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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

DECEMBER 5, 2012

LIKE CATS IN A SACK
AT LAST: A KNOCKDOWN, DRAGOUT FIGHT THAT’S GOT SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

If nothing else, you got to love Michelle Spence-Jones for filing her bombshell lawsuit against State Attorney Katherine “The Queen Of Swag” Fernandez-Rundle and Mayor Tomas “His Ignorance” Regalado on Monday.


It’s a pretty amazing document.  The Complaint reads more like the outline for a TV Mini-Series than a lawsuit, and like all good drama, there are hints that there will be plenty of plot twists before the last commercial pops up on the screen.


Where to begin?  Well, here are my first random thoughts.


PART I - ALWAYS FOLLOW THE MONEY


SISTER SPENCE-JONES


Well, for me, the first question I had after I read the Complaint was who’s paying for this?


A 114 page Complaint isn’t something that gets whipped together over a weekend, and after talking with some folks, I think that it would be fair to estimate that a minimum of 300-400 hours went into this document.  Not just the writing, but the research and the thinking about how to craft a document like this.


That’s 300-400 of legal time by lawyers who bill by the hundreds of dollars PER HOUR.


There are 5 separate lawyers names attached to this Complaint including a Harvard Law Professor, and even if the lawyers think that Spence-Jones has a great case, they still would expect to get a chunk of money up front to take this on.


And that’s just to get to this point. The real cat fight begins now, and will go on for probably most of this year as these lawyers fight over issues of discovery and depositions and all of the rest of the pre-trial stuff that involves a case of this magnitude, and all of that will cost real money.


So, again, where’s the money coming from?


Sister Spence-Jones got a check for back pay when she was reinstated to the City Commission, and she probably used a portion of that as a down payment since she was talking about this lawsuit back then, but since she doesn’t seem to have outside employment, and her husband doesn’t seem to be much more than a House Husband, you got to wonder.


That got me to digging around and somehow - perhaps because it all happened before I got interested in City politics - I discovered that Sister Spence-Jones has had experience in passing the collection plate around at a revival meeting where the amount collected was not revealed.


It seems that back in 2006 - 2007, Spence-Jones got $46,000 in unreported legal services from one Richard Lydecker, then with the firm of Lydecker, Lee, Behar, Berga & De Zayas.


Perhaps not surprising, this led to an Ethics Complaint, a Settlement Agreement and Letter Of Reprimand. You just can’t make this shit up.

Richard Lydecker, surprise, surprise, was, and is the Chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, and went on to form a law firm with none other than Spence-Jones’s patron, former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.


Last year, Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff, in his role of Chairman of the DDA appointed Lydecker to a position on the DDA Board. I mention that now as one of the 2 Degrees of Separation that will become an evident part of the larger story related to this lawsuit.


After Spence-Jones got slapped with the Letter Of Reprimand, she applied to the Ethics Commission for a legal opinion on setting up a Blind Trust Legal Defense Fund, and got slapped down for that.

So will we see Sister Spence-Jones sets up some sort of Legal Defense Fund? Or has she already done so? And if she doesn’t, will she try to declare some of these legal services as “Gifts,” or will she’ report them before some inquiring mind has to file an Ethics Complaint?


For some this lawsuit will be seen as making Sister Spence-Jones bullet-proof against any sort of counter attack by Fernandez-Rundle.  To those I would say, there are a lot of dead people in cemeteries, and a lot more folks in prisons who thought that they were bullet proof.


On the streets, what’s happening here is called, Head’s Up Murder!  Nobody is bulletproof!


HIS IGNORANCE, TOMAS REGALADO, THE MAYOR


Earlier this year, Tomas Regalado admitted that he had had to get a $25,000 bank loan from Wells Fargo Bank - a loan that he got on his house that he claimed had suffered unrepairable foundation damage when a water pipe broke - in order to cover the costs of Jose Quinon defending him and Raquelita from the election campaign violation charges.


Those costs were chump change to what he’s going to need to defend himself against this lawsuit.


This lawsuit named him as a Defendant in his “personal capacity.”


In days gone by, Regalado could have maybe waltzed into a City Commission meeting and, legally or not, have had Julie Bru introduce a Resolution asking the City Commission to have the City underwrite his defense, but that doesn’t seem likely now, given that Spence-Jones is one of those City Commissioners, and that Francis Suarez and Marc Sarnoff are two other Commissioners that are all in cahoots to force him from office.


Now, I want to be clear, I’m not saying that Regalado would be entitled to the City paying for his defense, but in January of this year in a late night little ploy, Julie Bru slipped a Pocket Item before the Commission to have the City provide “Ethics” Sarnoff with a City lawyer to defend him against his personal problems with Reid Welch, and last year the City covered the costs of defending  Chief Exposito and Major Al Alvarez’s comments about the criminal history of  a maquinita owner.


Both of those decisions were legally questionable, but because no one actually challenged them in court, they became legal by virtue of not being challenged.


Politicians do illegal stuff ALL of the time, but unless someone stands up and takes them on it a court room, those illegal actions become legal.


I’m betting that Regalado will have to form a Legal Defense Fund, which complicates his current efforts to raise money for his reelection bid.


I’d already started receiving reports of folks walking into City Hall and headed for the Mayor’s Office with envelopes of cash for his reelection campaign, but now he’s going to have to underwrite a reelection campaign and a Legal Defense Fund simultaneously.


Alert!  Alert!  Attention all maquinita owners!  Papi Chulo is going to need your help!


KATHERINE  “THE QUEEN OF SWAG”  FERNANDEZ-RUNDLE HAS HER OWN LAW FIRM


With over 1000 employees, hundreds and hundreds of them lawyers, along with a lawyer boyfriend, and dozens of lawyer pals obligated to her for one sweetheart deal or another, Fernandez-Rundle, is sitting about as pretty as she can be.


Now, the lawsuit alleges civil rights violations AND also claims that she and he others engaged in RICO activities, but prosecutors have immunity from prosecution for their actions, and this will be a cornerstone of Spence-Jones’s lawyers efforts to tag Fernandez-Rundle with enough examples wrong doing to break through that protective shield.


Here is a Florida Attorney General Opinion, that provide some background on what all this means.


Like I said, the Complaint reads like a TV series, and there are a lot of juicy allegations, but at the end of the day it’s going to take wheelbarrows of money to prove or disprove those allegations, and at this point, I wouldn’t necessarily be putting my money on any contestant in this battle.


PART II - JULIE BRU PLAYING ALL SIDES AGAINST THE MIDDLE


For over a year and a half I’ve been writing that City Attorney Julie Bru deserved to be fired.  If the revelations in the Complaint are true, she needs to be disbarred.


Bru has been an absolutely terrible attorney.  At the same time, she’s been an absolutely great attorney for Regalado, and on any number of occasions she’s been a great attorney for City Commissioners like Marc Sarnoff.


I say great in the pejorative sense.  She’s managed to give more bad legal opinions than Mitt Romney had opinions on health care.


Among the more amazing bits of behind the curtain stagecraft revealed in the Complaint was the allegation that Fernandez-Rundle attempted to get Bru to to ask Angel Gonzales - who had himself been removed from the City Commission for a little double-dealing only days before - to return to the Commission in order to create a necessary quorum to appoint a replacement for Spence-Jones to head off a 2nd election for her seat. (Paragraphs 203 - 208)


The claim that Angel Gonzalez refused to go along with this implies that someone actually did reach out to him in an effort to get him to go along.  If that turns out to be true, and if that person was Julie Bru - or even if she knew about it and didn’t forcefully oppose it happening, I would think that would warrant a complaint to the Florida Bar for serious sanctions.


Go back and reconsider all the stories that I’ve written about Julie Bru, from the illegal use of her settlement trust account to issue the $200,000 check that was drawn as part of the bribe attempt against Chief Expositio, to the latest bullshit legal opinion that Commissioner “Ethics” got in an effort to evade reporting the trip to Brazil.


This woman has been little more than a willing handmaiden to many of the nasty schemes engaged in by all of the corrupt crooks in City Hall.


Her Christmas present this year should be a Big Ass Pink Slip, with a don’t come back in January message!


PART III - THE MOLE IN THE CITY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE


The single most revealing portion of the allegations in the Complaint started with the section entitled Defendants prepare Their Scheme to Arrest Spence-Jones and Kick Her off the Commission, starting at paragraph 104.


All of the information in that portion, going to paragraph 224, could only have been obtained from someone inside the City Attorney’s office acting as a mole on Spence-Jones’ behalf.


I believe, and it will be interesting to see what is revealed in Discovery, that that individual was Deputy City Attorney Maria Chiaro, who lost out when Julie Bru was appointed City Attorney instead of her.


Chiaro was Spence-Jones’ choice, and supposedly Spence-Jones managed to have Chiaro kept on as Bru’s deputy.


Now, Bru and Chiaro are both scheduled to leave in August as part of the DROP, but several weeks ago I was told that Chiaro still had a hope of retiring and then coming back as City Attorney.


I couldn’t  figure out how that might happen when I was told this, but in light of this lawsuit, and the information that obviously had to have come from her, it now seems very clear that by August, if Regalado loses and Suarez wins, Maria Chiaro would get her wish, and not have to worry about having to retire to Naples and hang out with her husband.


Again, this is another 2 Degrees of Separation that has to be factored into the larger scheme of things.


PART IV - DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP


A couple weeks ago I published an email from Carlos Gimenez Jr. that provided a revealing window to the inner-workings of how deals are done between lobbyists and City Commissioners, but if these allegations are true, then you got to wonder just what other kinds of deals have been going on behind the scenes, not only between folks like Fernandez-Rundle and various City Commissioners, but by who knows who else?


We can speculate the nastiness of the behind-the-scenes activities that led to Scott Wessel getting a 2/5 year extension on Grove key Marina/Scotty’s Landing even after refusing to pay $2.9 million in taxes.


But what about Carlos Lacasa and Vero’s On The Bay?  Or even worse, what about Stephen Perricone and his continued illegal use of the Mary Brickell City Park as part of his restaurant.


These in many ways these are all chump change operations when it comes to the real plunder of City assets and resources.


Just the mere idea that a State Attorney would attempt to interfere in the circumvention of the entire political process to try and keep anyone from rightfully claiming their elected seat, puts a whole new spin on the election shenanigans of Florii-DUH.


PART V - PAY ATTENTION TO THE PEANUT GALLERY


Of all the politicians in Miami-Dade County, if one were to measure the level of their unpopularity by the comments section of the Miami Herald, no one is more disliked Michelle Spence-Jones.


At some point in time, that dislike might become a problem for picking a jury.


Even in Miami, there comes a time when people, if given the opportunity, will be more than happy to turn on a politician they hate.


Of course, given the cast of characters in this fight, the consensus view might be that they should all go in a room, beat each others brains out, and then disappear in a puff of smoke, all for the betterment of the community


At the same time, if that were to happen, think of all the popcorn that wouldn’t get sold, and how we’d miss the show that promises to take place next year as these folks go at each other.


2013 is definitely going to be a It’s Miami, Bitches Year!

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