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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

FEBRUARY 8, 2012

GIVING THE STADIUM AWAY

At this week’s City Commission meeting the issue of giving away the Miami Marine Stadium to the Friends Of Marine Stadium (FOMS), is coming back for another run at the brass ring.


While going over some previous material, I want to focus on a couple new issues that merit attention, because they reach beyond this particular giveaway of valuable city land in what is obviously an inside deal.


WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR OVERSIGHT


At the last Miami Exhibition and Sports Authority (MESA) meeting, held the day before the last City Commission meeting, the current proposal for this giveaway was presented to the Board, who after some discussion, voted 9 to 1 to support the proposal that would include the creation of a Steering Committee as part of the Memorandum Of Understanding between the City, MESA and FOMS.


As is too often the case in Miami, 3 of those 9 supporting votes at the MESA meeting were none other than City Commissioners. They were Commissioners Sarnoff, Suarez and Gort, who happen to be Board members of MESA.


So what does this say about the Commission’s actions on Thursday, when a majority of the Commission has in effect already voted support for this giveaway?


How can the same 3 Commissioners act as the final arbiters and provide the necessary checks and balances on this critical decision impacting the City of Miami, when they’re involved as members of on these various boards, and then again as City Commissioners.


By sitting on these committees, whether it’s the MESA Board, or the CRA Boards - where the boards are comprised totally of the City Commission - you have situation not unlike the crooked butcher, who always has his thumb on the scale.


So, at Thursday’s Commission meeting, 3 of the 5 Commissioners who would normally be expected to vote on this proposal based on its merit and the arguments for and against, have already demonstrated a bias on behalf of voting for this Memorandum Of Understanding by voting for it at the MESA meeting.


WHY IS MESA EVEN INVOLVED?


The really squirrely thing about this process is the way in which the MESA Board was set up to be the group that blessed this Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the Friends of  Marine Stadium at the meeting described above.


When I first wrote about this situation last year, it was about how the City of Miami and the MESA Board were supposedly working out an Inter-Local Agreement that would have allowed the transfer of the Marine Stadium property from the City to MESA, who in turn would have then - without an RFP - been allowed to turn over the property to the Friends Of Marine Stadium.


Shortly after I did that story the “negotiations” between the City and MESA ended without an Inter-Local being brought before the City Commission for approval.


Without an Inter-Local, there is no reason nor place for MESA’s involvement in this current process.  In short, without an Inter-Local agreement in place, approved by the City Commission, the involvement of MESA as a party to a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Friends of Marine Stadium is absolute BULLSHIT!!!!!!


MESA has no more legal standing than any of you reading this would have to enter into an agreement with this group over anything having to do with the Marine Stadium.


What is happening is that what they couldn’t do in the open because the Inter-Local Agreement stunk so bad, is to backdoor the involvement of MESA into this scheme, so that in a couple years - without a legally binding Inter-Local Agreement - MESA will then become the managing entity that will set the actual working requirements for this scheme going forward.


And, and this is the IMPORTANT AND, they will be able, notwithstanding any hue and cry from folks at that point, be in a position to allow the Friends Of Marine Stadium to go forward WITHOUT any RFP’s, and without anywhere near the level of oversight that would normally be required.


How can I make this claim?  Simple!  Commissioner Sarnoff said so at a Commission Meeting last September during the budget hearings when there was a discussion over the MESA budget .

YOU WOULD THINK THEY’D BE WILLING TO GIVE YOU A KISS AS THEY SCREW YOU

This is the kind of legal hocus-pocus that underscores the lengths to which the Regalado administration has been willing to go to screw the taxpayers and citizens of Miami on this deal.


IF YOU CAN’T SCREW YOUR BENEFACTORS, WHO CAN YOU SCREW


It never ceases to amaze me just how supposedly intelligent, civic minded people in this town are willing to bend over and allow themselves to get screwed by the schemers in their midst.


So it is with the Miami-Dade Heritage Trust.


It was the Trust that gave life to Friends Of Marine Stadium. They are the ones who created a space on their website, and through their sponsorship gave the Friends the legitimacy and standing to start collecting money, and developing a presence.


When I wrote my first story about what Don Worth - a Heritage Trust Board member, and Chief “Friend” Of Marine Stadium - was up to, it caught almost everyone at the Trust by surprise. 


Almost no one at the Trust had any inking that Worth, on his own, had incorporated Friends Of Marine Stadium as his non-profit corporation, or that he and his lawyer has been engaged in negotiations with the City of Miami over the drafting of the Inter-Local Agreement that would have turned over the Stadium and a big chuck of the property over to him and his pals, including the ubiquitous Manny Alonso Pooch.


At the last Commission meeting, Becky Roper Matkov, the Executive Director of the Heritage Trust was in the audience because, I’ve been told, she and the Heritage Trust were miffed that they had not been invited to be part of the steering committee cited in the Memorandum Of Understanding.


If they were miffed then, they ought to be really pissed now, because the latest revised copy of the Memorandum Of Understanding includes this classic, in your face, fuck you:  (Memorandum Of Understanding, Page 1, last paragraph.)


        “Friends is the only entity which has, since the Stadium

        was closed in 1992, organized and raised funds to

        preserve the Stadium.”


Yes sir, this chap Don Worth - and you can bet that not one word in any of these documents is there without his approval, especially when it comes to describing the activity of his group - sure knows how to bite the hand of the folks who made his little venture into real estate development possible.


Without the aid and support of the Miami-Dade Heritage Trust, Don Worth and his little posse of Marine Stadium lovers would have just been another collection of wannabe schemers wandering around looking for a way to get through the door at City Hall.


The Miami-Dade Heritage Trust gave them the legitimacy to get as far as they have, and now that they got their hands on the Brass Ring, the Miami-Dade Heritage Trust have been shut out from participating, because the last thing that Worth and his posse want anywhere near them is a bunch of do-gooders who might get in the way of their plans to cash in on this scheme.


WHAT THESE FOLKS ARE AFTER IS NOT A SECRET


There’s no real secret as to what these Friends Of Marine Stadium want: They want what all developers want, to glom on to as much of the remaining city waterfront property as possible and find ways to maximize their future personal enrichment in the process.


According to Dan Ricker of the Watchdog Report, the ubiquitous Manny Alonso Poch has resurfaced as part of the posse involved in this scheme, and as Poch’s track record indicates, he’d screw his Momma, your Momma and the kiddies at his Charter School to make a buck from the taxpayers.


The big question is whether His Ignorance and/or any of the City Commissioners have angled themselves into the deal flow down the road.


Too many people have turned themselves into pretzels in an effort to make this deal happen, and when that happens you can bet that somewhere behind the curtain, promises and assurances have been given that when the deal is finally completed, everybody will get a taste of the action.


While the Marine Stadium is certainly worth trying to save, no one bothered to consider it a priority item for almost 20 years, and now that this scheme has been put forward, none of the of checks and balances that one would expect a project of this size to be subject to have come into play.


The scheme that I revealed last year between the City, MESA and Don Worth was an a classic back-room deal, that fell apart at the first ray of Sunshine, and since then Regalado has had the ever pliant Alice Bravo and lawyers from the City Attorney’s office trying to figure out how to allow this scheme to go forward without putting this issue before the citizens of Miami for a vote of approval, and certainly without seeking proposals from anyone else through an RFP process.


The charade of having the MESA Board vote on this before it went to the City Commission, and then make MESA a party to the Memorandum Of Understanding is a slick legal move to create an illusion of legality of a scheme that I suspect is anything but.


But you know what I always say, It’s Miami, Bitches!

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UPDATE-UPDATE

One of our Eagle-eyed readers, on reading over my original story about this Marine Stadium and how a lawyer named Lynn Lewis had been the one who had written the now famous letter of demands that Don Worth wanted included in the Inter-Local agreement that would have been between the Friends Of Marine Stadium and MESA, remembered seeing her name on a list of appointments to the City of Miami Historic And Environmental Preservation Board.


Sure enough, she was appointed by none other than Commissioner Willie Gort.


What’s really interesting is that Ms. Lewis was appointed to this Board on March 11, 2011, which means that at the time she was writing the letter on behalf of Mr. Worth, demanding all those concessions, like naming rights, etc, concerning the “historic” Marine Stadium, that I included as part of my last story, she was a member of this Board


How sweet is that.  I’m sure that it was perfectly legal, but the 2 degrees of Separation between all these people continues to amaze.