JULY 18 - JULY 22

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JULY 14TH CITY COMMISSION MEETING IS A CORNUCOPIA OF GREAT VIDEO CLIPS

I only lasted about an hour and a half at last week’s City Commission meeting before I had to leave for fear that my head would explode, and that was well before they got to discussing the $200,000 bribery check to Chief Exposito.


There are so many issues that provided sound bites worth reporting on, that I call on all of my fellow bloggers and bloggets to spend time looking at the video of the meeting and picking out your best choices for a story.


All this was taking place mind you, while over in Hialeah, Elaine de Valle was covering the budget antics of new Mayor Carlos Hernandez and the Hialeah City Council, who free of Julio Robaina, seem poised to make His Ignorance, Tomas Regalado and the City of Miami look like rational, sane public servants.


What a great time and place to be a muckraker.  As perhaps the only remaining words worth remembering from a time when the Miami Herald was actually a real newspaper, I remind you of the immortal words written by Dave Barry, “You can’t make this stuff up.”


So here are my 3 video clip choices from last Thursday’s Miami City Commission meeting.


DIANA GOMEZ AND MAJOR AL ALVAREZ  PUNCH THE MAYOR


As Frank Carollo continues to grow as a possible contender for Mayor, and as the City Commissioner who’s intent on actually trying to safeguard the public’s money, Frank finally got around to discussing the $200,000 check offered to Chief Exposito in the evening hours of the Commission meeting.


There are a lot of good sound bites in the hour or more that this issue was discussed, but my two favorites starts with Diana Gomez, the Chief Financial Officer for the city revealing just who knew about the check being issued, and ends with the appearance by Major Al Alvarez, the head of Internal Affairs revealing - as I reported last Friday - revealing that even before the check had been issued, he and the Chief had notified an “investigative authority.”


Now, in truth of fact the Mayor and certainly the Commissioners have known for sometime that there’s been an investigation going on, because the word’s been out that the Mayor went out and hired a criminal attorney a while back, but the effort to get this information out into the public arena - and Luis Cabrera’s feeble effort just before Alvarez spoke to try and stop this from happening - are I believe, just part of a larger strategy that is now beginning to reveal itself as the powers that be start prepping the public for what could be a summer of indictments.  Here is the Gomez and Alvarez clip.  It runs 8:08.

TAKING A STAND FOR THE CITIZENS


I don’t agree with all of Grace’s positions, especially her comments back in April, 2010 when she all but slobbered over Tomas Regalado, saying:


    "I have an incredible amount of faith in the man sitting

    behind me (that would be Regalado). And with all due

    respect to all of you,I have so much trust in him, I wish

    he could pick the commissioners. That's how far I have

    trust in this man behind me."


Last week however, she was not a happy camper when she spoke at the Commission meeting, and the possibility of Tomas Regalado losing Grace Solares’ support could be akin to Lyndon Johnson’s famous words when Walter Cronkite turned against the Vietnam War in 1968: "That's it. If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."


Grace, is smart enough to know that its the Mayor who makes the ultimate decisions on schemes like the $200,000 check, and if she turns on him, he’s lost the United Neighborhoods Association, and with it, large chunks of Little Havana, Shenandoah and other neighborhoods formerly considered Regalado strongholds.


Here is Grace and Miguel Gabella, speaking on a new ordinance to restrict all future settlements, severance payments and other similar payments introduced by Commissioner Carollo.  It runs 5:16.

IT’S SHUCK & JIVE TIME
REGALADO TO APPEAR BEFORE THE HERALD’S EDITORIAL BOARD ON THURSDAY

Much like the class clown, His Ignorance, Mayor Tomas Regalado has been summoned to appear before the Miami Herald’s Editorial Board on Thursday to explain why his, and his administration’s antics have become so embarrassing.


Ah, if only that were the case.  The collection of nattering naboobs that makes up the Herald’s Editorial Board are probably a lot more worried about any financial impact on their new masters and landlords - the Genting Group - than on any real concern about good governance and intelligent public policy coming out of Miami City Hall.


So even though this collection of clowns and ass kissers - they did after all praise the soon to be departed Robert Meyers of the Miami Ethics Commission for his fine service to the community while completely ignoring the real reason he tendered his resignation - pretends to act like stalwart protectors of the ethics and image of the community, here are some questions that I think a real Editorial Board should be asking the Mayor on Thursday.


15 QUESTIONS FOR THE MAYOR


+ How long have you known that the attempted bribery of the Chief of Police has been under investigation?


+ How many other criminal investigations are you aware of currently underway involving city officials and/or  employees?


+ Why did you lie when the news first broke, and deny any knowledge of the $200,000 check?


+ Is it true you’ve hired a criminal lawyer?


+ How many unqualified individuals related to your political and radio cronies are you personally responsible for forcing the administration to hire who are now receiving exorbitant salary and benefit packages, and who in some cases have become No-Show  employees?


+ Will you DEMAND that ALL employees, including your own, be required to participate in whatever cost cutting efforts are decided to balance the budget?


+ Why did you lie by claiming that you had arranged for    Scott Simpson to become the “acting” CFO, as “reported” by the Herald’s stenographer Chuck Rabin, when in fact he hadn’t?  And did you do this in order to  try and manipulate the bond market in advance of the  latest bond sale?


+ Why did you claim that the recent bond sale was such an unqualified success without revealing that in part the reason that the bonds sold was because the city was forced to buy insurance - at additional cost - to guarantee payment in case the city went bankrupt? 


+ What is your relationship with Matthew Greer of Carlisle Development Group, and how many different schemes are you involved in that would enrich Greer and Carlisle through the transfer of city property for their benefit?


+ Tell us of all the economic opportunities that will benefit the City of Miami by your recent trip to Taiwan?


+ Have you, or any of your children ever been to mainland China?


+ If so, who paid for, and benefited from those trips? And what’s up with you and the communists in China?


+ What about the donations to your campaign for Mayor     from foreign individuals and companies?  (Oh, my bad, the Miami Herald and Chuck Rabin have had those documents for months and refused to report anything  about them.)


+ What do Angel Zayon and Luis Cabrera have on you that allows them to behave like the petty, little despots they’ve become in the 6 months they’ve been at the MRC?


+ Have you no shame at the squalid, corrupt mess you’ve made in the year and a half you’ve been Mayor?


IN CONCLUSION


I could double this list of questions, and then double it again, but I think everyone gets where I’m going.  The big question however, is where is the Miami Herald going?


The Miami Herald allows illegal murals to hang from their building, and others that they collect hundreds of thousands of dollars from annually.  How did the Herald get one of the coveted mural permits?


The Miami Herald all but slobbered their approval of the Siffin Media Towers because their parent company stood to make $196 million from the deal.


The Miami Herald’s piss poor coverage of Miami City Hall for years has allowed an ex-con, former bank robber like me to become a sort of populist champion to many city employees and others simply because I’m willing to stand up and reveal the blatant corruption that’s occasionally so egregious that it’s visible from the Space Station.


I at least understand how to behave like a real reporter in digging for information and then publishing it when I uncover wrong doing, instead of sitting on it until it becomes something that can be used to further my political or economic goals like the Miami Herald does on a regular basis.


Worst of all, the Miami Herald keeps squandering what little is left of its reputation as a major American newspaper by the abysmally poor and slanted “news” stories that often are little more than propaganda pieces dictated and regurgitated without even fact checking the most obvious mistakes and mis-statements, much less the grammar and spelling.


Instead of calling in Tomas Regalado for a little conversation, I think that an Editorial Board Panel from somewhere else should come to Miami and make the Miami Herald Editorial Board explain why they all shouldn’t be fired and run out of town on a rail for failing to stand up for the citizens of this community as they ass-kissed their way through support for the baseball stadium and any number of other reprehensible schemes and deals, while always making sure that they took the “right” position when it came to protecting the Herald’s economic interests.

THE LIST OF WHO GOT SEVERANCE PAYMENTS DURING THE REGALADO ADMINISTRATION


As part of the overall discussion about settlements that came about as the result of Larry Spring’s Golden Parachute and the use of the term “settlement type agreement,” in preparing the $200,000 bribery check for the Chief, Commissioner Carollo read a list of ALL the folks that received settlements or severance checks during the Regalado administration.


The total amount of these checks came to $386,951.00.  All of them were illegal according to the City’s APO, and raise the obvious question that if it was this easy for these people to give away this money, how much more money, and other less traceable items, such as land, have these weasel crooks given away in the last 18 months?  It runs 3:40.

The pot will continue to boil over the $200,000 bribe check, along with the issues surrounding the list of people who got illegal settlement and severance checks because these issues crystalize just how duplicitous the Regalado administration has been when it’s come to protecting the taxpayer’s money.


Perhaps at the next Commission meeting the will have the 2nd reading of this new ordinance at a reasonable time so that more folks can voice their opinions.

SEIU TO PROTEST AT CITY HALL MONDAY AFTERNOON

The public employees union SEIU will stage a protest at City Hall at 3 PM on Monday afternoon over wage issues that Kent Security Guards - who guard City Hall and other city facilities - are claiming violate the minimum wage requirements of the Living Wage Ordinance. 

JULY 18, 2011

JULY 18, 2011

JULY 18, 2011

THE RETURN OF JANE ENDA

For long-time readers of the Report, you’ll be happy to know that Jane Enda has returned. 


For those of you who are new, Jane Enda is one of the nom de plumes of civic activist Brent Cutler, who under the guise of Jane Enda last year had Harry Gottlieb convinced that Jane was this sexy woman who found him, and his writings extremely exciting, to the point that Harry got the hots and kept trying to set up a meeting to see if he could lucky.


Anyhow, Brent took some time off, but now he’s back to celebrate the latest goings on at City Hall in this Jib jab featuring Diana Gomez and Larry Spring.

JULY 18, 2011

JULY 20, 2011

THE PHANTOM MAYOR SEEMS TO HAVE DISAPPEARED?

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS ARMANDO GUTIERREZ?

Conspicuous by his absence for a while now has been Armando Gutierrez, bon vivant, uber-lobbyist, campaign manager to Tomas Regalado, and considered by many to be the Phantom Mayor of Miami.


Since becoming Mayor, Gutierrez has seldom been far from Regalado’s side - as evidenced by the above photo where he is getting out of the Mayor’s SUV - and now, during a time of great crisis for the Mayor, Armando is no where to be found.


Laying low is not his style, so could it be that he’s gone off to a fat farm to lose a little weight, or could the malicious rumors now surfacing that Armando has been playing patty-cake with folks he shouldn’t have been, prompted him to start taking classes on how guys like him can survive in prison?


Armando, let me give you a little advice, first, these so called classes about how to survive in prison are just bullshit by slick talking wussies who haven’t a clue of what it means to do real time, and secondly you’re too old, pampered and fat to do hard time. 


If the Feds have offered you a deal, you better consider taking it. You might think you’re the Phantom Mayor, but the real Mayor has shown a willingness to lie, cheat and throw everyone over a cliff, much less under a bus to survive, and at the end of the day you had more than enough time to “fix” his Exposito problem for him, and you’ve failed.


The train looks like it’s actually getting ready to roll out the station Armando, and if you’ve haven’t booked a seat you might find yourself tied down on the railroad tracks where the Feds will run over you so fast you’ll be sitting in a prison cell for months before you get your wits about you and realize what happened.


If, on the other hand, you’re just at a fat farm, don’t eat too much sea weed, and spend some time looking for places that don’t have extradition treaties just in case Tomas needs to cut his own deal and decides to make you a fall guy .

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
TO BID, OR NOT TO BID

The business owners along the northern corridor of Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard have always had a struggle.


The boulevard throughout the years has represented different things to different people, and like a string of taffy, often got pulled one way or another by competing groups intent on making the boulevard the object of their dreams and desires about how the street and the neighborhoods bordering it should look.


So it is today, when the area has been renamed the MIMO District, and, in what passes for history in a City that destroys it’s real history, the area has been designated a Historical District to boot.


In the last couple years under the persuasion of Commissioner Marc “Ethics” Sarnoff, a band of business owners have attempted to create a Business Improvement District (BID) along the boulevard corridor from 60th to 82nd Streets.


BID’s are created by a petition process involving property owners that results in a City Ordinance, sponsored by the Commissioner who’s District encompasses the area to be designated. as a Special Taxing District.


In December of 2010, a necessary resolution was passed by the City Commission to allow a petition drive to be carried out polling the property owners along the boulevard.


The results were submitted on May 27, 2011, and contrary to the hopes of those seeking a BID, the petition drive failed.

On June 23rd, Scott Timm, the departing Executive Director of the MIMO Business Improvement Committee showed up before the City Commission to ask for a new resolution to allow them to conduct another petition drive, and in the letter that he sent to all the property owners claimed that the failure of the first petition drive was based on a “technicality of wording,” which was bullshit.  When only 5 affidavits are valid, that signals a larger problem than a “technicality of wording” occurred, as claimed by Timm in the letter below. 

Also appearing at the June 23rd Commission meeting was Abed Hammoud, who owns a vacant lot at 75th and Biscayne, and who has been one of the most vocal opponents of a BID being formed.


The below video is instructive, not only because of Hammoud’s argument about the ability of those who favor a BID from repeatedly being allowed to conduct petition drives, but for how Commissioner “Ethics” threatened Hammoud at the end of the tape.

People often comment on their fear of Sarnoff because of his vindictive nature and his willingness to use threats to try and get his way.


This video provides a rare public example of this kind of behavior, and to appreciate just how blatant this was, appreciate that before he starts in on threatening Hammoud, he has to ask what his name was, because he didn’t even know Hammoud’s name, yet he “knew” that Hammoud was allegedly impersonating a public official.


Hammoud’s objections to the creation of a BID, is largely economic since he’ll be forced to pay additional taxes, yet is denied the ability to realistically develop, or even sell the land due to the 35 foot height restriction on new buildings.


THE ELVIS FACTOR


The person most identified with the imposition of a 35 foot height restriction on new buildings in Miami is City of Miami Fire Captain Elvis Cruz, who lives in the tony, guarded enclave of Morningside Heights, where for years he served as the president of the homeowners association.

Cruz came to prominence when he, along with his fellow fireman Wilbur Jackson, managed to get the Miami Fire Union to support Sarnoff in his first campaign, and then, Sarnoff  credited Cruz’s bicycle canvasing strategy for his victory.


For his efforts, or so the rumors persist, Cruz got Sarnoff not only to support a 35 foot limit on new construction along the boulevard, but allegedly got him to sign a document promising that he would do so.  Cruz bristles whenever this is mentioned, and argues that this is a lie.


What is not a lie is that Cruz has been a tireless advocate of imposing the 35 foot limit at every opportunity, and while he’s had the opportunity to hone his arguments into a Power Point presentation that is facile in its persuasiveness to the uninformed, it reveals a bias towards an imaginary Mayberry view of what the neighborhoods along the boulevard should should be like.

Elvis was fortunate in acquiring support for his 35 foot restrictions from a number of folks - in part from other parts of the city - who rightly or wrongly embraced NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) as their guiding principle when it came to Urban Planning.


For property and business owners, as well as a growing number of residents, Elvis’s dogmatic defense of the 35 foot restriction has become a major impediment to serious and intelligent discussion about the future development of the MIMO District and Miami’s Northeast Corridor.


Without being able to modify this height restriction to a 54 foot height - which has always been the accepted height of those interested in melding the interests of developers, business owners and residents - the creation of a BID represents little more than a circle jerk for property owners such as Hammoud, who are limited in their opportunity to develop their property, while still being forced to pay increasing taxes to support imaginary schemes intended to spur development in the district.


THE PITFALLS OF DEVELOPMENT


In a case of serendipity, while sitting in the lobby of the city’s MRC building last week thinking of how to write this story, an architect with a set of blueprints sat down across from me, and seeing that the address of his project was on the boulevard, I started talking with him.


It turned out the plans were for a new building on the in the MIMO District that he had come to get building permits for, and the major problem he had encountered in the process.


It seems that the City of Miami had recently imposed a requirement that all new buildings over 5000 square feet now require a 12” water pipe hookup.


That’s not an unreasonable requirement, except that the City of Miami has never dealt with it’s infrastructure in an organized and planned manner.


It turns out that along Biscayne Boulevard - especially in the MIMO District - there are a number of city blocks that don’t have 12” water lines in place.


For this architect and his developer, this means that in order to comply with the city’s requirements they will have to go at least 2 blocks along the boulevard to get a hookup to an existing 12” line.


That means paying the costs, and dealing with the aggravations required to hire a contractor, get all of the required permits to dig up 2 blocks of Biscayne Boulevard, and to add insult to injury, even though all of the properties along those 2 blocks would benefit from this improvement in the city’s infrastructure, none of them will be required to chip in to help cover the costs.


For a developer, already restricted to only being able to build to 35 feet, now having to absorb the costs of digging up Biscayne Boulevard to essentially improve the city’s infrastructure on his dime, this no longer looks like a worthwhile project. 


The economic reality for a small development project like this suddenly becomes more expensive than it’s worth. 


THE SARNOFF FACTOR


The last impediment to supporting a BID is the fact that Commissioner “Ethics” will end up as the Chairman of the MIMO BID Board, and in the same way he became the Chairman of the Coconut Grove BID, and assumed the Chairmanship of the Downtown Development Authority Board, and the OMNI Redevelopment Agency Board he will turn the MIMO Board into his personal slush fund and parking lot for ass-kissing toadies who will do his bidding.


There are those in the MIMO District that claim that will not happen. I say to them, quit smoking dope, because it’s turning you into dopes.


In dealing with guys like Sarnoff, the past is always the prologue, and nothing that Sarnoff has touched since becoming a City Commissioner has resulted in anything other than becoming part of an interlocking mosaic of fiefdoms from which he’s engages in schemes to screw the taxpayers and benefit his friends.


Forewarned, is forearmed!

JULY 20, 2011

JULY 20, 2011

A couple weeks ago posted a story about the response times for the City of Miami Police Department.  To provide more information, I asked one of my contacts at the Fire Department to provide me with a breakdown of responses for both emergency and fire by the Department.


Here is he information. Alpha represents the least serious emergency calls, and Echo, life and death situations.  The fire calls are either emergency or non-emergency.


Over all, given the budgetary problems that have led to units being down, these look like reasonable times.  They could be better, but then 19+ minutes for a police response could also be better.

JULY 22, 2011

ALICE BRAVO’S PAY PACKAGE AS THE NEW ASSISTANT

CITY MANAGER

On His Ignorance, Tomas Regalado’s farm, all the employees are equal, but some employees are more equal than others.


Take Alice Bravo, the new Assistant City Manager.  Below is the deal memo she was given that details her pay and benefits package.


Even before a decision is made by the City Commission about how to deal with employee salaries next year, Alice has been guaranteed that her’s won’t be touched.


I wonder how many other folks have gotten this kind of assurance?


For those who might get upset by this, you have to understand that what Alice Bravo is currently being asked to do in order to make the Mayor happy over another outlandish deal he’s cooked up to screw the citizens of Miami, makes this little more than a token to keep her in line.


It’s never easy to stand up and say, “This is absolute bullshit, and I won’t be a party to it!”  Instead, you curtsy, and cash the checks, isn’t that right Alice!?!

Dear Readers,


The above post is all I will be posting until Monday.  I have been working on a MAJOR STORY that deminishes the other stories I’ve been working on recently by it’s scope and pure, unvarnished  attempt to screw the citizens of Miami in a most astounding manner.


So, my suggestion is to take the weekend off, and come back on Monday for a story that will make even the $200,000 bribe offer to the Chief look like child’s play!


Thanks for continuing to come back week after week, for what are in effect really depressing stories of public corruption.


Al Crespo


PS: I could not close the week without commenting about Johnny “The Doormat” Martinez’s claim, as reported in the Herald on Thursday afternoon, that he told Chief Exposito, “Guess what Chief: Get off the TV.”


Johnny, baby!  You’re a doormat and a pussy.  When you start pretending you want to act butch, you make people laugh so hard, that one of them might fall down and hurt themselves.


Just chill.  If the Fat Man rolled over as the rumors are now hinting, you might not be around all that long, so don’t go turning into a Drama Queen over folks appearing on TV.  You got a lot bigger problems to worry about.