JUNE 27, 2013

Let me be very clear at the beginning by stating that Henry Torre, the Director of Facilities Management is another in a line of weasels feeding at the public trough because he couldn’t make it in the private sector and who would rather lie than tell the truth,while being on such a short leash to Assistant City Manager Alice Bravo, that before he can go pee, he has to get permission from Alice.

So, any and everything of any consequence that has Torres fingerprints on it you can just about bet the farm that he’s doing the bidding of Assistant City Manager Alice Bravo, and from her, it’s more than likely that she’s operating as a sock puppet for everybody’s choice for liar of the year, Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff.

Torre doesn’t much like the idea of transparency and in trying to keep information from the public by not only refusing to commit information to paper or electronic documents, but running a department that is under orders to avoid committing as much information as possible from public scrutiny.

With that kind of attitude, it should come as no surprise that those pulling Torre’s strings decided to make it difficult for anyone to attend Wednesday’s Selection Committee meeting for the Grove Key Marina/Scotty’s Landing RFP.

Last year, when a committee met to review the first RFP for this property, the meeting was held in the cafeteria of the city’s MRC building, and a sizable turnout showed up.

To avoid a repeat of that happening again, Torre, as the person responsible for making the meeting arrangements did so by arranging to hold this meeting on the 3rd Floor of the Knight Center, which is part of the Hyatt Hotel downtown.

To appreciate just how out of the way this location was, I followed Ron Nelson - Commissioner “Ethics’s” Chief of Staff into the building - and we both wandered around trying to find where the meeting was being held until he went upstairs and found a sign pointing up an escalator.

Not only that, but this location did not have any readily available free, or even inexpensive public parking.  This is always an indication of a meeting that held in location not intended to encourage public participation. It cost me $14. That’s a totally unacceptable amount of money that anyone should have to pay in order to attend a public meeting.

The reason given for this meeting being held in this out-of-the-way location was that there were too many meetings being held at City Hall, and that therefore the Commission Chambers wasn’t available.

However, it only took about 15 second to download a copy of the public meetings scheduled for Wednesday to reveal that that claim was a flagrant lie.

Contrary to all the excuses that I was given by everyone I raised this issue with, there were not “a lot” of meetings scheduled in the city on this day, and the only meeting in the Chambers was scheduled for 5 PM.

So, right off the bat, here’s a public meeting about a 7.2 acre piece of City of Miami waterfront property up for an 80 year lease, and after jerking around and refusing to set a date until the day before it was scheduled to go before the City Commission, it ends up being held in an out-of-the-way location.

If you doubt it, go and find out how many other public meetings have been held at the Knight Center in recent years - nor weeks or months, but years?


Given the location, you could excuse the general public from attending. But the people you cannot excuse from showing up include the following:

No one from the Miami Herald was there. Nor was there anyone from any of the local TV stations, Miami New Times, nor even Dan “I go to meetings when you can’t.” Ricker.

No one from the Coconut Grove Village Council was there.

No one from Commissioner Francis “I’m The Future” Suarez was there.

Here who did show up. The Mayor, his driver, Art Noriega from the MPA, the guys who were part of the team who’s proposal to the RFP was being considered, Dusty Melton, who I believe is associated with this team, and a guy named Charlie Martinez.

Oh yeah, and me.

So, what the fuck?  No one from the Miami Herald?  I mean, how often does a 7.2 acre piece of prime waterfront property come up for proposals from an RFP with an 80 year lease attached?

And what about the Village Council? Some of those members as well as a bunch of other Grovites constantly seem to whine  about everything having to do with Coconut Grove, including the future of this piece of property, so you would think at least one of that group of whiners would have shown up.

And what about Francis “I’m The Future” Suarez?  You would think that a guy who claims to be running for Mayor on a platform of doing things differently would have already assigned someone to start attending meetings like this to provide him with hard information on policy issues, but I guess not.

But, the Mayor was there, and he was there because his guy, Steve Kneapler was on the Selection Committee, and His Ignorance obviously showed up to provide moral support as Kneapler unloaded on this proposal.

Now, I have no dog in this fight - other than I think, as I wrote recently that this new replacement for the Marina and Scotty’s  Landing will end up out on Bayshore Drive when the next big hurricane shows up - but I’d never met Kneapler, and given that he and Regalado are rumored to have lunch or supper at Monty’s on a regular basis, it was interesting to listen to just what he had to say about this deal because the speculation is that he was acting as Regalado’s mouthpiece.

I have no way of knowing at this point whether the issues Kneapler raised are really as factual as he claims, but I do suspect - just on the basis that this is Miami after all - that this proposal, especially the much discussed parking garage and retail space will probably turn out to be a real problem for the business folks who currently make up the Coconut Grove business community.

Mary Brickell Village has already demonstrated that folks will always be attracted to shiny new baubles, and 3 brand new restaurants and 40,000 square feet of retail might just be enough to push some of those current Coconut Grove business owners over the proverbial cliff.

But then, none of them seemed to care enough to show up, so if there’s a fucking coming, then they certainly deserve it for not paying attention.

Below it the complete video of the meeting.  My new camera records in 1/2 hour segments, and the meeting lasted about 1 hour and 5 minutes.



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