SEPTEMBER  24, 2012



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Neither Janice Larned or Stephen Petty has a CPA license, or an advanced college degree, yet, today they are the two highest ranking financial wizkids in the administration of His Ignorance, Tomas Regalado.

First, Janice managed to get inside the Regaladoland tent, and then she arranged for pal Steve, who is the brother of her former business partner in the consulting company they operated - to do so too. 

In order to accomplish this, Petty who was unqualified for the job had to have a waiver from the City Manager.

Janice was the one who conveniently submitted the request to Johnny “The Doormat” Martinez, and Martinez so used to issuing waivers for all the morons that wander through the door and into cushy jobs in Regaladoland, never bothered to express any concern that the City’s new Finance Director seemed to be light in the loafers when it came to credentials. As a result, he readily signed the waiver, and off these two kids went into the magical land of the City’s finances.

Once inside, it didn’t take these two long to figure out how things worked - or didn’t work - and more importantly, to show their new co-workers that they too knew how to screw the pooch with the best of them.

At the last City Commission meeting, the video tape that I have on the front page of Commissioner Francis Suarez stating that he was not going to vote for the transfer of $180,000 in monies from the Finance Department’s Personnel line item to it’s Professional Services line item was based on this item in the Commission’s agenda.

The first tip off that something was afoot with this request was that the Legistar file for this Resolution - which is where you go to research all the Ordinances, Resolutions, etc., that go before the City Commission - did not include any back up documentation as to the reason for this requested transfer.

In addition to the lack of information as to what this was all about was the fact that if this proposal had passed on September 13th, it would have meant that the City’s Finance Department had a whole 16 days to go out and recruit the outside consultant, bring them in and to do all the work that needed to be done, and then pay them off during those 16 days.

That doesn’t sound reasonable, does it?

But it gets better. The item was deferred until this week’s Commission meeting.  Below is the item on the new Commission agenda. That means that if it gets passed on Thursday, the Finance Department has all of Friday and next Monday to spend the $180.000 before the fiscal year ends.

That REALLY doesn’t make sense, does it?

On the other hand, Larned and Petty could decide, after all this attention, that the best way to turn down the heat would be to withdraw this request, because while the $180,000 is important, they also want another $900,000 for the next fiscal year that they consider more important.

Last week, before the beginning of the Commission’s Budget Hearing, Danny Alonso, the City’s Budget Director circulated a 13 page Change Memo detailing a number of last minute changes to the proposed city budget.

Unless you were a City Commissioner, or someone on the inside, you would have never known about, or seen this document.

Below is a copy of that Memo for those who might be curious as to all of the changes in what you thought was the real budget numbers for 2013.  Somehow, it took until the very day of the first budget hearing for the Budget Director to inform the Commissioners that the budget, which had been out for weeks, wasn’t really the whole budget, because a total of $24,484,900.00 in additional money had been added to 12 departments.

One of those departments was Finance. Here is the proposed change in the budget.

So in addition to the $180,000 that they wanted for this fiscal year, Janice and Steve also want another $900,000 for the coming fiscal year, for a total of $1,080,000.00 of new monopoly money to play with.

What was different about this $900,000.00, was that a large chunk of it - perhaps as much as $600,000 - is supposedly earmarked to allow them to go out and hire people under consultant contracts to do jobs that by rights should be full-time, permanent jobs in the City of Miami.

At the top of that list is the intention to go out and hire an outside consultant to become the new City Treasurer. In addition to the Treasurer, I have been told that another 4-5 high-level jobs - several of them completely new positions - are expected to be filled this way, if the Commission goes along with this deal.

One only has to consider my story about Angel Zayon and the Beauty Queens to realize that the use of outside companies to bring in consultants often making them part or full-time contract employees, and then claiming they had no responsibility for keeping track of these people, including even being to identify who they are, represents a tremendous opportunity for all kinds of abuses.

The whole issue of the way that the City of Miami uses outside consultants is one that merits a very serious, and open discussion. Unfortunately, it is not a discussion that anyone within the Regalado administration really wants to see take place, and the lack of documents and openness related to this particular funding request only underscores that reluctance.

Equally important is that providing outside consultants to city governments is exactly what Janice Larned and Steve Petty’s brother John did - and perhaps still do - with their company, District Offices LLC.

In fact, Janice’s last job before she became the City of Miami’s Chief Financial Officer was providing consultant services to a number of Community Development Districts in partnership between her company, The Moyer Group, and Seven Trent-Moyer Group.

Over the last 20 years a whole cottage industry has developed of outside consultants eager and willing to help modernize and improve the operation of these governments, often for astounding amounts of money. 

These efforts to hire consultants have been bolstered both by a general incompetence exhibited by state and local governments - especially by local governments that operate like the morons in Regaladoland - and by insiders all too eager and willing to use this mechanism as just one more way to screw the pooch by awarding exorbitant contracts to friends and political cronies.

It’s hard to justify with a straight face any argument that supports bringing in a number of expensive outside consultants to be the City Treasurer and other high profile positions - beholding to the individuals who arranged for them to be hired - as the best way to bring stability, openness and accountability to the operation of a government with a history of chicanery like the City of Miami.

During the discussion about this use of consultants, the issue was raised about poor staff morale in the Finance Department, and Larned attempted to argue that bringing in outside consultants was the fastest way to turn that around.

Whose shitting who?  The bad morale is the result of long time employees in the department having witnessed the way in which the Regalado administration wasted no time politicizing everything they could lay their hands on when they took over, and then having to go through the SEC investigation and the incompetence of both Larned and Petty in trying to put the CAFR together, which belies the argument about bringing in new people will immediately get things on the right track.

Most of all, the bad morale now permeating the Finance Department  is the result of everyone realizing that Stephen Petty, is just another unqualified, incompetent boob, that had been foisted on them whose getting paid $135,000.

Remember that on May 25th, when the CAFR was released, I wrote that no one wanted to have their name on it as the author, and as a result, Pete Chircut, then the Treasurer, ended up signing it, before retired the following week. The person who should have signed that document as the author was none other than Stephen Petty.

The Finance department has 62 employees, and they are all either really incompetent, or at least a couple of them would capable of being promoted to at least a couple of the jobs that the new consultants would fill.  If folks already on the job are qualified for promotion, and instead the City brings in outside consultants, then that’s a clear-cut waste of money. The other side of that coin is that if no one is qualified for promotion, then the City is in even more trouble than anyone realizes.

That fact that Janice Larned believes that the way to overcome bad morale by bringing in consultants who can “immediately be plugged in,” is in my opinion just double-speak for someone who’s career has been shaped by being a consultant, and by running a company that provided consulting services to clients.

If the Regalado administration actually had any concern about employee morale, and competent managerial experience, they’d quit shoving incompetent political hacks into critical senior management positions.  But since they don’t, they won’t!

If this weren’t enough of a problem, there’s the back room political deal making that stops this from being rejected outright for the boon doggle that it is.

Commissioner Frank Carollo’s nuanced lack of concern at this meeting over Stephen Petty’s qualifications to be the City’s Director of Finance, or over the issue of this money transfer occurring so late in the fiscal year to hire a $110,000 a year outside consultant to essentially do the Finance Director’s job is supposedly tied to his desire to make sure that his “folks” share in being in the deal flow to provide a couple of the consultants.

I’ve been told by sources privy to the back room goings on at City Hall that Carollo has been part of an internal struggle of sorts over which companies will get the contracts to provide the consultants, and that his willingness to ignore what would obviously be red meat for him - Stephen Petty’s lack of qualifications, and a questionable $180,00 AND $900,000 increase in the Finance Department budget - was just his way of signaling that he wants to play nice in the sandbox so that his “folks” get a piece of the deal.

When you’re running for reelection it helps if you can get a major financial services company a place at the trough, when you need them to raise money for you.

But make no mistake about it, the reason for this screwy deal rests squarely with Janice Larned using her position as the Chief Financial officer to hire her unqualified business partner’s brother Stephen, to be the City’s Director of Finance.

That was her first important decision and she chose cronyism over professionalism and competence. That should tell you all you need to know about her judgment and trustworthiness to do the right thing for the taxpayers going forward.

Her desire - with the support and approval of His Ignorance and “The Doormat” to spend over a million dollars of new money to turn the City’s Finance Department into a dispenser a consultant contracts to a handful of folks who will without question return the favor by raising money for Regalado and Carollo’s reelection campaigns is not something that should be supported.

No matter how disruptive, the best thing for the City of Miami is to fire both Larned and Petty and go out and hire real professionals, with the credentials, to become the Chief Financial Officer the the Director of Finance.

To not do so, is just to kick this can down the road, while spending more money than the city has to in the bank to pay for work that these people should be doing, but obviously are incompetent to do.

The alarming thing about this issue is that this isn’t even the nastiest or most questionable deal on this week’s Commission agenda. It just happens to be the story that I was able to focus on after my stories about the Missing Engagement Ring and the Grove Key Marina document story.

It’s Miami, Bitches!