CONFLICT, CONFLICT, SHE SAYS SHE'S GOT A CONFLICT
VICTORIA MENDEZ IS TRYING TO GET AWAY FROM THE FLAGSTONE DEFAULT AND LAWSUIT LIKE A VIRGIN RUNNING AWAY FROM A VAMPIRE
The City Attorney made it clear that the reason that taxpayers were being asked to foot the bill for outside lawyers to represent city employees who had publicly come out in support of the Flagstone's position that they had not violated any of the terms of the various agreements and contracts they had with the city might sound unreasonable to some, but there is some basis to support that decision, however, in addition to hiring outside attorneys for that problem, she also stated that she was personally conflicted when it came to representing the "city" which in this case means the City Commission.
Mendez never gave a clear reason for that conflict. Instead, as you can see in the below portion of the Commission video, Commission Chairman Hardemon, first expressed confusion as to who the various outside law firms are supposed to be representing. Then when Mendez explains that the one law firm will be representing the "city administration," which is actually Aldo Bustamante, the Assistant Director of the Department of Real Estate Asset Management, and several of his staff, and then states that the other law firm will be representing the "city" which as she states is actually the Commission, neither Hardemon or any of the other Commissioners bothered to ask her why she had a conflict representing them, since she is their attorney, and the one thing she should never have is a conflict of interest representing them.
Instead, Hardemon goes off on a riff about respecting conflicts of interest and following the advise of the Florida Bar.
Yesterday, when the Commission started discussing why the City Attorney was asking them to authorize her to hire two (2) separate law firms, one to represent the City (The Commissioners) and the other to represent the city employees who "had a sightly different position," on whether the Flagstone Group had defaulted on the terms of the various agreements and contracts they had with the city to develop Watson Island, the first question was asked by Commissioner Carollo, who wanted to know why the city administration needed outside counsel.
Here is the portion of the video where the question is asked, and she responds.
Watching this play out on my computer, I became curious as to just what exactly Mendez's request to the Florida Bar had been, and more importantly what the Bar's response was.
I sent her an email public record's request. On Friday morning, I got the following response.
JUNE 23, 2017
So, although Mendez's comments to the Commission would lead one to believe that there had been some sort of formal process where she herself reached out to the Florida Bar, it would seem from the above response that that did not happen, and that instead someone on her staff called the Bar.
Because this was a phone call, we have no way to know what the arguments were that were presented to the Florida Bar for a conflict, nor, more importantly, do we know what their actual response was.
Legally, this so-called legal opinion from the Florida Bar carries about as much weight as calling a sex hotline to ask for an opinion on how to jerk off.
Understand this, Victoria Mendez is the Miami City Attorney. In that capacity she is being paid well over $200,000 a year in salary and benefits to manage a law firm with over 20 attorneys - some of them who actually know the law.
Yet, for legal guidance on perhaps the biggest legal fight that will occur under her watch as the City Attorney, she had a staff member call up the Florida Bar to get a verbal legal opinion on whether she has a conflict in doing her job in representing the Miami City Commission, and when someone like me comes along and wants to find out what that conflict is, and what the Florida Bar said, her answer is, "The hotline does not provide written opinions."
That's absolute bullshit!
Victoria Mendez needs to address just what the conflict is that would prohibit her from doing her job, and the City Commissioners needs to pay attention to what she says and challenge her if that claim turns out to be bogus, because at this point she's offered no legal explanation of why she and her office can't represent the Commissioners, or why the taxpayers need to pay for outside lawyers to do her job.
This is the 16th story that I have written about this Flagstone mess since March. Every story gets crazier and crazier, and underscores the fact that there is something afoot here that a lot of people are scrambling to try and keep secret.
Putting aside all of the claims and legal issues raised by the folks who are with the Causeway Chaos group, I am a simple guy who tries to focus on simple issues of public corruption, and for me, the ability of the Flagstone Group to operate an illegal and unsanitary restaurant and bar on the Watson Island property for a year while never being visited by building inspectors, code enforcement inspectors, or anyone else who, as the State Inspectors discovered when they showed up, and were able in the course of a couple hours able to figure out that the place needed to be shut down immediately, tells me that not too far below the surface a lot of very sleazy and corrupt behavior took place by city officials and employees for all this to have taken place.
It had to!
Nothing else explains how that restaurant and bar was allowed to operate illegally for so long, and now, as the City Attorney twists and turns to try and separate herself from this mess by claiming that she has a conflict so as to evade doing her job, the question that everyone should be asking is, what does Victoria Mendez know that has convinced her to get as far away from this mess as possible, even if she has to make up a phony conflict of interest claim to do that.
It's Miami, Bitches!