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THE MIAMI HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD MET WITH MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ, JORGE MAS AND ATTORNEY RICHARD PEREZ, ON MONDAY AND THEY DEVOTED A TOTAL OF THREE MINUTES AND THREE SECONDS AT THE VERY END OF AN HOUR AND TWENTY NINE MINUTE MEETING TO DISCUSSING THE TERM SHEET - WANT TO GUESS WHAT WAS SAID? NOTHING THAT WILL MAKE YOU BELIEVE THAT THESE GUYS STILL AREN'T OUT TO SCREW THE POOCH
NUMBER 67 - JULY 17, 2018
For the most part, the meeting between the Herald's Editorial Board and Mayor Francis Suarez, Jorge Mas and attorney Richard Perez was about on par with the meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Mayor and his gang talked in self-serving generalties, evading or avoiding any really detailed information, and the Editorial Board pretended not to notice or went along with them.
In a story in this morning's Herald, the lead is: Beckham group: No city money for Melreese cleanup
Really? Based on what hard information. I've been told that there are several DERM reports that were done on the property, the latest was done the last time that that golf course was redesigned.
How hard could it be for the Mayor or the City Manager to ask the county to produce that report? Of course this raises a troubling issue, because if the report is as damning as I've been told it is, maybe no one wants that report to be made public before the vote on Wednesday, and then of course you have the sone of Miami-Dade County Mayor as a principle lobbyist for the Beckham Group, and how hard would it be for Daddy to help out Junior's clients by telling DERM to play stupid if anyone comes over asking for the report?
When it comes to the remediation of this property, the failure, or refusal to make every effort to obtain real information on what cleaning the property up - versus Jorge Mas saying that he's committed $35 million to the clean up and any additional money will have to come from the state or federal government, is at the very least the height of irresponsibility.
Here's a question that no one has bothered to ask, much less answer: What happens if the state and the federal government refuse to come up with the additional money?
After all, this will not be a government project if the referendum is passed, it will just be a private development deal on public land.
ITHE TERM SHEET
I kept watching this meeting wondering why no one was talking about the Term Sheet to see if the Beckham Group would address any of the issues that I raised in my Sunday story, and it wasn't until the very end of the meeting when Joey Fleshas, raised a question about the Term Sheet. The entire exchange lasted 3:03.
Here is the entire exchange.
Instead of talking about the substance of the Term Sheet, Richard Perez, the attorney for the Beckham Group, amid laughs, claimed that the copy of the Term Sheet that I used as the basis for my Sunday story was not really a document that anyone should have paid attention to because it was "a draft, and that many of those terms have changed."
Really, if many of those terms have changed, then where is that new document, so we can all see what has changed?
Perez's comment should have been followed by the question from one of the Herald people in the room, asking the kind of question one expects newspaper people to ask: "Really? Could you provide us with a copy of that new document., or better yet, would you explain what terms did you change."
Of course, nobody did, and instead Perez continued, "It was a very, very initial view of what the transaction might look like..." before being interrupted by Francis Suarez who felt compelled to make the point that, "...it was their term sheet."
Suarez went on to explain that it was only after Flechas approached him on Friday for a comment on the content of the Term Sheet that he said to Flechas, "You waited to the next day to get my comment about it. I first tried to find the document you were referring to, I had not seen it. It was clear from looking at the document that it was not binding, it was not agreed to or anything of that sort. I hadn't seen it, my manager hadn't seen it, and it was certainly, certainly not anything we had agreed to."
Someone from the Herald is heard to ask, "Why had you not seen it?"
Suarez responded, "I have no idea. I mean, I don't see every single document, and you'll be shocked to know I don't see every single document that's circulated through the city...none of us had seen it, and again, it was given to an assistant city attorney It was made part of a public records request that your entrepreneurial reporter made, and so, that's how it flowed. but It was not anything that I had negotiated or seen."
At that point Jorge Mas interjected himself into this rope-a-dope by stating to laughter, "I haven't seen it...I haven't"
This was followed by Richard Perez saying,"It was simply a means for us to..."
"Start a conversation," Jorge Mas said, finishing his sentence.
"It was conversation starter." Perez continued.
A conversation starter indeed. If it was intended as a conversation, then who engaged in the conversation?
More importantly, if you believe what they said that the Term Sheet wasn't really the Term Sheet, and no one, starting with the Mayor, the City Manager or Jorge Mas claimed to have seen it, then how did the contents of that document make their way into the Beckham Group's powerpoint presentation, and more importantly into the referendum language?
I refer specifically to the "gift" of the $667,660.00 per year for 20 years to the city to use to pay off the principle of the tax-exempt bonds, as well as the projected tax payments to the city, county school board and the state.
The entire exchange lasted about 10 minutes and both Commissioner Carollo and Chairman Hardemon engaged in a double-team to prevent Zichella from addressing any of the specifics in the Term Sheet that was the reason that Commissioner Reyes had called on him to speak.
While neither the Mayor or the City Manager - according to the Mayor at Monday's editorial board meeting - knew anything about the Term Sheet, it appears that not only did Zichella know about it, but also local activist Grant Stern knew about it, having obtained a copy of the document through a public records request days before, and had written a short story on his blog.
Shortly after I finished watching the Herald's Editorial Board meeting, I sent the following email to the Mayor, with copies to the City Manager, the City Attorney and the City Commissioners.
Furthermore, if there have been changes, do any of the changes affect or alter this detailed list of Park Infrastructure Improvements?
"The Park Infrastructure Improvements shall include only those
improvements available to, and that are expected to be used by,
the general public without exclusive or special use incurring to
MFP, (Miami Freedom Partners), which may include the following
infrastructure improvements: (i) site development work for the Park;
(ii) storm water management/drainage systems; (iii)grading and
paving; (iv) environmental mediation; (v) water distribution and
sanitary sewer systems; (v) electrical distribution and tele-
communications systems; (v) off-site roadway improvements; and
(vi) other additional infrastructure as may be necessary for the
proposed development of the Park and the project (the "Park
If these Infrastructure Improvements have been changed, then the whole deal has changed, and once again, who has seen these changes?
The way that the Beckham Group tried to downplay the Term Sheet, it was as if it was inconsequential piffle, not worth the time it would take to discuss.
But that's not true, the Term Sheet, while not binding, does sets out the general paramaters of the deal on which any final agreement will be negotiated later, and the without a Term Sheet, then you don't have any guidelines, how can the City Commission make an informed decision?
IF THE MAYOR, THE CITY MANAGER AND THE CITY COMMISISON NOT KNOW ABOUT THE TERM SHEET BEFORE THE MEETING WHEN DID THEY ACTUALLY LEARN ABOUT IT
They heard about it it the same time I heard about it, and the Commission heard about it, and everyone in the Chamber and watching the meeting on TV heard about it, from Erik Zichella, the Chairman of the city's Finance Committee.
When I woke this morning, I found this response to my request had come overnight from City AttorneyAttorney Mendez:
So yesterday, the Mayor denied knowing of the existence of a Term Sheet, and now the City Attorney is saying that they don't have a copy of the new and improved Term Sheet.
If they don't then what document is the city relying on to obtain the information on which they have publicly stated will be changes to the referendum language that will be introduced at tomorrow's meeting?
If the city is provided a copy of this new Term Sheet today, and actually circulate it to the members of the Commission, they will have blatantly violated the provisions of the 5 Day Rule.
If, on the other hand, the Beckham Group refuses to provide a new Term Sheet, then it becomes crystal clear that these guys are continuing to deal from the bottom of the deck, and can't be trusted, no matter how many time Jorge Mas says he's not doing this for money, but to leave a legacy.
The only legacy he's left so far is that he is a manipulative, lying billionaire whose actions to date support the claim that he's out to screw the taxpayers of the City of Miami so he can have his family name on a soccer stadium, and make as assload of money along the way.
It's Miami, Bitches!