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NUMBER 28 - MAY 9, 2018
I always believe in giving credit when credit is due, and I have to give credit to Colonel Klink for saying words that no other City Manager has ever uttered in public during the last nine years that I have been writing about the malfeasance and mismanagement of the City of Miami.
"Last week some information was brought to my attention regarding
some possible discrepancies in accounting, financial procedures..."
Of course, that revelation was quickly followed by the City Attorney's response to Commissioner Carollo's question of, "what specifically is the area you are concerned with," when she replied:
"We'd rather not say it in public."
Of course not.
Not speaking about the public's business in public, especially when it comes to the public's money is a subject that the City Attorney specializes in shutting down, especially when there's a possibility that the public's money has been treated in ways that would piss the the public off.
In this case, there are multiple reasons the City Attorney didn't want to have a public discussion about the Miami Sports & Exhibition Authority, aka MSEA, it's money, it's business dealings, and the lawsuit and allegations of financial hanky panky - allegations that include claims that the city's Asset Management Department lied to the FAA by claiming that the city, and not Chalks Airline, the licensee who has the lease to operate the Seaplane Base, was the legal holder of the FAA license for the seaplane base on Watson Island that has been swirling behind the scenes for the better part of two years.
I first started writing about MSEA back in the summer of 2011, when then Mayor Tomas Regalado was scheming to give the Miami Marine Stadium to the Friends Of The Miami Marine Stadium through a devious, and underhanded deal that involved using MSEA as a cutout to evade having to go through the cumbersome process of putting the deal up for a referendum vote as required by the original Carollo Amendment. The Carollo Amendment for new readers requires that any deals involving city waterfront property have to be approved by a referendum of the citizens of Miami.
I ended up writing a total of 17 stories detailing the various machinations that Regalado, the Friends Of The Marine Stadium, and local lawyer and Charter School operator Manny Alonso Poch tried to use in order to get their hands on that property, and thought at the end of that process that MSEA was destined to be disbanded.
It's always a mistake in Miami to think that the Mayor and City Commissioners, if given a choice between chicanery and/or doing the right thing, will ever go with doing the right thing, especially since on Watson Island there were other opportunities just waiting for a little protocologial massaging.
Not only is MSEA tied to the Children's Museum through a lease agreement, but they are also contractually tied to Chalks Seaplane Base and the Heliport through other lease agreements.
In the last couple years of Regalado's term, Chalk's, the Heliport and the city became embroiled in several legal disputes resulting in several lawsuits filed against the city by Chalks, including this latest one.
FIVE MONTHS IN, WHILE THE MAYOR REFUSES TO HOLD A MSEA BOARD MEETING BECAUSE OF "POSSIBLE DISCREPENCIES IN FINANCIAL PROCEDURES," IT'S THE DRAMA THAT'S BEEN GOING ON BEHIND THE CAFE CON LECHE CURTAIN REGARDING MSEA, CHALKS AIRLINE AND THE HELIPORT THAT'S GOT EVERYONE WONDERING
Captain Javier Ortiz takes a break from being Miami's NUMBER 1 THUG COP and abusing civilians by going to the beach. You can make up your own caption.
Separate and distinct from all of this, was the requirement that MSEA undergo an annual audit, which resulted in a report that included the following paragraph (Bottom of page 31 of the audit.)
I continue to say that no matter how many drugs one might take, you cannot make this crazy shit up.
Of course, when the Special Agents asked Tim VanderGiesen, Division Chief of the State Attorney's Public Corruption Unit for a subpoena to search Willie Gort's personal computer, he immediately shut down the investigation and then claimed that there was no reason to prosecute Gort, failing in the process to cite the evidence and testimony provided by Ms. Herbello. (You can read my whole Alice-In-Wonderland story about Willie and the FDLE HERE.)
Now just because Fausto Alvarez was alleged to have cooked the campaign books for his pal Willie Gort doesn't mean that the letter below that he read into the record at the Finance Committee isn't valid or accurate, because even stopped clocks are right twice a day, and there is no question that lurking behind a lot of what happened between MSEA, Chalks and the Heliport in the last several years, were orchestrated by none other than the Grand Grifter himself, Tomas Regalado.
Here is Fausto's letter:
It was this claim that prompted Lourdes Blanco Alvarez, the Executive Director of MSEA to refuse to sign off on the audit, and led to the comments made by the City Manager at the Commission meerting, which in turn led to an audit by the city's Independent Auditor - which hopefully should be released in the next couple weeks - and which also led to Lourdes Blanco Alvarez's husband reading into the record of the city's last Finance Committee meeting a letter defending his wife, and questioning the actions of the city.
Because this is Miami, I can not proceed without pointing out that Fausto Alvarez, Lourdes's husband, was also the campaign accountant for City Commissioner Willie Gort - he also just happens to be Gort's appointee to the Finance Committee - and that in 2014, as Willie Gort's campaign accountant, he played a significant role in the story that I wrote about the FDLE's investigation of Gort receiving a minimum of $18,000, in an unaccounted in-kind contribution of signs from Fuel Advertising, who at the time had a contract with the city to provide Bus Bench advertising.
The best part of the story was when the FDLE Special Agents went to Alvarez's office to question Isis Alvarez Herbello, one of his employees, - no relation to Fausto - and this is what the Special Agents were told by Herbello.
The subject of the letter, Section 32.1 of the lease, has to do with the responsibility of Chalks to be the sole responsible party for obtaining all licenses, permits and approvals.
The letter would appear to be an attempt by the city to try and cover its ass over the allegations in Chalk's lawsuit that the city violated the requirement that Chalk's was the sole entity entitled to seek and obtain what the lawsuit described as the "Miami Seaplane Base FDOT license."
What's really significant is that this letter, which purports to be an official position taken by the MSEA Board, could only have happened as a result of a secret meeting since there has not been a publicly noticed meeting of MSEA since November 2, 2017.
When you consider that in 2014, George Wysong issued one of the most self-serving and absolutely bat shit crazy legal opinions ever issued by the City Attorney's office in anyone's memory, an opinion meant to absolve then City Attorney Julie Bru, her then girlfriend, along with then Assistant City Attorney - and now Circuit Court Judge - Veronica Diaz, as well as a handful of other city employees who failed to report that they had received thousands of dollars in VIP tickets to the ULTRA Music Festival, this letter is not only has the appearance of the kind of legal bullshit that the city will go to in order to keep from doing the right thing, but when added to the mix of Lourdes Alvarez's claims, her husband's letter, and other claims of hanky panky by the MSEA Board, you can well understand why the City Attorney Victoria Mendez continues to do everything she can not to allow anyone to talk about "possible discrepancies in accounting, financial procedures" at public meetings.
WHAT'YA THINK? I SURE COULDN'T FUCK UP THINGS ANY WORSE THAN THESE MORONS ARE DOING NOW
While as intriguing as this letter is, it only raises more questions that Fausto might have thought to ask, starting with whether his wife was set up,
You know that regardless of the outcome of the Independent Auditor's Report, Lourdes Blanco Alvarez is halfway to filing a Whistleblower lawsuit against the city over all of this, and depending on how pissed she becomes over her belief that she's been setup, she could very well become the source of some really explosive information on what really went on inside the Mayor's Office during the Regalado years.
The opportunity for Popcorn moments in Miami City Hall continues to expand.
AIN'T NO SUNSHINE HERE
If this wasn't enough to make you wonder just how batshit crazy things were at City Hall during the Regalado years, consider the following letter that George Wysong, the Assistant City Attorney who was assigned to provide legal counsel to the MSEA Board. sent to Chalks Airline a couple weeks ago.
Remember that we're now supposedly under the sane leadership of the Boy Mayor, Francis Suarez.