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ART NORIEGA, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE MIAMI PARKING AUTHORITY AND THE MOST LIKELY NEXT CITY MANAGER OF MIAMI HAS A HISTORY OF PLAYING FAST AND LOOSE WITH THE TAXPAYERS MONEY WHICH MEANS HE'LL FIT RIGHT INTO THE KLEPTOCRISY THAT IS MIAMI CITY GOVERNMENT
The last thing that Miami Mayor Francis Suarez should do at his 9 AM, Monday morning press conference is to appoint a new, permanent City Manager.
With all the problems that he faces to compound them by appointing a permanent city manager is just a really stupid thing to do.
Instead, he should appoint one of the Assistant City Managers as the interim City Manager and start trying to deal with the various problems that his cowardice has allowed to mushroom from irritants to full blown constitutional crisis, such as the brazen decision by City Attorney Victoria Mendez, who having thrown herself headlong into becoming a co-conspirator with the Gang of 3 - Carollo, Diaz de la Portilla and Reyes - to wreak havoc at City Hall, has decided that she will be the ultimately authority as to what the Mayor can and cannot veto.
Victoria Mendez is nothing other than an opportunistic, devious, lying and unethical attorney who has pulled legal opinions out of her ass that no one should pay one minute of attention to, but given that Suarez is incapable of looking her in the eye and telling her, "Listen bitch! I'm the elected mayor of this city and you're the appointed city attorney. If you don't understand what that means, I'm going to take you to court over this craziness, and then I'm going to put together all the examples of you professional malfeasance and file a bar complaint against you.
That's the only way to treat someone like Mendez, but sadly Suarez won't, because he is without question the single most cowardly politician I have ever personally had dealing with in over 30 years of dealing with corrupt and incompetent politicians in Florida.
Because he won't do that, and because he's hell bent on driving his part-time, ceremonial job of Mayor over a cliff, the odds are that he will probably end up appointing Art Noriega, the current Executive Director of the Miami Parking Authority as the new City Manager.
It's on that basis that I offer this review of Noriega's job performance, although even if he isn't appointed, I think it might be time that Noriega move on to the next chapter in his life.
ART NORIEGA IS NOBODY'S SAVIOR
Among the many unanswered questions about the possibility of Art Noriega becoming the next City Manager of Miami is whether or not he's as good an administrator as many people believe.
The reputation he's cultivated is based in large part on several facts that don't necessarily come together in a way that would promise that Art will be up to the challenge as he moves up in class.
First, Art's only bosses today are a 5 member Board of Directors who he's hand picked, and who he treats pretty much as sock puppets.
Secondly, the Miami Parking Authority has only one function:Parking.
They provide public parking, issue parking tickets and collect money for those parking spaces.
The MPA also had an ancillary responsibility to rent out the commercial space built into several of the MPA's parking garages, but that record over the years show that among other failures the Oak Street Garage in Coconut Grove and the Marlin's Stadium Parking Garages weren't anywhere as successful as revenue sources as everyone believed when those building were built.
If, as expected Noriega is appointed by Francis Suarez he will be leaving the warm comfort of the MPA where he's largely managed to stay out of the public eye, and jumping into the snake pit of the city of Miami with it's 20 some politically appointed department directors and over 4000 employees AND a dysfunctional city commission with a whiny, weak mayor who keeps looking for other people to solve his problems for him - witness the recent contract to former congressman Carlos Curbelo - who in the words of Miami Herald reporter Joey Flechas was hired because, "Mayor Francis Suarez wants his help in hiring staff, evaluating office policies and developing better relations with commissioners."
Those are pretty much the job skills that Suarez claimed he had when he was running for mayor
Depending on whose version you want to believe, the rumors bouncing around city hall are that Suarez allegedly offered the job of city manager to as many as 5 people who all turned him down, although from the beginning many believed that Art Noriega was the odds-on-choice and therefore everything else has been window dressing.
The one thing that isn't a rumor is that Art Noriega and Alex Diaz de la Portilla are closer than brothers, and that if Noriega becomes City Manager it will be because Diaz de la Portilla made it happen.
What does this mean for the politics at city hall? Right now the 3 vote majority is Carollo, Reyes and Diaz de la Portilla.
If one of my sources is correct, and there have been 2 or 3 different scenarios offered for the why and how this all will come down, as part of the trade off for appointing Noriega as the City Manager, Diaz de la Portilla will attempt to craft a new 3 vote majority of himself, Russell and Hardemon, leaving Carollo and Reyes once again in the minority.
If this does indeed play out this way, mark my words, this will not end well for Noriega, whose life expectancy as City Manager will be measured in months and not in years like his cushy job at the MPA.
Just that knowledge alone should serve as a Red Flag for folks, because who takes a job like the City Manager of a city as crazy as Miami, and not have an expectation that no matter how long he lasts there will be a payoff waiting for him at the other end?
This in turn leads one to consider the attributes that makes Noriega a good choice for Diaz de la Portilla.
Noriega unfortunately had acquired a history of being a guy who's become very confortable in treating public money like it was his own, either to spend on items that bolstered his image, provided him with entertainment, or more importantly to keep his political allies happy
For example, last year when Commissioner "Comemierda" Carollo needed money to finance his Last Friday concerts at Domino Park, who did he turn to? , and who also waved the fees on the city parking lot that they took over for that event.
CITY-WIDE PARKING DECALS
I first stumbled on how Noriega operated back in 2011 when I was writing about then Commissioner Marc "Pay For Play" Sarnoff and his cousin Neil, who after multiple Notice of Code Violations for operating an illegal law firm out of one of Sarnoff's houses on Shipping Lane in Coconut Grove, moved over to Jay Solowsky's law firm offices in downtown, and .
Every year Noriega would give his favorite politicians and others free City-Wide Parking Decals, which in some cases ended up on other peoples cars.
The commissioners didn't need decals, because they already had placards they could stick in the windows of their cars.
When I asked for a list of who he had given these decals to he claimed that the computer had eaten this list. That answer pissed me off, and after I filed a lawsuit against him in Circuit Court, he suddenly discovered that the computer hadn't eaten the list and turned it over.
NORIEGA HAS A SWEETHEART EXPENSE ACCOUNT
In 2010, as part of a nasty fight that developed when Mayor Tomas Regalado moved to put a referendum on the ballot to bring the MPA under the direct control the city, there was an audit done of Noriega's expenses, and .
That was in 2010, and Noriega hasn't changed his ways. In fact, a comparison between his free spending ways in 2010 and his expense account in recent years show that how he spent money back then was chump change to his activities now.
First, let's look at his contract with the MPA that details his salary, benefits including his expenses. This is an indication of what I meant when I wrote that Noriega has a board of directors that he treats like sock puppets.
Copyrighted: 2011,2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Putting aside the $288,000.00, the new SUV and regular benefit package and look again at the benefits highlighted in Yellow .
Then ask yourself, why would someone with those benefits trade them for a job as the city manager of a highly political and dysfunctional city, where the life expectancy of the job is at best, and I repeat, AT BEST, 3-4 years?
Then go back up and look at the highlighted portions and ask yourself why would Noriega walk away from the benefits highlighted in YELLOW, and an expense account that allows him to spend money on anything he wants as long as it's approved by Tom Jelke, the MPA's Board Chairman.
ART NORIEGA AND HIS MAGICIAL AMERICAN EXPRESS CARD
Noriega has always portrayed himself as a player and a big spender, and he's been able to do that because he uses public money to underwrite that image.
In his 2018 and 2019 AMEX receipts, there is an expense that is labeled TBJFOUNDAT:
When Noriega wasn't being community minded, he was honing his real estate skills as a "Mastermind" just in case he needed to get a side hustle.
NUMBER 4 - PARKING DEVELOPER
Here he pays $3600 for his annual membership to the Miami Chapter of the , where he identifies himself as a "Parking Developer."
With his demonstrated lack of respect for the taxpayers by treating <PA money as if it was his own, Noriega will quickly pick up where Emilio "Colonel Klink" Gonzalez left off in screwing the the taxpayers of the city of Miami every which way but loose.
But, and this is a big but, what I've described above, and what it portends for the city is chump change as for the real reason why Art Noriega would be willing to leave the comforts of the MPA for the wild, wild west of Miami City Hall.
Stay tuned, it's gonna be an It's Miami, Bitches year! that you'll bde able to tell your grandchildren about.
TBJFOUNDAT stands for the . Jelke just happens to be the same Tomas B. Jelke who has been the Chairman of the MPA Board of Directors for years.
Here is the invoice for that AMEX expenditure.
Art Noriega, using taxpayer money - and let's be very clear that the MPA is a city agency, and every penny of the money collected by that agency that does not go to the operation of the agency is money that should be transferred to the city's General Fund - charges $1631.80 on his MPA AMEX card to play golf with three others at a golf tournament benefiting a foundation run by the Chairman of his Board, who then is the one who signs off on that expenditure.
NUMBER 2 - WE ALL LOVE LITTLE CHILDREN
Along with playing golf, Art Noriega also loves little children, and he shows that love by donating to children's groups.
In October of 2018, he donated $5000 to the Children's Home Society.
Below is the invoice for that donation, and if you look at the highlighted portion you will see that it states: "Contributions will help build bridges to success for children in the Big Bend area."
It's wonderful that the kids in the Big Bend area are getting much needed help, but the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of kids within the city limits of Miami that also need all the help that they can get, and that $5000 of taxpayer money could have better been spent on the hometown kids whose parent might have been dinged by one of those $36 parking tickets that the MPA now issues.
NUMBER 3 - A STALWART SUPPORTER OF EDUCATION
On top of his duties as the Executive Director of the MPA, he's a strong believer in public participation of community groups. One of those groups is the , where Noriega is currently a board member.
As a dutiful board member he contributed money to the Council, and no, he didn't contribute money from his own pocket, he contributed $5000 of taxpayer money.
Here is the notice of his membership payment.
Noriega is always a guy you can count on for a good cause, like this one.
NUMBER 5 - THE MIKE SENA FOUNDATION
Here's the charge in Noriega's AMEX statement. Notice how it says MIAMI. Well, I don't know what that means, but the actual Michael Sena memorial Foundation/Fund/Race is in Deep Park, New York.
Again, I'm sure that this is a worthy cause, but why would city of Miami taxpayers be seeing their money go to fund some charity foundation in New York, when the cemeteries of Miami are full of your men and women who died from drugs or alcohol abuse who's memories could benefit from local parking fee money?
I literality could go on and on listing questionable expenses that Noriega has racked up in the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, but I'll stop before your eyes get exhausted from scrolling, and finish at Joe's Stone Crabs, because this is Miami, and you're not allowed to consider yourself a player unless you show up at Joe's Stone Crab once in a while.
Below is a commitment form for $3000 worth of stone crabs at Joe's. The charity was the local chapter of the Children's Home Society.
That's right, Noriega decided to give some of those parking monies to the local folks, but remember this, while he gave $5000 to the folks up in the Big Bend area, he only gave $3000 to the local folks, so even when he's charitable with city tax money he makes sure that folks somewhere else get more of tax money than the local folks do.
NUMBER 50 - FEBRUARY 23, 2020
NUMBER OF THE DAY
This is how much the City of Miami Police Department says it has cost for the ON-DUTY police officers who guard the Mayor's house and family from October 2, 2019 to February 10, 2020. This amount does not include the Sergeant-At-Arms at City Hall, the vehicles, the travel costs, nor any other home security costs before October 2, 2019.