FEBRUARY 21, 2014


Well, after what happened at the last City Commission meeting  I guess that I’ll never get appointed to a public board in the City of Miami as long as Commissioner “Ethics” is around.

At that meeting Commissioner Keon Hardemon asked his fellow commissioners to approve his appointment of Stephen Kneapler to the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority (MSEA), and Commissioner Sarnoff, in opposing the appointment, revealed that Kneapler - more about him in a moment - had once sent an email calling him a “pussy” and that upset Sarnoff to no end.

If Sarnoff got bent out of shape by being called a “pussy,” I wonder how bat shit crazy he must get about me calling him among other things, a spandex wearing, lying, weasel dick sociopath? I’ve even on occasion I’ve even referred to him fondly as my pal “Punky.”

And I so had my heart set on getting appointed to the Nuisance Abatement Board.  Oh, well.

Anyhow, at the meeting Sarnoff, who had first voiced objection to Kneapler’s appointment at a January meeting showed up with a list of deeds that Kneapler had done that warranted him being barred from being appointed. You can see him talk about all of those things below. That portion starts at 6:40 on the video.



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The fun part about this story is that it’s actually 3 or 4 stories, all with their own plots and twists, and like my favorite kinds of stories, I have a surprise ending that shows you once again just how devious my pal Punky really is and how fucked up politics in Miami really is.

So let’s begin.

Contrary to Commissioner Hardemon’s claims about Stephen Kneapler’s good works for the city, he is not someone who you would normally expect or trust to show up as a White Knight interested in looking out for the citizens of Miami.

Like so many of the more interesting characters that wander through Miami City Hall, Kneapler started out by being a swindler.  In his case, he was the President of Richmond Industries - a publicly traded company - back in the 70’s, and he and his brother Charles, along with three others were accused of “fixing” the company’s books.

Kneapler was convicted, and was barred for life from ever being associated with any publicly traded company.

Somehow Kneapler went from cooking the books at Richmond Industries to sub-leasing a portion of Monty’s, the popular restaurant and marina just north of City Hall when Monty Trainer sold the restaurant lease a couple years before he was charged with “fixing” the restaurant’s books resulting in the taxpayers of Miami getting screwed out of a couple million dollars in taxes.

A couple years before Monty’s friends - including Miami City Commissioner Miller Dawkins, who soon followed him to prison for his own bad behavior - held a going away to prison party for him, he had sold the restaurant lease to developer Manny Medina, who in turn sub-leased the restaurant operation to Kneapler.

Since then through thick and thin, Kneapler has continued to operate the food and beverage portion of the restaurant.  In addition to the original location, Kneapler on his own opened a Monty’s on Miami Beach, and then when Manny Medina got out of the business, and sold the lease to his then attorney, a young guy named Manny Diaz, Diaz, along with his new business partner Stephen Kneapler, managed to run up a tab of nearly $200,000 in unpaid rent and another $100,000 in unpaid taxes on the restaurant and marina.

Kneapler seems to have an ongoing problem with paying taxes, because as Commissioner “Ethics” pointed out Kneapler is currently in legal hot water with the IRS over a failure to pay $450,000.

Kneapler’s also had other problems in complying with the terms of his contractual obligations to the city as I pointed out in my August 2012 story about how Monty’s Marina was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew, and how it was revealed in the weeks that followed that Kneapler had not had any insurance on the property.

It is against this backdrop of chicanery that Kneapler turns up in recent years as a close personal friend and confidante of His Ignorance, Mayor Tomas Regalado, who felt comfortable enough about about Kneapler’s various criminal and unprincipled, if not illegal activities to make him his personal emissary in various negotiations on behalf of the city.

These were narrated by Commissioner Hardemon as a principal reason for why he wanted to appoint Kneapler - with his vast experience of public service - to represent him on the MSEA Board.

So that’s enough of the Kneapler backstory for now to take us to young Mr. Hardemon.

Now, I’ve not had much opportunity to watch the Commissioner in action since he got elected, but it strikes me from watching this episode that he is very smart, and at least to me, seeming to have great fun in yanking on Commissioner Sarnoff’s chain.

Hardemon first tried to have the Commisison approve Kneeler to be his appointee to the MSEA Board in January 9th meeting.

While Hardemon’s claim, made at the last Commission meeting that he was forced to bring this appointment up for discussion during the Commission meeting because of the Sunshine Law restrictions placed on Commissioners discussing items that are coming up for a vote precluded him from discussing the issue with Sarnoff beforehand - he’ll soon learn, if he hasn’t already that all that Sunshine stuff goes out the window when a “real deal” needs to get worked out before a vote -  the fact of the matter is that there’s a lot more to this appointment than was ever discussed.

Not withstanding Hardemon’s claims, the truth of the matter is, as revealed by the close relationship that Kneapler has with the Mayor, that this appointment was without question a favor that Regalado asked Hardemon to do for him.

Contrary to any claims made by Hardemon about benefiting from Kneapler’s wisdom on public policy issues, Hardemon’s smart enough to figure out all he needs to know about the MSEA Board on his own, and if he needs any extra help, he can just go to my series of stories about the plotting and scheming involving the Miami Marine Stadium deal and the MSEA Board to get a real appreciation for the snake pit that the MSEA Board really is.

No, this deal is all part of a larger strategy involving wily old Tomas Regalado, and young Keon Hardemon.

The most important thing to remember - far more important than any of the individual stories or incidents that I and others write about - is that the members of the Miami City Commission are for all intents and purposes a group who are either outright corrupt, or at the very least compromised.

Like every politician who’s goals depends on the vote and support of others, Tomas Regalado’s efforts are always about doing everything he can to try and use carrots to get the members of the Commission to do what he wants.

Part of that strategy, which was first evidenced in 2010 when he did the same thing with Frank Carollo, was to appoint young Mr. Hardemon to the position of Vice Chairman of the Commission. 

Normally you’d expect such a position to go to someone with a little experience, but Regalado does this because it provides him the opportunity to demonstrate to the rookie the benefits that are available to those who want to play ball.

As the Vice Chairman, young Mr. Hardemon has gotten the opportunity to travel along and go to events that he wouldn’t normally be invited to as just the Commissioner of District 5.

These are favors that the Mayor bestows, and along with the favors and the opportunity to “”educate Hardemon his political wisdom, Regalado’s actions make it possible for the rookie to benefit in concrete ways from these opportunities.

I first wrote about this back in 2011, in a story entitled: FRANKIE WENT TO SPAIN: EVER WONDER HOW POLITICIANS MANAGE TO GET SPECIAL DEALS,  after I uncovered how then rookie, Frank Carollo, got free hotel accommodations and 2 airline tickets to Spain, from a guy named Juan Jose Hidalgo, who several months before had gotten a Key To The City when he announced that his airline, Air Europa was going to start direct flights between Spain and Miami.

   Mayor Tomas Regalado, Commissioner Frank Carollo, and Juan Jose  

   Hidalgo, at Miami City Hall, March 22, 2010.

As the Vice Chairman of the Commission, Carollo was the only elected official in the room other than the Mayor when all the above festivities took place.

Of course, Frankie has proved to be too erratic for Regalado, but like an old dog who doesn’t know any other tricks, he’s done the same deal with young Mr. Hardemon.

So, while young Mr. Hardemon can proclaim all he wants that his attempt to appoint Stephen Kneapler to the MSEA Board was solely, or even largely on the basis of Kneapler’s civic mindeness and knowledge, there is no way in the world that a guy as smart as Hardemon would ever pick an old, and demonstrably corrupt white guy from Coconut Grove to the MSEA Board when he has so many smart, Black folks in his District who would and could represent his - and his District’s interests - so much better.

No, this was a Quid-Pro-Quo of some kind between Hardemon and the Mayor, and the best part for Hardemon is that even though he was forced to withdraw Kneapler’s appointment, he comes out with an IOU from the Mayor for having  made the effort.

Like I said, young Mr. Hardemon is someone to keep an eye on.

And so now this leads me to the surprise ending that I promised you.

First, I must deal with Commissioner Suarez’s claim that in addition to not knowing Stephen Kneapler, he was shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that Kneapler was running around representing the city in various negotiations as the Mayor’s representative.

As I keep telling you Francis, you need to read this blog on a regular basis. If you did, you would at least know what the hell is going on in the city, because you see, in addition to writing about Kneapler’s antics with Monty’s Marina and his failure to have insurance prior to Hurricane Andrew, on July 9, 2012, in a story about the refinancing issues related to Jungle island, in the first sentence of the 4th paragraph I revealed how Kneapler was representing the Mayor in the city’s negotiations.

And that brings us to today. 

On January 30th, exMiami, a blog that reports on local real estate activities posted a story about Steven Perricone - a close personal friend and confidante of Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, and a business partner of attorney Jay Solowsky, of Solowsky and Allen where Commissioner Sarnoff is listed as “Of Counsel,” and who co-incidentally happens to be Sarnoff’s appointment to the MSEA Board - and the folks at Allan Morris, whose Daddy donated to the City of Miami the little park that is next to Perricone’s restaurant in the Mary Brickell Village, had made moves that could allow them to join forces in developing the restaurant and park land into another high-rise condo.

Well, here’s the best part, and for some reason a revelation that Commissioner Sarnoff, who was all to ready to reveal everything else, chose not to divulge during his tirade against Kneapler.

Stephen Kneapler has been attending the negotiations between all the parties involved in this deal as the Mayor’s representative.

Yep, that’s right boys and girls, this deal, that would involve the city giving the Allan Morris family back a piece of property that Daddy donated to the city for a park so that another big-ass, high-rise condo can be built on S Miami Avenue and SE 10th Street.

Word is that the deal is moving along smartly, and right smack in the middle of it is Stephen Kneapler, fraudster, tax cheat and all around double-dealing asshole, who is there representing the honorable Mayor of Miami.

You can’t make this shit up, no matter how many drugs you take.

It’s Miami, Bitches!