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CRESPOGRAM REPORT

MARCH 7, 2012

IS THE 4TH TIME A CHARM?
FRIENDS OF STADIUM ASK SUPPORTERS TO SWAMP THE CITY COMMISSION TO SUPPORT THE GIVEAWAY

For the fourth consecutive meeting, the City Commission has scheduled a vote on giving the Miami Marine Stadium to the “Friends” of the Stadium, at Thursday’s meeting.


This time the “Friends” are pulling out all the stops. They’ve sent out an “Alert” calling on their supporters to email, snail mail, call and/or show up at City Hall for the meeting, where the item has been set for a time specific hearing at 2:00 PM.


To underscore how serious they are, none other than former Idiot Of The City, and now self-described Media Consultant Harry Emilio Gottlieb, has been sending the alert to the same folks in the local film industry that he managed to screw over so badly when he was the City’s Film Commissioner.


If Gottlieb is on the “Friends” team, then its a case of another mooch trying to hitch a ride with the “Friends,” who have demonstrated their own superior mooching skills in getting the City to give them everything they need to lock themselves into a sweetheart deal that will make every other waterfront deal negotiated by the City look like a deal negotiated by Scrooge.


In my last post, I described how Don Worth and his pals tried last year to slip in a provision to the then efforts to craft an Inter-Local agreement between the City and the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority that would have given them the Marine Stadium and surrounding property for free, and then guaranteed that the city would have never seen so much as a penny of rent because the provision required that Worth and his pals not only receive the property for free, but would have been guaranteed the return of the capital they raised, along with interest on that money and a profit on top of that before being required to start paying the city rent.


I wonder how long the line of other businesses would be if they too could line up at the trough and get similar deals from the City of Miami?


This time, the Memorandum Of Understanding between the City and the “Friends” doesn’t even include the pesky requirement of paying the City rent.


Instead, without an RFP, or any other efforts to invite alternative proposals, the City has crafted a document that just gives the property to the “Friends,” bypassing the Carollo Amendment, voted for by the citizens of Miami, that requires a vote by the citizens on actions like this dealing with the city’s waterfront property.


Here, after all the other efforts proved unworkable, is how the Regalado administration has decided to give a $30 million plus piece of property away for free: (Page 4, Paragraph 1 of PDF below)


        “Because of its substantial contributions and efforts to

        date, Friends is designated as the entity that is entitled

        and responsible for work with the assistance of the

        Steering Committee, to further identify funding sources

        for the renovation and operation of the Stadium;”


It’s always about entitlement when it comes to cashing in at the public trough. All of the scammers, schemers and wheeler-dealers  elbow their way to the front of the line, and then start claiming that they are “entitled” to whatever deal it is that they want the taxpayers to pony up the money for.


The only “entitlement” that the taxpayers ever qualify for is getting screwed.


HOW THE MAYOR PLANS ON HELPING THE “FRIENDS” BY PRIMING THE PUMP WITH CITY MONEY


The Mayor of Miami is a liar.  He lies about his personal finances, and he lies about the city’s finances.  He lies about public policy, and he lies about private actions.  Just about any time that His Ignorance, Tomas Regalado opens his mouth, the odds are that the first words out will be a lie.


And that’s the way its been with his efforts to give away of the Miami Marine Stadium.  Not only has the Mayor been conspiring now these many months to give the stadium away, but he’s been lying about the fact that the city would not be ponying up any public money for this give away.


And, just for good measure, the Mayor and his administration, guided by none other than Alice Bravo, the Assistant City Manager who’s been the hand maiden of this deal, decided that in order to help the “Friends” along, they’d provide a little dowry, hidden in a transfer of Capital Improvements money also scheduled for a vote on Thursday.


Most people never read the agendas for City Commission meetings, and those that do seldom take the time to go searching through all the attachments to try and figure out what lies behind innocuous looking items like this one:

Thanks to a CrespoGram supporter who reads every single Commission agenda, and does go looking for the attachments, that it turns out that this item included some several transfers of Capital Improvement Funds from the long awaited Dinner Key Dredging project to the Marine Stadium for a total of $839,408.16.


(The PDF of the entire list of money transfers is at the bottom of this post.)

What needs to be understood about the Capital Improvements Fund is that it’s nothing but a giant slush fund where millions of dollars sits waiting to get moved around from pillar to post, depending on which Commissioner needs to be enticed wth a couple projects for his/her District in turn for a particular vote, or which Commissioner is yanking on the sleeve of the Director of the Capital Improvements Department the hardest at any one time.

Some Commissioners have always been more adept at milking this fund, and in recent years, our pal Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff, has gotten more than his fair share of money allocated to projects, including the recent $250,000 or so spent to redo the Dog Park across the street from his house.

Without the ability to wade in and go digging through the records, it’s impossible to determine whether this $839,408.16 being allocated to the Marine Stadium represents money that was left over from the Dinner Key Mooring Field project, or is just a blatant transfer of money from a Coconut Grove project as a way for the Regalado administration to inflate the money pot so that Don Worth and his pals can reference these monies as an example of the city’s financial committment to this deal for other prospective donors.

The one thing for sure though is that it’s no coincidence that the City just “found” this money in time to include it as part of this latest transfer of money within the Capital Improvements Fund.

It is through these transfers of money - and you can bet that this $839,408.16 will not be the last such public money to make it’s way to the Marine Stadium - that puts a lie to the claim in the Memorandum of Understanding that:
    
            “...Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, Inc. a 501 
            (c)(3) nonprofit corporation, whose purpose is the
            preservation of the Stadium and its restoration to
            useful public operation without requiring City 
            financial subsidy.”    
                                                        - My emphasis

Any use of taxpayer money, no matter how it ends up in the pot, represents a financial subsidy to this project.

WHAT’S MISSING FROM THIS MEMORANDUM AND RESOLUTION

In talking with folks who have been privy to the goings on behind the scenes, as well as my on-going efforts to obtain the public documents related to this deal, I have been repeatedly been told about plans, renderings of the proposed new buildings as well as meetings that appear not to have been memorialized with minutes or even a summary, and certainly not available as a result of public records requests.

No doubt the “Friends” will provide the appropriate dog and pony show at the Commission meeting, but the City Commission should ignore the hocus-pocus and focus on these issues.

 If this deal is so good, why won’t they put it before the taxpayers and voters of the City of Miami? This is the last remaining major piece of city waterfront property. That alone should warrant that this deal be approved by the citizens of Miami!

 Since this is all about the “Friends” trying to identify and develop a financial plan that might make sense to rehab the stadium, why does it require a Resolution by the City Commission?  The city doesn’t - hasn’t - done this with other ventures, so why this one?  Normal practice would be for the “Friends” to go out and do the initial work, put it together into a package, and present the package to the City Commission.

     In this case, the “Friends” are being provided the imprimatur of    
     legitimacy from the city, along with manpower in the form of 
     staff support and the financial resources that cover the costs of 
     this support in order for them to try and put a package together,
     and then, if they succeed they walk away with the stadium.

     How  sweet a  deal is this?  If you are a business 
     person, how would you like the opportunity to have the City 
     endow you with its legitimacy, provide you with staff and 
     resources to help you raise money for a project and then if you
     succeed they give you a major chunk of city property for free 
     as the reward? 

     I’ll bet if those terms were spelled out in an RFP there would 
     be a lot of individuals and groups willing to step forward and 
     take on the challenge of raising money to refurbish the Marine 
     Stadium.

 Why isn’t the Miami-Dade Heritage Trust the actual named 
     player in this deal rather than the “Friends of Miami Marine 
     Stadium?”

     To me, the manner in which Don Worth and his pals conducted 
     themselves - by going behind the back of the Heritage Trust 
     and incorporating their own non-profit after the Heritage Trust 
     had been the group that had actually led the fight to save the  
     Marine Stadium, and had given birth to the “Friends” by 
     providing them space and support on their website - was my
     first real understanding that these were guys who would screw 
     their Mommas, not to mention their supporters to pull off a 
     deal.

     I have been told by people at the Heritage Trust that it was my 
     story about Worth and his pals activities last year that provided 
     them the first inkling of what they were up to. They never heard 
     of their activites from them, they had to hear it from me. 

     Even then, as this deal moved forward and the original version
     of this Resolution and Memorandum Of Understanding was put 
     together, the Miami-Dade Heritage Trust was purposely left out 
     of the loop and excluded from any involvement as one of the 
     organizations that would be part of the Steering Committee.

     Becky Roper Matkov, told me personally that she had had to 
     go directly to the Mayor to demand a seat on the Steering 
     Committee, and that one of the reasons why the item was 
     pulled from the Commission’s agenda the 2nd time was 
     because that had not happened prior to the Commission 
     meeting.

     You can look at the Memorandum Of Understanding and see 
     where the Miami-Dade Heritage Trust is the last stand alone
     inclusion in the list of the groups that will be included in the 
     Steering Committee, and then look at the Resolution going 
     before the City Commission and see that it still only numbers 
     12 members of the  Steering Committee, rather than the 13 
     that includes the Heritage Trust.

IN CONCLUSION

I’d feel a lot more comfortable and confidant if an established group like the Miami-Dade Heritage Trust were the ones entrusted with responsibility and designation to take over the refurbishment of the Miami Marine Stadium.

They at least have a track record and history of not trying to screw over everyone they come in contact with.

When it comes to this ad hoc group created by Don Worth and his pals, I believe that their track record of hiding their intentions from  the folks that gave them a helping hand up, and that have demonstrated such a blatantly greedy pattern of behavior as documented in the June  20, 2011 letter written to Luis Cabrera by the group’s “volunteer” attorney Lynn Lewis, is evidence that these folks shouldn’t be trusted as far as you can throw them, and it is that behavior that has prompted me to continue spending the time and energy to wage this effort to stop them from getting their hands on the Miami Marine Stadium.

Anyone who bites the hand of his patron the way Don Worth did the Miami-Dade Heritage Trust over the last 6-7 months on his way to Thursday’s meeting, will at the first opportunity screw over the City of Miami and its citizens.

Unfortunately for the citizens, the Mayor of Miami is in bed with this gang, and like the stable hand at a breeding facility, all too eager to provide whatever assistance is required to make sure the Stallion gets it right when he screws the Mare.

This leaves the members of the City Commission as the last ones left to stand up against this scheme.  Will they take a principled stand and require that this deal be approved by the citizens as stipulated for in the Carollo Amendment, or will they join His ignorance in the stable helping Don Worth and his pals screw the City of Miami

It’ll be another interesting day in Miami, Bitches!LYNN_LEWIS_MARINE_STADIUM_LETTER.htmlshapeimage_12_link_0

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