TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF'S CONTAINING THE INFORMATION ON THE 10 TRIPS THAT REGALADO REPORTED ON A FORM 9, CLICK HERE
Subject: THE MAYOR AND HIS 41 TRIPS
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2017 12:39:45 -0500
From: alcrespo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com, "Russell, Ken (Commissioner)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, "Suarez, Francis (Commissioner)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Hardemon, Keon (Commissioner)" <email@example.com>, "Mendez, Victoria" <VMendez@miamigov.com>, David Smiley <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Jerry Iannelli <email@example.com>, "Alfonso, Daniel J." <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, "Howell O'Neill, Jessica" <JONeill@miamigov.com>, Giovani Mesa <email@example.com>
Good Morning Everyone,
On February 9th, I sent the following public records request to the City Attorney:
Last Friday I received an invoice asking me to pay $228,70 to the Finance Department, which I took objection to.
This morning, I received an Excel spreadsheet that was intended to provide me with the rationale for the $228.70 costs.
While I found this spreadsheet interesting, it does not address my public records request, which is, where did the Mayor go, when did he go, who went with him on those trips, and who paid for the trips.
So, to provide some guidance and clarity, allow me to be more specific.
The Mayor of Miami from 2010 to 2016 took a total of 51 trips where he took advantage, or abused the services of the airport's protocol services.
That doesn't mean that those were ALL the trips he took, just the ones that he availed himself of the Protocol Services.
So, my question is where did he go on those 51 occasions when he sailed through the airport - accompanied on occasion by children, girlfriend/wife or with other folks?
That's a stand alone question, and I got a partial response when I was provided with copies of FORM 9's for 10 of those trips.
That leaves 41 trips unaccounted for? So, unless the City of Miami's Finance Department wants to claim that the taxpayers paid for those trips by the Mayor, then any documents provided to me by the Finance Department would not comply with my request.
I would suggest that the information about when and where the Mayor went could best be answered by the Mayor's office, and that the document that would best do that would be copies of the Mayor's office calendar. The Mayor's office does maintain an office calendar doesn't it?
The second best way to answer that question would be either by providing me with copies of the airline tickets, hotel invoices, etc., or by providing me with copies of the letters/emails/memorandums from the individuals/companies/groups that paid for the Mayor's airline tickets and made the arrangements. We know that the Mayor keeps these tickets because some of them were included as back up on the FORM 9's.
Again, these would be documents under the custody of the Mayor's office, and not the Finance Department.
The Excel sheet that I was provided today does not include the Mayor's name once as having submitted payment for any of the items that others requested payments for. The obvious question therefore is, did these individuals travel with the Mayor on any of the 41 unaccounted trips, or did they go on separate trips without the Mayor?
Again, I think I'm pretty clear that I only requested information on the 41 unaccounted trips that the Mayor took that involved him using or abusing the protocol Services of the Miami International Airport.
I don't recall in the Ethics Report that any of the individuals named on the Excel sheet I got today were mentioned as traveling with the Mayor on those occasions.
Then there is the issue of who did travel with the Mayor. I know, and some of you also know that the Mayor traveled with his girlfriend/wife on all the trips he took to Mexico for instance.
Where else did he take her? Where did he take son Jose? Where did he take daughter Raquelita?
Those trips would have all required that the Mayor report whoever went with him on a FORM 9.
So, that's what I want. I want the records of where the MAYOR went on those 41 unaccounted trips that he claims were taken on "Official Business" and that he didn't file a FORM 9 for, including who went along for the ride.
I don't suspect that the Finance Department has any of that information, so my paying $228.70 doesn't make any sense, right?
LIST OF THE 51 TRIPS INCLUDED IN THE ETHICS COMMISSION REPORT.
One of the benefits of being the Mayor or a member of the Miami City Commission is that you get to go on a lot of free trips around the world.
One of the very first stories I did about free junkets was how Frank Carollo, back in 2010, after having only been a commissioner for about 4 months was invited by the Mayor to be part of a photo op in his office where the Mayor gave a Key To The City and named a day after AirEuropa, a Spanish airline that was starting service from Spain to Miami, and a couple weeks later, Frank and his wife ended up going to Madrid after receiving free tickets for airfare and hotel rooms from that airline.
My story linking Frank to the photo op with the guy who owned the airline was prompted by the discovery of emails revealing how city employees, and especially Ada Rojas, then working in the Mayor's office, had been using a city employee who was responsible for overseeing the contract between the city and the Knight Center as their personal entertainment director, requesting hundreds of tickets for herself, her family and friends, and of course for the Mayor and whoever he wanted tickets for.
In addition to panhandling tickets from the Knight Center, she was also the one who hustled tickets for the Mayor from the AAA Arena and even from Don King for one of his boxing matches.
In addition to the Kight Center and the AAA Arena, packets of free tickets by the hundreds used to be delivered or picked up from the County Mayor's Office for the Tennis Match on Key Biscayne every March as part of the deal that the city and county had worked out allowing the county to use city land leading to Jimbos for excess parking.
Free event tickets were just part of the expected swag that came along with being an elected official in Miami.
While free event tickets were okay, the big swag were the free trips around the world that Tomas Regalado and several of the commisisoner took, paid for by such disparate groups as the Latin Builders Association, CAMACOL, and even the Chinese Communist government, ostensibly taken to support and promote the city, but in reality, were often little more than personal junkets or trips to shill for private interests, including promoting condo projects being built by some of the Miami's favored condo developers.
Among my favorite junket stories was the one I wrote about then Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and his wife flying off to China and getting caught lying about who paid for the trip - he originally told the Miami Herald that the Miami Heat had "paid for his flight and hotel" - but then admitted to the Herald after the Ethics Commission found Probable Cause from a complaint that I had filed about a trip that he and wifey had taken to Brazi during the same time as the trip to China, that in fact the Chinese government had ponied up the $22,739.00 for their China trip, and that he was going to fess up and file a FORM 9 documenting that fact.
Those were the fun days.
While I knew that Regalado, Commissioner Willie Gort and Commissioner Keon Hardemon were continuing to disappear - sometimes failing to be present for a Commission meeting or other function - my focus drifted to other abuses and I, like I suspect a lot of other folks was actually caught off guard when on February 2nd, the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission issued a report about the pattern of abuse by public officials - mostly county officials, but also including Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado - on how they used the Miami International Airport's Protocol Office to make their lives easier when going or coming back from a junket.
I wasn't susprised that these folks had been abusing the system, but rather that the unethical Ethics Commission had actually spent some time to investigate the abuses.
The reason that I wasn't surprised was that this hustle was actually a very old story that goes back at least 22 years when Jim DeFede first did a story about these same abuses for Miami New Times.
The only difference this time was that while the hustle remained the same, the names of the abusers had changed, and wouldn't you know that the Number One abuser wasn't a county official. but none other than Miami's own Gangster Mayor and the paterfamilias of Miami's leading Grifter family, Tomas Regalado.
Not only did Daddy Regalado take 51 trips out of the country that he claimed required him to be escorted to and from the curb to the plane, but he took son Jose along on a couple of trips, and on other trips Raquelita went along for the ride, although as a school board member, she qualified for her own special treatment.
I'm getting around to posting this story now - which first appeared in the Miami Herald a couple weeks back - because I'm out of town and focused on other issues, and also because after the publication of the Herald's story I filed a public records request to get an accounting from the Mayor's office of just where he went on those 51 "official trips."
A little over a week ago I received several PDF's from the City Attorney's office that provided information on 10 of those trips that the Mayor had reported on FORM 9's, leaving a total of 41 trips unaccounted for.
Being the persistent fellow that I am, I submitted a new request for information on the other 41 trips, and last week I received a reply from the City's Finance Department telling me that I needed to pay $228.70, for information that after reading the iletter I wasn't sure would provide me with any information on the Mayor, or his travel arrangements.
I wrote a response to the City Attorney that was only mildly sarcastic, and a couple days ago I got a response from the Finance Department that included an Excel spreadsheet listing a handful of city employees who had put in for reimbusrements for travel expenses, none of which indicated that they were the result of traveling with the Mayor.
In addition, the Mayor was not included as one of the individuals seeking reimbursements, which led me to believe that I was getting rope-a-doped to pay for information that would not answer my questions of where did the Mayor of Miami go on the 41 unaccounted trips, who went with him, and most importantly who ponied up the money for his airplance tickets, hotel rooms and meals.
This prompted me to write another letter, this one to all of the individuals who I had copied in the previous letters. Here it is.
Somehow the 2 outstanding lawsuits that I have against the city haven't seemed to persuade them that it's a lot easier to just give me the legitimate documents I've asked for without a lot of rope-a-dope bullshit, so I suspect that this becomes a year when I start filing even more lawsuits.
In the meantime, the efforts to jerk me around on this public records request is, I believe, tied to a larger effort to deny me documents that I've been trying to get for several months about the trip that Regalado, his wife, and Commissioner Willie Gort took to Merita, Mexico in December where Regalado supposedly reached an agreement for the Miami Police Department to provide training to Mexican police.
In this case the Mayor and the City Attorney refused for over two months to turn over any documents, and when a few days ago they finally did, they excluded providing me a copy of the supposed agreement and/or contract between the City of Miami, it's police department and the Mexican police departments that would receive this training.
Given the activities that I've uncovered and written about since last October about the behavior and activities of the Chief and some of his staff, you got to wonder whether any such training program would involve any of the recently retired staff like Majors Orestes Chavez and David Sanchez?
For now, the major unanswered question related to the latest Ethics Commission Report is where did Tomas Regalado, and possibly his son go on those 41 unreported trips, and as a sidebar question, what will the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission do if it turns out that once again Tomas Regalado and his kids traveled around the world on someone else's dime, and then refused to report those trips as required by law?
Stay tuned, this story might get really interesting very soon.
It's Miami, Bitches!