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LOURDES BLANCO SUES THE CITY FOR REFUSING TO PAY HER, AND ALONG THE WAY RAISES SOME VERY INTERESTING QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE MIAMI SPORTS AND ENTERTAINEMT AUTHORITY (MSEA)
NUMBER 57 - JULY 8, 2018
On May 9th I wrote a story about the failure of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to hold a meeting of the MSEA board, and of the claim made by City Manager Emilio "Colonel Klink" Gonzalez at the March 8th Commission meeting that, "Last week some information was brought to my attention regarding some possible discrepancies in accounting, financial procedures..," involving MSEA. (You can read that story by clicking HERE.
Since then things have been happening. Suarez did call a meeting of MSEA Board where little of consequence was discussed, and the Independent Auditor did conduct an investigation, although the report of that investigation seems to have disappeared into some bureaucratic Black Hole that would tend to support a claim that this is one report that some people inside City hall doen't want seeing the light of day.
But above and beyond that, Lourdes Blanco, the Executive Director of MSEA who prompted the investigation because of the allegations of financial discrepancies that she made, has thrown 2 new hand grenades into the room.
The first one was a May 22nd letter to Mayor Francis Suarez's Chief of Staff alleging that the Mayor, and the MSEA Board was refusing to provide her with instructions or guidance on depositing checks from Linden Services, one of the two lease holders of the city's property on Watson Island.
Here is her letter:
The second hand grenade was the lawsuit that she filed against the city for their refusal to pay her for the months of April and May.
In my 9 years of doing this I've never encountered a situation where a city employee, either on the job, or having been fired, was not paid.
This is a first, and it raises serious questions about what is really going on inside of City Hall and what do the politicians like Francis Suarez fear from the release of the Independent Auditor's Report, or from Lourdes Blanco's allegations about "financial discrepancies?"
Inquiring minds want to know, because this is Miami, Bitches!
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Miami, FL 33138
FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, THE DAVID BECKHAM SOCCER STADIUM DEAL HAS ALWAYS BEEN A REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT DEAL PREDICATED ON HOODWINKING A GULIBLE MIAMI PUBLIC INTO GIVING BILLIONAIRES VALUABLE PUBLIC LAND WHILE DANGLING A RETIRED SOCCER STAR WHO'S WIFE REFUSES TO LIVE IN MIAMI AS THE TRINKET TO DISTRACT FOLKS WHILE THIS THREE-CARD-MONTI HUSTLE PLAYED OUT
Do you remember what the sales pitch was 4 years ago when David Beckham and his business partners held their first cocktail party touting a new soccer team and stadium for Miami?
They wanted a stadium downtown on the waterfront. In fact, that was a non-negotiable requirement. The stadium had to be downtown, and on the waterfront.
There would be little need for parking they argued because the soccer fans could either walk or use public transit to get to the stadium. They were going to pay for the whole thing - although it turned out then, and might turn out now, that they wanted the state of Florida to give them $20 million to help cover the costs of the stadium - and most importantly, they wanted a piece of public land big enough to allow them to build not only a stadium, but also a hotel, a commercial building or two and tens of thousands of feet of retail space for bars, restaurants and whatever else would make them money, and oh yes, they also wanted to build a marina.
Under the guise of dangling a soccer stadium like a Christmas tree ornament, they were little more than just another group of slick-talking hustlers looking for an opportunity to do a massive real estate development on public property.
Four years later, Beckham and his latest latest collection of business partners, now led by the sons of Jorge Mas Canosa, finally decided to give up on the waterfront as the site for their soccer stadium, but have actually doubled down on their other demands which is still is to get a large enough piece of public land to do what they wanted to do from the very beginning: build a massive real estate development that would make them all centi-millionaires.
Their latest plans call for:
1,000,000 square feet of office space
380,000 square feet of food, beverage and retail space
120,000 square feet for music and entertainment related uses
A 20,000 square foot conference center
A 500 room hotel
And oh yeah, a 28,000 seat soccer stadium
Contrary to the claims that the taxpayers of Miami will not pay a single penny, that's bullshit. Taxpayers always get stuck for costs that are never discussed or disclosed until the time comes to pay the bill.
And they want this massive piece of public land from a city that suffers from historic levels of income inequality, a serious lack of affordable housing, and the promise - not a threat, but an absolutely 100% promise - that well before the year 2100, large swathes of the city will be severely impacted as a result of climate change and sea level rise, and the last thing that many of the soccer fans of today will care about is worrying about the standing of their soccer team.
Now, mind you, there's nothing wrong with making money, even really serious money, but there is a lot wrong when making that money involves collusion between rich folks and elected officials who's past behavior has shown a disturbing willingness not only to bend the law in order to let these rich folks to get richer, but to actually screw the residents of the city in the process.
There are any number of legitimate reasons for why this deal should not be allowed to go forward, and hopefully some of them will be articulated at the Commission meeting, although a word of warning about how this process is handled.
If Chairman Keon Hardemon announces on Thursday morning that the only opportunity for public comments on this issue will be allowed during the morning public comments portion of the meeting, and not at the afternoon session when this item is actually going to be heard, then the fix is definitely in.
Of course the fix is already in, but this will tell you that the fix is so locked in that they don't care about the optics.
AN UNSOLICITED BID, IS AN UNSOLICITIED BID, AND THERE'S A PROCESS FOR HOW TO DEAL WITH UNSOLICITED BIDS
For me, the issue that raises the most alarm is that this proposal for Mel Reese Park is a simple and straight forward unsolicited proposal, and the process for handling unsolicited proposals, whether they come from the Baby Jesus, David Beckham or anyone else who walks into a government office with an idea on how they'd like to use a piece of public property, should be pretty straight forward for everyone.(See:City of Miami Ordinance 13-01347 that spells out the specifics.)
I believe that this ordinance is applicable on the basis that this project is being presented by the proposers first and foremost as the construction of a soccer stadium, which under any definition would qualify as a facility to be used for public purposes, and that the provision that requires that the project be in the public's interest is met by the fact that the public will be asked to approve this project via a referendum.
The government or government agency being solicited has to first determine that they do indeed want to do something with the piece of property being sought through the unsolicited proposal, and if they do, then they have to provide an opportunity for others who might have another idea on what to do with the property to submit their ideas through an RFP process.
Local governments, government agencies and politicians operating in the best interests of the citizens and taxpayers will always follow this process because it's the right and legal way to handle an unsolicited proposal.
If on the other hand, a local government or government agency attempts to ignore or wave the requirements to solicit other proposals then the odds start going up that the deal is cooked, and that the politicians are at best doing favors for their pals, or worse, that the politicians are crooks who have been bribed.
When a deal that's valued at a billion - that's BILLION - dollars or more, there are no grey areas that provide cover for politicians not following best practices to insure that the deal is not only done right, but that everyone can believe that it was done right.
At the end of the day, one thing is almost always certain, and that is that if a deal starts out crooked, you can pretty much bet that it will continue operating crookedly throughout the life of the deal.
Unfortunately, this looks like it's going to be another It's Miami, Bitches deal. and I am going to say now that I believe the final vote approving this deal will be Carollo, Reyes and Hardemon for, and Willie Gort against. Commissioner "Selfie Boy" Russell's vote is not going to affect the decision, and in fact the only unknown in his decision is whether he continues to be believe that if he sucks up to Carollo and Reyes and votes for this they'll quit bitch slapping him at Commission meetings.
They won't, but then watching Russell get slapped at Commission meetings has become a reason for some folks to tune in to watch the show.
For those opposed to this giveaway, you better plan now to hit the streets and get people to come out and Vote NO in November, because on Thursday you're going to be ignored, and screwed by the political equivalent of serial rapists.
NUMBER 58 - JULY 9, 2018
WHAT'S THE REAL REASON THAT THIS PRIVATE, "INVITATION ONLY" EVENT IS BEING HELD THE NIGHT BEFORE THE MIAMI CITY COMMISISON MEETING?
When private meetings are held that claim to offer, "inside information," then the citizens whose land is being sought in support of this venture should become very concerned.
It was none other than Tomas Regalado, the last grifter Mayor of Miami who once proclaimed, "In Miami, all deals are bad deals."
By hosting this private, "invitation only" event, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce has revealed that they are willing to act as shills in keeping information away from the residents of Miami, who are the ones who will be impacted by whatever happens to this property.
As bad as this is, what is worse is the failure of the Miami Herald Editorial Board refusing to call out this behavior? Where is the public statement from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce objecting to their neighbor hosting this kind of event? Where are the editorial comments from the General Managers of the TV stations, who once upon a time would seldom let a week go by without opining on some perceived abuse in the community?
Secrecy has no place in this deal, and the failure of those who call themselves the community's protectors to speak out forcefully against this, is itself a shameful example of just how poorly served the citizens of Miami are served by these people.
NUMBER 59 - JULY 10, 2018
TWO DOWN, ONE TO GO: MANOLO REYES OPPOSES SOCCER STADIUM AT MEL REESE PARK
WHO'S REGISTERED TO LOBBY ON THE BEACKHAM DEAL , AND WHAT THAT SAYS ABOUT WHO'S VOTING WHICH WAY
As of this morning there are 7 individuals who have registered to lobby on behalf of the Beckham soccer stadium proposal. You can see the actual registrations HERE.
Here are the individuals, and possible reasons for their being on this list.
They are principals, and are required to register.
Carole Gimenez Jr.
He's a paid lobbyist, and handcuffed to Joe Carollo. In street terms, Gimenez is Carollo's minder.
She is the aunt of Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon, and only surfaces on the big money deals where she is considered to be her nephew's bag lady.
Barbara Hardemon is no stranger to being accused of soliciting payoff's on behalf of securing a City Commissioner's vote. In 2007, Marc Sarnoff, then a new City Commissioner, wrote his now famous memo to himself where he alleged that then City Manager Joe Arriola told him that local relator Alicia Cuervo revealed during a luncheon meeting that in order for then Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones to vote in favor of what was known as the Mercy Hospital condo project proposed by the Related Group, Barbara Hardemon needed to be paid $50,000.
Here is that memo.
Hardemon's speciality is supposedly "Community Outreach" in the Black community, and no doubt the Hardemon family gets a lot of outreach from Aunty Barbara.
Given my recent story about Joe Carollo, the Ultra Music Festival, and Steve Marin becoming the new lobbyist for this company after Carollo was elected, you would normally assume that Marin is Carollo's bagman on this deal too.
I've been told that that's not the case, and that in fact, Marin this time out is operating as Mayor Francis Suarez's bagman.
Miguel De Grandy
These are two lawyers who I believe are handling the paperwork, and therefore are, like the Mas brothers, required to register.
Given that Ken Russell has now surfaced as the swing vote, it will be interesting to see whether one of several lobbyists previously connected to him suddenly shows up on the Lobbyist Registration List.
Stay tuned, it's Miami, Bitches!