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NUMBER 63 - APRIL 21, 2019
KNIFE FIGHT AT MELREESE - THE MAS BROTHERS AND DAVID BECKHAM WILL PROBABLY NEVER BUILD THEIR SOCCER STADIUM AT MELREESE, BUT BEFORE THAT ISSUE IS RESOLVED THERE'S A MOVE TO PAYBACK CHARLIE DELUCCA AND THOSE WHO HAVE FOUGHT AGAINST THE BECKHAM SOCCER STADIUM DEAL. CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE IS THE 1ST TEE PROGRAM WHICH FRANCIS SUAREZ IS WILLING TO SACRIFICE AS AN OBJECT LESSON OF WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CROSS HIM AND PISS OFF RICH CUBANS LIKE THE MAS BROTHERS
Mayor Francis Suarez has taken a lot of shit since last summer when his backroom deal with Jorge Mas to turn the Melreese Golf Course into the site for a BILLION DOLLAR real estate development that included a 25,000 seat soccer stadium, for a minor league franchise promised to David Beckham by his former employers, MLS was first revealed.
The anger over this deal by several commissioners, most notably Manolo Reyes, who seems to get angrer at every meeting, along with Commissioner "Comemeirda," who after claiming credit last summer for being the one who pointed out the benefits of Melreese to Jorge Mas, and then voted to support the placement of the Referendum question on the ballot, has now begun to pull one of his famous 180 degree spins as he threatens, if the contract with Mas does not meet his expectations. to introduce a Resolution calling for an RFP to be issued that would open up the property to bids from anyone with an idea of what to do with the property.
At next week's commission meeting, in what appears as both a slap at Reyes and Willie Gort, the other commissioner who has opposed this deal - Melreese is in his District - Suarez is going to try and inflict some payback for all the grief he's suffered from them by sponsoring the following Resolution, which on it's face doesn't seem to be devious at all.
The basis for the Resolution is an allegation that Charlie Delucca, who since the 1980's, when Steve Clark was rolled into City Hall in a wheel chair to cast the deciding vote needed for DeLucca to be awarded the lease to the golf course, has been accused of playing fast and loose with the way he's run the city owned property, including operating, or allowing others to operate businesses using the golf course's address.
When you look at the actual Resolution however, you'll find that of the 20 businesses that have been alleged to be operating illegally, it's only one named is the 1st Tee Program.
Of course, nothing is ever as it seems in Miami, even when the schemers are scheming, and included in the speculation as to why Suarez decided to do this now is a belief by some that it is a ploy by Suarez to mousetrap Carollo, and create a separation between him and Reyes and to a lessor degree Gort.
Carollo after all was the guy who initially raised the issue of the illegal businesses operating from the golf course which would put him in an awkward position.
If he votes for this Resolution, he'll earn the wrath of all of the folks who support the 1st Tee Program, and no doubt piss off Manolo Reyes.
If he votes against it, he'll be pillared by Suarez, the Mas brothers and their followers for being a two-faced weasel, who when he had a chance to strike a blow against his arch enemy Charlie DeLucca, refused to do so.
You can say what you want about House Of Cards or Game Of Thrones, but the Cubans At Miami City Hall, make all the fictional TV shows look like amateur hour at a junior high school.
Because it's Miami, it turns out that perhaps the claims about all of these illegal businesses operating out of the golf course might not be what they were claimed to be.
Here is a copy of q letter from Delucca's attorney Thomas Korge, to Assistant City Attorney Daniel Diaz, that was a response to an August 6, 2018 letter to Korge sent by Daniel Rotenberg, the Director of Real Estate and Asset Management (DREAM).
The letter identifies each of the 20 companies, alleged to have been operating illegally, and provides an explanation of what they do, and their relationship to Delucca.
City Attorney - Daniel Diaz... by on Scribd
Of course, in the midst of this battle we're once again reminded that Francis Suarez is so politically ignorant that he often fails to see either the trees or the forest.
Shortly after he was elected, Suarez accepted the title of Honorary Chairman of the 1st Tee's Young Ambassador's Board.
And then there are all the promises and commitments that Suarez has made since last summer about saving the 1st Tee program. I would post the videos, but everyone who has followed this fight already knows about these promises, which now appear to be on par with such famous promises such as, "The Check Is In The Mail," and "I promise I won't..." you know the rest.
To appreciate how far down the tracks Suarez has already taken this ploy, here is a copy of a draft lawsuit naming the 1st Tee folks as defendants.
IN THE CURRENT PISSING MATCH BETWEEN CARLOS GIMENEZ AND FRANCIS SUAREZ, ONE SHOULD NEVER LOSE TRACK THAT AT THE END OF THE DAY IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT FOLLOWING THE MONEY
A week ago that Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez wrote to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez after he appeared before the Miami City Commission looking for support in his battle with members of the Miami-Dade delegation to the Florida legislature who were intent on doing away with the hated MDZ, the agency that controls the toll roads in Miami-Dade County.
Suarez responded a few days later, but I was in the middle of writing my story about the ULTTA tickets, and because I couldn't download the videos that had accompanied his response to Gimenez, I passed on posting his letter.
Now, Joey Flechas from the Herald, has posted a letter Gimenez wrote in response to Suarez's response.
If they keep it up, the could end up with enough letters to publish a book.
I don't have the time to really get into the weeds trying to sort out fact from fiction between these two guys, who are obviously waging a fight that goes way beyond any policy differences over the future of the MDX, but one paragraph in Gimenez's latest letter did catch my attention.
If what Gimenez claims is true, then there is a very legitimate question of why would the City of Miami be taking money from the general fund to subsidize it's trolley system?
I would think this is something that inquiring minds might want to get to the bottom of?
It's Miami, Bitches!
NOTICE OF COMMUNITY MEETINGS
PHOTO OF THE DAY - COMMISSIONER "COMEMIERDA" CAUGHT LURKING AROUND LITTLE HAVANA AGAIN
Remember last year when Commissioner "Comemierda" got caught lurking around behind Ball and Chain with his pal, batshit crazy Frank Pichel?
He got embarrassed when the photos were published, but that didn't stop him from his continuing efforts to keep track on what Bill Fuller is up to.
Below is a photo of the Commissioner going undercover. Once again, he got caught in someone's back tard.
When wildlife officials discovered that Carollo was lurking inside he alligator costume, they congratulated him on how realistic it was.
Carollo responded that he had a friend named "Bubba," who made it for him, and that he was able to use money from his Special Events Fund to pay for it, since he expects to wear it again at his 4th of July party at Josi Marti Park, where he'll let the neighborhood children ride on his back, until he decided which one he wants to eat.
When Deborah Stander shared her thoughts with me on the the Magic City Innovation Center, I realized that they pretty much mirrored my thoughts, and that she probably explained it better than I could, so I asked her if I could post her email to me, and she agreed.
Here is her letter:
As you know, the Magic City Special Area Plan in Little Haiti has recently generated even more controversy than usual. It's hard to escape the impression that the SAP application, which was apparently proceeding pretty much according to standard protocol, has now been thrown off-course by a new Development Agreement presented to the City Commission for a First Reading and vote on March 28th.
This new Development Agreement is a completely different animal from the agreement that was reviewed and approved by the City's Planning, Zoning & Appeals Board in July of 2018. In and of itself that should be enough to give folks pause because review by PZAB is a standard requirement of the SAP application process as it moves through the pipeline towards final approval by the City Commission. If media reports are to be believed, the terms of the new Development Agreement were negotiated just within the past few months, behind closed doors, by Commissioner Hardemon, the developers, and, presumably, the members of the Little Haiti community who are pushing for it.
The agreement that PZAB approved last year (with conditions) provided for payment of "public benefits" substantially as regulated under Miami 21. Public Benefits contributions would become payable for every square foot to be built above 12 stories, which is the "of right" ceiling established by the underlying zoning for the Magic City development. Given Miami's affordable housing crisis, a portion of these public benefits were to go towards low income housing -- specifically, 7% of the residential units to be built by the developers were to be allocated to affordable housing and 14% to be allocated to workforce housing on an "as-you-go" basis. The low income housing didn't have to be built on-site -- the credits could be applied to low income housing up to within 1500 feet of the project, including projects being built by other developers. City Planning Director Francisco Garcia states that this previous agreement would have yielded a net increase 600 new units of low income housing. He says he calculates each unit at $200,000 "per door." So Garcia was looking at this project to yield $120 Million of affordable/workforce housing benefits for the Little Haiti community. (N.B. Not ALL of the $120 million would come directly from the developer's public benefits contributions -- some apparently would also come from other sources, perhaps matching federal and other grants. But the point is, the net yield would be 600 units, worth $120,000,000 in value to the community and the City).
The new agreement eliminates "public benefits" as they are spelled out and regulated under Miami 21. Instead, it has coined a new term called "Community Benefits," not regulated by Miami 21, all of which are to be spent in Little Haiti exclusively. These Community Benefits take the form of a contribution of $4.03 per square foot of building activity, starting on the ground floor, with a cap of $31 million for the life of the project. There's also a sizable area that has been set aside and will be exempt from payment of any contributions. The developers say the project could take 15+ years to build -- possibly as long as 30 years to build if the real estate market takes a dive like it did in 2007. Of this $31 million, the developers promise to pay $6 million "up front" -- within a few months of approval of the SAP application. They are saying that this up front payment is being made to offset the impact of inflation and cost of living increases on the remainder of the money ($25 million) which will be paid out at an unspecified time over the entire life of the project and will not be pegged to any index to adjust for inflation, cost of living or market fluctuations. Affordable housing has been put on the back burner. There is no specific provision for how the money will be used or for how much, if any, will go for affordable housing.
So the conditions upon which the SAP was approved by PZAB have been completely tossed out the window under this new agreement.
And Francisco Garcia himself is not happy with it. He says that with the previous agreement he had a safe, predictable way of tracking and enforcing payments of public benefits contributions that was consistent with the City's role as regulatory authority for the project. The amount of the contributions are published, regulated and enforceable under Miami 21 and are adjusted every year based on the verifiable market value of the underlying property. Garcia is concerned about the enforceability of the unregulated "Community Benefits," concerned that there is no stipulated timeline for payments, concerned that they are not pegged to cost-of-living increases, and he says he wants to go back to pegging these contributions to the published amount -- currently $10.81 per square foot above the 12-story "of right" threshold -- substantially as regulated under Miami 21.
Even the developer, at the Commission hearing on March 28, said that he would be happy to go back to paying public benefits, starting at the 12th floor.
Seems to me Commissioner Hardemon and the community group who are pressuring to have this new agreement approved by the City Commission have a lot to answer for, and a lot of people to answer to, before they can or should expect to get this deal approved.
For those who did not attend the last Commission meeting where this proposal was approved after a 1st Reading, here is a video copy of the portion of the meeting where this was discussed so you can catch up with what has already been discussed, and she where Deborah got some of her her information from.