JULY 3 - JULY 8

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ON A STORY ABOUT ILLEGAL MURALS, THE HERALD LEAVES ITSELF OUT
INTEGRITY FOR SALE

Last Saturday the Miami Herald published a story about how the Federal Highway Administration determined that the proliferation of  “murals” in the City of Miami are illegal.


For Scenic Miami, the small, but feisty group of citizens who have been fighting these issues, the ruling and the story were welcome news, especially the subsequent decision of the Miami Herald to actually do a story not including or slanted in favor of the continued promotion of Mark SiffIn and his 40 story LED “Media Towers.”


At the same time, it seems that while the Miami Herald is willing to write about other folks cashing in on these illegal “murals” they managed to ignore writing about their own illegal murals plastered on the East and West, and occasionally South walls of their building visible to vehicles on I-395.


How valuable are these murals on the Herald’s walls?  Here is a portion from the April 21st City Commission meeting where Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff reveals a study done on the value of Murals and billboards visible on both i-95 and I-395.

There are some - including me - who wonder how the Miami Herald got the permits allowing Fuel Advertising to hang 2 valuable murals on their walls, especially when it turns out that Commissioner Sarnoff is privy to propriety business information between the Miami Herald and Fuel Advertising. You can bet that no other City Commissioner knew about the Fuel study conducted on the Miami Herald hanging murals on their walls.


Could the Commissioner’s attempt to be a know-it-all reveal insight into the “special relationship” that the Miami Herald, Fuel and  Commissioner Sarnoff seem to have?


Consider the following:  Fuel Advertising’s lobbyist is Steve Marin.  Steve Marin is also Sarnoff’s campaign manager.  Commissioner Sarnoff is the Commission’s biggest supporter of slapping these illegal murals on every wall larger than a postage stamp. In turn, the Miami Herald has displayed an almost slavish refusal to publish anything negative about the Commissioner.  Coincidence?  Perhaps.


But what is not a coincidence is the Miami Herald leaving any mention of these particular illegal murals out of their story.


When it comes to furthering their financial interests, the Herald has demonstrated over the years that for a buck they’ll sell out their journalistic integrity every time.

JULY 3, 2011

TIME MAGAZINE HAS A STORY ABOUT MIAMI AND SOUTH FLORIDA THIS IS MUST READING.

INVESTIGATION MIAMI DID A PIECE ON MONDAY THAT DISCUSSES COMMISSIONER “ETHICS” RELATIONSHIP WITH ALL THINGS BILLBOARD.


   CLICK HEREhttp://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2080904,00.html
PHOTO OF THE DAY

This photograph was taken at approximately 7:30 PM, on July 5th.  Can anyone identify this hard working, Miami City employee, who travels with his sleep mask in the car for these special times?  The car is a new Cadillac, if that helps.

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK

JULY 5, 2011-11:10 AM

A CRESPO-GRAM EXCLUSIVE
COPYRIGHT 2011(C)
THIS STORY CAN BE REPRINTED AND CITED BY OTHER 
NEWS ORGANIZATIONS ONLY WITH ATTRIBUTION TO 
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THE FEDS WON’T TAKE THEM TO COURT, BUT I WILL!

“Always follow the money.”

                                            - Deep Throat


Last week His Ignorance, The Mayor, started off by denying that he knew anything about an alleged bribe, payoff, settlement or you name it, offered to Chief of Police Miguel Exposito last January.  Like Sgt. Shultz, Regalado lives in a world of perpetual denial.

CUTTING TO THE CHASE

WSVN - Channel 7

A day and a half later he did a 180 and admitted not only knowing about the deal and the meeting with former City Manager Tony Crapp, former Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring and the Chief, but he attempted to throw Larry Spring under the bus by claiming in a Miami New Times article that:


        “The mayor also said it's possible that Larry

        Spring acted alone in crafting the offer to the

        police chief.


        "The CFO has a tremendous responsibility of

        authority in financial dealings," he said. "(He)

        has the authority to negotiate on behalf of the

        city manager."


That’s Miami’s “Peeples” Mayor trying to shift the blame to someone else. Regalado’s got a long history of quickly blaming others when he gets his weenie caught in a zipper, and this 180 degree U Turn is just another classic example of how willing he is to lie his way out of trouble when caught doing wrong. That he does it so brazenly only serves to underscore the complete lack of respect he has for the citizens of Miami.


At this point, the obvious future plan for Regalado and his cronies will be to try and distract folks with the budget crisis and all the other problems besetting the city with the expectation that the news media, which has not had much of a history in recent years of doggedly staying on top of stories having to do with the inside politics of the City of Miami will just shrug their shoulders and walk away.


That’s not going to happen, at least hopefully not yet.  Below is a copy of a letter that I have sent to Regalado and his co-conspirators detailing what I believe are all of the relevant documents that will nail this story down one way or another, ending many of the rumors, and providing a foundation for possible future legal action.


PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST LETTER


July 4, 2011


Mayor Tomas Regalado

CITY OF MIAMI

3500 Pan American Drive

Miami, FL


Chief Miguel Exposito

MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT

444 NW 2nd Avenue

Miami, FL


Mr. Johnny Martinez

City Manager

3500 Pan American Drive

Miami, FL


Ms. Julie Bru

City Attorney

CITY OF MIAMI

444 SW 2nd Avenue

Miami, FL


Ms. Diana Gomez

Director of Finance

CITY OF MIAMI

444 SW 2nd Avenue

Miami, FL


RE: PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST


Dear Mayor Regalado, Chief Exposito, Mr, Martinez and Ms. Gomez:


Under the applicable provisions of Florida’s Public Records Law, Chapter 119, I am writing to request copies of the following documents memorializing the recently discovered actions related to offering Chief of Police Miguel A. Exposito a $200,000 “settlement” on January 12, 2011.


I will expect an individual response from each of you in response to the documents requested below and your knowledge and/or possession of them.


  1. 1. A copy of any compliant, grievance, violation or  letter

prompting a settlement request that was filed against the City of Miami by Chief Exposito resulting in the City’s decision to reach a “settlement.”


  1. 2. A copy of all working documents which resulted in a

draft settlement agreement, including copies of any correspondence, notes and or financial evaluations of the

impact of such a settlement.


  1. 3.  A copy of all hard copy and/or electronic correspondence

between Chief of Police Miguel Exposito and/or his     representatives and any of the named individuals in this letter, or unnamed others regarding any efforts to seeking any settlement taxes to be covered by the City.


4.   A copy of said settlement agreement.


5.   A copy of all hard copy and/or electronic correspondence, as well as any other documentation, between Mayor Tomas Regalado, former City Manager Tony Crapp Jr., former Chief Financial Officer Larry Spring, Director of Finance Diana Gomez, City Attorney Julie Bru and Chief Miguel Exposito as well as his attorney and/or representatives involving any and/all documents detailing any negotiations related to this “settlement.”


6.   A copy of all hard copy and/or electronic correspondence between any of the individuals identified in #4, and any member of the Miami City Commission and/or their staff’s detailing a “settlement” proposal and/or agreement with Chief Exposito.


7.  A copy of any “settlement” agreement approved by the Miami City Commission.


  1. 8.  A completed copy of the Direct Payment Request Form

that was used to enter the information into the City’s Oracle system to generate the $200,000 check.


9.  An electronic copy of the complete record of Account Number 00001.980000.515000.0000.00000 activity for the 2010/2011 FY to date.


  1. 10.  A hard or electronic copy of the $200,000 “settlement”

check.


  1. 11.  A copy of the settlement agreement between former

Chief of Police John Timoney and the City of Miami.


  1. 12.  A copy of the Oracle Screens detailing the payment to

former Chief of Police John Timoney that provides the same information as the one provided for the $200,000 payment to  Chief Exposito.


13.   If the Account that was used to pay Chief Timoney is different than the account identified for the proposed Exposito payout, then I would like a complete record of that account’s activity for the FY in which the check was issued.


14.   A hard or electronic copy of the settlement check issued to former Chief of Police John Timoney.


Under the provisions of Chapter 119, you are obligated to provide me with a detailed, written explanation on each of the 14 items listed or why you cannot, or will not, comply with these requests.


Please be advised that because of the public interest in this incident, your failure to expeditiously respond to this request will result in my filing a complaint before a Judge of the 11th Circuit Court so that we may get to the bottom of this “settlement” issue.


Cordially,

/s/ al crespo


Al Crespo

689 NE 92nd Street

Miami, FL 33138

305.759.4788


By the end of the week, if I do not receive full and complete compliance, that provides me with all of the requested documents, then I will file a lawsuit in Circuit Court, and we’ll start deposing people on the very first day the law allows in order to find out where these documents are.


There’s nothing like getting people under oath and in front of a video camera to make them have a Jesus moment.


TO TAX, OR NOT TO TAX


In my story last Friday, I dealt at some length with the Director of Finance, Diana Gomez’s failure to extract a 25% lump sum tax from the $200,000 payment, implying that this alone supported the accusation that the $200,000 was a bribe, and that her failure to do so constituted a violation to evade the Federal Income tax laws in the furtherance of an act intended to bribe a public official.


On Saturday afternoon, I, along with others in the news media were sent an email - with attachments - from Diana Gomez, that included a copy of the email from Larry Spring to Ms. Gomez requesting the $200,00 check be cut, along with all of the relevant pages of the of the invoice log related to this check.  To see the PDF, click HERE.


Here is my own copy of Spring’s email that I had recovered from my email archives which I am using because it allows me to format it for better viewing.

Obviously, these emails - there are actually 2 - circumvented any and all established procedures for the issuance of checks, settlement, or otherwise, and raise a number of independent and troubling questions which I have written to Ms. Gomez in an effort to have her explain.


However, because Larry Spring indicated that this was a “settlement type check,” this would have absolved Ms. Gomez from taking any taxes from the $200,000.


I apologize to Ms. Gomez for this erroneous accusation that was reached before she provided this information.


However, none of this exonerates Ms. Gomez from issuing a check of this nature without at the minimum, the appropriate safeguards being followed, nor does the information provided shed any light on what a “settlement type check” really means. (Emphasis mine.)


The release of a check for $200,000 without demanding more confirmation than an email from the CFO, and without the approval of the City Commission, at the very least represents a failure on the part of Ms. Gomez to adequately follow the standard procedures for safeguarding the city’s money, which is what should be of concern to everyone, most especially the City Commission.  If the issuance of this check represents the standard practice of how the Director of Finance operates her office, then there are significant problems beyond the issuance of a single possibly illegal check.


Additionally an issue that has not been explored by anyone regarding the attempt to give this money to the Chief of Police, is how would the city’s books have been altered to hide a gaping unauthorized $400,000 expenditure?


This is a very serious issue, and one that I would recommend that other members of the news media pursue and focus on.


We keep discovering examples of shoddy accounting practices, illegal award of settlements and other financial transgressions that warrant someone besides the city’s regular auditors coming in and doing a real audit of the city’s books.


Lastly, for those who claim that there doesn’t exist a threshold level to establish that this $200,000 check represented an attempt to bribe, just consider that every document that the city is unable to produce supporting a credible settlement or buyout only lends credence to the claim that this was an illegitimate deal, and therefore lowers that threshold required to start treating this as a criminal matter.


If the deal wasn’t crooked, the City will be quickly able to provide all of the emails and documents that supports their contention that they acted legally.


If the deal was crooked, we will really start seeing some tap dancing as Regalado and his co-conspirators try to explain why they can’t provide the documents I and others have asked for.


Then lets see what excuse the local law enforcement people come up with for not treating this as a crime!

WE HAVE THE CHECK

Shortly before 11:00 AM, we received a copy of the $200,000 check at the center of the controversy over whether Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito was offered a bribe to leave his position as Chief of Police.


There are many more outstanding questions, which we are working to get answers to, but here is a copy of the check.

A CRESPO-GRAM EXCLUSIVE
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THIS STORY CAN BE REPRINTED AND CITED BY OTHER 
NEWS ORGANIZATIONS ONLY WITH ATTRIBUTION TO 
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JULY 5, 2011

IN ORDER TO REDUCE LOADING AND SCROLLING PROBLEMS, I HAVE TRANSFERRED THE REMAINDER OF JULY 5TH’S POSTS TO “THIS WEEK’S STORIES.”

GAG ORDER ISSUED

In an effort to stop the continued negative press over the alleged $200,000 bribe offer to Chief Miguel Exposito, Johnny Martinez, the new City Manager, AKA “The Doormat,” issued a tersely worded email order today informing Chief Exposito and ALL of his staff to stay off radio and TV programs.


The email informs the Chief that he and all of the officers of the Miami Police Department cannot speak to the “media without my express written permission.”


This is followed with an implied threat that all but spells out the promise that should the Chief speak to the news media he will be fired.


So much for the First Amendment, and worse for the need of the Chief or others in the Police Department - including the Department’s Public Information Officers needing to speak to the news media in order to convey important news and/or information other than emergencies.


All of the morons inside City Hall combined can never comprehend just how stupid and impractical such as order becomes in the day to day workings of a police department in a major American city, but given that their backs are to the wall as more and more documents - including this one, which is being published 5 hours after it was issued - are leaked by employees who are fed up with what is going on, has absolutely gotten these morons completely unnerved.


All of this followed His Ignorance, Tomas Regalado’s lengthly appearance on a local Latin radio show today where he spent considerable time and effort trying to lie his way out of the growing controversy over the $200,000 alleged bribery check.


To make sure that Exposito or Major Al Alvarez wouldn’t be able to appear on this station, or any other for that matter to rebut the Mayor’s nonsense, Martinez issued the above Memo.


Now, the big question is how will the local media deal with this blatant effort to put a gag on the Miami Police Department, and in the process shut down the news media’s ability to conduct interviews and report on actions involving the police.


Stupid is as stupid does, and at Miami City Hall, the morons are now spinning like Dervishes as they try to stop the implosion that’s coming.

A CRESPO-GRAM EXCLUSIVE
COPYRIGHT 2011(C)
THIS STORY CAN BE REPRINTED AND CITED BY OTHER 
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CITY MANAGER TELLS COPS 
TO SHUT UP AND STAY OFF AIRWAVES

To see a larger version, click on document.

EMAIL_FROM_MARTINEZ_TO_EXPOSITO.html

JULY 5, 2011-9:28 PM

JULY 7, 2011

A CRESPO-GRAM EXCLUSIVE

COPYRIGHT 2011(C)

THIS STORY CAN BE REPRINTED AND CITED BY OTHER

NEWS ORGANIZATIONS ONLY WITH ATTRIBUTION TO

THE CRESPO-GRAM REPORT

SCORPIONS IN A JAR

Mayor Tomas Regalado and Police Chief Miguel Exposito when they were pals.

PUTTING THE LIVES OF CITIZENS AND POLICE AT RISK

I must admit that the battle between the Mayor and the Chief of Police is entertaining stuff.  In the last week it’s also made me a Z list celebrity of sort by getting interviewed on radio and television, and seeing the readership of this blog double several times.


But, no one should loose sight of just how damaging this fight has become, or what impact this fight is having on both the citizens and employees of the City in large part due to the behavior of Mayor Tomas Regalado.


I believe that the fault lies overwhelmingly with the Mayor, because he is the elected leader of the city, and it is his policies that the City Manager and others are following, it is also his willingness to abuse those policies and procedures which detail how the city is supposed to operate so that his family and friends can turn the city into a giant Pinata.


I’ve written extensively about all kinds of schemes where Regalado’s cronies have abused the public trust and how people like Angel Zayon, Madelin Pacheco, Richard LaBelle, and countless others have been hired in the last year and a half in spite of the fact that the city has had a hiring freeze.  These 3 individuals alone account for $217,000 in salaries, and on top of that an unknown amount in benefits.


What I’ve not written about, but have wanted to ever since I first heard the story, are the 24 job openings for 911 Communication Operators and Communication Assistants that the City can’t find the money to hire.


There was $400,000 available to use as a payoff - I prefer bribe - to try and get the Chief of Police to leave, but no where can the city find the $592,707.56 needed to hire these 24 people, or even a number that could be covered by the $400,000.00  in bribe money.


After repeated efforts the Crespo-Gram Report was able to secure a copy of a May 25, 2011, “Request To Waive Hiring Freeze For Communications Personnel” memo from Police Chief Exposito to then City Manager Tony Crapp.


(To read the complete 3 page PDF, click on the page below.)

The most significant paragraph in this memo reads as follows:


     “Communications Operators are an essential and

     integral part of the 911 Communications process. 

     It is the operators responsibility to dispatch calls

     via the radio system to officers in the field, conversly,

     operators also receive assistance requests from

     officers in the fields, process their requests, and

     provide officers with the necessary assistance to

     complete their tasks.  The radio system is the lifeline

     of every officer.  It is the officer’s primary means of

     communicating with fellow officers, coordinating

     their work efforts and summoning needed assistance.”


How serious is this problem?  On April 27th, I posted a story titled:  NEED A COP IN MIAMI: YOU’RE FUCKED.


The story was based on a report prepared for the Chief by Lt. Raimundo Socorro, that detailed problems with the police department’s crime reporting, and revealed the astounding information that an average police response to a call was 19 minutes plus.


Clearly, being short 24, 911 Operators and Assistants is not helping matters any.

The city - and most especially the Mayor - have no priorties when it comes to spending money to benefit the citizens and the employees of Miami.  His first, and only concern the first year and a half of his term has been to hire his cronies and their family and friends, and to use the city’s General Fund as his personal piggy bank.


This cannot continue!  Someone - or someones - has to put a stop to it!  Along the way, someone - starting with the   Mayor - needs to start thinking about the safety and care of the citizens and employees, instead of trying to figure new ways to screw them!


One sure way is to try and fill some of the 911 vacancies, because it might be you in a traffic accident or some other crisis that requires 911 assistance, and the way things are going in the City of Miami you could be dead before help arrives because of this stupid shit!

911_OPERATORS.html

In what I believe is the clearest and most elegant explanation of just how badly the wheels have fallen off of the City  of Miami’s financial armored car, I urge you to read this post by INVESTIGATION MIAMI.


This article details just how far from reality the Regalado administration and folks like Diana Gomez, the Director of Finance, has surrendered her responsibility to the citizens and tax payers of Miami in an effort to kiss ass, and ignore common, basic principles of accounting and public trust.

PLEASE READ THIS

JULY 7, 2011

JULY 5, 2011-9:28 PM

AN ACCOUNTANT SHOWS UP AS THE MAYOR’S LATEST PR FLACK
MEET LUIS ZUNIGA

In an effort to shore up his support in the Cuban exile community which has taken a pounding over his fight with the Chief of Police, the Mayor has gone out and hired a new quasi-PR flack!


Luis Zuniga was one of the founders of Alpha 66, and spent 15 years in Cuban jails for smuggling arms into Cuba to try and overthrow Castro. For this, he is a revered figure in much of the Cuban Exile community.


Since being released, he went to FIU and acquired an accounting degree, and for years, along with being the head of the Association Por La Paz Continental, an organization backed by the Cuban American National Foundation who maintains close ties with Cuban - based activist groups, he worked for TV Marti.


TV Marti is also where Tomas (Tommy) Regalado Jr, the Mayor’s first son works, and where Angel Zayon, the Mayor’s adopted “4th son,” used to work before showing up at City Hall to become the city’s Director of Communications.


On the one hand, it appears that TV Marti has become a prime recruiting venue for the Mayor to find people willing to be part of his posse. 


Of course, it also could be a way that Daddy is making sure that Tommy Jr. keeps a job, since along with Angel Zayon, they’re both considered to be about as dumb - although in Tommy’s case, folks think he’s nice - as 2 Pet Rocks.


Anyhow, Zuniga showed up at the Mayor’s office, and after a week was assigned a cubicle, yet nobody knew why, or what he was doing, so inquiring minds contacted the Crespo-Gram Report.


On Wednesday morning I submitted a request for a copy of Zuniga’s contract from the City Attorney’s Office.  Later on in the morning I appeared on the Bernadette Pardo show on WQBA with former City Manager Joe Arroila, where Zuniga and his employment as a consultant by the Mayor was discussed.


I mentioned that I had heard that he was being paid $120,000 a year, and that I was attempting to get a copy of the contract to verify that information.


Since my appearance on the show one thing led to another, and for the remainder of Wednesday, and most of Thursday morning no one knew , or had, a copy of any contract.


Around 2 PM on Thursday, Ada Rojas called to tell me that Zuniga had a contract and it was at the City Manager’s office waiting to be signed by Johnny “The Doormat” Martinez.


According to Ms. Rojas, the contract is for 3 months - July, August and September - and Zuniga, who is an accountant, will be “providing analysis and research for the proposed new budget,” that’s due to be presented to the City Commission in weeks. The contract is obviously for less than the $120,000, I cited on Wednesday’s radio show.


What’s most interesting is that on his third day on the job which supposedly involves having his nose deep in the minutia of the city’s budget documents, Zuniga managed to find time to drive over to the studios of WQBA in Coral Gables, where, on the Bernadette Pardo Show, he gave an interview short on financial insight about the city’s budget, but long on the accomplishments of Tomas Regalado.


On Thursday afternoon Zuniga, who was expected return on Friday to debate former Miami City Manager Joe Arroila on Ms. Pardo’s show, became a possible no show when it must have dawned on Regalado and his cronies that Zuniga was pretty much clueless as to the workings inside City Hall, or the budget, and might well be served up for cat-nip to someone like Joe Arroila who didn’t become “retired and rich” by being stupid.


So now it looks like Regalado’s managed to create another problem for himself. 


Now he’s got a guy who supposedly admitted on Thursday’s radio show that his CPA certification has expired, and who’s been hired to provide expert “analysis and research,” on a complicated city budget with a $54 million hole in it, yet really isn’t much more equipped to do that than anyone with a couple accounting classes under their belt walking in off the street, and at the same time, the job it appears he was really hired to do - burnish Regalado’s image appears to be beyond his skills: First because he’s pretty much clueless as to what the hell is actually going on in the city, and secondly because there are a handful of folks just licking their chops to take him on as a way to pound on Regalado.


What’s left is another “Botella” collecting a check at City Hall for doing nothing.


We won’t know until 9:00 AM on Friday whether Zuniga is sent into the Lion’s den against Arroila, but if he is, and if you speak Spanish, check out WQBA at 9:00 AM, at 1140 on your AM dial.


I’m sure that Arroila will show him respect, but I’m also sure that he’ll eat him alive when it come to dissecting the budget and what Regalado’s up to.


It’s another example of how the City of Miami’s tax dollars are being pissed away.

Good Morning Mr. Crespo: 

This e-mail will serve to acknowledge the receipt of your public request to the Mayor’s Office.

I will respond to the best of my knowledge with the information that I have been provided in specific to this office.

Response to #1 is that this office has no record and/or communication in reference to such settlement.

Response to #2 We defer this question to the City of Miami Attorney’s Office, they should be providing you with a response.

Response to #3 There is no e-mail and or correspondence from the Mayor to Chief Miguel Exposito in file.

Response to #4 We defer this question’s response to the Law Department

Response to #5 There is no e-mail and or correspondence to and from former City Manager Tony Crapp, former CFO Larry Spring, Diana Gomez, Julie Bru and Chief Miguel Exposito in the Mayor’s Office

Response to #6 There is no correspondence and or e-mails in reference to such settlement a this office

Response to #7 We do not have any such document in our office

Response to # 8 We defer the answer to this question to the Finance Department

Response to # 9 We defer the answer to this question to the Finance Department

Response to #10 We defer the answer to this question to the Finance Department

Response to #11 We defer to the Law Department for that copy

Response to #12 We defer to the Finance Department for the response

Response to #13 We defer to the Finance Department for the response

Response to #14 We defer to the Finance Department for the response

Ada Rojas

Office of the Mayor

I KNOW NOTHING
MAYOR RESPONDS TO MY PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST

A CRESPO-GRAM EXCLUSIVE

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THIS STORY CAN BE REPRINTED AND CITED BY OTHER

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In the first official response to my 14 point Public Records request from Tuesday, Ada Rojas, from the Mayor’s office sent me the email below.  As expected, the Mayor either denies possessing any documents, or deflects a response by putting it on the City Attorney’s office to respond.


You got to wonder whether the Mayor before going to sleep each night writes his name and zip code on his hand so that when he wakes up he’ll know who he is, and where he’s at.

Last week Regalado announced that he was ordering a search of all the emails and documents about this incident to be collected in order to present them to the City Commission at their next meeting.


From the looks of the above email, it appears that the Mayor is going to show up empty handed.

JULY 8, 2011

JULY 8, 2011

JULY 9, 2011

PROTECT OUR QUALITY OF LIFE

NORMAN BRAMAN OPPOSES COUNTY MOVE

TO LOOSEN BILLBOARD CONTROL

In a strongly worded letter to newly elected Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr., and hand delivered to all 13 Commissioners,  auto magnate Norman Braman, came out in opposition to the recent effort by County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro to convince his fellow Commissioners to approve his recommended changes to the County’s Billboard Ordinance, allowing cities like Miami to “opt- out.”


Barreiro, who in recent months has been the recipient of visits to his Little Havana office by lawyers and lobbyists for the billboard industry, along with at least one official from City of Miami seeking his support for these changes, has taken the position that Miami-Dade County can no longer devote it’s resources to enforcing the current ordinance, and believes that the City of Miami, the biggest abuser of the current ordinance should be allowed to police itself.  That’s pretty much like giving Lindsay Lohan the keys to Tiffany’s, and telling her to not steal anything.


The change to the ordinance passed a First Reading by the Commission and was referred to the Commission’s Infrastructure and Land use Committee, where it was tabled for further consideration last month after opponents mounted a spirited challenge. It comes up again for consideration on July 13th.


The fight to block Barreiro’s efforts has been led by Scenic Miami, a feisty little group led by Barbara Bisno (a former federal prosecutor,) Dusty Melton (a former billboard lobbyist,) and Peter Ehrlich, (property investor and former aide to Commissioner Sarnoff,) William Pollack (Attorney,).


Melton in particular, with his encyclopedic knowledge of local, state and federal billboard law, has almost religiously attended every Miami City Commission meeting where changes to it’s ordinance have been considered, and has read them chapter and verse on why their actions violated the law.


The Commission, led by Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff, would ignore his arguments, and proceed to do whatever dirty billboard deed was before them that day.


On June 17th, Melton was able to say, “I told you so!”, when the US Department of Transportation notified the State of Florida that the City of Miami’s “current ordinance for the proposed control of outdoor advertising for size, spacing, and lighting of wall murals is not in conformance to the Highway Beautification Act (HBA). Therefore we recommend against delegating control to the City until certain issues are addressed.”


The notion that Bruno Barreiro would continue to push for the surrender of oversight over the City of Miami after this ruling will, I suspect, be a central issue at the July 13th meeting.  Barreiro came within a handful of votes of facing a recall vote earlier this year, and is far from popular in parts of his District. His decision to go against a growing tide of opposition to the free-wheeling billboard and mural antics of the Miami City Commission could very well result in his facing a serious challenger for re-election.


Braman on the other hand, seems to be signaling with this letter that he’s not going to go away as he’s done on other occasions after financing a recall vote or lawsuit against the baseball satdium.


For those interested in learning more about Scenic Miami, and or, attending this County Commission meeting, go to:

BRAMAN_LETTER.htmlBRAMAN_LETTER.html

To read larger version, click on letter.

 
                  SCENIC MIAMIhttp://scenicdade.org/

WEEKEND UPDATE