insight into why post-colonial Latin America did not have the same view as post-empire Great Britain about their rights to a few obscure islands so far from home and so close to Argentina.

Graciously, the Queen decided to get slightly more personal. “It must have been very exciting for you,” she asked my husband. Known for being very direct, Carl said, “Well, it was all very boring, actually. It all took place at sea and I was stuck on the beach at Comodoro Rivadavia waiting for daily press briefings.”

Perhaps the Queen was processing the information but in the pause that followed, my husband filled the airspace with a more positive, distinctly lighter, footnote. “The most interesting thing that happened to me was coming face to face with a penguin on the beach one day.” The Queen stared blankly. “You know, a penguin,” my husband expounded, realizing that in the seriousness of our earlier discussion, this was a rather abrupt shift in tone.  He then slapped his stiffened arms on the sides of his thighs, in an impromptu imitation of a penguin.

I wish I could describe the expression on the Queen’s face because, naturally, that is the first question anyone hearing the story asks. But my journalistic penchant for telling the truth takes precedence over my storyteller’s instinct. I did not see the Queen’s face because I was staring at my shoes, wishing, like Dorothy, to be back in Kansas or anywhere else, for that matter.

And that is how our conversation with the Queen ended. She abruptly moved on, so as not to neglect her other guests. No smile, not even a grimace. No follow up invitation to dinner at the Palace next time we’re in London, leading to a long-lasting correspondence and a place, even near the bottom, of the royal guest list.

After feeling frozen to the spot for a few moments of reflected infamy, I left the Britannia feeling very American. How fitting that my past dreams of hobnobbing with royalty should come to this: I met Queen Elizabeth and my husband imitated a penguin for her amusement. And she was not.

Recently, we (I am still married to the man) went to see “The King’s Speech.” There’s a beautiful little scene where King George VI, gets down on his knees in front of his little girls, the future Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, and, astonishingly, does a penguin imitation.

I gave my husband an elbow in his ribs. “Apparently, yours was not the first penguin imitation she’d ever seen,” I quipped dryly. I must say I preferred Colin Firth’s version. He was much better dressed for the occasion. And, of course, he kept his upper lip very stiff as only the Brits can do.

Kathy Hersh
Carl and Kathy Hersh are dear friends, and this story could not be more appropriate for reading than on the morning of the Royal Wedding.

APRIL 29, 2011

The Miami-Dade Ethics Commission on the afternoon of April 28, 2011, issued the following announcement:

“The Chief Financial Officer for the City of Miami has settled charges that he violated the Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance for failing to file the required financial disclosure forms for the past three years – 2007, 2008 and 2009.  Larry Spring agreed to pay a fine of $500 to the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust for the first count of the complaint (C 11-02), will accept a letter of instruction and will provide proof that he has filed accurate financial statements for the three years to satisfy the remaining counts.”

The Ethics Commission is capable of initiating their own investigations, so in light of this finding, I wonder whether they will initiate an investigation on all of the free tickets and gifts not only given to, but in many cases solicited, but never reported or accounted for by folks such as Mayor Tomas Regalado, Ada Rojas, ALL the City Commissioners and the City Managers - Migoya and Crapp?

None of these people have EVER filed the necessary quarterly Gift Reports, for the tens of thousands of dollars in gifts for everything from City-Wide Parking decals, the annual Coconut Grove Art Show framed posters. the 264 Sony-EricssonTennis Tournamanent tickets, the Miami Heat, Marlins and Dolphin tickets, nor the tickets provided by the various promoters who put on shows at the Knight Center, and the ATT Bayfront Amphitheater as well as the Cirque du Soleil tickets and all the other stuff that they get as little more than bribes and inducements to curry favor.

Anybody want to bet that the Ethics Commissions takes a pass on investigating this grossly obscene, in-your-face activity?


APRIL 29, 2011

APRIL 29, 2011