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PHONING IT IN: THE MIAMI HERALD'S FAILURE TO PROVIDE THE COMMUINTY WITH ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT - OF FOR THAT MATTER EVEN MOST OF THE NEWS
NUMBER 31 - MAY 15, 2018
I've been chewing on the ass of the Miami Herald and the reporters that it keeps assigning to cover Miami City Hall not because I hate them or think they're evil people, but because I consider them to be lazy, and occasionally, I've caught them purposely refusing to cover stories that were important to the community.
In fact, I've often said that one of the reasons that I kept writing this blog after my initial effort to get Harry Gottlieb fired back in 2010, was because so many city employees were coming to me with stories and documents about the way that the Regalado administration was misbehaving - stories that they claimed to have given to Chuck Rabin, then the Herald's City Hall reporter - and who they claimed had never done anything with information.
In the years that followed, some of my best stories were based on documents that city employees told me that they had first provided to Rabin, and then to David Smiley, when he took over the job that I now refer to as the Miami Herald's City Hall stenographer.
One of the more recent stories was the one about Raquel Regalado's Homestead Exemption Fraud, a story that was shopped around by the Gimenez campaign for months and that no one bothered to take the time to see if there was independent evidence to support the allegation.
I did, and the result was a series of stories that resulted in Raquelita - after repeated claims that she had not done anything wrong - paying back the county $3,981.78.
Another example is the series of stories I did surrounding the allegations that 11 revolvers had been taken from the Miami Police Department's Property Room by Major Orestes Chavez, and the claim, made by cops that Chief of Police Rudy Ilanes had played a part in the taking of those revolvers.
This was a very serious story, not only because the revolvers remain unaccounted for to this day, but because the implications - supported by audio tape interviews conducted under oath - provided clear and compelling evidence that the version of events admitted to by the Chief and Major Chavez were in direct contradiction to the version of events provided by Lieutenant Vincent Laricci, Sgt. Alvin Forbes, and several other employees in the Property Room as to how, and why the guns were taken.
What was especially disturbing when it came to the Chief was that there exist TWO audio tapes - one that I was only able to obtain after my January 2, 2017 story - that revealed that the Chief gave entirely different versions of how he claimed to have seen some of those revolvers in his office.
It is clear from all of the tapes, and especially these TWO tapes, that people were lying under oath, and that the Chief had clearly engaged in an effort to throw Lieutenant Laricci under the bus as a way to muddy the waters.
Even though I had basically owned the story from the beginning, David Smiley in November of 2017, filed public records request with the FDLE for access to the files in their possession regarding this theft.
Smiley was provided audio tapes and documents from the FDLE in late November, which also prompted him to file this request to the MPD
In mid-January of 2018, when I went to the MPD Internal Affairs office to review and get copies of all of the documents and audio tapes that they had in their possession - a request that I had made once I discovered that Smiley had made the above request - one of the questions I asked was whether Smiley or anyone else from the Herald had been there to obtain these documents and audio tapes.
The answer was, NO.
To this day, the Miami Herald has never written one word about the supposed investigation done by the FDLE, or on what the audio tapes revealed that questioned the methods used by them that resulted in the case being closed.
When 11 revolvers go missing from the Property Room of a police department, and the local newspaper fails to adequately report on that, then I believe that the community is in real trouble, because if the Miami Herald doesn't think that that's a story of importance to the community, what else might they think also isn't important.
Which bring us to today's story.
THE MAYOR'S CAMPAIGN TO BECOME THE STRONG MAYOR
On May 11th, Joey Flechas, the latest City Hall stenographer filed the story below about Francis Suarez's current efforts to become the Strong Mayor of Miami. It was basically a dog bites man story revealing that once again Norman Braman, whose had a long history of giving large amounts of money to Miami politicians, had donated $25,000 to Suarez's effort to get the citizens of Miami to support his referendum that would make him a strong mayor.
The story could just as easily have been written by someone on the Mayor's staff, and serves as an example of the kind of "Click Bait," reporting that the Herald wants it's reporters to do nowadays.
However, while the story met the minimum requirement of providing the community with some information, it failed to provide additional information that was readily available and would have given readers a better and far more detailed understanding of how much money has already been spent, and where some of the millions he's raised in addition to financing his effort to become a strong mayor is now going.
YOU'LL NEVER GO WRONG FOLLOWING THE MONEY
If you've been visiting this site for the last few weeks, you'll recall that I wrote a 2 Part series called The Politics Of Money, (Part I) (Part II), that focused on the activities of Miami's Future, Inc., Suarez's PC.
While Flechas story reported that Suarez has raised $125,183.00, he did not include any information on whether, and how much money has already been spent in support of this referendum effort.
To get the information about the $100,000.00 transferred from Suarez's political committee, Miami's Future, Inc., Flechas would have gone to the PC's website and looked at the Expenditure page. This is what he would have seen for the expenditure of money for 2018.
The registered chairwoman of Miami's Future, Inc., is Sarah Manzano, the wife of local lobbyist and political operative Jesse Manzano.
Jesse Manzano was not only Suarez's campaign manager in his reelection campaign for City Commissioner, but also for his run last year for Mayor, and now seems to be the campaign manager for this referendum effort to make Suarez a strong mayor.
Tridente Strategies, as I revealed in my series, is Jesse Manzano's political consulting firm. So far in 2018, Tridente Strategies has been paid $51,000.
In addition you'll see that Frederick Polls was paid $23,500 for a, "City Of Miami Survey."
BYG Strategies, Inc., the consulting company for Brian Goldmeier, whose claim to fame is that he's become the guy to go to locally if you need somebody to raise big money for you, got paid $10,778.37. In Suarez's campaign for Mayor BYG got paid $202,268.31 for his fundraising efforts.
Other political consulting companies and individuals also received payments from Miami's Future, Inc. in the first 4 months of this year. Media Query got $2,750, Miami Vision Studios got $2,000, LVP Consulting got $5165.40, and Loyal Milagros got $1000, for a combined total of expenditures for political consulting and campaign related activities totalling $96,913.67.
It's reasonable to assume even without verification, that some, or all of this money was spent in support of Suarez's effort to become a strong mayor, although some of the January money might have been residual payments for efforts to help Alfie Leon in his runoff against Joe Carollo.
This claim is further supported by the $6921,73 payment in March to the law firm Meyer, Brooks, Demma and Blohm P.A., who on April 16th submitted the initial filing documents for the Referendum Vote to the Miami City Clerk.
This is all information that you would expect a "reporter" for a big city paper whose beat is City Hall would want to let his readers know about, if for no other reason that with the addition of the money paid to the law firm, it turns out that Miami's Future, Inc's, contribution to date wasn't just $100,000, but actually could have been as much as $202,835.40.
With a modicum more bit of effort, and a little curiosity, Flechas would have discovered, just in case he's never bothered to acquaint himself with some of the various consultants that populate City of Miami political campaigns, that LVP Consulting, was a new name to the mix of political consulting companies being paid by Miami's Future, Inc., and that even though they had received $5,165.40, there wasn't a record anywhere of them being anything other than a made up name.
While there are a number of companies that start with LVP, registered on the corporate pages of the Florida Secretary of State, none of them are a political consulting company owned and/or operated by Fernando and Renata Puzzitti, residing at 7536 Adventure Avenue in North Bay Village.
This doesn't means that LVP Consulting isn't providing some sort of service to Suarez's political committee, but it does raise a question of what kind of consulting was Miami's Future, Inc., paying for from a company that doesn't seem to exist anywhere other than on their Expenditure Page.
MIAMI'S FUTURE INC., AND THE DARK MONEY CROWD IN TALLAHASSEE
One of the expenditures in the screen grab that I posted above reveals that on April 20th, Miami's Future, Inc., made a $15,000.00 to the Florida Prosperity Fund.
While the political committee had made numerous campaign contributions to various candidates, this was only one of three contributions that Miami's Future, Inc. had made to another political committee. One was for $2,500.00 to Rebuild Florida, and the other was $1500.00 It's All About The Kids.
A donation of $15,000.00, was enough to make me curious, and so with little effort I was able to find their financial records online.
What, I wondered, when I found this was Francis Suarez and his little band of local political operatives doing playing with this crowd?
These donors were serious money players, and some of them had political agendas that didn't necessarily make them beloved by many folks throughout the state.
It took a little digging, but I found an article that had appeared in the March 20, 2017, edition of the Miami Herald, written by Mary Ellen Klas, and titled, Will legislators lift the veil on 'dark money' in Florida politics?, that included mention of Florida Prosperity Fund.
Florida Prosperity Fund, it turns out was one of several political committees formed by Associated Industries Of Florida, to assist companies like Florida Power and Light and US Sugar to further their goals in getting the Florida Legislature to undo court rulings and political decisions that they didn't like:
"This year, two of the state’s biggest donors — Florida Power & Light
and U.S. Sugar — contributed more than $2 million in the first two
months, according to a Herald/Times review of Division of Elections
records. FPL is attempting to win support for two bills to overturn
unfavorable court rulings, and U.S. Sugar is working to oppose
Senate President Joe Negron’s plan to buy farm land for a reservoir
south of Lake Okeechobee."
So, here you have the political committee for Francis Suarez, who on the one hand keeps wanting to keep portraying himself as this millennial, goody-goody two shoes looking out for the environment, and on the other hand, his political committee is contributing money to a "dark monery" political committee made up of major corporations, who many believe are doing their best to rape the environment, and the taxpayers as well, and best of all, it turns out that one of the candidates that Florida Prosperity Fund donated money to last year was none other that Francis Suarez's sworn enemy, Joe Carollo.
You can't make this shit up, nor will you read about any of this in the Miami Herald, even though Mary Ellen Klas's article proves that when it wants to, the Herald has the reporters and technology to do a deep dive into the collection and expenditure of serious money into political campaigns.
In the meantime, like it or not, I seem the only person willing to do the deep diving to uncover what local politicians like Francis Suarez are up to.
It's Miami, Bitches!