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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

NOVEMBER 16, 2012

NO FREE RIDES, FRANCIS
REGALADO IS CORRUPT AND STUPID, BUT WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Dear Commissioner Suarez,


Early on in your career as a City Commissioner I tagged you as a light weight, and started calling you The Boy Prince.


In fact, for most of your first three years as a City Commissioner your demeanor and general unwillingness to say shit, even when it was piled high before you convinced me that you were indeed a lightweight trying to cash in on your father’s name and reputation.


At the same time, you managed to maintain a low profile and I never heard many bad things about you when it came to trying to pull off the kinds of scummy deals that your pal and fellow Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has become notorious for orchestrating.


I wasn’t much impressed with your legal reasoning when you argued for the firing of Chief Exposito, but at the time I was far more appalled at the behavior of then Commission Chairman Willie Gort in allowing attorney Al Milan to walk into City Hall and get away with what he did,.


I also didn’t put much faith that your being appointed Chairman of the Commission would make much of a difference to the level of confusion and incompetence that passes for governance, and for the first half of the year you didn’t disappoint me.


Then, about the same time I started hearing rumblings about your possibly running for Mayor, you leaped up on the dais one day and surprised me, and I would suspect everyone else too with your full bore evisceration of Stephen Petty’s resume and ability to be the FInance Director.


I was impressed enough to write a piece where I called it your finest moment as a City Commissioner.


While I was impressed, I wasn’t bedazzled into thinking you might be the next Mr. Smith standing up against the heathens in the temple, to mix a few metaphors.  After all, the information you cited in dressing, was information that I had published days before, and Stephen Petty was a pretty safe and easy target to take on.


The attack however was a pretty good piece of stagecraft, and certainly a way to send the signal to the peanut gallery that you indeed were running for Mayor.


At the same time it takes a lot more than the occasional bit of indignation and dressing down of an incompetent bureaucrat to run for Mayor, and that’s what I was more interested in learning about, when it came to Francis Suarez.


The most troubling thing about your run for Mayor was your alignment with Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff. 


Like the relationship between Marco Rubio and David Rivera, your relationship with Sarnoff is one that psychologists would describe as a Beauty and the Beast relationship.


You’re the young, fair-haired, politically connected son of a former Mayor, with an attractive family, and no unsavory blemishes on your reputation, and Sarnoff is the manipulative, wheeler-dealing back-room operator whose reputation has taken repeated hits in the last several years for being an abrasive and wholly untrustworthy abuser of the public trust, lying about everything from his family history to issues of public policy.


In Beauty and the Beast relationships, the Beauty is always at a disadvantage, and often comes out second best.


Adding to your relationship with Commissioner Sarnoff is your relationship with lobbyist and campaign manager for both you and Commissioner Sarnoff, Steve Marin.


Now, I’ve written very little about Mr. Marin in particular, and lobbyists in general because like the tale of the scorpion and the frog, I consider most lobbyists to be scorpions, and therefore, as the scorpion said to the frog after he had bitten him, “What did you expect?  I’m a scorpion.”


At the same time, no one viewing your relationship with Sarnoff and Marin, no one should ever be under any misguided notions that you are the fair-haired boy who would not stoop to sacrificing your principles and becoming a political whore to do their bidding.


THE CARLOS GIMENEZ JR. MEMO


When it comes to really knowing how things work inside the City of Miami it takes an insider to explain the process. 


Almost 2 years ago to the day, Carlos Gimenez Jr., the son of current Miami-Dade County Mayor, and a successful lawyer/lobbyist wrote the following email about his involvement with you and Commissioner Sarnoff, when he represented the company ATS for the contract to provide the City of Miami with Red Light cameras.


Here is what Gimenez, in this very candid email, wrote about that experience.

I can tell you what happened here.

 

The Company that won was ATS.  Initially, ATS was represented by Miguel DLP and myself through the original process.  The process was flawed, as they had folks on the selection committee that hardly had any idea what a red light was, much less, what red light enforcement required.  The original company that was recommended for award was ACS, a subsidiary of Zerox.  At the time, Brian May was representing ACS.  We then filed a bid protest,that was reviewed by Glenn Marcos.  ACS offered a system in their submittal that was not functioning at the time of bid submittal, as required by the RFP.  Also, they took into account the financials of Zerox, which is a parent company, but, nothing is stopping Zerox from selling ACS tomorrow, so, we argued successfully that the audited financial statements should be for the subsidiary, not the parent.  In addition, ACS lied about not being removed in several jurisdictions around the Country, only to be replaced by ATS.  If that wasn't enough, the process of red light enforcement requires that shots be taken of the car, and within those shots, certain data is provided, such as date, time, and the speed of the vehicle in question.  Well, ACS had sample shots that showed a car going 0 mph in one shot, and up to 90 miles per hour in the next shot.  Such an error would have given the driver an excellent argument, and rendered the violation unsupportable in court.

 

So, at this point, Glenn hired an independent expert to review our protest, and the grounds stated above.  They confirmed our position.  The bid protest went before the City Commission, and the vote was 5-0 in favor of the protest.  Now, the City started negotiations with us, and in the interim, ACS, who had now hired John Shubin, filed their own bid protest.  Glenn determined that their protest was without merit, and recommended award to ATS.  At the next Commission meeting, all seemed fine.  The cone was lifted, and we met with all the Commissioners.  Every single one of them said that they agreed with the recommended award to ATS, and agreed with Glenn's conclusions on the bid protest.  The last two I met with were Suarez and Sarnoff, who both said they had no problem.

 

Fast forward to the date of the meeting.  From the time I met with them, until the time of the Commission meeting, ACS hired additional help.  You guessed it, Steve Marin.  As an aside, we had approached Marin to bring him on the team.  At the time, our client balked at bringing him in.  This was back before the protests, and all that jazz.  The client called him again, and wanted to bring him on, and he said that the last experience left a bad taste in his mouth that he would not jump on with the competition, and he would stay out.  I kept checking the lobbyist registrations, because, frankly, I did not believe him.  Well, my fears were realized.  All of a sudden, Sarnoff and Suarez flipped on us.  They based their reversal on some very loose ground.  Gort actually told us from the beginning that he felt the bid should be rejected, and they should start over.  At the end of the day, it was a reasonable opinion, and he stuck with it.  So, with not enough votes to award to either side (Dunn and Carollo stuck with Glenn's recommendation), they voted to reject all bids, and start it all over again.

 

Now, I knew exactly what happened.  Who was tied with Sarnoff and Suarez, Marin.  Who was already aware of what was going on, and knew that there was a chance to make a quick buck, Marin.  Marin had not registered, and I made it known to Sarnoff and Suarez that I knew what happened.  Funny thing is, neither of them denied that Marin lobbied them on it.  Marin, then registered for them after the fact.  Dirty!

 

Anyways, seeing that the decks were stacked against our client, who is the industry leader, by far, we had to expand the team.  Who did we bring on, Armando Gutierrez?  Did we want to, hell no!!  This is the sort of thing good companies trying to compete on an even playing ground need to do at the City of Miami, and it makes me absolutely sick.  Miguel and I were able to reverse recommendations all over this County.  Doral, Key Biscayne, Homestead, Hialeah, and the City (through protests, and a transparent process).  Unfortunately, at the City, we not only had to win a bid protest on legally supported grounds, we had to bring folks onto the team.  That is not the way it should work.  Obviously, all this is WAY OFF THE RECORD. 

 

At the end of the day, the evaluation committee was actually composed of members that had a good idea of how the system worked, and we scored 40 points higher than #2, ACS.  Brain May made a last ditch effort, but, ATS was approved by a 5-0 vote at the end of the day.  The sad thing is, they forced an extension of the process, which gave their buddies additional money, regardless of who won.  I am seeing that more and more.  They will delay, or defer, or reject an item, if either Marin or Armando are on the sidelines, essentially forcing private companies to hire them for a chance.  That has got to change.


Carlos J. Gimenez

Putting aside all of the obvious questions of what it means when Gimenez writes, “They” [plainly meaning you, Sarnoff and the Mayor] “will delay, or defer or reject an item if either Marin or Armando are on the sidelines.”


What does it mean for the citizens of Miami to learn that little if anything that occurs at City Hall is not tainted by graft, corruption, or cronyism, and that even someone who considers himself a good guy was forced to align himself with a guy like Armando “The Whopper” Gutierrez to nullify the influence that Marin had on you?


When an insider with the credentials and experience of a guy like Gimenez bemoans how you and Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff screwed him, and continued to feel so strongly about it that he sent someone an email describing his views of what happened, then Commissioner, this was clearly a pretty nasty deal that you were a part of.


The only significant fact that Carlos Gimenez failed to disclose in this email was that Steve Marin was both yours, and Sarnoff’s campaign manager, and how closely tied to the hip that makes the three of you when it comes to strategizing and manipulating things  behind, and in front of the curtain.


In turn, if one were to label your little group they might call it Team Marin, or Team Sarnoff, but no one would ever call it Team Suarez, because even when it comes to skullduggery, folks would consider you the light-weight of the group.


No matter how you cut it, either you and Sarnoff are Steve Marin’s socket puppets, or Marin and you are Sarnoff’s sock puppets, but neither of those guys are your sock puppet.


Being a sock puppet has its advantages, but it also has it’s disadvantages, the biggest one being that everyone knows that someone’s got their hand all the way up your ass.


But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have your moments.


THE TAG TEAM OF SUAREZ AND SARNOFF


I watched with interest the way you finessed the vote to give Sarnoff’s OMNI CRA stakeholders, the Klugers, the alley on their property at the last Commission meeting, while at the same time sticking a knife in Frank Carollo, who had asked for the item to be deferred to the afternoon session, and then had the misfortune to be in his office talking with the Budget Director when the item came back up.


It was a very slick and smooth move Commissioner, and you carried it off well. Sarnoff’s pals got what they wanted which made Sarnoff happy, Frank got knifed, and it all happened so fast, and with such smoothness that no one in the audience was the wiser or saw the blade get buried in Carollo back.


As a connoisseur of political skullduggery and back-stabbing, I appreciated how you handled the situation. You could have deferred it again until Carollo came from his office, but instead you seized the moment and in less than 30 seconds the deal was done.


As someone concerned with the increasing levels of corruption occurring within the City of Miami however, I was alarmed, because one of the small saving graces when it comes to Regalado is that he’s so clumsy and ham-handed that at least folks paying attention usually can get a warning of what’s coming.


You and Sarnoff are far more dangerous in that respect, because you’re smarter and more cunning, and none of that bodes well for the taxpayers of Miami were you to become Mayor, and Sarnoff  becoming your Commission Chairman, or perhaps worse, you assuming the Chairman’s roll.


THE GROVE KEY MARINA THREE-STEP


I’ve written extensively about Scott Wessel and Grove Key Marina in recent months, and one of the things I’ve tried to get people to keep in focus was that Steve Marin was hired by Scott Wessel to get him an extension on his lease, if it turned out that the RFP, for any reason turned out to be unworkable.


At yesterday’s Commission meeting, a 2 year Revocable License giving Wessel continued control of Grove Key Marina/Scotty’s Landing came before the Commission for approval.


Given that Wessel continues to refuse to pay the $2.9 in property taxes - $1 million of that which is essentially owed to the City - the notion that any member of the Commission would seriously entertain the notion that the ONLY viable option available to the Commission was to approve this agreement, without seriously discussing the option of throwing Wessel out and taking over the operation of the Marina and restaurant while a new RFP - of which a draft copy is supposedly going to be given the Commissioners next week for review  - was put out for bid, raises questions as to whether any of you on the Commission ever heard of standing on principle, when it comes to protecting the citizens of the City of Miami against marauders and tax cheats.


For the edification of the readers who didn’t have an opportunity to watch yesterday’s City Commission Meeting, here is the portion of that meeting that dealt with the granting of the “Revocable License” to Scott Wessel.


The first thing to pay attention to is how long after the item was introduced everyone sat in silence waiting for someone else to make the motion to support this deal.  And then guess who finally stepped up to the plate and made the motion.

For the record, the City of Miami currently runs the Miami Marine Marina, and every year that marina generates over $1 million in profits that go to the City’s general Fund.  So, it’s not like the City doesn’t know, or could not take over the operation of Grove Key Marina without making a complete mess of things.


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to run a marina or a casual restaurant with a steady clientele and a staff already on the job, so the notion Commissioner, that the City - even a City as incompetently run as Miami - could go broke if they were to throw Scott Wessel out take over the management of Grove Key Marina/Scotty’s landing versus sending a long overdue, and much needed message that the City of Miami will no longer be the patsy for someone who refuses to pay their taxes certainly merited a real discussion, if not a unanimous vote to throw the bum out!


To his credit, Henry Torre, the Director of Facilities management even went so far as to prepare a detailed Excel spreadsheet presentation of what wouls be involved if the City took the property over.

You haven;t even announced for Mayor, and already you’ve raised $181,936.90.  How sweet is that!


Steve Marin incidentally, is the same Steve Marin that you, Commissioner “Ethics” and his wife made a point of having a showy lunch with at the Versailles Restaurant on Primary Election Day.


TROLLING FOR VOTES AND MONEY AT CITY HALL


Yesterday’s Commission meeting was one for the archives, and among the highlights was that nice piece of phony stagecraft that Commissioner “Ethics” pulled off during the Commission meeting in the afternoon when he walked off the dais, walked around and entered the chambers through the front doors and then walked up to the podium to pretend he was an indignant citizen to chastise you for allowing your “personal aspirations” to color your actions.


Really, the pot calling the kettle black!?!


Of course even among thieves there are sometime disagreements, and Sarnoff has a lot to answer for in the current imbroglio over the Port Tunnel debt, but the notion that he would call you out for grandstanding because you’re running for Mayor is hilarious.


My sources inside of City Hall, which by now you know are better than your sources, tell me that Sarnoff has already been hard at work talking to all of you fellow Commissioners about joining together to get behind your candidacy.


He’s also, I’ve been told, started leaning on top officials about getting on the band wagon and starting to talk your candidacy up by  promising them things.  You know, “things,” like Mitt Romney claims Barack Obama promised “things” to all those” urban voters” to get them to vote for him.


In fact, I understand that one of the “things” that he’s already promised to someone is the job of City Manager.  Now I wonder who that could be?


Better yet, why would Sarnoff think it was okay for him to be giving away this job 12 months before the election? 


Once Sarnoff gets on a roll, he’s hard to stop, and it looks like he thinks, even at this early stage, that come November, if you win the election, he’ll be the one with his hand up your ass.  Here we are again with another sock puppet reference. I guess that if you do get elected, people could start calling you His Honor, Mayor Sock Puppet!


Now, far be for me to tell you what to do Commissioner, but you  pretty much spent the first 3 years in office with your thumb stuck up your ass refusing to stand up or speak out against the multitude examples of incompetence, stupidity and corruption, and only now, that you’ve decided to run for Mayor have you selectively decided to start sounding like a truth seeking, champion of good government.


At the same time, if Carlos Gimenez Jr. is to be believed, and I certainly do believe him, then you were involved in a nasty little piece of business favoring a Steve Marin client.


Marin’s a guy who’s reputation has long preceded him, and between what you did for him in the Red Light camera deal, and what you did for him yesterday on the Grove Key Marina deal, it all leads me to believe that the City would not be better of with you than with Regalado.


In fact, I would suspect you’d be a lot worse, because as a lawyer you’re not only smarter, but also have more opportunities to shield your dirty deeds behind you legal practice.


The problem as I see it, is that you’re clearly attached at the hip, or dangling from the wrist of Steve Marin and Marc Sarnoff.


You haven’t even officially announced that you’re running for Mayor, and look at what I’ve already been able to uncover about your relationship to these two fine gentlemen.  Imagine what I and others will be able to do with a little time, money and effort.


I warned you previously that hitching your wagon to Sarnoff would be hazardous to your political career, but obviously you didn’t hear me.


To quote the Verizon guy, CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW!!!!!!!


Happy Thanksgiving!

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The vote was 4-1, with Carollo voting No. But the Resolution would have died, and Wessel would not have gotten the extension if Sarnoff had not moved to pass it - because it was clear that none of the other Commissioners, including you, we’re willing to make that first move - and  while Gort and Spence-Jones voted to support the deal, it was YOUR vote, and Sarnoff’s vote that carried the day.


But the real winners were Scott Wessel and Steve Marin. You  and Sarnoff delivered for his client, and not a moment too soon, given that Marin had already started getting some of his clients, including Grove Key Marina to donate to your 527 PAC.