JULY 19, 2013


In 2008, after 3 years of community involvement, numerous meetings and $980,000 of taxpayer dollars, the City of Miami accepted the design of Sasaki Associates as the Master Plan for the Coconut Grove Waterfront. (A copy of the plan is at the bottom of this story.)

Among the component parts of that plan was a design for the new park that would be developed on the land where the current Miami Convention Center sits.

The Sasaki Plan for this park has sat dormant since 2008 because the Miami Convention Center became the location and studio for the TV show Burn Notice.

That show is now wrapping up its last season of filming, and the latest plans call for the Miami Convention Center to be torn down on November 1st.

Unfortunately, for all of those people who contributed to the creation of the Sasaki Plan, their expectation that the park that replaces the Convention Center will mirror the images and plan that they played a part in helping to design to are now in for a rude awaking.

I received word several days ago that Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff has unilaterally decided to replace the Sasaki Plan design for the park with a new design that he’s gone behind everyone’s back to commission from the architectural firm Arquitectonica.  Supposedly they were asked to do the design Pro Bono.

Not surprisingly Arquitectonica is part of the design team for the Grove Bay Investment group that just won - by default some might argue - the rights to take over the Grove Key Marina property that will sit across the street from this park.

I sent 2 emails to the Miami office of Arquitectonica over the last 2 days seeking comment on whether they were involved, and indicated in my 2nd email that if I did not hear from them before 5 PM on Thursday, July 18th, I would accept that as confirmation that they are in fact designing a new park at the request of the Commissioner.  They did not respond.

The fact that Sarnoff would feel that he can pull this stunt off without any discussion with his fellow Commissioners  before taking this unilateral step before discussing this in a public forum allowing for participation from stakeholders who today are laboring under the assumption that the Sasaki Plan is still in play represents the latest in a handful of recent unilateral actions he has taken in recent months that reflect his recognition that the City of Miami is now so weakened by almost 4 years under the incompetent and weak leadership of Mayor Tomas Regalado, and an even weaker and whiny challenger for the position of Mayor in Francis Suarez, that this was the best time for a power grab?

Both morons are currently stumbling around Little Havana mouthing empty platitudes and vapid promises to old Cubans in the Assisted Living facilities and nursing homes, and neither has the courage to stand up and make an issue of Sarnoff behaving like District 2 is his private fiefdom. 

To appreciate Sarnoff’s brazenness and also the ignorance inherent in what passes for serious business “journalism” in Miami, here is a portion of an article that appeared in the July 11th edition of Miami Today about the teardown of the Miami Convention Center.

         “But city officials have wanted a park at the

          waterfront site, as unveiled in the master plan

          by former mayor Manny Diaz in 2008.

          And now, according to Mr. Sarnoff, it is time.

          Hopefully he said, this will become Miami’s version

          of High Line Park, a public park built on a historic

          rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan. 

          It is owned by the City of New York and operated

          by Friends of High Line.

          High Line  Park, he said, is the number-one tourist

          attraction in New York.

          The lot that sits under the expo center will probably

          be all green space, Mr. Sarnoff said, with a potential

          for a viewing platform if part of the convention center

          is left standing.

          The idea, however is not fully realized yet, he said,

          as the master plan for what the park could be is not

          even beyond the conversation stage.”

First, Sarnoff is incapable of supporting something without having to blatantly lie in order to do so. As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, It seems to be compulsive.

The High Line is NOT New York’s Top Tourist attraction.  It’s not even in the top 10. Even a high-school intern could discover that by checking out New York’s Top 10 tourist attractions here.

Yet, no one in the news media ever seems to do the simple kind of fact checking that would result in challenging these self-serving comments by Sarnoff as factual truths, and certainly not Miami Today, where conflict of interest and self-serving puff pieces often passes for reporting.

Secondly, only months ago Sarnoff was touting the Miami Marine Stadium as Miami’s version of New York’s High Line.  How many High Lines can Miami have, given that neither of these proposed locations come anywhere near to representing what the High Line represents to New York.

Thirdly, pay attention to this comment by Sarnoff about the management of the High Line being “operated by Friends of High Line.”

Sarnoff is hellbent on privatizing as much of the City of Miami, and especially District 2 as he can get away with and turning the operation of these properties, including the Miami Marine Stadium, Bicentennial Park and no doubt this park - along with the potential profits - to his pals and political cronies. 

Fourthly, what does “observation deck” really mean?  What are people going to be looking at?  And after they get through looking, might they get thirsty, and might they then be in need of a beverage on this “observation deck?

Now after 3 years spent in the creation of the Sasaki Plan, Sarnoff claims that the idea for the park “is not fully realized yet,” and that “the master plan for what the park could be is not even beyond the conversation stage.”

So, if the plan is not even beyond the “conversation stage,” just when did the Commissioner envision that “conversation stage” would start?

I suspect that Sarnoff expected to keep this stunt quiet until he could wheel out his fancy new architectural renderings by Arquitectonica as a fate accompli, and then present it as the perfect counterpart to the new Grove Key Marina.

At that point, given the way public participation is conducted  whenever Sarnoff has the Chairman’s gavel in his hands,  that “conversation” would be short, stage managed, and approval of his new plan would be ramrodded through lickety split because none of the 5 Dwarfs have yet to show the kind of gumption and backbone required to bitch slap Sarnoff back to reality.

The Sasaki Plan cost $980,000 in taxpayer dollars! Think about that for a moment, because at this point that represents approximately another million dollars of taxpayer money that will have been pissed away for nothing if Sarnoff gets his way.

Sarnoff is a dinky City Commissioner, not a self-appointed King that can just run roughshod over everyone when he feels like it.  Far too many people have bent over backwards to let this lying, weasel dick get away with stuff that in any other American City would have gotten people to show up at City Hall and demand his head on a platter.

The not so amazing thing is that his behavior is pathologically transparent and is all part of a personal need to ingratiate himself to older, very rich men by doing them favors.

I know that this might seem uncomfortable to some folks, but for the handful of very rich older men who treat Sarnoff as a pet Unicorn, they long ago figured him and his needs out, and that’s why you continue to see a very small, select group of the usual suspects popping up time and time again as part of the deals that Sarnoff takes on as personal projects.

if you don’t try to understand just what makes Sarnoff tick, you’ll never understand what you need to do to take him on. And take him on now is what folks better start thinking very seriously about doing.

He’s on a roll now, and guys like him just get more and more emboldened when they’re not challenged. Give him a couple more years and people in all the other Districts of Miami will one day wake up and realize that Sarnoff sold off, or gave away every thing in the city that was worth money, and that whatever bills come do, they will be the ones stuck paying them, because by then he will be long gone.

It’s Miami, Bitches, and Sarnoff is on his way to being the Chief Bitch!


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