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NUMBER 115 - AUGUST 1, 2019
ARE FRANCIS AND XAVIER SUAREZ USING A TAG TEAM APPROACH IN TAKING BIG BUCKS FROM FOLKS LOOKING FOR FAVORS FROM CITY HALL
Copyrighted: 2011,2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Politics is about a lot of things.
At it's best, it's about enacting laws and setting policies that make life better for citizens. At it's worst it's about the naked, money grubbing selling of votes and taking money for favors by public official all too willing to abuse the public's trust.
Miami has had a long, sordid history of the latter, and sadly a not so long or distinguished a history of the former.
Between Xavier and Francis Suarez, they've been in public office going all the way back to the 1980's, and contrary to what they might claim, Miami has never survived unscathed when one or both of these two has held office.
Xavier will go down in history as the only Mayor in the city's history to be removed from office for absentee ballot fraud, and Francis, after 8 years as a city commissioner managed to almost get arrested for an absentee ballot hustle that his cousin Steve and another campaign worker engaged in using teengage girls wearing wet tee-shirts as catnip the first time he ran for mayor.
A year and a half into his first - and perhaps last - term as mayor, Francis is well on his way to distinguishing himself as a weak and conniving little weasel, who like his father served as a punching bag for the crazy and vindictive Joe Carollo.
It's been pointed out by old timers that while local government in Miami has never been good, its always been really bad when both a Carollo and a Suarez were in City Hall together.
What could even be worse is having Xavier and Francis Suarez in public office at the same time, able to coordinate and work in tandem.
It's obviously the dream of being part of a unique political dynasty that is feeding the belief that Xavier will run for Mayor of Miami-Dade County next year.
A father and son dream could become a nightmare for the residents of the county and the City of Miami because the history of these two is that neither one can be trusted to rise beyond being professional political panhandlers.
In support of this claim I offer the following examples.
WHY MIAMI IS THE FIRST AND FOREMOST PLACE THAT BECAME KNOWN AS A SUNNY PLACE FOR SHADY CHARACTERS
While recently scrolling though Xavier Suarez's PAC donations, I came across a New York company named Construction & Realty Services that sparked my interest..
On May 30, 2018, Imagine Miami PC, Xavier Suarez's PAC, accepted a $7,500 donation from this company, which when I went looking, I discovered had been formed by a guy named Ron Lattanzio. The headline of a New York Daily news story about him revealed that he was the kind of guy who sooner or later has a chance of getting a Key To The City in Miami.
And here I'll bet some of you thought that it was only the local crooked, coke-partying developers and their fixers who were the ones giving money to local politicians.
I haven't a clue as to why this guy decided he needed to give $7,500 to Xavier Suarez's PAC, but anybody who shows up in Miami with this kind of history is definitely someone worth finding out more about, and so I went looking.
It turned out that Lattanzio was the founder/president of a whole list of New York companies that seemed to be involved in one way or another with building permits and building inspections, and who donated $13,000 to Francis Suarez's campaign for Strong Mayor.
He also incorporated a handful of Florida companies, including one called Golden Glow Private Provider, LLC.
One of the Vice President's of this company turns out to be none other than Mariano Fernandez.
In case you've been hiding out in the Everglades for the last couple years. Mariano Fernandez used to be the Director of the City of Miami's Building Department before he quit and went to work as the Director of the City of Miami Beach Building Department, where it didn't take him long to start applying the tricks he learned in Miami by taking what was euphemistically called "Unlawful Compensation." in his arrest warrant.
While the wheels of justice grind slowly - and given that this is Miami and the Family and Friends Plan was created just for guys like Fernandez who know where a lot of bodies are buried - maybe the wheels on Mariano's case will grind, like they have for others, until the Statute of Limitations runs out and his case miraculously gets dismissed.
His wife, who took full advantage of some of those "Unlawful Compensation" benefits managed not to get indicted - tell that to the teenagers who've been passengers in stolen cars and ended up going to prison for being accomplices - because she just happened to be a Circuit Court Judge, and instead of being treated as an accomplice she was recently "punished" by the Florida Supreme Court with the judicial version of the Family and Friends Plan.
Public reprimand indeed.
Poor people go to prison while a judge gets a reprimand for fucking and flying to Mexico and the Dominican Republic on bribes allegedly given to her husband, who has yet to go to trial because only the poor get speedy justice.
But I digress.
Suarez father and son received $20,500 in donations from companies controlled by this former undercover informant and alleged coke-partying, crooked building official from New York.
What did Xavier and Francis Suarez have to offer that ONLY THEY, of all the elected officials in South Florida got political donations from the companies controlled by Ron Lattanzio?
PART I - EVERYBODY WOULD LIKE HAVING A FRIEND LIKE LEWIS "MIKE" EIDSON
Any story that reveals how Francis Suarez managed to raise so much money in his run for mayor starts with local personal injury attorney and patron of the arts, Lewis "Mike" Eidson.
In June of 2016, approximately a year and a half before the actual election, the Miami Herald published its only substantial story about Francis Suarez's campaign financing. In that story, Herald reporter David Smiley described how most of the $591,000.00 raised by Suarez's campaign in May of 2016 had come from a giant fund raiser that Eidson, of the law firm Colson Hicks Eidson, had hosted where, "more than 100 people gathered in his upstairs living room overlooking the bay in a sort of get-to-know-you session with the candidate."
In addition to helping raise all that money, Eidson and his law firm collectively donated another $25,000 to Suarez's PAC, Miami's Future Inc..
During that same period of time Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez was being approached by law firms trolling for clients to sign on as plaintiffs in a contingency lawsuit against the companies that manufactured opioids.
On August 24, 2017, an email from one of Mendez's assistants informed the agenda office that Mayor Tomas Regalado wanted to support a Resolution authorizing the City Attorney to engage outside counsel to represent the city in such a lawsuit.
Sixteen minutes after that email arrived at the Agenda office, another email arrived stating that Francis Suarez wanted to remove Regalado and become the sponsor of that Resolution.
At the September 28, 2017, City Commission Meeting Suarez sponsored the Resolution and it was approved as part of the Consent Agenda.
On November 20th, in one of his first meetings after being sworn in as Mayor, Suarez met with Mike Eidson, City Attorney Victoria Mendez, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and two other attorneys representing other law firms.
After I discovered this meeting on Suarez's calendar, and learned that Colson Hicks Eilson had been chosen by Mendez to represent the city I started asking questions and requesting documents.
Among the questions I asked were how and when had Colson Hicks Eidson expressed an interest in this lawsuit, and had they ever done legal work for the city before.
In emails that I received from the city in response to several public record requests for a copy of the proposal that City Attorney Victoria Mendez claimed that Colson Hicks Eidson had made to the city, I learned that at least a half dozen laws firms had either approached the city with inquiries or offers to make a presentation regarding the opioid issue. Those law firms included both national and local firms such as, Drake Martin, Harke Clasby & Bushman, Cole, Scott & Kissane and Stull & Brody.
When I asked Mendez when Colson Hicks Eidson had submitted their proposal, she responded that it had occurred after the passage of the resolution, and she also acknowledged that they had never done any work for the city before submitting their proposal.
Although I made numerous requests, I was never provided with a copy of the proposal Mendez claimed Colson Hicks Eidson had submitted to the city.
On April 16, 2018, a complaint against a number of opioid manufacturers was filed in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Miami, and Colson Hicks Eidson was the lead counsel.
For those who pay attention these kinds of lawsuits often result in a major payday for the law firms involved.
On September 4, 2018, Joe Carollo filed a lawsuit against Francis Suarez, the City of Miami, City Clerk Todd Hannon, Miamian's For An Independent And Accountable Mayor's Initiative, a PAC created in support of Suarez's effort to become the Strong Mayor of Miami, and Miami-Dade 's Elections Department Director Christina White.
Even though he was represented by the City Attorney, on September 12th, Roberto Martinez, a member of the firm of Colson Hicks Eidson filed notice that he too was representing Francis Suarez.
Francis Suarez could have had Bugs Bunny show up to represent him - as long as Bugs was a licensed attorney - although it would have been superfluous because he was never personally at risk, but while Martinez showed up at the various hearings a search of Suarez's FORM 9 Gift Disclosures for 2018 and 2019, his annual Financial Reports for 2018, and the financial reports for both of the PAC's that were created to finance his efforts to become the Strong Mayor, none of them show a record that Roberto Martinez was paid for his appearances as Suarez's attorney, or that he did it, pro bono.
To understand what this means, in 2016, Martinez represented School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, when I filed an ethics complaint against him with the Florida Ethics Commission for failing to report thousands of dollars in "free" tickets to gala events he attended with his wife. The commission ruled that investigation of my complaint revealed "Probable Cause," but failed to impose any sort of fine or even so much as a "Letter OF Instruction," for him not to take anymore free tickets.
After the hearing Carvalho reported the "pro bono" legal services he received from Roberto Martinez.
Unfortunately what was never reported or revealed before now was that at the time that Martinez provide him with his pro bono legal services, he was also serving as the Chairman of the School Board's 21st Century Schools Bond Advisory Committee, a position that Carvalho had appointed him to in 2014.
Having Roberto Martinez, a former US Attorney show up in court on Suarez's behalf required that he either be paid, or that if he did it as a favor that it needed to be reported as a "gift."
But then Francis Suarez has taken a number of "gifts:" since becoming mayor that he has not bothered to reveal in a FORM 9.
PART III - DANCING WITH THE ONE THAT BRUNG YOU
Mike Eidson has been opposed to any and all plans having to do with the Coconut Grove Playhouse except his own.
The fight over the future - if any - of the playhouse has been going on for over a decade, and the arguments, counter-arguments, proposals, promises and behind-the-scene machinations among the warring factions could probably make for a compelling TV series.
One of the few consistent things about this fight, besides it lasting for far too long has been Eilson's efforts to keep the entire structure, and Xavier and Francis Suarez's decision to walk in lockstep with him.
All of the parties in this fight have passionate reasons why they believe as they do, and there is no reason to believe that either Xavier Suarez support, or Francis Suarez's veto of the City Commission's support for the county plan was made because of all of the tens of thousands of dollars that Eidson has given to both of them in recent years.
At the same time, it is those tens of thousands of dollars that bother a growing number of folks - $45,000 to Xavier, and at least as much is not more to Francis, plus the $500,000 or so he helped raise in 2016 - who rightly believe that no one gives these large amounts of money to a politician without expecting not only a return on that money, but a show of loyalty and support on the issues that they care about.
THE AMERICAN DREAM MEGA MALL
On April 23rd of 2018, I wrote a Two Part series entitled, The Politics Of Money.
In , I detailed how Suarez had raised $2,602,700.29, and spent $2,171,491.60 to win the race for mayor against 3 opponents who collectively raised and spent $1,200.
On October 10th of that year, after it was evident that Francis Suarez was the new mayor and just waiting for the polls to close on election day before declaring himself the winner, a New York "homemaker" from the Bronx named Marina Ghermezian, decided that this was a good time to donate $10,000 to Suarez's PAC, Miami's Future, Inc..
A search of public records turned up that Marina Ghermezian was the wife of Don Ghermezian, the president of the family behind the efforts to build the American Dream Mega Mall in northwest Miami-Dade County.
As Mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez did not have any direct influence over a project that would be built in the county, but his father, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez would, and while in 2015 he had voted against this project, by January of 2017, he had changed his mind and joined 9 of his fellow Commissioners as the Miami Herald reported that in a, "10-1 vote, the commission granted American Dream’s request to let the approval process move to Tallahassee before the application comes back to Miami-Dade for a final vote later this year."
In May of 2017, Miami Today, reported that the company was hoping to get final approval in October of 2017, an act that did not occur until May of 2018.
Along with the $10,000 that Marina Ghermezian gave to Francis Suarez, the Ghermezian family also gave some members of the county commission and Mayor Carlos Gimenez another $35,000 before the vote.
Conspicuously missing was a donation to Xavier Suarez, which could be taken as an indication that that Daddy X had told the Ghermezians to give his "donation" to his son.
At the time, the $10,000 donated to Miami's Future Inc., was more money than the Ghermezians had donated to 4 of County Commissioners who received money.
When you have a father and son in the position that Xavier and Francis Suarez find themselves in, money donated to one might be seen as an effort to try and influence the other, and the possibility of that happening is bound to serve as the basis for troubling speculation, especially since in this case, the Ghermezian family had no problem in openly donating a total of $35,000 to other County Commissioners and two political action committees tied to Carlos Gimenez and one to Jose Martinez, yet instead of donating money directly to Xavier, the wife of the president of the company gave Francis' PAC $10,000 a week before the election and well beyond a time that there would have been any legitimate reason to donate money to a campaign to a guy who had already collected $2.6 million, and was only waiting for the voting booths to close before declaring himself the winner.
It's this kind of activity that has, and should make everybody leery about any effort by Xavier Suarez to run for mayor of Miami-Dade County, because this kind of double-teaming of deep-pocket donors looking for favors and handouts from this father and son team is among the things that Miami does not need more of.
It's Miami, Bitches!