MAY 16 - MAY 20

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A CRESPO-GRAM EXCLUSIVE
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MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL
AM I THE MOST CROOKED POLITICIAN OF THEM ALL?

Politicians are no different than any other kind of crook.  First they start with penny-ante stuff, and if they don’t get caught, they get emboldened and start committing larger and larger crimes.  The biggest difference between regular crooks and politicians turned crooks is that the politicians develop a sense of entitlement regarding their crimes because they are often able to hide behind, or twist the law to shield themselves from prosecution.


Take Tomas Regalado. He started his sleazy, crooked activities screwing the taxpayers out of gasoline.  From there he moved on to leaning on city departments to do favors for his friends, neighbors and constituents.


Drive around his neighborhood and it’s easy to spot the examples of his favors - all paid for with tax money and done by city employees - in the concrete driveways, traffic circles and numerous zoning violations that are ignored reflecting the Mafia Don school of political corruption.


Then go to the MRC building and start going through the personnel files looking for all the unqualified, uneducated and grossly incompetent individuals that he’s forced the city to hire over the years, and especially since he’s been Mayor.


From there, start looking at the bigger deals, the one where both serious money and serious efforts to circumvent public scrutiny are occurring, and then see if you can spot Tomas Regalado’s finger prints.


It really isn’t hard.  Take for instance the Letter To The Editor  from Regalado that the Maimi Herald published last Friday.

“We have the plan to renovate this landmark without going to the taxpayers,” Regalado wrote - or actually didn’t write - since this letter is too cute by half for Regalado’s ham handed use of the English language.


If ever there was a sentence that should activate the old air-raid siren atop the County Courthouse, that should be the one.


Yes, they do have a plan, and it doesn’t have anything to do with some pretentious design competition for a new stage for Marine Stadium, that even the judges conceded is “most likely unbuildable...”


THE CARLISLE GROUP RIDES AGAIN


Unmentioned in Regalado’s letter asking for “community support” is what this plan is, or more importantly, who the players are that expect Regalado to run interference for them.


At the top of the list is the Carlisle Group, represented by none other than lobbyist Steve Marin, who was successful in getting Regalado and the City Commission to support the Red Light camera deal that was supposed to generate $8 million in funds for the city, but is now likely to generate no more than $513,000 this year.


Late last year the Carlisle Group presented a “Memorandum of Understanding outlining our proposed public-private partnership for the revitalization of the Miami Marine Stadium.”

Bush, was obviously unaware of Sarnoff’s long relationship with Poch and some of his playmates, including Cecilia Holleman, that made any possibility of his taking the UEL’s side against Poch non-existent.


While guys like Poch always look for ways to evade public scrutiny of their deals,  the one thing that’s critical for them to succeed is they all lust for access to public money. 


Several times last year Poch worked at getting the inside numbers of the financial workings between the city and it’s vendors on Virginia Key, and the City and the County on the financial split of Convention Development Tax money between the city and the county.

...Grove Arts & Mind Academy parents in a six page blistering letter to school district, light up school’s governance and criticize building owner and school founder Alonso-Poch


Parent of students at the Arts & Minds Academy located on Commodore Plaza in Coconut Grove fired off a blistering highly critical letter of complaint to the Miami-dade Public Schools administration concerning how the charter school is being run and governed that seems to only benefit financially the building’s owner and school founder Manny Alonso-Poch.  The May 2nd six-page letter signed by A&M PTSA Executive Board President Carlos Deupi and other senior board members and parents to Tiffanie Pauline, the Administrative Director of charter schools in the nation’s fourth largest school district.  The letter details a long list of issues, including the fact that he owns the building the school is housed, and uses it for other activities including having his law office at the site.  The school created in 2004 was flagged by the Watchdog report back then because of the building ownership issue that is known as a “related transaction.”  The original monthly rent paid by the school district was $29,000 but when it expanded in 2006, that same rent jumped to around $69,000 a month, and caught the eye of the district’s inspector general and the school board’s audit committee.  Poch, an attorney, at a past school board audit committee meeting explained to audit board members why the new rent was fair, but his explanation did not fly and had audit board member Chair Fredrick “Buck” Thornburgh, an attorney noting there “was a lot of fairy dust in the room,” after the explanation he thought...

The parents letter is a compellingly damning indictment of Poch and his partners actions in running the school.  Here it is. (Click on the left icon with the arrow for a full screen view.)


Poch, no stranger to controversy, is also interested in the Marine Stadium property as evidenced by emails uncovered by the Crespo-Gram Report.

ONLY IN MIAMI

Only in Miami, a city known for it’s road rage, rude citizens and history of drive-by shootings with AK 47’s could the local paper prominently post a story promoting “a few good places where you can perfect the power of pistol packing target practice.”


With all of the corruption, double-dealing, skanky behavior of city and county officials that all but begs for space and coverage on the pages of the Miami Herald, the notion that the paper would spend time on advising folks on where the best places are to improve their shooting skills is obviously a warning that the Apocalypse is fast approaching.


So hurry if you want to get in some of that target practice because I hear that the Miami Herald is joining the other nut cases and announcing this week that the end of the world is coming on May 21st.

Guys like Poch are often easy to identify, and their schemes easy to understand, but the problem lies with the political courage it takes to stand up to them. 


When you’re dealing with an unethical, corrupt politician like Marc Sarnoff, words of warning like the ones below are like water running off  a duck’s back.

Poch, like many others before him has feathered his nest through access to public money. In his case, he’s had numerous opportunities to feed at the public trough, including most recently the $828,000 a year he collects from the county to fund the Arts & Mind Academy charter school he operates in Coconut Grove.


NOT EVERYBODY LOVES MANNY


Along the way to becoming a “player” Manny Alonso-Poch has managed to piss off his share of people, and perhaps this year he finally pissed off some people who he can’t ignore or pretend don’t exist.


Here is a portion of the last week’s Watchdog Report by Dan Ricker, where he reports on a letter recently sent to the Miami-Dade School Board by parents of children at Poch’s Arts & Minds Academy.

Related to, but not part of the above letter is another problem that faced the school this year as spelled out by another member of the PTSA.

MANNY ALONSO-POCH - 2 DEGREES OF SEPARATION


Also involved is Manny Alonso-Poch, the Coconut Grove attorney and founder of the Arts & Minds Academy Charter School that is housed in Poch’s building on Commodore Plaza.

Manny Alonso-Poch and Michelle Niemeyer at a Coconut Grove chamber function.

No matter how you look at it, Manny Alonso-Poch has hit a rough patch as an educator, which is usually a good time to go look for another deal to get involved in.

While there were other proposals floating around for the property next to the Marine Stadium, Poch’s connections seem to have provided him with the inside track to slip in through a side-door and have his Miami Marine Industry Center of America win the brass ring of being included in the Carlisle Group’s plans to revitalize the Marine Stadium.

If he gets his way, it could end up being a $37 million, 160,000-square-foot mixed use facility, that would give him a new place to hang his hat, financed by taxpayers.

If it happens, Regalado’s comments in his Letter To The Editor will prove to have been a lie, because all the evidence point once again to the fact that when schemers like Poch decide they want to cash in at the public’s expense, they know that they can always count on a guy like Regalado to be there to give them the keys to the city’s bank account.

Keep your eyes on this deal, because at the end of the day these guys are going to make a Three Card Monty dealer look like he’s moving the cards around wearing baseball gloves.

MAY 16, 2011

MAY 16, 2011

THE WATCHDOG REPORT is reporting in this week’s edition that “the school board audit committee is meeting at the school district’s headquarters Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. in the 9th floor conference room, one of the items is an oral presentation, and discussion on the Arts & Minds Academy in Coconut Grove as was reported in last week’s Watchdog Report.”

PHOTO OF THE DAY
THE MAYOR WHINED
AND ALVAREZ THREATENED:
CASHING IN VACATION TIME HAS OPENED A PANDORA’S BOX OF MISSPENT FUNDS

On April 22nd, the Crespo-Gram Report broke the story of how 33 members of the Miami Police Department cashed in $206,252.50 of vacation time, and how Major Al Alvarez, the head of Internal Affairs led the list, cashing out $19,618.56.


On April 29th, Mayor Tomas Regalado wrote the following email to City Manager Tony Crapp.

From:  Regalado, Tomas (Mayor)

To: Crapp Jr., Tony

Cc: Spring, Larry

Sent: Fri Apr 29 11:35:19 2011

Subject: Buying vacation


Mr. Manager, it has come to my attention that the City may have bought unused vacation time from Major Alfredo Alvarez, the head of Internal Affairs of the Miami Police Department.  First, I would like to know if this is true.  If this information is true, I would like to know how much he received and what is the criteria used, since I understand that this is done when there is a hardship on the employee.  The reason I am asking is because by charter, I am in charge with presenting the budget and I would like to know if decisions like this impact the budget of a department or the general budget.  I respectfully request that you answer via E-mail since this is a simple question.  If I don’t get an answer, I will initiate a public records request under Florida Statutes.

Imagine, the Mayor of the City of Miami feeling so unsure of the allegiance of his hand-picked City Manager that he has to threaten him with a public records request if he won’t respond to this email.


Regalado’s email went from the City Manager to retired FBI agent Paul Philip, to Chief Exposito and then to Major Al Alvarez. Below is Major Alvarez’s response.

Even though Alvarez has a history of pretty much being a street thug in a police uniform, he dos have his moments, and I do appreciate his willingness to bitch slap the Mayor with the last line in his letter.


While I might disagree with the Major on a lot of issues, I will agree that if anyone knows where the bodies are buried in the police department, Major Al Alvarez is someone who would definitely know.


Therefor, Al I’m with you on this one! Whatever it takes!Nothing would be better than “an independent forensic audit of the City of Miami’s finances,” especially all the money that has been misspent or illegally charged to the Miami Police Department.


FREE CITY SERVICES FOR FRIENDS AND POLITICAL PALS


Since Regalado assumed the position of Mayor, he has - as we’ve repeatedly documented - operated his office and the City’s finances in ways to benefit his friends and political supporters to a degree that would make even old time, Tammany Hall ward healers blush.


GLORIA ESTEFAN


In March of 2010, Gloria Estefan announced her support for a march in support of Cuba’s Las Damas de Blanco in their protest of the Cuban government’s continued arrest and imprisonment of Cuban dissidents. In a Miami Herald article, Estefan claimed she would cover the costs of the police during the march.

Here is the Special Events permit for the march and rally.

Here is the bill for the police assigned to cover the event.

The bill, I have been told was never paid.  The Mayor, among others, including Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff and the folks at the CRA - where the Estefan’s are like some other prominent Miami folks, little more than slumlord property owners in the OMNI CRA District - have been quick over the years to embrace the Estefans whenever they needed a little show biz sparkle for one of their schemes, and it’s obvious that $10,890 in unpaid police off-duty payments is the least that the Estefans should consider being entitled to for allowing themselves to be used as hand puppets by these schemers.


THE THREE KINGS PARADE


Late last year, after it became apparent that Regalado and Exposito were on a path towards a collusion over the video gaming machines, the Chief all of a sudden got religion when it came to demanding that the city start paying the costs for all the freebies that Regalado and the Commissioners demanded of police for the various events cited in Alvarez’s letter.


Up until their falling out, the Chief had never uttered a peep about the tens of thousands of dollars that were charged to his budget to provide Off-Duty police for any of these marches, parade, rallies, or the like.


But, on December 22nd, the following email arrived at the police department, which the Chief seized like a gift from Santa Claus.

After much bobbing and weaving, and pleas for help:

From:  Nick Mestre

Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 9:30 AM

To: Fundora, Jesus

Cc: Gonzalez, Joel (Lt); Behar, Jose

Subject: RE: Three Kings Parade


Good morning!


The City is paying for the services...

On Christmas Day, 2010, Exposito woke up, had a Come To Jesus moment, and sent this email.

In the days following, the parade took place, and the Police Department got stuck with the bill, just like Regalado instructed Tony Crapp to  make happen.

From: Gonzalez, Joel (Lt.)

Sent: Friday, February 11, 2011 1:24 PM

To: Menendez, Lourdes; Valdes, Carlos (Sgt.)

Cc: Gomez, Diana; Pascal, Jean Robert; Chircut, Pete; Melancon, Louis (Major)

Subject: RE: A QUESTION

 

We have no record of any payments being made in regards to this event.

And so the taxpayers of Miami got stuck with the bill for $85, 360.70.

There’s nothing like a little moonlighting to get through the hard economic times.  To download a larger copy of this photo, click HERE.

MAY 18, 2011

MAY 18, 2011

Keep in mind that this $85,360.70, only represents the police costs.  There has never been a public accounting for fire, sanitation and public works for all of the events that got free city services since Regalado became Mayor.


The thing that most folks don’t understand about these kinds of expenses on the books of the police department - and fire, public works, etc. - is that when all of the unaccounted expenses are paid, the money that is used to cover these holes in the budget come out of the city’s reserves. 


That’s why over the last few years the city went from $140 million in the black to $14 million, with more money being siphoned off on an almost weekly basis.


The city is bleeding money at an embarrassing rate from deals like making the police and everyone else cover the costs of these parades and street parties, to employees hired in departments whose budgets have been cut, therefore making those salaries unfunded expenditures, to the ripping off of concrete and other building supplies for the driveways and other favors that the Regalado administration thrives on giving to their friends and campaign contributors.


It’s like a big vaccum cleaner has been attached to the door of the bank vault holding the city’s money, and every day more money in dribs and drabs gets sucked out.


To put it another way, it’s just another example of It’s Miami, Bitches!

THE STRAW BUYER HAS A DISTURBING STORY ABOUT THE CITY OF MIAMI’S POLICE DEPARTMENT TODAY.



    GO TOhttp://thestrawbuyer.blogspot.com/

ADAM ROGERS, LONG-TIME MEMBER OF THE SOUTH FLORIDA FILM COMMUNITY WENT INTO THE HOSPITAL EARLY THIS MORNING FOR HEART TRANSPLANT SURGERY. IF ALL GOES WELL, ADAM WILL HAVE A NEW HEART BY THIS AFTERNOON. 


HERE’S HOPING IT GOES VERY WELL!

MAY 19, 2011

MAY 16, 2011

BERT THE FIXER
JUST IN CASE

The end of the world is supposed to happen on Saturday - well not exactly the end of the world - but rather the Rapture.


Now, I don’t figure I’ll make the trip, so if any of you out there are already making plans to zip off into the sky, would you do me a favor, and leave me a couple things.


I could use a new car, so maybe one of you will sign over the car title before you leave.  Also, if anybody’s got a spare couple hundred thousand in a safety deposit box, how about signing over the rights, and the key to the box.


Lastly, I’d really love to get out of Miami after all of you disappear because the nut cases left behind will definitely make this place completely unlivable.


So, if any of you has a nice place with a view in the mountains of North Carolina, or maybe somewhere close to Columbus, Ohio - chances are that city will still be a nice place to live - or even maybe someplace around Denver, please sign over that deed to me.


Thank you!


Oh yeah, have a nice trip, and don’t get whiplash!  See you all on Sunday.

HOW THE PLAYERS ARE COACHED TO GET CRA MONEY

Last month, Investigation Miami broke a story about the OMNI CRA’s plans to give $148,000 to Steve Haas, the head of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Convention Bureau, and the co-owner of a soon to be opened restaurant called City Hall, at 2004 Biscayne Boulevard.


The deal was so nasty that even Norman Braman’s attorney Stanley Kreiger questioned it.

Stanley’s threat was enough to force Pieter Bockweg to pull the item off the CRA agenda.


But still left was the question as to how this item, along with a handful of other questionable deals that have popped up since last summer ended up on the agenda to begin with.


The answer seems to be that Bert Gonzalez, Commissioner “Ethics” all purpose thug and bagman has been out in the community looking for opportunities to give CRA money away to folks who might be in a position to provide campaign support to the Commissioner.  You can almost bet that Haas will be holding a fund raiser for “Ethics” once the restaurant opens.


As evidence of this, here are an exchange of the emails between Bert Gonzalez and Steve Haas, that spells out how Bert provides the instructions on how to go about ass kissing your way to a CRA grant.


FROM STEVE TO BERT

FROM BERT TO STEVE

FROM STEVE TO BERT

This is how Bert Gonzalez goes about earning his $102,000 a year salary at the CRA. 


I guess Bert has high hopes of having a sandwich named after him at the restaurant.  My suggestion would be The Bert Gonzalez Tongue Up The Owner’s Ass sandwich. 


But the more telling part of this tale is Stanley Krieger’s observation that, “CRA TIF money was not intended to be “welfare for the rich.””


In the weeks to come we’ll be providing you with details on how “Billboard” Bockweg continues to believe that in fact, this is the CRA’s mandate.