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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

MAY 14, 2012

IS IT LAZINESS, OR DO I DETECT A GROWING BIAS IN YOUR REPORTING?
DEAR MICHAEL PUTNEY

Dear Michael Putney,


I often watch your show on Sunday mornings, and sometimes I think you hit your mark, and sometimes you don’t, but overall I’ve begun seeing you drift over time into a knee-jerk kind of reporting that highlights how Black politicians are engaged in questionable behavior, while ignoring that their White counterparts have been engaging in similar, if not more abusive behavior without the requisite raised  a raised eyebrow from you.


Your piece on the $50 million dollars for urban redevelopment within the SOEPW CRA District that was approved by a 4-0 vote of the City Commission on Thursday is really the kind of “reporting” that one would expect to find on Fox News.


You made a very big deal of asking, “Where will that money to cover that $50 million come from,” and then ignored providing a factual answer to that question, but also engaged in creating some bogus straw man statements that provided no context or answers to that and other important questions.


First, you owed your listeners the contextual explanation that the $50 million was going to be raised from a bond issue, and that the repayment of that money comes from the $8 million that the SOEPW CRA raises in Tax Increment Funds from within the boundaries of the SOEPW CRA District.


The impression you left with viewers who aren’t familiar with the workings of the CRA finances, is that this was money that was somehow going to come out of the city’s general fund, instead of dedicated tax increment funding.


Worse was your reference to the claim that the effort to raise the $50 million would somehow hinder the City’s efforts to float a bond issue to cover the $45 million that is still owed for the city’s contribution to the Port Tunnel Project.


You just left that hanging in the air, without bothering to provide any explanation, or to reveal that that issue was bogus to begin with.


That issue was discussed in excruciating detail during the Commission meeting, and early on, both the City Manager and the City’s Chief Financial Officer conceded that that claim, raised as a result of a misleading Memorandum issued the day before the Commission meeting was not correct. (You can read the entire memorandum by clicking HERE.)


In addition, you backhandedly inserted the creation of several largely vacant City Parking Lots created during the time of the late Art Teele, as examples of misspent money, implying that citizens could very well expect that the same thing will happen this time.


Then you cited the request by Commissioner Sarnoff to withhold a decision until his return from London, but didn’t provide any context or explanation as to why the other Commissioners decided to ignore his request, because the issue that he was concerned about  - the $45 million bond issue to pay off the Port Tunnel - became moot when the City Manager and Chief Financial Officer declared that there was no problem.


Talk about one-sided, biased “reporting!”


Your piece was pretty much bullshit from beginning to end, and did little to address any of the real issues that should concern taxpayers about the operation of the CRA’s.


No one, and I repeat, NO ONE has been more critical about the operation of the City of Miami’s CRA’s in the time that I have been writing about them on this website as part of the corrupt antics of Miami city officials.


It was MY EXCLUSIVE REPORTING last July 11th, that drove a stake through the heart of the deal intended to give the Carlisle Development Group exclusive access to 6 downtown city blocks, in a deal cooked up by CRA Executive Director Pieter Bockweg and golfing pal Matthew Greer, President of the Carlisle Development Group, that was sanctioned by the then Reverend/City Commissioner Richard Dunn, in one of the more blatant, nasty attempts to give away public land in years.


Neither you or any other news organization ever mentioned one word about this deal which, given its scope, would have rivaled any similar cooked up deal since you’ve been reporting in Miami.


It was also MY REPORTING in December of 2010, that revealed the deal that outgoing City Manager Carlos Migoya had cooked up to make the city obligated for the $50 million dollars owed for the city’s payment for the Port Tunnel, instead of the CRA.


That’s the same deal that surfaced in the Memorandum that caused all the confusion last week, and it was the failure of the City and/or the CRA to go out and float a bond deal in the 18 months that has gone by since the original loan deal with Well’s Fargo Bank was done, that was one of the questions that I raised when I spoke at the Commission meeting.


It was a question worth asking, and one that no one seems to have an answer for, and if you and your wiz-bang colleagues in the “real” news media were doing your jobs, it would not have been a question left to someone the like of me to stand up and ask.


There are any number of serious questions that need to be raised about the operation of the CRA’s including the manner that Commissioner Sarnoff, during his tenure as the Chairman of the OMNI CRA, has used that CRA as a vehicle to give money to his pals.


You keep focusing on the alleged or potential abuses by Black politicians in the City of Miami, but I don’t see you focusing anywhere near the same focus on someone like Commissioner Sarnoff for his antics.


How about digging into the millions that the CRA is spending to refurbish the old Firehouse at the corner of NW 14th Street and Miami Avenue, and ask what’s going to happen now that the SEOPW CRA has split from the OMNI CRA, and will not be housing their offices in that building.


How about the bullshit $15-$20 million for the phony movie studio that Sarnoff and his lackeys Pieter Bockweg and  Bert Gonzalez keep claiming will become the cornerstone of the local film industry.


No one in the film industry thinks so, and when the freight trains start running to and from the Port in a couple months it will become apparent that having a movie studio 50 feet from railroad tracks constantly being used to transfer shipping containers to and from the Port to a staging area in Hialeah or Medley is a waste of money - and all of this before the FDOT undertakes the widening of I-395, that will include the 40,000 SF of parking lot abutting the building that the CRA sold to them after they purchased the building and parking lot from the School Board.


Then there’s the whole issue of having the members of the City Commission sit as the only members of the CRA Board of Directors. Another question that I raised at the Commission meeting, and one that even several Commissioners have conceded in private to me that they are troubled by.


But worst of all is how the same City Commissioners, aided by their counterparts on the County Commission have manipulated the whole purpose of using CRA money intended to eliveate “slum and blight,” to cover any number of deals that have little if anything to do with “slum and blight.”


If you really want to demonstrate a concern for the expenditure of that $50 million then do what a responsible news organization is supposed to do, go and start looking into the individual deals that make up the $50 million package, and make sure that they are on the up-and up!


If the claim is 800 units of new housing is at the center of the $50 million deal, then go and take a look at those individual deals and see how they were structured.


Find out how those particular companies got the contracts to build from the SEOPW CRA, and look at the paperwork to see if it all passes the smell test.


That’s what I did with the Carlisle Development Group deal, and after only 1 day of digging - with some help - I was able to find out enough to kill the deal!


In short Michael, roll up those sleeves and quit going for the bullshit cheap shots.  There’s enough corruption floating around Miami-Dade County for you and all your colleagues to go out and earn all the Emmy’s and Peabody’s and every other kind of award that you can wrap you arms around.


At the same time, given the screwing that the folks in Overtown has received for decades - something that you conceded - what do you and WPLG have to show for doing anything except be a handmaiden to the power brokers and politicians who over the years engaged in all the scams and schemes that turned Overtown into the ghetto that it is?


The folks in Overtown deserve their tax money being spent to benefit them instead of being used for underwriting all of the schemes for baseball stadiums, and basketball arenas, and all the rest of the schemes that it’s been used for in the past.


The only question is to make sure that that happens in a way that makes a difference in their lives!


WHY JUST FOCUS ON BARBARA JORDAN FOR BING CHAUFFEURED BY HER OWN SGT-AT-ARMS


You ended your show with your “Personal Perspective” about how  County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, was being driven to the County building in a county car driven by a Sgt-At-Arms.


You’re right that these politicians should be driving themselves to and from their offices, but for a long, long time the politicians over at Miami City Hall have been driven around by Sgt-At-Arms, and never once have you said one word about that.


In fact, I reported how the City of Miami went out and purchased vehicles specifically for the City Commissioners to be driven around, and they each have their own Sgt-At-Arms.


I know you have reportedly claimed that you don’t pay attention to what people like me write on blogs and websites, because we can be trusted to provide accurate information, but in my case I not only wrote about this abuse in November of 2010, but I published photos of the SUV’s lined up in the parking lot of City Hall, and also published the payroll for the Sgt-At-Arms, and calculated that the cost to the taxpayers of Miami was $660,000 a year.


Here’s my November 10, 2010 story, and here’s the payroll numbers for the Sgt-At-Arms.


Now, that was then, and continues to be a far bigger story than catching County Commissioner Barbara Jordan getting out of an SUV at the County building, even if Commissioner Frank Carollo has taken to drive himself around in a city SUV. 

You also make a big thing about Commissioner Jordan and her fellow County Commissioners getting an $800 a month car allowance. 


What about the car allowance that some of the Miami City Commissioners get, and even worse, what about the bullshit City-Wide Parking decals that Art Noriega, the Executive Director of the Miami Parking Authority gives them?


Here is one of those decals on the windshield of City Attorney Julie Bru, who, just to cover all bases, also has her Official City Official Parking Placard on his dash.


If you really want to talk about screwing the pooch, these decals are as good a place to start since, as I originally wrote I discovered this little scam, I found one of the decals on the windshield of none other than Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff’s law partner and cousin, Neil Bayer.

And lets not forget that this year, all city employees who live outside the city limits were supposed to start paying the milage from their home to the city for the benefit of being able to take their car home.


How many of those folks haven’t paid a dime because they have listed fake addresses on their personnel files?


If you really want to show what a cracker-jack public watchdog you’d like your viewers to believe you are, below is a list - albeit from last year - of all the City of Miami employees who have take-home cars. It’s not hard to get an up-to-date list if you’re interested.


Zayon not only believes that the city car he has is for personal use, but as I wrote in the past, he actually “pimped” his ride to make it look less like a city vehicle.


I’ll bet that if you spent a little time and WPLG money on some research you’d be surprised at how many folks are screwing the pooch in the City of Miami with these city cars that they use as their personal vehicle, and worse, claim that they live in the city limits when they don’t.

http://alturl.com/6icndhttp://alturl.com/6icndshapeimage_11_link_0

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While it’s true that TV reporting suffers from the problem of time constraints, it does not suffer from from reporters who choose to be aggressive and willing to go after the real story.


You’ve shown that talent in the past.  Show it again!