Support The Crespogram
NUMBER 72 - MAY 6, 2019
TICKETS, TICKETS, WHO GOT ULTRA TICKETS? SINCE MY FIRST STORY ABOUT THE VIP ULTRA TICKETS ON APRIL 19TH, IT'S BEEN A BUREAUCRATIC KNIFE FIGHT WITH THE CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE IN AN EFFORT TO GET MORE DOCUMENTS BECAUSE SOMEONE IS OBVIOUSLY AFRAID OF WHAT I WILL DISCOVER IF I DO
Ticket scalpers were the easy ones to spot, it's the city employees who did their deals behind closed doors
One of the few things that I discovered after my first story on April 19th about the ULTTA VIP Tickets - besides the length to which Daniel Rotenberg, the Director of the Department of Real Estate and Asset Management (DREAM) was willing to go to thwart my requests for documents - was that contrary to the claims made by City Manager Colonel Klink, at the City Commission meeting on March 28th about how the city had every thing under control before the music festival started, many of the city employees who would be on the island that weekend did not want to drive their cars to the event, for fear of being caught up in the cluster fuck that occurred.
In response to this question about ferry tickets, Michael Gaid, the Associate Business Counsel for ULTRA, in an email to Yvonne Hernandez, the assistant to DREAM, Director Daniel Rotenberg wrote that:
To paraphrase George Orwell, all employees in the city are equal, but some were obviously more equal then others when it came to getting on and off the island without hassles.
The list that would identify those 27 members of "the City's leadership," who got these VIP Tickets with Ferry Passes is just one of the documents that the city continues to refuse to provide me.
THIS IS HOW THE CITY BEHAVES WHEN IT COMES TO PUBLIC RECORDS THAT THEY KNOW WILL PROVE TO BE EMBARRASSING.
In the days that followed my April 19th story about the ULTRA VIP Tickets that I revealed had been given to the staff of the Virginia Key Beach Trust, I found myself engaged in a nasty exchange of emails between myself, J. Gigi Soliman, the new Assistant City Attorney assigned to be the public records gatekeeper and City Attorney Victoria Mendez.
One of those email strings ended with this email from Mendez taking me to task for never being happy.
This is what happens when you are not specific and this is what happens when you are a bully. People go above and beyond to accommodate your exhaustive requests. You don’t appreciate it. You are never happy. You are never satisfied. Take it to court. Otherwise, let my office do its job. Happy Passover. Happy Easter. Maybe you will find a kinder, gentler you.
Victoria Méndez, City Attorney
Calling me a bully and worse, is a frequent retort by Mendez whenever I write an email that hits a nerve about the refusal of someone in the city refusing to propvide me public records, and so to firmly set the legal groundwork for a possible lawsuit I rewrote my public record request to Daniel Rotenberg as specifically as I could, and sent it off on April 29th.
Included in my revised request was the documents I wanted.:
'This is a request to YOU, for any and all emails that were
created or received on the computer in YOUR office, and
therefore accessible by YOU at the time of this request for
a copy of any correspondence YOU had with anyone from
March 25th thru April 11th, the date of my original request,
regarding being provided, being asked for, or thanking
anyone for any ULTRA Music festival tickets.
In addition to any email correspondence, I am also asking
for copies of any text messages to or from YOU from March
25th, to April 11th, regarding being provided, being asked
for, or thanking anyone for ULTRA Music festival tickets.
Lastly, this is a request for copies of any paper documents
from March 25th thru April 11th, to or from YOU regarding
being provided, being asked for, or thanking anyone for
ULTRA Music festival tickets." (Emphasis mine)
You can read that complete request, as well as the other email strings referenced in this story, HERE.
Two days later I received a notice that the documents that I had previously been told would cost $57.25, including a Special Service Charge of $42.81, and required a multi-day computer search had now been uploaded to the city's Next Request webpage. You can access and download all of those emails HERE.
YOU WANT EMAILS, WE'LL GIVE YOU EMAILS
When I first logged on the Next Request page I thought for a moment that perhaps Rotenberg and the city had decided to quit playing games, and that they had, even if might have been against their best interests, actually provided me with the documents I had asked for.
No such luck.
This is the original list of documents that I was notified were provided in response to my rewritten request to Rotenberg.
The list looks impressive but, it only took me a few minutes to realize that something was drastically wrong with these documents.'
Here is one example that shows what I mean.
All but two of the documents listed above were single page emails like the one above, with the identity of the sender blacked out, and with no accompanying emails that provided context to the message, as the one above that states, "All sorted."
It took me a while to figure out that what Rotenberg had done - eventually confirmed by the city - was that he taken the text messages he had exchanged with Sandy York, the General Counsel for ULTRA, and had cannibalized the contents by converting each comment in these text messages into separate emails which he then sent to himself, and then which were provided to me as the emails I had requested.
In short - and those of you who have any familiarity with the public records law will appreciate this, what he did was create "new documents" in order to deprive me of the actual documents - in this case text messages - and by doing this, the City Attorney's Office, with the aid and assistance of Assistant City Attorney J. Gigi Soliman, essentually tried to claim that these "new documents" represented a good faith effort to comply with my request.
My discovery of this prompted a less than friendly new email exchange between me, Ms. Soliman and Ms. Mendez, which last Friday resulted in my being provided with the 14 text messages from Sandy York, that Rotenberg used to manufacture his emails. (See HERE.)
Here is an example of one of those text messages between York and Rotenberg that he then cannibalized into 3 separate emails.
In doing this, Rotenberg not only attempted to illegally shielded the identity of the person he was exchanging text messages with, but he also purposely engaged in behavior intended to deprive me of the documents I had initially asked for, in the format that they had been create, as well as the opportunity to make any sense of what some of these separate email messages meant, and he did this by creating, "new documents," a practice that the City Attorney repeatedly tells folks who seek public records that the city will not do.
In addition to these problems, in my April 20th letter to Rotenberg I had specifically stated that I wanted ALL documents between March 25th and April 11th.
To date ALL of the documents I have received have been limited to those having been created between April 27th and April 29th!
This discovery of this kind of behavior would, in some cities be grounds for being fired, but not in Miami, where even city commissioners whine about not being provided with the documents that they ask for.
WHERE ARE THE LISTS OF WHO GOT PASSES/TICKETS/CREDENTIALS?
While there is evidence that even the city is unclear as to how many city employees - such as police, fire, solid waste and code enforcement - were provided credentials:
And so it goes in the city where the municipal government could easily pass for an organized criminal enterprise, and where the local cops, the FDLE and the FBI along with the Ethics Commisison and everyone else who in a normal city would be expected to be focused exclusively on how many of these grifters and crooks could be hauled off to jail, stand around with their fingers up their asses because,
It's Miami. Bitches!
I conveyed my felling about all of this to Mr. Soliman on Saturday, May 4th, and almost immediately reseived another whiny email from her boss, Victoria Mendez.
There are also references that from the emails and text messages that ULTRA and Daniel Rotenberg maintained separate lists of individuals, who were provided passes/tickets beyond the police, fire, solid waste and code enforcement employees who were on site for obvious reasons.
In an April 11th email to Xavier Alban, regarding my initial public records request - who was at the time still the Assistant City Attorney in charge of overseeing public record compliance - Rotenberg wrote:
This admission raises the question of when and how this list - and other lists - were created, and that goes to the issue of my request for documents starting on March 25th, and going to April 11th, beyond the first day of the event on March 29th.
This again underscored Rotenberg's failure to fully comply with my request for documents, and to add insult to injury, the 13 text message came with this smart-ass email from J. Gigi Soliman, on Friday May 3rd.
I could not refrain from responding.