JANUARY 21, 2013

There is not enough room in Francis Suarez’s ass to accommodate the hands of all the people who will want to turn him into their sock puppet in the months leading to the election for Mayor of Miami. Among the hands that will make it in, will be that of lobbyist and political fixer Steve Marin.  As Miami City Hall’s premiere Rasputin, his hand was in Suarez’s ass from the beginning, and he will insure that no other hand enters or wiggles without his permission.

In that regard, it should come as no surprise that Marin happened in 2012 to be the registered lobbyist for Midtown Opportunities, a company that last year gave $52,250 to Francis Suarez’s PAC. The company is in partnership with Wallmart to build a new store in the Midtown area, and while in Mexico giving a politician $52,250 might be considered a bribe, in America any politician with a PAC can rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who expect those dollars to buy the same kind of influence that out-and-out bribery buys in other places around the world like Mexico.  In America our politicians call it access and supporting a “friend.”

It’s that donation, along with the remainder of the $615,712.88 in donations made to a pretty boy politician with no real resume or experience that make some folks wonder whether Francis Suarez ought to hang a sign around his neck announcing that he’s “FOR SALE,” as he makes his way around the city escorted by his sleaze ball pal, Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff during the months leading up to the election.

To really appreciate why smart money guys hire lobbyists like Marin, who in turn direct them to “donate” these large amounts of money to someone like Suarez, the roadmap was provided by an email written by Carlos Gimenz Jr. that I obtained last year, and that went on to become part of the most read story I’ve written on this site.

Carlos Gimenez Jr. is himself a lobbyist whose father is the Miami-Dade County Mayor, and who was before that a County Commissioner. That makes him a Prince of the city, and like all Princes, he’s a guy who knows what really goes on inside the kingdom. That is why his email revelations were so riveting and valuable in providing a window into how the crooks at Miami City Hall conspire in making sure that guys like Marin and Armando Gutierrez are able to serve their clients interests, often to the detriment of the taxpayers, and how the bidding process is manipulated in the process. 

I am republishing Gimenez’s email so you can see what it says about the power that someone like Steve Marin holds over Francis Suarez and Marc Sarnoff; both of whom were nonentities until Marin came along and provided the money and the political savvy to get them on the Miami City Commission. Both of these guys owe their place at the pig’s trough to Steve Marin, and he makes sure that they don’t forget it.

For those who didn’t read this email the first time, and even for those who did, I recommend that you read it again so that you will better appreciate the behind-the-scene maneuvering involving the two stories that I’ve posted today.

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




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