MARCH 14 - MARCH 18

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THE TAG TEAM OF COLLINS AND SARNOFF: TOGETHER THEY’VE BEEN BAD NEWS FOR COCONUT GROVE BUSINESSES
PART III
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

After you get past his English accent, the question that soon comes to mind about David Collins is: How did he end up being Once the Executive Director of the BID?


His disheveled appearance, extreme even for Coconut Grove, doesn’t lend itself to the kind of polished executive that one would expect to be the “face” of the Coconut Grove business community.


When that question is put to insiders in the Grove, it’s quickly explained that Collins was the hand-picked choice of Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff and Art Noriega, the Executive Director of the Miami Parking Authority, who is the major financial Sugar Daddy of the BID.


The phrase most used to describe this trio is that back in the day, they were as thick as thieves, which given the revelations that came to light last year about how the Miami Parking Authority was operated - as well as my current lawsuit against Noriega and the MPA over the unaccounted for City-Wide Parking decals - and you kind of get an understanding that Collins was planted in the BID, not because of his sartorial, PR or executive acumen, but rather because he was considered the trusted sidekick who would make sure to do Sarnoff and Noriega’s bidding in whatever schemes they decided focus their attention and the public’s money on.


There are people who work for the City of Miami who’ve been hired for less savory reasons - although few come to mind - but in Collin’s case, while being a useful toady, also came with baggage that made him a liability: He possesses a nasty temper and a very bad attitude that he’s sometimes unable to control.


DAVID COLLINS - LOOKING OUT FOR THE INTERESTS OF COCONUT GROVE - NOT


In PART I of this series on the BID, I published a copy of the grievance letter written by former BID employee Kristi McCarthy, who detailed a number of negative experiences while working for Collins.


For Grove business owners and residents who’ve watched the Grove decline as a popular destination in recent years, one observation had particular resonance:


        “People with potentially great ideas or products that

        will help promote the Grove call all the time and they

         are just blown off and never called back”


Max Wyler, the President of Accord Productions, and the cable channel, The Beach Channel, could be considered one of those people.


Max is a native.  He grew up in the Grove, owns property in the Grove, his business in the Grove and he lives in the Grove.


It was all of these things that caused him to arrange for a meeting with David Collins recently to talk about possibly doing something to promote Coconut Grove on his Beach TV Channel.  Here’s how the meeting went.

Max’s experience is not an isolated one. Several months ago, I was told the owner of a Tour Bus company met with Collins and experienced a similar reaction.


Experiences like this leave a bad taste, and support in concrete ways the claims made by Kristi McCarthy.  They also reinforce the belief that the BID, and all of the deals that it does, is largely with, or to the benefit of that little clique of Grove insiders who believe that if they can’t screw their friends and neighbors, then who can they screw.


COMMISSIONER “ETHICS” SARNOFF, RUNS ROUGHSHOD OVER THE BID


PART I


In PART II of this series, I wrote how the Commissioner was planning to stack the Board of the BID with 3 additional ex-officio members, who, while unable to vote at the board meetings, would be able/required to vote on the committees they were assigned to. The request to appoint 3 new members was in the 1st version of the Ordinance, which passed without objection on First Reading.


When the ordinance came up for the 2nd, and final reading, the language had been changed to allow the Commissioner to appoint an unlimited number of ex-officio members - one can never have to many ass-kissing toadies in reserve for when you need them

PUBLIC MEETING?  
SECRET MEETING?

Sometimes public meetings - although legally noticed - are really intended to be private meetings.


Take this Tuesday morning’s Executive Committee Meeting of the Coconut Grove BID.  All of their meetings, as best as I’ve been able to determine, are held either at the BID Offices, or the Coconut Grove Art Show offices, both at Mayfair Shops.


Yet, Tuesday’s meeting - while noticed - is being held in the boardroom of Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff’s Office at City Hall, at 10:30 AM.

Now who would figure that the BID would be meeting inside the Commissioner’s boardroom, a place that only holds a very small number of folks, and is not even visible from the hallway?


Obviously something must be afoot for this kind of a hush -hush location for a BID meeting.


I wonder how many BID Board Members even know about this meeting, since David Collins has a habit of being very selective about who he sends emails with information about BID meetings to.


In any event, I plan on being there with my little video camera to memorialize the event for the Crespo-Gram readers.


MIAMI CITY HALL

3500 Pan American Drive

10:30 AM

In the overall scheme of screwing over the Coconut Grove business owners, this little slight of hand maneuver is little more than a show of affection.  When the Commissioner decides to really screw over the BID members, he bends them over and demands they they tell him who’s their Daddy.

PART II - THE BATALLA DE FLORES PARADE AND FESTIVAL AT PEACOCK PARK


Everybody loves a parade, and the notion of folks taking a stand against a parade - especially business owners in Coconut Grove - probably seems like an oxymoron.


But that’s what the members of the Coconut Grove BID Marketing Committee did on March 1st.


Some background explanations are required. 


There is a policy that the streets in Coconut Grove can only be closed down once a month for an event, and in order to accomplish that, the event organizers need to go before the BID Marketing Committee at least 90 days in advance of the event to get permission.


The folks associated with the Batalla de Flores Parade did not do that. They originally wanted to stage their event downtown, but there was problem of schedules with other events which forced them to try and do it in Coconut Grove.


Unfortunately for them, the Hare Krishnas, had already secured permission for the March street closure for their parade and festival at Peacock Park.


Although the organizers of Batalla De Flores event had submitted an application to the BID, they had never followed through by actually appearing before the Marketing Committee, choosing instead to take a political route by getting the City Commission to grant them a waiver to the one street closure per month before coming before the committee.


When they did appear before the Marketing Committee, the committee, not-withstanding the wavier from the City Commission, the committee denied their application, citing several issues, including the question of timeliness and the fact that the event would not provide much in the way of benefit to Coconut Grove businesses, either in turnout, or in expected residual shopping/dining in the Grove, but would impact negatively on others interested in coming to the Grove. (More about this in the article below.)


The next day, a flurry of emails started circulating from Ron Nelson, Commissioner Sarnoff’s Chief of Staff. The most revealing, as it impacts on the Coconut grove BID, was this email. (To see a larger version of this email, along with 5 pages of other emails related to this, click on the image of the email.)

PARADE_WAIVER.html

There, in succinct language, Wesley Carroll unknowingly provided both the perception, and the reality of the impotence of the Coconut Grove business owners, who are merely pawns in whatever game or scheme de jour the Commissioner decides requires the BID’s participation.


The Coconut Grove BID, as I’ve written before is supposedly to be an organization of/by and for the business and property owners of Coconut Grove.


The reality, as exhibited  by how the BID turned down this group’s parade permit, and was overridden by the Commissioner, who essentially cowed the Marketing Committee to “reconsider” 2 days after they voted down the permit, is an object lesson to all those in other parts of District 2 who continue to believe that they can “control” the rapaciousness of Commissioner “Ethics” if they decide to create their own BID.


In this case, the Commissioner was less interested in whether the parade occurred, than on the political machinations currently going on behind the scenes with Xavier Suarez’s decision to run for District 7 County Commissioner.


This is an election year for Sarnoff, Francis Suarez, Willie Gort, and for possible replacements for several county seats should the County Mayor and Commissioner Seijas be recalled on March 15th.


While a lot of things are in flux it is never too early to start arranging the back-room deals and arrangements that lead to fund raisers and other interesting political tricks.


The Commissioner’s embrace of this parade, and his forcing the BID to go along with the revised parade route, I’ve been told, will result in a ripple effect of political benefits in a few months.


In the meantime, the Commissioner is never content to rest on his laurels, and still has a few tricks up his sleeve for the BID.  I’m sure that at Tuesday’s meeting in his office, he’ll reveal one or two of them, and the toadies will nod their heads in agreement, and pretend that they didn’t check in their independence and integrity at the door.

MARCH 14, 2011

MARCH 14, 2011

EVERYBODY LOVE A PARADE

For those who missed the parade, or for those who went and want to relive it, click on the button for some photos.

A QUESTION OF ECONOMIC IMPACT ON THE GROVE

One of the primary question raised about this event at the BID Marketing Committee meeting over whether to issue a permit, was what the economic impact would be on the Grove businesses.


Parking always benefits with any of these events, but who else? 


In a completely unscientific, but empirically verifiable  after-action walk through of downtown Coconut Grove, it did not appear that those folks who came solely for the parade, and left afterwards, spent much time in the grove, with the exception of possibly stopping to get a drink of some kind, and use a bathroom.


Click the button, and look at the photos I took of my walking tour through the Grove after the parade.


ENTERshapeimage_11_link_0

MARCH 14, 2011

OUR SYMPATHIES GO TO JOHN EL-MASRY AND HIS FAMILY ON THE LOSS OF HIS MOTHER.
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
THEY TRIED TO RUN AND 
HIDE, BUT ALL THEY DID WAS REVEAL THAT THEY ARE AFRAID OF THE SUNSHINE AND ME 
PART IV

          “The Sunshine Law is to be construed “so as

           to frustrate all evasive devices...”                              

                         -Town of Palm Beach v. Gradison


On Sunday evening, as part of my postings related to PART III of my series on the Coconut Grove BID, I posted a short piece about the meeting that was scheduled to take place today, March 15th, at 10:30 AM, at Commissioner Marc Sarnoff’s City Commission office. I stated that I would attend with my trusty little video camera.


On Monday evening, I received a phone call from a member of the BID, telling me that they had been contacted by another member, and asking whether I would refrain from attending the meeting because at least one member wanted to speak frankly to the Commissioner about what was going on and did not want me to be there to tape the meeting.


I responded that I could not do that, first because I had already announced that I would be attending, and far more importantly, the whole purpose of having public meetings is so that public issues are aired in the public in a frank manner.


That’s one of the problems we face in this country today, not enough people are willing to stand up and talk truth to power, except on occasion by doing so secretly.


Given my history with the Commissioner, and putting very little past him, I then went to the City of Miami website to verify that the meeting was still on, and scheduled for the Commissioner’s office in the morning.


It was, and I went on to other things.


On Tuesday morning, still feeling uncomfortable about the phone call, I arrived at City Hall at approximately 10:15, and parked in a place that would give me a vantage point of the entrance.  I was only there a few moments when I saw Ron Nelson, the Commissioner’s Chief of Staff, come out the door and head for his car.


Instinctively, I made the decision that if Nelson was leaving the building, it was because he was going to wherever the Commissioner was, and so I followed him.  Along the way, I called the Commissioner’s office and got the answering machine which confirmed to me the rightness of my decision. 


Nelson went North on Bayshore Drive and turned into the entrance to Grove Isle, the exclusive Resort and Condo island.  At the guard booth, I got out and confronted Nelson about the meeting, and whether it was being held inside.  After playing dumb and denying he had any knowledge of any meetings, Nelson instructed me to follow him, and we both went to the very back of the property where the Grove Isle Club was.  Nelson informed me he was going to the 2nd floor. I followed, and entered a small board room, where the Commissioner and the other members of the Coconut Grove BID were waiting for one more person to arrive.  The photo above shows them at the table.


Those in attendance were David Collins, the BID Executive Director, Commissioner Sarnoff, the person who recently brought the Mayfair Hotel, Art Noriega, the Executive Director of the Miami Parking Authority, Maurice Wiener, the owner of Grove isle, Bob Whelan, the owner of Cocowalk, Robert Masrieh, who owns the property and parking lot at the corner of McFarland and Main Highway, Naomi Evans, the PR Director of Cocowalk, and out of frame William Plasencia from Sarnoff’s office and the Commissioner’s Sgt-At-Arms.


REASONABLE NOTICE OF MEETINGS


It’s abundantly clear that the move from the Commissioner’s office to what was essentially a private board room at Grove Isle was a blatant and “knowing” attempt to frustrate the provisions of the Sunshine Law.


The phone call the night before, in an effort to dissuade me from attending a “public meeting,” compounds the crime - and make no mistake about this, when you “knowingly” attempt to evade the provisions of Florida’s Sunshine Laws - it is a crime under 286.019(3)(b), which is second degree misdemeanor, punishable by a term of no more than 60 days, a fine of $500, and for public officials, they can be suspended  from office.


The question is, what constitutes a “reasonable notice of meeting,” and were the actions of those involved based on attempting to comply with a good faith requirement to honor both the spirit and the letter of the law, or was it a blatant attempt to circumvent the law and “frustrate” the public’s right to attend?  In this case me, with my video camera.


The fact that the meeting was originally intended to be held in the Commissioner’s Board Room, was in itself an attempt to restrict attendance.


As I discussed in my original post, which can be viewed HERE, the meeting being held in the Commissioner’s office was a rarity. In discussing BID meetings with several members, they could only recall one other time where a meeting was held at the Commissioner’s office, and that was related to the selection of new board members, a topic that would, given the process by which the Commissioner has pretty much bullied the BID into making the final decisions himself  be consistent with his desire for secrecy.


The effort to move the meeting from the Commissioner’s office to Grove Isle was initiated by David Collins’ secretary, at 4:45 PM, on Monday afternoon, with the following email.

In a discussion with Ms. Priscilla Thompson, the Miami City Clerk on Tuesday afternoon, one of her staff, who handled the change indicated that the change had been made at 5:04 PM. 


Given that not only I, but 2 other individuals, also went to the city’s website and also read the notice of the meeting occurring at the Commissioner’s office on Monday night  has raised a serious enough question that the City’s IT Department has been asked to look into it.


The other two people engaged in a phone call between 5:39 and 6:01, as recorded in the phone record of one individual, who told me they went to the site as they discussed this meeting during that phone call.


But, the $64,000 question is:  What is “reasonable?”  There are a significant number of cases that have dealt with this issue, and rather than list them, and quote passages from them - and in effect provide research for the big-shot lawyers that the Commissioner and the BID members will need to go and get, if, as I am now contemplating, going  to sue them - here is what the Florida Attorney General has suggested should be the notice guidelines for emergency or special meetings:


        “Emergency sessions should be afforded the most        

        appropriate and effective notice under the circum-

        stances and special meetings should have at least

        24 hours reasonable notice to the public...”

                                                        - My emphasis


Even allowing that the revised meeting notice was posted art 5:04 PM, for a meeting held at 10:30 AM the following morning, does not meet the minimum standard for an emergency meeting, much less one that was originally noticed the week before, and was only re-noticed at the very last minute possible it could be re-noticed, and only after I announced I would be there with my video camera


In fact, this was done so hurriedly, that Naomi Evans, after the meeting, confided to several people as everyone was milling around getting ready to leave, that she didn’t know the meeting was being held at Grove Isle, when they pulled up, and assumed when she and whoever she was with were there to pick up someone.


THE COMMISSIONER GIVES EVERYONE A WARNING ABOUT WHAT THEY SAY DURING THE MEETING


I want to limit this PART IV, to the basic issues related to the actions associated with the moving of the meeting, and the issues of process.  Trust me, there will be more in the next installment about the BID that will include other portions of the tape of the meeting.


For now, I have posted a 1 minute portion of the beginning of the meeting where the Commissioner advises those at the table that the meeting is “being recorded,” and that they should “govern themselves accordingly.”


Again, providing a veiled warning to members of a public board who are supposedly engaged in discussing public business to “govern themselves accordingly,” raised a very serious and fundamental question about complying with the spirit as well as the letter of the Sunshine Law.


The Commissioner went on to explain that he was not worried about the recording, but of my “editing” because they don’t have editing rights.


Well, along with moving the meeting at the last moment to evade public scrutiny, somehow - for the first time in the memory of several people I asked - David Collins didn’t bring a tape recorder to record the meeting.


In every way this was intended to be a secret meeting, and my presence upset that scheme.

THIS IS THE END OF PART IV OF THE SERIES ON THE COCONUT GROVE BID.  THERE WILL BE AT LEAST 3-4 PARTS TO THIS SERIES, AND I EXPECT TO POST PART V, AT THE BEGINNING OF NEXT WEEK.


AS COMPELLING AS THIS STORY IS, I HAVE JUST ACQUIRED INFORMATION ABOUT AN INCIDENT THAT WILL SHOCK MANY PEOPLE. THAT STORY WILL BE POSTED FRIDAY MORNING!

IN LIGHT OF WHAT HAPPENED, I AM CONSIDERING SUING THE MEMBERS OF THE BID WHO WERE IN ATTENDANCE AT THIS MEETING FOR ATTEMPTING TO CIRCUMVENT THE FLORIDA SUNSHINE LAW.


I WILL HANDLE THE LAWSUIT AS A PRO SE PLAINTIFF, AND I FIGURE THIS IS AS GOOD A TIME AS ANY TO SEE WHAT KIND OF COMMUNITY SUPPORT THERE REALLY IS TO START FIGHTING WEASELS LIKE SARNOFF AND COMPANY.


THE INITIAL COSTS FOR FILING THE LAWSUIT WILL BE ABOUT $700.00, INCLUDING THE FILING FEE, COST OF SUMMONS AND SERVICE ON THE DEFENDANTS - DEPENDING ON HOW MANY I CAN TAG.


SO, I’LL DO THE LEGAL WORK, BUT I WANT TO SEE IF THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE WILLING TO CHIP IN TO FUND THE EFFORT.


IN ADDITION TO THE INITIAL COSTS, THERE WILL BE COURT REPORTER AND VIDEO TAPING COSTS FOR DEPOSITIONS - AND I WILL DEPOSE - AND PROBABLY SOME MINOR INCIDENTAL COSTS.


RIGHT NOW I AM CURIOUS TO SEE HOW MANY FOLKS ARE WILLING TO COMMIT TO DONATING $50 TO A LEGAL FUND TO ALLOW ME TO START SUING EVERYONE WHO’S TRYING TO SCREW THE POOCH?


IF YOU’RE INTERESTED, SEND ME AN EMAIL.


al@alcrespo.net

RAISING MONEY FOR A LAWSUIT

MARCH 16, 2011

BUCKLE UP
THE PBA WASTES NO TIME IN GOING AFTER CARLOS GIMENEZ

The door hasn’t even finished hitting Carlos Alvarez in the ass, and already the long knives are being drawn in the battle of who will replace him.  Below are 4 song parodies on a CD that is being circulated by the Police Benevolent Association against Carlos Gimenez, who has announced he’s running for Miami-Dade County Mayor.


If this is how the race is starting, imagine where things will be by the end of October.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

JUST ANOTHER DAY ON BISCAYNE BOULEVARD.

TOMAS OFF TO CHINA?
ANTI-COMMUNIST RABBLE ROUSER REGALADO LUNCHES WITH CHINESE COUNSEL GENERAL

There’s nothing more indicative of change then when a opportunist like Tomas Regalado, who made a political career as an anti-communist rabble rouser, decides to put that aside for a nice lunch with the Counsel General of China, Gao Yanping.  The luncheon was reported in the March issue of Asia Trend.

Since the Chinese already own trillions of dollars in US debt, perhaps Tomas took the opportunity during the luncheon to see if he could could pawn off some of the City’s increasingly worthless debt to the Honorable Counsel General.


More intriguing is the letter that Tomas received inviting him to lunch. Notice how the Chinese decided to use one commie basher as a conduit to try and arrange a meeting with another commie basher.


That’s called diplomacy.

MARCH 18, 2011

MARCH 18, 2011

For the last several weeks I have been unable to send many of you my nightly notices.  It seems that someone who I write about managed to employ the services of a hacker to stop those emails from getting to you.  Thanks to my own hacker, we overcame that problem last night. 


Now, there seems to be a problem with the website itself. Sometimes you can access it, and sometimes there is an error message with a lot of funny writing.


I am working on overcoming that problem.  The efforts of those who are doing this are to discourage you from visiting the site, because with every post we get deeper into how these corrupt politicians have been doing their dirty deeds.


Next week, we’re going to one-up the Miami Herald’s story about the freeloaders on Miami Beach getting free tickets, with our own series of stories - with photos no less - of how the Mayor and some City Commission members, along with some of the other usual suspects in the Banana Republic, have been going to events on tickets that they didn’t pay for.  Plus, there will be A LOT MORE to this series than these freeloaders getting free tickets.


So, please hang in there! PLEASE BOOKMARK the site so you can check it out without my having to send you an email, and if you get an error message, come back in a couple hours. I’ll leave the stories up for 2 days, so you can read them. Tell your friends to visit too.


Thank you for your support, and keep the faith.  Six months ago everybody said that we’d never succeed in forcing Sarnoff to shut down his illegal law firm, and we not only did that, we chased him completely out of Coconut Grove on that one.


You can fight City Hall,  AND YOU CAN WIN!!!!

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR OUR READERS

MARCH 18, 2011

FLASH

WHO WAS THE PROCESS SERVER CHASING AROUND THE MRC BUILDING TODAY TO SERVE HIM WITH DIVORCE PAPERS?

MARCH 18, 2011