MAY 9 - MAY 13

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A CRESPO-GRAM EXCLUSIVE
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Chief of Police, Miguel Exposito

PAYING FOR DUMB AND DUMBER’S DEFENSE AGAINST DEFAMATION LAWSUIT?

Back in the days when Miami’s Police Department was really considered corrupt, stories abounded about the massive files that Internal Affairs had created on the political and personal weakness of many politicians and public figures in Miami.


If you believe the rumors, some things don’t change in Miami, and the Police Department still has files on the personal weaknesses of certain high officials in city government, which will probably be interpreted by some as the reason that late last month, the City of Miami agreed to pay for an attorney to defend Chief Miguel Exposito and Major Al Alvarez against a defamation lawsuit brought by Hialeah businessman Orlando Cordoves, who claimed - as revealed in a Crespo-Gram Exclusive, on March 28th - that Exposito and Alvarez had labeled him a “Mafia” type in cahoots with Mayor Tomas Regalado in the latest video gaming brouhaha.


Below is a copy of the letter sent by City Attorney Julie Bru to Exposito - the same letter was also sent to Major Al Alvarez - informing them of the decision to provide legal counsel against Cordoves lawsuit should they wish to accept it.


(To view this document, along  with the others in a PDF obtained through a public records request last Friday, click on the letter.)

The Crespo-Gram Report has not been able to confirm whether Exposito and Alvarez agreed to the conditions in the above letters, or chose to seek their own counsel, although sources inside City Hall have indicated that the word is they are going to accept the City’s offer.


What angers folks knowledgeable with this deal is that the appearance by Exposito and Alvarez on Channel 41’s A Mano Limpia, was in direct contradiction to the order issued by City Manager Tony Crapp on January 11, 2011, establishing strict guidelines for city officials and employees talking with the news media.


In the period after the issuance of this directive, both Exposito and Alvarez engaged in a series of television appearances intended as little more than opportunities to bash the Mayor over the video gambling machines.


In addition, although the request for authorization to approve this offer went to Tony Crapp, the memo authorizing City Attorney Bru to send the letters to Exposito and Alvarez came from Larry Spring, raising once again the question of who is really making decisions inside City Hall?

In the end though, this is just one of a growing list of actions that would have never occurred had the City Manager fired the Chief and Alvarez as far back as January 6th.


At a time when the city is buffeted by financial problems on all sides, to face the possibility of paying out perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend these two guys for making intemperate and most likely slanderous remarks in the course of appearing on TV to attack the Mayor is just one more in a long list of examples of gross incompetence on the part of Tony Crapp, and his mentor Tomas Regalado, who rumor has it, is now walking around City Hall bemoaning his decision to appoint Crapp as City Manager.


It the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for the consequences, Regalado and Crapp ought to be handcuffed and made to spend the next 2 1/2 years together.

DEFAMATION_LAWSUIT_DOCUMENTS.html
BLACKMAIL SCHEME FAILS

The attempt by Harkley Thornton and Santiago Echemendia to blackmail the City of Miami into a “bad settlement” agreement over their efforts to force themselves into the billboard business failed when the Florida senate refused to accept the language inserted into the House version of a Florida DOT bill by Harkley pal, Dean Cannon, Speaker of the Florida House.


The subject of the settlement is scheduled to come up for discussion once again at this week’s Commission meeting, but at least this threat has now been removed as an arrow in the quiver of folks like Commissioner Sarnoff who labored mightly during the previous two Commission meetings to use this threat as a justification for accepting a settlement that Commissioner Carollo - in his finest hour - demonstrated was little more than a giveaway to these guys.

MAY 9, 2011

MAY 9, 2011

MAY 9, 2011

WHO IS OSCAR MARRERO? AND HOW DID HE GET THIS ASSIGNMENT?

The one thing we’ve learned in the last year of covering
the antics at Miami City Hall is that almost nothing is as it seems, and very few decisions involving large amounts of money are made solely, if ever on the basis on merit.


So the big question related to this latest decision to hire an outside lawyer to defend Exposito and Alvarez is, how did Oscar Marrero end up getting selected?


Maybe Exposito and Alvarez chose Marrero, and then forwarded his name to Bru?  There are people who say that she and the Chief are a lot closer than many would think.


The one thing that the City Attorney’s office didn’t do is flip through the Yellow Pages looking for lawyers who specialize in representing big mouthed cops, and although Marrero seems to have a totally acceptable resume, so do a lot of other attorneys in Miami.


Only days ago I revealed how Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff had tried to pawn off John Dellagloria, one of his handy sock puppets on the City Attorney as a favor for Dellagloria representing him on issues such as dealing with me and my public records requests.

 

Given the astronomical sums that the City of Miami pays out annually to law firms chosen to handle outside representation of everyone but garbage collectors, there has been nowhere near the amount of scrutiny and attention paid as to how these law firms are selected, or how some of them manage to walk away with hundreds of thousands in fees and expenses for cases that never reach a courtroom.


I would argue that cases that never reach a courtroom, and where a settlement is reached resulting in the city having to pay out large sums of money, represent little more than a glorified payola scheme for these law firms, because the City Attorney’s office - with it’s 20 plus lawyers - could have reached the same result without having to pay the outside law firms these astronomical sums to reach a settlement.


It’s all pretty much a giant circle-jerk, and biggest jerk in the circle is the $379,000 a year City Attorney, Julie Bru, who on top of authorizing millions of taxpayer dollars in legal fees to these outside law firms, then shows up at Commission meetings recommending millions more in settlement payments.


Bru’s track record as the City Attorney is really indefensible, starting with her willingness to contradict her own legal opinions when it’s politically expedient, and her glaring ignorance of the law, even on simple issues.


Bru represents the absolute worst when it comes to being allowed to remain on the job until she hit’s the end of her DROP.  The notion that the City - and the County - is forced to suffer at the hands of incompetents because they are plugged into a retirement payout system that will allow them to walk about the door with hundreds of thousands, if not a million or more dollars while in the process screwing the taxpayers through lousy job performance is just one more example of how a relative handful of politicians have stacked the deck against the citizens who end up footing the bill for these antics.


On top of everything else Bru’s overall disrespect and refusal to obey Florida’s Public Records Law has contributed to undermining what little respect for the law there was among many senior officials who figure that if she can flaunt the law, they should be able to do so too.


But today’s question is, who decided to go with Oscar Marreo, and why?

LAWSUIT UPDATE

Over at LEO AFFAIRS, the bulletin board for the Miami Police Department, some of the Chief’s supporters - his henchmen - decided they’d try and engage in a little misdirection by posting claims that the lawsuit against the Chief and Major Alvarez had been dismissed.


NOT TRUE!


Below is a screen grab of the Miami-Dade’s Clerk of Court’s on-line docket of all that’s happened in the case as of 12:10PM, on Monday, May 9th.


It’s one thing to rag on me when I’m actually wrong, but when it’s so easy to prove that I’m right, it just shows you how dumb these guys really are.


COURT DOCKET

LIST OF DEFENDANTS

MAY 10, 2011

MAY 11, 2011

THE CHIEF WINS THE FIGHT - BY A KNOCKOUT
A CRESPO-GRAM EXCLUSIVE
COPYRIGHT 2011(C)
THIS STORY CAN BE REPRINTED AND CITED BY OTHER 
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THE CRESPO-GRAM REPORT
THE BENEFITS OF WORKING FOR TOMAS REGALADO

The photos above show workers pouring and finishing new concrete driveways in the swale in front of the house at 2516 SW 20th Street.


The photos were taken by a city employee who, on his own,
went and photographed this activity because he suspected something illegal might be occurring and he wanted to document it.


The photos, were taken sometime after January 27, 2010, and the driveways are in front of the house where Jose M. Marrero, Special Assistant to Mayor Tomas Regalado lives with his daughter and her husband. They are the owners of the house, which is one block East of the house where Mayor Tomas Regalado lives.


How the concrete for these driveways were poured is outlined in the following 2 emails.  In the first (bottom) email, whose subject line states “Mayor’s Office Request Grading Swale @2516 SW 20th Street,” a request is made for Public Works to “add some pea rock and level the swale.”


In the 2nd email, it is pointed out that this has been done in the past with little success, and that the home owner should apply for a “driveway approach permit and build himself a proper driveway.  Advise him of the procedure to have this done. We cannot continue doing this while we need to repair sidewalks as well.

 

Shortly after this email exchange, without applying for a permit - there hasn’t been a building permit pulled for this property since 2003 -  a concrete truck pulled up, workers appeared, and out of the goodness of their heart the driveways were poured.


Who says that Miami’s isn’t the kind of city where generosity isn’t shown on a daily basis?


EDITOR’S NOTE:  An email was sent to the Mayor’s Office on May 5th, seeking information from Jose Marrero regarding the driveways:


    “Does he, or anyone else living at 2516 SW 20th Street

    have paperwork proving that they paid for the paving of

    the swale driveways that occurred in 2010, especially

    since there were no building permits of any kind issued

    for that work to take place?”


As of the publication of this story no response has been forthcoming.


THE SON-IN-LAW ALSO RISES


In addition to the son-in-law that he lives with, Marrero has another son-in-law: Richard LaBella.


LaBella is a computer guy, and seeing the success that his father-in-law has had as a city employee, LaBella decided to emulate Jose and become a city employee too.


Unfortunately, Richard didn’t have the educational qualifications for the job that he wanted, but by now we’ve learned that it only takes a simple signature to brush aside the lack of qualification when it comes to hiring friends and family close to Regalado:

A far more interesting portrait of Marrero appeared in a Miami New Times article dealing with the criminal activities of former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Mirian Alonso.


Alonso, the previous County Commission’s Queen Of Mean before Natacha Seijas took over that crown, was convicted of stealing campaign funds, and Marrero, who was reported to have worked as one of her aides between 1997 and 1999 - before going to work for  Tomas Regalado - was  described in the article as a witness against Alonso, although DeFede’s article made him look more like a co-conspirator.


    “ In addition authorities are examining allegations that

    Marrero - while on the county payroll - never actually

    worked for Alonso as a commission aide.  His true role

    was that of a handyman maintaining rental properties

    she and her husband owned.  before Alonso hired him

    as a commission aide, Marrero worked for the county’s        

    water and sewer department as a semiskilled laborer.

    His resume also shows that from 1985 until 1996 he    

    owned his own automobile repair shop.


    When investigators first met with Marrero several

    months ago, he was shown video tape of him working

    on Alonso rental properties during hours he was

    supposed to be in Alonso’s commission office.  Sources

    familiar with Marrero’s statements to investigators say

    he claimed he was simply fulfilling the responsibilities

    assigned him.


    Marrero was also shown photographs of the “For Rent”

    signs posted on the rental properties.  The phone

    number marked on the signs was in fact Marrero’s

    county-issued pager, according to sources.  Marrero

    told investigators he helped the Alonso’s rent their

    various properties by showing them to prospective        

    tenants.


    Contacted at Regalado’s Office, Jose Marrero refused

    to discuss the investigation, saying he was warned by

     law-enforcement officials not to speak with the media.

    (This is not Marrero’s first encounter with police.  In

    1985, he was arrested for allegedly driving while

    intoxicated and for possession of a controlled

    substance.”


In the end, it’s all about the deal flow.  Once you’re on the inside, it just a gravy train till you retire with a pension.

Once that pesky problem was dealt with, the City was only too happy to offer LaBella the usual, all inclusive benefits and insurance package, along with a starting salary of $80,000.

LaBella was so pleased to be able to be just like Jose Marrero, that not only did he accept the job, but according to his personnel file, he took an immediate $25,000 a year DECREASE in salary to become a City of Miami employee.

If he follows in the footsteps of other Regalado appointees, like The Idiot Of The  City, Angel Zayon, we can soon expect LaBella to file for an Off Duty Employment Waiver to be able to continue to collect a portion of that $105,000 a year he claimed to be making at LaBella Security, which continues to be an active corporation.


THE CITY’S HOMEBUYER’S PROGRAM


Probably not that many people know that the City of Miami, through its Community Redevelopment Program has a pretty sweet deal for folks wanting to buy homes within the city limits.


Since the program has been in effect, 946 people have taken advantage of the program, of which 26 were city employees.


One of those, was none other than Jose Marrero, who in 2006 got a $30,000 loan.  The way the loan works is that if you stay in the home for 30 years, you don’t have to pay it back.  If, on the other hand, you decide to sell the house before those 30 years are up, you have to pay back the loan on a pro-rated basis.


Of the 946 folks who got loans, a total of 7 people, paid their loans back within the first 2 years.  Jose Marrero was one of those folks.

As good a deal as Marrero got, Regalado’s Secretary  Olga Bello, got an even better deal.


On February 17, 2009, Olga Bello got a total of $111,000, in loans to buy a house.

These are just some of the advantages  - along with getting pay raises when other city employees are forced to take pay cuts - of working for Tomas Regalado.


There are those who claim that accountability and oversight of deals like these aren’t applied when it comes to Regalado’s cronies, and that neither of these two individuals qualified for these programs, but those are question better left for the experts like the investigators at at State’s Attorney’s office.


JOSE MARREO - NO STRANGER TO DOWN AND DIRTY POLITICAL DEALS


Last October 29th, The Crespo-Gram Report featured Marrero in a story about the battle that was occurring between the Mayor and the Miami Parking Authority (MPA) over his, and the City Commission’s efforts to seize - by a referendum - the MPA and its bank account as a possible short-term fix for the city’s financial problems.


Marrero had shown up in a video - believed to have been generated by MPA supporters - alleging to show him delivering and collecting absentee ballots. 


The video, produced by someone calling themselves “Smooth Operator,” was long of allegations, but short on actual “proof” that Marrero was actually delivering and collecting absentee ballots on city time, but it did provide an interesting window on how Marrero spent his days.

It is expected that on Wednesday retired FBI agent Paul Philip will submit his much anticipated, and long awaited report on the Miami Police Department to City Manager Tony Crapp.


The Crespo-Gram Report has been informed that the report will in large measure support the Chief and his operation of the department, although, like all reports of this nature there will be recommendations on how he can address certain issues to make the boo-boos go away.


The report, which was never meant as a real study of the department - had that been the goal, there are numerous national experts that City Manager Tony Crapp could have turned to - but rather as a vehicle to provide Crapp with the cover he needed NOT to fire the Chief, represents the most damaging body blow - amid a growing list of blows - by Crapp against his benefactor Tomas Regalado.


Regalado has been ill served from the beginning of his term by a handful of appointees, starting with the moron Harry Gottlieb, to Carlos Migoya, Police Chief Exposito. and now City Manager Tony Crapp.  All of them managed through their actions to demonstrate Regalado’s abysmal lack of skill and intelligence in choosing people who would support him, and not stick a knife in his back at the first opportunity.


For those who put their chips on Regalado, either angling for the job of Chief after Exposito was fired, or who schemed behind the scenes looking to leverage themselves into whatever deal they thought would benefit them by backing Regalado, be thankful that this isn’t a real Banana Republic where they’d come and pick you up in the middle of the night for a one way trip to a prison cell or a bullet in the head.


But, for now, it looks like Exposito and Alvarez will be around for a while, and for those who schemed against them, Payback will definitely be a bitch!


As for Regalado himself, he brought all of this on himself. He’s neither smart, ruthlessly cunning, or capable of understanding that to be a big city mayor, you need to have big city balls and the smarts to match.


As the story below illustrates, Regalado has never been more than a small-time ward healer politician who considered patronage and favors to be sufficient to carry him through his term as Mayor.


He  was wrong.

MAY 11, 2011

MAY 13, 2011

CLUELESS IN MIAMI

From: Regalado, Tomas (Mayor)

Sent: Wednesday, February 02, 2011 11:50 AM

To: Crapp Jr., Tony; Martinez, Johnny; Cabrera, Luis (Assistant City Mgr)

Subject: State of the City

Importance: High


Mr. Manager and All, as per charter, next month I will present the State of the City address. The theme of the speech will be about us moving forward to becoming a resident and business-friendly city. In order to do this, I need your support. I am requesting a meeting this Thursday (tomorrow) at you convenience to be able discuss some ideas to create a real business-friendly/resident-friendly city. At this moment, we are not either one of these things and the only way for this administration to succeed is to do this; we have a responsibility to the residents and the business community.


In order to illustrate how it is that we are not business-friendly, I will give you several examples. On Tuesday February 1st, I participated in the grand opening of a new business, Express Café Car Wash, located at NW 27th Avenue and 6th Street in West Little Havana. This new business is owned by a young couple who invested everything they had to be able to start it and they have a long-term lease on the property. It took nine months for them to open the place, but that’s not the first of their troubles. They have a detail carwash, waiting room with internet service, a small cafeteria and they wanted to offer a tire rotation service in two bays, but they were told by the City that they cannot. Yet, across the street, there is a tire business that rotates and balances tires. Three blocks away in the same corridor, there is a full-service tire shop. They wanted to be able to offer an oil change service and were told that they cannot. Yet, one block away on the same corridor, there is a full-service mechanic which includes oil change service. They were also told by a building inspector, “If I catch you guys using the bays, I will close down this place.” All in all, the only response they have received is, “You can’t do it.” Someone told them that Miami 21 does not allow this and so they asked me how is it that the business across the street is allowed to do it, but they cannot. I also visited the new Hyundai dealership in Braman Motors; Johnny Martinez knows about this situation as well. Their latest issue was with Zoning in which they were forced to take down a fence.


I keep meeting with people who want to invest in the City of Miami, but it appears that doing so has become an exercise in futility. This is why I am asking for this meeting on Thursday because I need to know if I still want to use this theme for the State of the City.

SEARCHING FOR A THEME IN THE MIDST OF A CATASTROPHE

When it comes to the actions of  politicians, I’ve come to the conclusion that citizens deserve the screwing that they get for failing to pay attention to the assholes they elect to office. However, after seeing first hand what’s happening in the City of Miami, no one deserves what Tomas Regalado and this gang of thugs is doing to them.


At every turn he’s demonstrated a complete inability to try and solve the problems impacting the city, and resorted instead to mumbling inane platitudes and time worn bromides in lieu of action.  It’s not that he doesn’t see the problems, but rather, once he sees them he refuses to spend the time and energy in trying to solve problems.  He really is clueless in Miami.


The latest example comes in an email that Regalado sent on February 2, 2011, in preparation for his State of the City address.

Imagine, this is the same Mayor who has never had a problem forcing his administration into hiring any number of unqualified nitwits, at salaries totally out of whack with their qualifications - the latest being Jose Marrero’s unemployed son-in-law at $80,000, plus benefits -  whining about the futility of people wanting to establish businesses in Miami because of the problems they encounter with his administration.


Notice that he requested a meeting NOT to try and do something to solve these problems, but rather to see whether he “still want to use this theme for the State of the City.”


The meeting obviously did not go well, because the Mayor changed his theme.  Here is the press-release announcing his speech, and its theme.

Not one word was uttered by the Mayor during his speech about improving the process that would allow businesses to open and function with fewer hassles from city bureaucrats.


In fact, recent encounters with business folks in the city indicate that the city is so strapped for cash that instead of trying to make things easier, a number of departments including building and zoning are doing everything they can to nickel and dime folks to the point where some are just going elsewhere.


The Mayor’s speech was a collection of the usual obligatory empty strings of rhetoric intended to pander to the people in the audience, who for the most part were there because they had their noses in the trough.


Real business people want absolutely nothing to do with Miami. The city has acquired a well deserved reputation for political corruption, incompetence and the kinds of stupid red tape that supports the claim that this is indeed America’s Banana Republic city.

SOME WEEKS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS ON THE CRESPO-GRAM REPORT, BUT \ I THINK THAT I’VE ALWAYS DELIVERED WHEN I PROMISE YOU THAT A MAJOR STORY IS ON IT’S WAY.


SO IT WILL BE NEXT WEEK.  ALREADY, I HAVE MAJOR STORIES FOR MONDAY AND WEDNESDAY, AND IF I’M ABLE TO GET THEM ALL DONE IN TIME, NEXT WEEK MIGHT BECOME KNOWN AS  TOMAS REGALADO WEEK.


ALSO, THE PAUL PHILIP REPORT IS TO BE RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC ON MONDAY. JUST LIKE I PREDICTED, IT’S PRETTY MUCH A WHITE-WASH THAT SUPPORTS THE CHIEF.

NEXT WEEK