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WHEN FRANKIE WENT TO SPAIN: EVER WONDER HOW POLITICIANS MANAGE TO GET SPECIAL DEALS?
PART III

In the last year, Mayor Tomas Regalado has taken Commissioner Frank Carollo under his wing, while at the same time, Frank’s older brother Joe, who used to be Mayor, has taken to Latin TV alleging that Regalado is a crook who has been in bed all along with the video gaming machine operators, going so far as to name names.


We know that Regalado has done Carollo favors, but have the favors been worth it, and is the devious Regalado doing Carollo the kind of favors that will eventually blow up in his face as a payback for brother Joe’s outspoken hatred of him.


Only the Shadow knows, and he keeps telling me that prolonging the climax is a hallmark of maturity.


So until then, here’s a little example of Frank Carollo being in the right place at the right time.


Last June Commissioner Frank Carollo went to Spain.  He flew on AirEuropa Airlines, and he stayed at the Gran Melia Fenix hotel in Madrid. He got the ticket and the hotel room as gifts, and in a rare case of complying with the gift requirements, he filed out a FORM 9.

Even though he complied in reporting these “gifts,” I was curious when I saw the FORM 9 as to who had paid for the airline ticket and hotel room, and most importantly, why.  So, I wrote the Commissioner and asked him:

   Mayor Tomas Regalado, Commissioner Frank Carollo, and Juan Jose  

   Hidalgo, at Miami City Hall, March 22, 2010.

Mayor Tomas Regalado, gives Juan Jose Hidalgo, the head of AirEuropa, a Key To The City and a plaque, while Commissioner Carollo happily looks on.

After my discovery of this information and the photographs, I wrote the Commissioner another letter asking for an explanation regarding how he obtained his ticket from AirEuropa to go to Spain.

As of the 21st, the Commissioner had declined to respond to my inquiry.


But my questions still deserve answers, especially since you can bet a dollar to a donut that Carollo’s deal to get the plane ticket and hotel room were done during the meeting in the Mayor’s office, and that Regalado probably played a part in helping the deal go forward.


So, once again Commissioner, how many tickets did you get, and if it was more than one, who went with you, and how long were you in Spain?


And while we’re at it, FORM 9 requires that. “If any receipt for a gift listed above was provided to you by the person making the gift, you are required to attach a copy of that receipt to this form.”


So where’s a copy of your airline ticket and your hotel bill?  Those are receipts, and you couldn’t get on the plane, or leave the hotel without having been provided with them.


TIE A YELLOW RIBBON ROUND THESE OAK TREES


Airline tickets aren’t the only benefit the Commissioner received since he assumed office. There’s also the deal about the Royal Palm and Oak trees that started being planted in the Eastern half of District 3 since he became a Commissioner.

Two of those trees were Oak’s planted in the swale in front of the Commissioner’s house on SW 14th Avenue. The trees were valued at $3200 each.


Below are 5 Royal Palms planted in the swale in front of a house off of SW 12th Avenue.

After I took these photographs last year, I went to the City’s MRC building in an effort to track down who had authorized these trees being planted. I was eventually directed to Robert Fenton, who is the City’s Project Manager for the new parking garages being built as part of the new baseball stadium.


When I found Fenton, I asked him who had authorized the planting of these trees.


His response was, “I can’t tell you.”


“Why not?” I asked.


“Because if I tell you, I’ll get in trouble,” he responded.


My answer to that was, “ Guess what!  You’re already in trouble for telling me that.”


Fenton refused to answer any more of my questions and told me to send him a public records request if I wanted any further information.


I did, and he refused to answer.  I then wrote letters to Julie Bru - the $379,000 a year nitwit that passes for the Miami City Attorney - and detailed what Fenton had told me.  I then asked her for the records.


This went on for over 4 months until I wrote Bru on February 22nd, and told her I was getting ready to sue the City over these documents. Eight days later I got the following response from Fenton.

Below is a copy of R-10-0009, which identified Commissioner Carollo in Section 2, as the ultimate arbiter of where the trees were to be planted.

So, in all of District 3, the Commissioner decided that the best place to plant 2 Oak trees valued at $3200 apiece, was the swale in front of his house, and it only took about 4 months and a threat of a lawsuit before I finally got Fenton to provide me some proof of  that.


But the larger question still remains: Why those houses?  Even though the trees are planted in the swale, they represent a major enhancement for the owners of those properties.


Was there a lottery to determine who’s houses in District 3 got trees, or was it a case of looking out for a “cousin?”


A CLOSING COMMENT ON PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS


For those who think what I and others do when it comes to seeking documents through public record requests is simple and straightforward, think again.  About once every 2 or 3 weeks I have to start a letter to someone in city government with the threat of a lawsuit in order for them to obey the law.  Only this week I had to write Julie Bru the following:


        “Ms. Bru, I keep asking you for compliance

        with previous public records requests that

        you've assumed the responsibility for responding

        to, and then I never get any response.  So, do you

        think perhaps I ought to sue you as a way to spur

        some activity on this issue?”


Miami-Dade County is even worse.  They either don’t know the law, or worse, the pretend that the public record’s law doesn’t exist, and get an attitude when I start quoting the law, chapter and verse to them.


One of the best ways to measure the honesty and integrity of public officials and employees is how they respond to public record requests.  The honest ones waste no time in complying.  The crooked one, the weasels, the assholes will engage in every stall tactic that they can.


But, one way or another, those of us engaged in this fight will continue to get the documents, and with them, we’ll continue to reveal the corruption and self-dealing that passes for public service in the City of Miami.


                                       *  *  *  *  *

THIS IS END OF PART IV OF THIS SERIES.  NEXT WEEK WE’LL HAVE ANOTHER CHAPTER OF THIS SERIES DETAILING MORE EXAMPLES OF ABUSING THE

PUBLIC TRUST

These 4 were planted further South off of SW 12th Avenue.

-City Archives

-City Archives