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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

FEBRUARY 18, 2014

HAVE WE GOT A CONDO FOR YOU
LAST JULY TOMAS REGALADO AND RAQUELITA TOOK A TRIP TO ARGENTINA WHERE TOMAS TRIED TO HUSTLE ARGENTINEANS TO INVEST IN MIAMI REAL ESTATE,  AND ONCE AGAIN HE FAILED TO REPORT ON WHO PAID FOR THE TRIP.

In April of 2012, I filed an Ethics Complaint against the Mayor for failing to report who had paid for a trip to Peru that was billed an an economic development junket sponsored by the Miami Chamber of Commerce.  His ticket had been paid for by the Latin Builders Association and Regalado went out of his way to try and avoid revealing that information to me.


By then, as I wrote at the time, Regalado knew full well his responsibility to reveal who paid for any trips he took by filing a FORM 9 when he took any trips paid for by anyone other than the City.


Last July, as reported by exMiami, Regalado and his daughter went to Argentina to supposedly tout economic development in Miami, and once again, he and Raquelita seem to have decided that providing information on who financed this little junket wasn’t anyone’s business.


Below is the Ethics Complaint that I filed in an effort to get that information on the public record.

Now, there are those who will question why this is an issue that warrants an ethics complaint.


The Mayor, they will claim, was doing something that was intended to benefit the city by going to a foreign country and trying to get folks to invest in Miami.


And they would be right if the trip was paid for by the taxpayers, because then, it could be assumed that he was acting on behalf of the city.  But, when his trip is paid for by either a private individual or an organization, then the assumption has to be that he’s not necessarily speaking for the city, but for the interests of whoever paid for his trip.


That’s why the Florida Legislature felt it was necessary that elected officials need to report anything of value - especially free trips - through a FORM 9 so that folks would know who was giving money and gifts to politicians.


In this case, the Argentinean newspaper story that I included as part of my ethics complaint pointed out that while Regalado was supposedly in Argentina to promote economic investment in Miami, he was actually there to promote Miami real estate, and as exMiami revealed he managed in the process managed to piss off the President of Argentina.


Now there’s nothing wrong with promoting real estate development either, unless the trip was paid for by a specific developer, and Regalado returns the favor by promoting that developer’s project(s).


Currently, Regalado is hard at work promoting Miami as an EB5 Regional Center for foreign investment. As usual, the local news media is content to stand around with their thumb up their ass and acting as stenographers when it comes to reporting on what this all really means.


No one it seems has shown the slightest interest in trying to follow the money.


For instance, local lawyer Mikki Canton, no stranger to wheeling and dealing, has been working as a Special Assistant to the Mayor to get this deal off the ground.


To become the Mayor’s Special Assistant however, The City Commission  had to give her a Conflict Of Interest Waiver.


In Miami, it’s never a good sign when someone needs a waiver against a Conflict of Interest to either become a consultant or sit on a public board, and in Canton’s case, there was never a clear explanation of what ALL of her conflicts might be, especially anything having to do with the EB5 program, since that came along after she was working for the Mayor. 


Once this EB5 deal is finalized, could we see Mikki Canton start promoting herself as the go-to attorney for foreigners seeking to apply for EB5 status on the basis of her involvement as the city’s representative on this issue?


What about the law firm Greenberg Traurig? How did they get involved? They are a big law firm with obvious knowledge about this EB5 program, but they are not the only law firm that possesses that kind of knowledge. So how did they get chosen to handle the application for this deal?


Did it have anything to do with all the campaign contributions that folks with Greenberg Traurig partners have bundled for the Mayor over the years?  Inquiring minds tend to want to know those kinds of things.


While the EB5 program has the potential to encourage foreign investment in Miami, it also has the potential to become a cash cow for a small group of attorneys and fixers, and no one it seems has bothered to ask how much this is costing the city to get a EB5 designation? 


The city pays out millions of dollars every year in legal fees to outside law firms, and no one in the news media has ever gotten off of their ass to seriously look into how these firms are really selected, or more importantly how many millions some of these firms have gotten paid. 


I’ve heard Regalado give his pitch for the value of the EB5 program, and quite frankly I wasn’t impressed.  His focus in the talks I’ve heard him give, as evidenced by his trip to Argentina, was largely on promoting investment in real estate ventures to South Americans, which to a large degree results in absentee landlords who come to town periodically to shop and visit their property.


It’s obviously good for the developers, but what’s good for developers isn’t necessarily good for Miami, and Miami is once again in the grip of a handful of developers who’s goal seems to be to pour concrete on every single foot of remaining vacant land they can build on, with little regard for the alarming traffic and infrastructure demands that the city is becoming incapable of meeting.


The original settlers of Miami never envisioned or had the foresight to plan for Miami to become a major American city and consequently the way in which the city was originally laid out has now become a problem as a result of the kinds of development that is going on, which is only being compounded by piss-poor oversight and city planning exhibited by the current crop of kniving politicians like Marc Sarnoff, who it was recently pointed out to me, has managed to have two of his toadies transferred from positions at the Downtown Development Agency and the OMNI CRA - agencies that he is the Chairman of - to be the Director of the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and the new Deputy Director of the City’s Building Department.


The degree to which folks in the Regalado administration are being manipulated and forced to kowtow to developers and their projects - especially within the boundaries of District !! - should alarm the watchdogs in the community because all of this could not be happening without a degree of corruption that would make the crooks of yesteryear look like Boy Scouts.


But that is another story for another day, and actually one that the “real” news media should be doing.


Today, the story is that Tomas Regalado and Raquelita went to Argentina to hustle Argentineans to invest in Miami real estate and he hasn’t bothered to fess up as to who paid for the trip.


It’s Miami, Bitches!

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