Support The Crespogram

If you were to believe Joe Carollo, he's a populist defender of regular folks in Miami, and of being strict and staunch supporter of respecting procedural process.

At last week's Commission meeting, during the discussion on whether he and his fellow commissioners should support Commissioner "Selfie Boy" Russell's bid to use million of the 00 million Miami Forever Bond Issue approved by voters last November in order to provide money to the owners of lower-income homes in the West Grove, one of the arguments that Carollo raised in opposing Russell's effort was that Russell was attempting to use this money without first allowing the citizen oversight board authorized by the referendum to review potential choices for how this money was to be spent.

Here's what Carollo said:

The week before this Commission meeting, Carollo, as Chairman, chaired a meeting of the Bayfront Park Trust.

When he opened discussion on a new contract  for the ULTRA Music Festival this is what he said about following the procedural process that would have had the members of the Trust vote on the new contract before forwarding it to the City Commission for review, a practice that had until then had always required the Trust vote first on the contract . (Unlike other city meetings, the Bayfront Park Trust does not video record their meetings, but they do audio record them, and you can hear the complete discussion of this item HERE.)  

To paraphrase the old adage:  What was good for the goose, was not good for the gander.

Carollo went on to reveal that the proposed contract that he and the ULTRA representatives had negotiated - a copy of which no one on the Trust Board had seen - was in the hands of the City Attorney, and that he expected her to complete her review by the July 12th Commission meeting, where Carollo wanted his fellow Commissioners to be the first ones to consider and vote on this document.

So much for respecting procedural process.

Carollo's claim of why he didn't want the board to hear or vote on the specifics of the proposed contract was predicated on a combination of demagogy, lies, and mis-direction.

Here's the salient part of Carollo's rant about why he needed to circumvent the procedural process that incorporates all of his lies and mi-direction.

         "Too many games are being played. I'm going to put it on

          the record, in my 40 years in government I have never seen

          an outside institution, an outside corporation try to pressure

          so much like ULTRA is...This park doesn't belong to ULTRA,

          this park doesn't belong to us here, the board of director, the

          city commission. It doesn't belong to any of the other people

          who have or want to have a contract with Bayfront Park.  It

          belongs to the residents of Miami, all the residents. And, I will

          say this frankly, I know that if for any reason it doesn't look

          good for ULTRA - this is why I'm putting it the other way

          around for this board - ULTRA's going to push with all the

          lobbyists that they've hired - an army of them - to get the city

          commission to vote, to either dissolve this body, this trust,

          and, or get rid of me as Chairman in December, so that with

          me not being here (unintelligible) and other members of this

          board that will replaced and changed ULTRA can get their,

          oh, I don't know, 5,10, 20, 100 years contract."

His attempt to portray himself as the only one capable of standing between "an army" of ULTRA lobbyists and their rapacious desire to obtain a multi-year contract is laughable because that claim is in direct contradiction to the language that is in the draft contract he submitted to the City Attorney's Office for review and approval.


Section 7.1 of the draft contract I obtained from the Trust deals with the Use Fee for the years 2019 - 2028. Yes, that's right, 2019 - 2028, which makes this new contract a 10 YEAR CONTRACT.  (You can look at copies of the last contract and the draft contract HERE.)

Although the Miami Herald story on Tuesday described this as a 5 year contract with a 5 year option, the truth of the matter is that this contract was always negotiated on the basis that it was going to be a 10 year deal.

That acknowledgment was contained in an email to Carollo from Sandy York, ULTRA's general counsel, who in disputing a proposed change by Carollo to the agreement that she thought they had reached on the increased payment of million that Carollo brags about, but which in reality is actually only an increase of .2 million in new money, stated that the deal, "had always been structured as a 10 year arrangement." (See the letter HERE.)


Carollo has often been called paranoid, and given his behavior and the way in which he does things he has reason to worry that are people after him, because they are.

At the same time Carollo likes to manufacture paranoid claims of being pursued by enemies because that feeds into his self-created persona of being under attack for being a champion of the people.

Take for instance his claim that the reason that he had to bypass allowing the Trust Board to vote first on this contract was because:

           "ULTRA's going to push with all the lobbyists that they've

           hired - an army of them - to get the city commission to vote,

           to either dissolve this body, this trust, and, or get rid of me

           as Chairman in December, so that with me not being here

           (unintelligible) and other members of this board that will

           replaced and changed ULTRA can get their, oh, I don't know,

           5,10, 20, 100 years contract."

That's all silly nonsense, and a smoke screen put out by Carollo to misdirect people from paying attention to what he's really up to.

The Miami City Commission is made of of 5 members, and to get anything done you need a minimum of 3 votes.

This means, that of the remains 4 members of the Commission, 3 of them would be required to vote to remove Carollo as the Chairman of the Trust?   Who are the 3 commissioners who would do that?

Not Manolo Reyes or Willie Gort, because they are the other two, along with Carollo, who make up what's widely considered as the Cuban Mafia majority that currently control this Commission. These guys are as thick as thieves, and they know that no matter what they might think of each other privately - Carollo did after all drop the dime on Gort that got the FDLE to open their investigation into his accepting 8,000 in unreported campaign signs from the outdoor advertising company that had a contract with the city -  when it comes to covering each other's backs, they are like the 3 Musketeers. They are the ones who control the votes necessary to protect Carollo from going anywhere he doesn't want to go.

That leaves the Chairman, Keon Hardemon and Commissioner "Selfie Boy" Russell.  Hardemon is focusing on running for County Commission when Audrey Edmonson gets termed out next year, and he's not going to do anything to risk that by going along with any deal to take away Carollo's Chairmanship unless Reyes and Gort  led that effort, which they won't. That leaves Russell, who definitely would vote against Carollo, but who no longer has much support or respect from his fellow Commissioners.

This was evident when Russell actually wanted to introduce an ordinance to do away with the Bayfront Park Trust two meetings ago.  Not only did Russell have NO SUPPORT - let me repeat that, HE HAD NO SUPPORT - but Willie Gort even so far as to congratulate Russell for withdrawing his ordinance.

That doesn't mean that in December when the Commission rubber stamps the various Chairmanships of the agencies that they chair, there won't be some fireworks, because you can start betting now that there will be, only it won't be Carollo who gets bounced from his Chairmanship of the Bayfront Park Trust, but rather that Carollo, Reyes and Gort will gang up on Commissioner Russell and strip him of one or both of his chairmanships.

As a betting man, I'd be putting money on these 3 guys taking the OMNI CRA away from Russell and giving it to Reyes, and taking the DDA away and giving that chairmanship to Gort.

Instead of being the Great White Hope, Russell has become the Great White Dope, and he's managed in just 2 years not only piss off just about everyone at City Hall with his arrogance and lack of political skills, and as anyone whose watched any of the recent Commission meetings has seen for themselves, Russell has become Carollo's personal punching bag.

The claim that his fellow commissioners would remove Carollo from his Chairmanship of the Bayfront Park Trust on the instructions of an "army" of lobbyists is completely bogus, which then raises the question of who are this so-called "army" of ULTRA lobbyists.


As a cornerstone of his populist rants, Carollo has made lobbyists his enemies. They are the ones who are out to get him and intent on stopping him from doing what's right for the people of Miami.

It's all crap. Lobbyists aren't bogeymen out to get Carollo, and if anything, in this case the lobbyist is actually his partner in crime.

In my last story about Carollo I pointed out how days after he was sworn in as a City Commissioner in December of 2017, Steve Marin, long-time lobbyist and campaign manager/consultant/conduit and bagman for numerous Miami City Commissioners and Mayors, signed on as a lobbyist for ULTRA.

That did not happen by chance.

Before Carollo and Manolo Reyes were elected, Brian May was ULTRA's principal lobbyist. Brian May is now gone, and Steve Marin is ULTRA's principal lobbyist.

There are 8-9 other people registered as lobbyists for ULTRA but they include the 2 owners of the company, their marketing guy, and the lawyers handling the paperwork, who in an abundance of caution all registered to cover their asses.  

ULTRA has only one real lobbyist, and that is Steve Marin.

To appreciate how this happened, and the amount of influence that Marin has welded over the years inside of Miami City Hall, consider that In the 2017 election cycle, Marin received payments totaling 13,369.65 for campaign services including canvassing and producing campaign materials and mailers for Francis Suarez's campaign for Mayor, and for Joe Carollo's and Manolo Reyes' campaigns for City Commission.  

In the 2015 election cycle, Marin received payments of 58,500 from Willie Gort re-election committee for campaign consulting, mailers, and other campaign services. He also received payments totaling 1,850 from Francis Suarez's unchallenged re-election campaign, and in the last 5 months of her loosing campaign to replace her husband, Teresa Sarnoff's campaign made payments to  Marin totaling 17,095 for advertising costs.

These payments total 11,114.65.

From 2008 to 2015, Marin was seen as the go-to lobbyist who you needed to hire if you wanted the vote of Marc Sarnoff and Francis Suarez.

In 2011, Carlos Gimenez Jr., for some inexplicable reason sent an email to an anonymous blogger who used to publish a blog called Investigation Miami, describing the process surrounding the award of the original contract for the Red Light Cameras, and more astounding, revealing how business was actually conducted by the Miami City Commission when it came to Steve Marin, Marc Sarnoff and Francis Suarez.

I've published this letter on several occasions and once again, here is the salent part of Gimenez's description of how Marin operated, and how Sarnoff and Suarez were in cahoots with him.  

Gimenez has had his ups and downs since he wrote that letter, but he's done well since Carollo was elected.  He and his wife Tania Cruz, who worked on his campaign, became part of the select clique that included Marc Sarnoff and Alex de la Portilla at the by-weekly gatherings in Carollo's office on Commission days, and in the last 3 months Gimenez acquired a handful of high-priced new clients: Jungle Island, Formula One, Hyatt Equities and Miami Beckham United.

In fact, life so far has been good for Carollo and his pals like Sarnoff, Gimenez Jr. and Marin, but not so good for a lot of other folks, including the folks who live in the condos that face Bayfront Park, who having tired of showing up at meetings to bitch about how the park has been converted into an event space, served the City and the Bayfront Park Trust with the Cease and Desist letter that I posted earlier this week.

Carollo's response to all of this will no doubt be that he has a responsibility to maximize the amount of money that the city is able to receive from all of the properties it owns because hard financial times might just be around the corner.

That's tue.

The city in the next year or two could once again find itself in a downward spiral of decreased tax revenues and increased expenses, especially as a result of having to cover the pension costs owed to police and fire created by the illegal financial urgency measures that the city used to deal with it's last financial downturn.

But make no mistake, while all of that is possible, none of it justifies the way that Carollo is doing what he's doing, the lies he is telling, or the opportunities he is working hard to create for his pals who are cashing in on their relationship to him.

In fact, there is every reason to believe, that contrary to a belief that I once held that Joe Carollo was an honest guy, I now believe that he decided to become a City Commissioner again not to save the city from the scammers and schemers like he claims, but like a lot of other people, to get rich while the getting is good.

Joe Carollo is showing that he's out to screw a lot of the residents of Miami, and contrary to his claims that he sympathies with the frustration and anger of the people who live in the condos across from Bayfront Park who are fed up with the noise and the park being turned into an event space, they are the first ones he's decided to screw..

It's Miami, Bitches!

NUMBER 56  -  JULY 5, 2018