AUGUST 22, 2012


Back in the day, the Versailles restaurant on SW 8th street was the place to watch the show as politicians, dope dealers would-be revolutionary plotters, and first generation Medicare scammers took their turns glad handing the locals and plotting deals over plates of Black Beans and rice, all the while fueling the daily gossip that contributed to the radio talk shows that the Cuban community loves so much.

It was the only place that my mother would agree to go out to eat, because after listening into the wee hours of the morning to the Cuban radio talkers, she’d occasionally get the urge to see who these people were, and we’d sit there having lunch or supper, hoping that some politician or schemer would waltz in, so she could take their measure.

But those days - and many of those players - are gone, and Versailles is now a place where the locals more often than not, share space with the tourists looking for some of that “multicultural” experience that they hear Miami has so much of.

The fact that Mitt Romney’s folks chose to stage a campaign event last week in the parking lot of a Palacio de los Jugos owned by a former cocaine smuggler, instead of Versailles, only served to signal a passing of the guard from Cuban coffee to health juices, and from old-time, hard-line Cubans to a younger, more politically, and financially agile generation that didn’t seem to mind that Romney never uttered the word Cuba.

I personally think that Versailles lost their Mojo on election night of 2008, when as the photo above reveals, the supporters of Barack Obama ran the Cuban right-wing hardliners off of the sidewalk in disarray, and symbolically at least, captured the corner for the Democrats.


Therefore, it was a bit of surprise to read in Dan Ricker’s Watchdog Report a couple days ago that City Commissioners Francis Suarez and Marc Sarnoff, along with Sarnoff’s wife, “the lovely Teresa,” had been at Versailles having lunch with Steve Marin, lobbyist, campaign manager and puppet master to these two socket puppets, along with Richard Perez, billed as an attorney and “veteran lobbyist,” and Mathew Greer, CEO of the Carlisle Development Group.

As Ricker described it, Perez assured him that the luncheon was nothing more than “friends getting together,” and Commissioner Suarez went out of his way to assure him that there “was nothing illegal” in these “friends” having lunch to talk about “the elections.”

Of course not! 

Who could ever think that these paragons of civic virtue, motivated always by a desire to conduct themselves to the highest standards of ethical behavior - just ask Sarnoff, who prides himself in being the author of the City’s Ethics Ordinance -  would do anything so crass as divert their attention from a good Cuban lunch and convivial talk about “the elections,” to discuss anything that might come before them for a vote, such as what would be needed to ensure that Marin and Perez’s client, Scott Wessel and Grove Key Marina, got all the benefits from these two that someone who owes $2.9 million in back taxes, and another $333,492 in unpaid fuel sale profit sharing, deserves from the Miami City Commission.

No, we know that stand-up guys like Sarnoff and Suarez would be SHOCKED!, JUST SHOCKED!, that anyone would even think they they would come close to violating the “Sunshine Law” by discussing anything remotely related to City business during a luncheon among “friends. ”

And what about Mathew Greer, who I coincidently first wrote about a year ago this month, when he almost became the recipient of a Marc Sarnoff/Richard Dunn and Greer golfing pal, CRA Director, Peter Bockweg, sweetheart deal that would have given him 6 blocks of Overtown in a rather creative deal that required Bockweg flying off to New York semi-secretly, to assure Greer’s bankers that the deal was in the bag, so to speak.

Only, once I pulled the deal out of the bag, it crumpled like a Vampire exposed to the sun.

Why was Greer there? Well, for one thing, Marin represent him too, and Greer is probably a fun guy to have lunch with when it comes to talking about things like “the elections,” given his public spirited efforts to host fundraisers for some of his favorite politicians.

How much better can life be for Steve Marin than to be a lobbyist who has as his “friends” two City Commissioners he helped get into office by managing their campaigns, and a developer, who almost walked away with 6 downtown blocks of Miami, and no doubt has other wonderful tax-credit schemes percolating on the stove.

Now these are the kinds of guys who’s insightful conversations about “the elections,” would have been worthy of recording and saving for posterity.

But alas, even though Sarnoff and Suarez convinced Dan Ricker that their presence at Versailles was wholly aboveboard, it turns out that their method of being transported to the restaurant for this private luncheon among “friends,” turned out to be subsidized by the long suffering taxpayers of Miami.

So while they laughed and had a good time and talked about “the elections,” Commissioners Sarnoff and Suarez managed to earn themselves an Ethics Complaint for abusing their public trust in having 2 Sgt-At-Arms drive them to Versailles in their taxpayer  purchased SUV’s.

And even though he wasn’t present in body, His Ignorance, the Mayor, is never far from our thoughts when it comes to ethics violations, so he’s along for the ride too because the statute-of-limitations covers his first year in office, as well perhaps, the rest of the City Commission, who I’m sure also avail themselves of chauffeured to greater or lesser degrees.

Here’s the Ethics Complaint. I recommend that if you’re sitting in Versailles reading this on your cellphone or IPAD, that you order a little Cuban Roast Pork to go along with your read, because the food is still great, even if Mitt Romney prefers to have his campaign rallies hosted by former cocaine smugglers


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It’s Miami, Bitches!