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NUMBER 41 - JUNE 3, 2018
I first started writing about the LimeBike company last October when they showed up in Miami Shores looking to get permission to put bikes on the street there.
My reason for writing about them at the time, like my reason for writing about a lot of the issues I write about, had nothing to do with whether or not I liked bikes, but rather it was about the process - or lack of - that had led to LimeBike showing up looking for a sweetheart deal that would allow them to put bikes all over the Village for free. In fact, the title of my story was: IT'S A SWEET DEAL FOR LIME BIKE.
One result of my story, was a vociferous and spirited discussion on Facebook and Next Door by Miami Shores residents after the deal was agreed to by the Village Council about how bikes were scattered across the Village and occasionally toppled over on sidewalks, and a debate over whether allowing this company to have free access to our streets and sidewalks was a good idea.
One of the conclusions I reached about LimeBike - and consequently about the other companies like LimeBike's main competitor BIRD, that has also popped up in Miami, is that these companies were created in part as potential BILLION DOLLAR IPO ventures.
They goal seems to be to raise a lot of money from venture capitalists, scramble to get an acceptable market share, and then go to the stock market with an IPO that allows the founders and a select handfull of insiders to become instant centii-millionares.
It's a race against the clock, especially when the initial company finds itself with copycat competitors, which is what's going on in Miami right now.
LimeBike was the first to show up, and they got sweetheart deals with the Villages of Key Biscaye and Miami Shores that allowed them to put their bikes on the streets for free, and since then have scrambled to get as many regular bikes, electric bikes and now scooters on the streets all over Miami-Dade County with, or without contracts or permission.
In the City of Miami, LimeBike has definitely been operating illegally without any sort of contract, permit or license.
The proof of this is in a presentation that LimeBike's local Operations Manager made to the Miami Shores Village Council about their electric scooters last month.
Here is the portion of the video of that presentation where he is asked, and answers if they are operating in other municipalities, and he answered that they are in the City of Miami, but have no contract, and that they are receiving support from, "several Commissioners."
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is the water fountain in the lobby at City Hall. Feel free to come up with your own caption on the theme of it's another sign that Miami is becoming a real Banana Republic.
LIMEBIKE IS NOT ONLY OPERATING ILLEGALLY IN THE CITY OF MIAMI, THEY CLAIM TO HAVE "SUPPORT FROM MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL."
What's happening in Miami is a continuation of a process happening in other cities as described in a May article about the invasion of scooters in San Francisco over a two month period earlier this year, before the City Council passed emergency legislation requiring that all scooters be removed from the city as a pre-condition to consider issuing permits for these companies to operate under supervision.
Given the location of LimeBike's scooters in Brickell and Wynwood, it would seem that at least one of the "Commissioners" referenced by the Operation's Manager for LimeBike would be Commissioner Ken "Selfie Boy" Russell.
The Commissioner makes an effort to be associated with every "green initiative," he can promote, as long as there is a camera somewhere to record his support, and although he promised that campaign money would not influence him the night he was elected to the Commission: "Money and special interests didn't elect me, you did. So I can promise they won't guide me, you will," a search of the donations for his now aborted Congressional campaign shows that he took $5,400 from Michael Llorente, his wife and Llorente's partner in LSN Partners, Alexander Heckler, all of whom I've written about recently. (PART I) (PART II)
I'm sure that the Commissioner will claim that these donations played no part in his "support" of these scooters popping up in his District, but the bigger issue is why would the Commissioner, regardless of the reason support companies engaging in activities that he has to know are being conducted illegally?
And to drive home the fact that a lot of cities are realizing the danger associated with these scooters zipping along sidewalks as 14.8 miles per hour, or faster, the city of Santa Monica, California City Council in March passed an emergency resolution allowing police to "impound any Bird scooters or other “shared mobility devices” that pose an immediate hazard or obstruct access to public rights-of-way,"
THESE BIKES AND SCOOTERS AREN'T THEFT PROOF AFTER ALL
There was some concern when the LimeBike bikes first appeared about whether they were theft proof, and whether the Miami Shores Police Department would be involved in chasing down the bike thieves. The issue was the use of police manpower for enforcement without any sort of reimbursement from the company.
That issue was never resolved, and in the Village, those who supported this bike program attempted to poo-poo away the concerns of those who has the temerity to even ask questions like that.
At this same Council meeting, Council member Jonathan Meltz, commented that in his travels he had seen, "quite a few bikes at odd hours without your locking mechanism."
Listen to the response from the LimeBike Operations Manager.
So, not only are these bikes not theft proof - and we can assume that the electric scooters will also turn out not to be theft proof - but in Miami Shores, the police seem to be making an effort to be on the lookout for bikes whose locking mechanism might have been disabled, and then calling the company to check, before arresting the bike thieves.
You would think that maybe Councilman Meltz or one of the other Village Council members woud have expressed a little more curiosity about all of this, like maybe being curious of just how many bike thefts have occurred since the bikes showed up in Miami Shores, and how many arrests have occurred as a result.
You would be wrong.
In the Village of Miami Shores, the Village Council operates on the premise of the less they know, and the less that's put on the record, the better it is for everyone.
SCOOTERS, SCOOTERS EVERYWHERE
What's especially telling about these scooters in City of Miami is that in a period of a month or two they all over the city, from Overtown, to Coconut Grove, to Wynwood and Brickell and parts in between.
(These photos and videos were shot in the period of 1 hour on a drive around parts of the city on Saturday afternoon.)
It's one thing for someone like Commissioner "Selfie Boy" to ignore the way in which these electric scooters have managed to spread all over the city, but you got to wonder about what Miami City Manager Emilio "Colonel Klink" Gonzalez thinks as he is driven from one photo op to the other around the city and looks out of his SUV window at all of these electric scooters operating illegally on the streets of his city?
Does he know they're illegal? Doe he care they're illegal? Or is the fact that at least in the case of LimeBike, the company is represented by Michael Llorente, with his ties to the Mayor, that he figures that maybe he can pretend that he doesn't see any illegal scooters zipping along the sidewalks and streets of his city, unless, or until one of them runs into someone and causes serious harm?
Inquiring minds would like to know the answer to those questions!
It's Miami. Bitches!
While these companies have failed to get permission to invade Miami's streets with their scooters, LimeBike did go out and hire Michael Llorente, the former Chief of Staff to then City Commissioner Francis Suarez, and partner with the Mayor's perennial campaign manager Jesse Manzano, as their lobbyist.
UPDATE: The Florida Highway Patrol issued a Fact Sheet about various motorized vehicles including these scooters, identifing them as illegal if used on public sidewalks and streets. That Fact Sheet that be found HERE
NUMBER 42 - JUNE 5, 2018
WHAT'S UP WITH THIS? INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW MORE
HERE'S THE MAYOR'S OFFICE CALENDAR FOR APRIL & MAY
It's a time honored tradition in Miami that whenever they need votes, the first place that the Mayor and all the City Commissioners had for are the numerous assistant living facilities and Section 8 housing units in the City.
I've written several stories in the past about how Tomas Regalado and Raquelita used to make the rounds, making sure to bring plenty of Cuban pastries, and smooching up all the little abuelas, followed by employees in these building making sure that they got these folks to sign the Absentee Ballots.
It should come as no surprise that this is what Francis Suarez is doing in his efforts to get signatures on the petitions for his effort to get a referendum to make him the Strong Mayor of Miami.
And of course, you can bet that part of the hustle includes sweet talking these old people with "false information."
Long before there was fake news, there was fake information.
But, be that as it may, The Crespogram is always interested in finding out more, so if you've got an specific information about the tactics being used by the Suarez campaign to hustle these old people to sign the petitions under false representations, I want to know. firstname.lastname@example.org