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NUMBER 90 - JUNE --, 2019
HAVE YOU EVER HEARD THE JOKE ABOUT THE WAY YOU CAN TELL WHEN A LAWYER IS LYING IS WHEN HE OPENS HIS MOUTH - THIS IS FOR ALL THE FOLKS WHO LIVED ALONG THE BAY, COCONUT GROVE AND ALL OTHER PARTS OF THE CITY OF MIAMI THAT HEARD THE "MUSIC" FROM THE ULTRA MUSIC FESTIVAL
I discovered this jewel when reviewing the video of Last November 14th's, City Commission meeting where the revocable license agreement for the Ultra Music Festival was discussed and voted on.
The attorney making these comments was Miguel De Grandy, and I'm sure he would ask me to tell you that he apologizes for relying on a mathematician who did his calculations and created his formula in the desert, and I'm also sure that he would promise to look up the definition of science and to never substitute the word science for bullshit again.
This is relevant now, because in the next few weeks the lies, and there will be a lot of them will start flowing about the Beckham soccer stadium deal, and it's important to understand that a lot of what the lawyers will say then, just like what De Grandy said last November, will be bullshit meant to mislead, confuse and misdirect the public's attention from the fact that thanks to Boy-Toy Mayor Francis Suarez, Commissioners "Sellout" Russell, and Keon Hardemon, who can always be counted on for some interesting logistical twists and turns on his way to the money shot will be all enthused about how screwing the taxpayers and Miami's kids will be good for the city.
AN ULTRA TWOFER
YOU'LL NEVER LOSE MONEY BETTING THAT THE FOLKS AT THE MIAMI-DADE ETHICS COMMISSION BEHAVE WORSE THAN ANY OF THE ETHICALLY CHALLENGED POLITICIANS IN MIAMI
In the last 10 years, I have probably wirrten more stories about the unethical Ethics Commission than I have about any other agency of local government, and I still consider the above photo a classic example of how flagrantly Florida's Sunshine Law was violated by 3 members of the Commission in 2013, when retired Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Schwartz - holding the Blue folder - engaged in a private conversation during a public meeting - and not just any public meeting, but an official judicial hearing by the Commission with the Commission's Chairman, U of M law professor Charlton Copeland, while FIU Dean, Dawn Copeland looked on.
What were they discussing during this public meeting that required the judge to shield his conversation from the room full of TV and news reporters who were there?
They were discussing me.
Specifically they were discussing a Motion of Limine that had just been argued by the Commission's Advocate and Ben Kuehne, over whether Kuehne could use my past criminal history to challenge the case that was going to be presented that day against Miami City Commissioner Frank Carollo on a complaint that I had filed against Carollo for abusing the powers of his office by calling the Chief of Police on his cellphone right after he was stopped in Coconut Grove for a traffic violation.
Rather than take up a lot of time rehashing this case - the end result, which did not occur that day, but months later - was that Frank Carollo ended up pleading "no contest" to "Exploitation Of Official Position." (You can read about that part of the case, including watching a video of the plea HERE. You can see the whole video - 6 minutes - of the Motion of Limine argument and the violation of the Sunshine Law HERE, and you can read a larger story about the whole case, my compliant, and the various admissions made by the Chief of Police and the officer who stopped Carollo HERE.)
All in all, this was not only a sorry day for the Sunshine Law, but it was also a sorry day for the local news media who attended this hearing, because none of them seemed to know what the Sunshine Law was, nor as they in that room watching what was happening none of them understood that they were witnessing a classic example of the law being broken in their presence.
To this day, no one in the local media has ever written or said a word about the day that the Ethics Commission - including a law professor and a retired circuit court judge - shit on the Sunshine Law in such a flagrant way.
There are a lot of other stories that I could write about the unethical behavior of the members of the Ethics Commission, and especially the behavior of Judge Schwartz, who after 30 plus years of running his courtroom as a petty tyrant couldn't handle - without a gavel and a court bailiff to haul me away for contempt of court - having to deal with a citizen who knows his rights, and wouldn't tolerate his bullshit. To appreciate the judge's tender sensibilities, after I raked his ass over the coals for the above photo, including filing an ethics complaint against him and the other two board members in the photos - which as you can image was shit canned - the judge got a real attitude and after a big blowup we had on my ethics complaint against Donald Trump, his legal advisor and Miami-Dade Mayor Carolos Gimenez over the Crandon Park Golf Course negotiations in 2015, walked out of the room, threatened to resign, and then thought better of it and just stated that he would recuse himself from any complaints that I filed.
Here is a video of what happened after I notified the Commission that the judge couldn't just recuse himself because he didn't like me.
Section 286.012, Florida Statutes, provides:
"Voting requirement at meetings of governmental bodies.—No member of any state, county, or municipal governmental board, commission, or agency who is present at any meeting of any such body at which an official decision, ruling, or other official act is to be taken or adopted may abstain from voting in regard to any such decision, ruling, or act; and a vote shall be recorded or counted for each such member present, except when, with respect to any such member, there is, or appears to be, a possible conflict of interest under the provisions of s. 112.311, s. 112.313, or s. 112.3143. In such cases, said member shall comply with the disclosure requirements of s. 112.3143."
For the record, and contrary to the judge's claim that he could recuse himself because he didn't like me or my attitude, the law is very clear about when, and for what specific reasons a member of a public body can recuse themselves.
In short, a public official can only recuse themselves on issues when the issue, "would inure to his or her special private gain or loss."
Of course, what the law said made no difference to Schwartz, because why would anyone expect a guy who served as a circuit court judge for over 30 years to either know or obey the law - this is Florida after all - but when he explained why he would continue to illegally recuse himself, and then walked out the door, that not only represented another classic case of a violation of the Sunshine Law, but the refusal of his fellow board members to comment, or to do anything about it - Schwartz continues to sit on the Ethics Commission Board - tells you all you need to know about the caliber of legal ethics that this group practices, and why the million plus taxpayer dollars that are used to fund this bullshit agency could better be used to as toilet paper to wipe poor people's asses.
THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW
Earlier this month, the Commission released a copy of an Investigative report on "Ultra Tickets 2019." (The report is at the bottom of this story.)
I was focused on other stories when I got the report and put it aside, and when I finally got around to reading it, the very first paragraph caught my attention:
I was intrigued by the notion that an "anonymous" citizen had filed such a complaint - I am after all the only person in Miami who has written about "ULTRA tickets" - and wondering what the actual complaint stated, I made a public record request for a copy.
The response I got surprised me:
"We did not receive any complaints. The investigation was initiated
When I questioned what that meant, the response amazed me:
"The investigator was assigned to look into it, but the initial request
came from the executive director, in part sparked by your story and
the Herald ad.
Why would I be amazed? Because the third paragraph in the reported stated:
What this means is that two of the first three paragraphs in this so-called "investigative report" were predicated on lies. es that I would argue are violatons of the Miami-Dade Citizens Bill Of Rights, which are supposed to be administered by the Ethics Commission.
Truth In Government. No County or municipal official or employee shall knowingly furnish false information on any public matter, nor knowingly omit significant facts when giving requested information to members of the public.
What makes these revelations even more explosive is that the Executive Director of the Ethics Commission who sanctioned this fake report being released to the public is none other than Jose Arrojo, who last year retired as the Chief Deputy State Attorney, where he led, the office’s Special Prosecutions Units.
During that time, "he supervised all investigations and prosecutions of crimes committed by public officers and employees."
In short, this is really the guy who was responsible for so many powerful members of the Cuban Family and Friends Plan getting a free pass and a get out-of jail card from that office.
And if you think I'm kidding or making this shit up, unlike this fake investigation, here are 3 cases, with FDLE reports included, that you can read up on and make your own determination: Mayor Tomas Regalado HERE. Commissioner Willie Gort HERE. Congressman David Rivera HERE.
Arrojo, and his predecessor at the Ethics Commission, Joe "Let'em Go Joe" Centorino, the former Head of the Public Corruption Unit at the State Attorney's office were both planted in the Ethics Commission after they retired, first as a reward for past services of covering State Attorney Katherine "The Queen Of Swag" Fernandez-Rundle's ass, and secondly, to continue to cover her ass by making sure that the same powerful Cubans who skate past criminal charges also skate by ethics complaints.
This is why you got to figure that if a so-called investigation into the distribution of ULTRA tickets was predicated on lies, then the actual investigation would be pretty much a bullshit exercise in rope-a-dope.
HOW PHONY WAS THE SO-CALLED INVESTIGATION? POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU COULD HAVE DONE A BETTER JOB AND "HE" IS A CARTOON CHARACTER IN AN ANIMIATED MOVIE
In the fourth paragraph of this excretable opus of nonsense, the investigator, Robert Steinbeck - who used to be a Miami Herald columnist before he lucked up on this cushy job of pretending to fight crime and/or evil - identified the two individuals that he turned to for help in his investigation.
Before dealing with these two useless straw-men, let me describe to you what even a cartoon detective in an animated movie could have done with a shiny badge and the title of Inspector for the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission, especially since the allegations were based on stories that I had written.
He could have talked to me.
Had he done so, he might have learned that among the various loose strings that I have been trying to pull on related to ULTRA tickets was the one about the identity of a notorious ticket scalper who Miami police officers have referred to as "Ralphy." on their police bulletin board LEO Affairs.
I've been trying to track "Ralphy" down for a while now - well before the mentions on LEO Affairs, and I had managed - thanks to sources inside the police department - to learn the real identify of "Ralphy," who his family connection inside the police department was, photos of them together, the name of the city commissioner he allegedly got the ULTRA tickets from that he sold to cops, and even a couple cops who I felt, might under the right circumstances be willing to talk about all of this to investigators.
If Steinback had read my stories, he would have also seen that on March 30th - the 2nd day of the Music Festival - I had already posted photos of 3 guys who had been arrested for scalping tickets - or as the police report claimed, operating a business without a license.
Here's the photo of those 3 guys.
During the time that I spent outside of the entrances to ULTRA on that first day, I was able to identify what appeared to be 4 separate gangs - including the above 3 guys in one of those gangs - scalping ULTRA tickets for $350 a pop.
In addition to those gangs, the walkway leading to the entrances were populated by at least 5 other men - operating independently - who were also scalping tickets.
A real investigator - especially one who wanted to get all the information as he could - would maybe have gone to the police station, got the arrest reports for these guys and then started looking for them to see if they might be interested in a little bit of "off-the-record" conversation, because even though they weren't implicated in any attempt to give "complimentary tickets" to "city employees," the fact of the matter is that they were in possession of tickets - in this case Blue wristbands as you can see in the below photo of a guy also scalping tickets, that had to come from ULTRA through a middleman, and maybe that rail would have led to a Miami city official.
I'm not saying that it would have, but if you're an "investigator" with a shiny badge and title and don't ask questions, you never get answers.
Maybe there might have been other leads that I could have given an investigator interested in actually doing his job, but we'll never know.
One thing we do know however is that the 2 city officials that Steinbeck did question were about as forthcoming and useless as a tit on a hog.
GEORGE 'THE FABRICATOR" WYSONG
It's almost astounding that the Ethics Commission would turn to Miami Assistant City Attorney Gorge Wysong for any sort of legal advice or opinion having anything to do with ULTRA tickets when, it was only last year that the Commission finally released their investigator's Close-Out Report on the 2014 ULTRA Ticket Investigation that included these two paragraphs:
As part of my story about the efforts of the ULTRA promoters to get the City Commission to let them hold their concert on Virginia Key last November - which is the meeting where Miguel De Grandy in the video above confused scientific facts with bullshit - I cited the above memo from Wysong as perhaps the the most obsequious, ass-covering legal opinion ever written by an Assistant City Attorney in an effort to cover the acceptance of free ULTRA VIP tickets worth several thousand dollars by his then boss, City Attorney Julie Bru.
Both Wysong and Joe Napoli, the Deputy City Manager, and second person interviewed, staked out a very narrow and legalistic area of focus related to whether the latest contract with the city allowed for tickets to be given to city employees, and denied that any employees had received any tickets in addition to the credentials issued to city employees who were required for various reason to be in attendance.
But like everything else in this report, that was bullshit too.
On April 19th, as part of my story about the ULTRA tickets, I established as a result of an email written by Guy Forchion, the Executive Director of the Virginia Key Trust on April 1st, to Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez that he received, and then passed on a total of 13 VIP tickets to employees of the Trust that had also received credentials.
The real story is not, and never has been whether the ULTRA promoters gave city officials a handful of free tickets as part of some sort of contractual agreement, but whether city officials, starting with city commissioners were given blocks of hundreds of tickets from the 3000 tickets that they allowed the ULTRA to do with as they wanted without any accounting of how they were distributed.
That was an issue that was initially raised by the city's Independent Auditor in 2014, and it remains the issue today.
IT'S A SORRY STATE OF AFFAIRS
It's a sorry state of affairs that the Miami-Dade State Attorney has taken over $109,000 worth of gifts - some of them expensive, and some of them from law firms - in the last 12 years, and had earned a reputation as not only the most corrupt state attorney in Florida - and that's a real accomplishment given the competition - but had also managed to control the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission by ensuring that her former lackeys are the ones hired and given $200,000 in salary-plus benefits to keep things under control.
It's a sorry state of affairs when a retired circuit court judge behaves like a spoiled child and has tantrums when a citizen displays the effrontery of exercising their rights as they are meant to be exercised, and in the process breaks the law repeatedly, all with the acceptance and acquiesces of his fellow board members.
It's a sorry state of affairs when an attorney, former prosecutor and now Executive Director of the Ethics Commission sanctions the release of a fake and totally bogus investigative report, containing a false claim of an anonymous source being the basis for the initiation of the investigation.
It's a sorry state of affairs when for years it's been common knowledge that public officials in Miami have taken just about anything of value that anyone has waved in front of them, including free tickets to all kinds of events, and done it so flagrantly, that even the Ethics Commission was forced to concede this in 2015:
"It should be noted that the City Commission has
repeatedly declined to adopt clear, reasonable, good
government standards on the use of free tickets to
sporting events, concerts at other government owned
- Michael Murawaski, Advocate
Commission on Ethics & Public Trust
It's a sorry state of affairs that it's been left up to a former bank robber to stand up against the consistent, flagrant and repeated abuses of the public's trust engaged in by these people because in Miami neither law enforcement or the news media have the courage to stand up and actually do their fucking jobs.
In short, It's Miami, Bitches!