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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

NOVEMBER 5, 2012

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MY CUBAN PEEPS DIDN’T INVENT POLITICAL CORRUPTION, BUT THEY DAMN SURE LEARNED HOW TO USE AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF  THE CORRUPTION THAT WAS ALREADY IN MIAMI WHEN THEY SHOWED UP
THE BANANA REPUBLIC OF MIAMI

Miami has always been corrupt! 


A month ago, the Miami Herald’s Myriam Marquez, the current arbiter of the community’s political manners and mores, responded to the stinging accusations that constantly appear on the Herald’s website comments section that Cuban exiles are in large part responsible for the high levels of corruption prevalent in Miami today, by writing an editorial that started:


        “...to look at the comments on stories online you would

        think that the transgressions were all the Cuban’s fault

        and that this city is a Banana Republic.  Not so fast,

        compadres.” 


Ms. Marquez’s rebuttal was predicated on the argument that corruption was happening back in the day before the Cubans arrived, and cited stories from the pages of a Miami Herald to bolster her argument.


I’m old enough to have been around in those days, when, as the part-time driver and errand boy for one of Miami’s top criminal attorneys - that’s how back in the day you could work off your legal bills - I was in a position to hear and see things that have colored my view of the political and legal world ever since.


Yes, there was corruption of all kinds back in the day, and it was often done down and dirty with hundred dollar bills in brown paper bags, and there were people who managed to stay out of jail that should have probably been buried under one.


But there was also a real newspaper back then called the Miami Herald, and another one called the Miami Daily News, and both of them had real reporters who dug up and reported the stories that Marquez was only too happy to cite as justification for why Cubans shouldn’t be be tagged as the current corrupters of Miami.


There’s no question however that since the arrival of Cuban exiles  there has been a definite shift in the levels and degrees of corruption that has taken hold of the political culture in Miami, and it’s all created an exponential growth that can not be ignored or denied.


What’s been little discussed over the years is that when the migration of Cubans left the island after Castro seized power, many of the corrupt functionaries, government officials, police and military officers that contributed to the corruption of the Batista regime were part of the group that left Cuba and settled in Miami.


In the years that followed, much was made of those who landed in Miami with nothing and managed to succeed, but not so much was made of those who landed in Miami with suitcases full of hundred dollars bills, and the role, both economically and politically that they played in the creation of Miami’s Cuban exile community, or how their influence colored the direction and scope over time of current corruption in Miami.


It took approximately 20 years for Cuban exiles to establish themselves politically in Miami, and in the years that followed, they all but became the dominant political force in the County, Hialeah and the City of Miami, along with a handful of the smaller cities to the South and West of the County.


With that dominance came a willingness to emulate the ways in which their gringo counterparts engaged in corruption, along with contributing their own flair and enhancements to the process.


It’s impossible to minimize the impact that Cubans have had on the current levels of economic corruption when you consider that from the beginning they have been at the epicenter of Medicare fraud of not just Miami, but of America, where hundreds of millions, if not several billion dollars have been stolen over the years. 


As just one small example, in December of 2009, it was the Miami Herald that revealed that while Miami accounted for just 2% of all the “nation’s diabetic patients eligible for medicare,” Medicare spent more money on diabetic patients in Miami than in the rest of the entire United States.


When ripping off the mortgage industry became the thing to do, it was Cuban exiles who were at the forefront of many of the schemes that used patsies like Miami Assistant Fire Chief Valdora Arthur as willing accomplices.


Almost every week for the last 15 years or so, nary a week goes by without a major announcement from the FBI and the Justice Department of some new, multi-count indictment against multiple defendants for Medicare, Medicaid, or mortgage fraud that include Cubans often being cited as the leaders of these gangs.


You would think that at some point they would have run out of Cubans to indict, but obviously the pool of Cubans willing to engage in these crimes surpasses the ability of the FBI to catch them all.


Politically, Cubans quickly learned how to play the game, and again, it was the Miami Herald, as just one early example, reported at the time that Armando Lacasa, who was the second Cuban to be elected to the Miami City Commission, managed to quadruple his net worth during his first 17 months as a City Commissioner.


This is the same Armando LaCasa, who’s son Carlos, currently hold’s a sub-lease on the City of Miami’s property that houses the restaurant Vero’s On The Bay.


I’ve written 3 separate stories about the Lacasas and this property this year (HERE, HERE and HERE) revealing their refusal to pay the rent for over a year, and who instead of being evicted by the City, got a sweetheart extension on the “Revocable License” to 2017, allowing Carlos to continue to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on a monthly rent to the City of Miami of $2,675.00.


Carlos Lacasa also happens to be the Chairman of the Citizen’s United Insurance Company, who was the subject of recent stories and an editorial in the Herald, detailing how he and other board members were screwing the pooch on overseas trips, expensive meals, etc.


The list over the years of the Cuban politicians who either went to jail, or worse, should have gone to jail but were protected by the politically corrupt Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, herself the daughter of a Cuban exile, is both a rogue’s list, and a list of shame that underscores that the Cubans over time learned the most valuable lesson there is to learn when it comes to political corruption: always make sure you’ve got one of you own, who’s more corrupt than you, in your pocket as the prosecutor.


None of this denies the fact that Miami continues to provide for equal opportunity when it comes to political corruption by folks other than Cubans. One only has to look to Miami City Commissioner Marc “Ethics” Sarnoff, to appreciate that there will always be gringos able to hold their own in keeping up with the Cubans, or anyone else, when it comes to political corruption.


It is hard to deny a deep and direct correlation between Sarnoff being the City Commissioner for District Two, and all of the myriad stories and examples of shady and sleazy deals and schemes that have taken place within that District since he became Commissioner.


At the end of the day however, one of the most significant differences between the corruption that took place back in the day and today, is the failure of the Miami Herald to chronicle the activities of these corrupt politicians like they did back then, and which Marquez was all to happy to reference as evidence that there was plentiful political corruption before the Cubans showed up.


You bet there was, but some Herald editor 20 years from now trying to make a similar case would be hard pressed to reference the number, frequency, and detailed stories that currently appear in the Miami Herald when it comes to reporting corruption in the City of Miami, as Marquez was able to do to show how gringo politicians were screwing the pooch back then.


Long gone are the days when Herald reporters actually wrote stories about the goings on at City Hall that pissed off politicians that got them cussed out or banned from City Hall.


The only person who manages to piss off just about everyone in Regaladoland today is me, and one of the reasons I’m able to do it is that I do not have to worry that Regalado or anyone else in City Hall will go to folks like Myriam Marquez, or any of the other editors at the Herald to whine about my publishing embarrassing stories about their corrupt activities.


In fact, it is Herald editors such as Marquez, who have established the tone for giving Cuban politicians a pass, as evidenced by the following example of the kid glove treatment that she gave to Tomas and Raquel Regalado earlier this year, after it was revealed that they had evaded criminal charges over the Regalado’s mayoral campaign reports.


Here’s what I wrote after I had obtained the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Reports and depositions of both Tomas and Raquel Regalado that Ms. Marquez’s never bothered to obtain or read prior to writing her smarmy editorial approving their not being charged with a crime.


“Yet, in spite of not knowing, or obviously not bothering to learn about the facts of the case, the Miami Herald was quick to publish an editorial attempting to minimize the Regalados actions, focusing heavily on trying to excuse what happened by indirectly referencing a series of personal and family problems, including the death of her mother in February of 2008 and the discovery that her husband was having an affair that lead to a divorce later that year that Raquel Regalado interjected as an excuse during her deposition as to why she supposedly didn’t focus on her responsibilities as campaign treasurer. (See pages 17-22 of her deposition.)


Here’s how the Miami Herald’s editorial defended the decision not to charge the Regalados with criminal violations:


            “In light of the family’s situation, the commission’s

            decision to fine the pair without criminal charges

            was appropriate.”


Really!?!  How does one’s “family’s situation” ever justify a free pass on being charged with a crime?


Think of all the other political crooks in Miami-Dade County that would love to have the Miami Herald absolve them of responsibility for their sleazy, unprincipled or crooked behavior by claiming that their “family’s situation” was responsible for their misdeeds?”


Myriam Marquez gets away with writing this crap because she’s part of the Cuban  team of editors and executives that’s responsible for the abysmal lack of journalistic ethics that has befallen the Miami Herald in the last 10 years, which has not only contributed to the massive decline in readership, but to the trust and respect that the Miami Herald once had as Florida’s best newspaper.


Today’s Herald, with a daily readership of around 130,000, could better be called The Daily Disappointment.


When Marquez was looking for evidence from the past in the Miami Herald archives about the state of political corruption in Miami, she should have turned to the comic strip pages, and checked in with Pogo.


The year was 1971, and the subject was Earth Day.  But it could as easily be today and the subject could be what has happened to Miami as a result of the impact of Cubans on the body politic.


The cartoon addresses a truth that Myriam Marquez attempted to deny when she wrote her self-serving editorial.

NOTE:  I started writing this the day after Myriam Marquez’s editorial appeared in the Miami Herald, but I got sidetracked, and only got back to it over the weekend.  I don’t believe that the extra time has changed either Ms. Marquez’s claims or mine.

It’s Miami, Bitches!