THE SELECTIVE WAY THAT THE MIAMI HERALD GOES ABOUT MAKING SURE THAT THOSE ON THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS PLAN NEVER GET THEIR DIRTY LAUNDRY EXPOSED TO THE PUBLIC LIKE THE DONATION THAT SHOWED UP IN THE PAC SUPPORTING KATHERINE FERNANDEZ-RUNDLE'S REELECTION THE WEEK BEFORE THE PRIMARY
If, as some of you believe that I've doubled down recently on my criticism of the Miami Herald, you're absolutely right.
My focus has always been on the topics of municipal governance, public corruption and misuse of public money, and on those topics the level and quality of coverage by the Herald has been getting worse every year.
I admit that I cover the politics of political campaigns with less enthusiasm than others do, and I do tend to sidestep or ignore the daily political fist fights between candidates.
Instead, my focus tends to be on the money collected and spent by candidates by both their regular campaign accounts and by the ECO's and PAC's created to support their candidacy.
In this regard, I not only find the Miami's Herald's coverage woefully slanted, but worse it's reflective of what so many now recognize as the Family and Friend's Plan that has become woven into the fabric of both politics and governance in South Florida.
THE "BIZARRE" STORY OF ROGER SANTANA
In the hot house of South Florida politics very few people have ever heard of Roger Santana, which is because he's a guy who ran for and lost - came in 3rd - a seat on the Bay Harbor Village Council.
Of all the stories of funny money, political hanky-panky and devious actions intended to screw the pooch that have occurred so far this year among well known, and seriously funded political campaigns the Herald decided to go with revelations about the low level mopery committed by Santana in failing to report how he spent $3,250 of money that he had loaned his campaign - in fact the story claims that Sanatana's campaign was financed solely by himself - was worthy of a full blown, detailed story with expert commentary by local elections expert, attorney JC Planas, on how he was "at a loss" to explain Santana's failure to provide an explanation for why he had not revealed that he had not provided a detailed accounting of the payments he made to a local political operative, "mailers and consulting work." (You can read the complete story .)
NUMBER 179 - AUGUST 24, 2020
This story allowed the Herald to claim that they were reporting on political hanky-panky while making sure that they did not embarrass or step on anyone's toes that was currently under the protection of the Family and Friend's Plan.
THERE'S A CORNACOPIA OF STORIES WHEREVER YOU TURN
After reading Leibowitz's story I chided him on Twitter for making this story into a "federal case," when in fact it was a case of low level mopery in the third degree, and then went on to provide a list of other, more worthy stories that involved real South Florida political players and real money.
The first involved former Miami City Commissioner, and now lobbyist and attorney for the City Commission in the lease for the Mel Reese Golf Course Marc Sarnoff, and his and my pal, Commissioner Joe "Comemierda" Carollo, who Sarnoff donated $40,000 to Carollo's ECO from his PAC, Truth Is The Daughter Of Time, and which mysteriously never showed up in Carollo's ECO's financial reports.
$40,000 IS REAL MONEY, and given both the proclivity of Sarnoff to engage in "Pay For Play" - who at the time had several major lobbying clients in need of favorable votes by the commission - and Carollo's history of shaking down folks needing a favorable vote by the commission, it was not an unreasonable assumption to believe that the $40,000 represented a bribe in the form of a campaign donation.
Putting aside speculation as to intent, the fact is that $40,000 was reported in BLACK and WHITE to have been donated to Carollo's ECO from Sarnoff's PAC, and was never accounted for by Carollo's ECO. .
Then there was the revelation that days before the primary election, when Renier Diaz de la Portilla did not know whether he would win, lose, or end up in a runoff - which is in fact what happened - he made two transfers of $25,000 and $50,000 to his brother Alez's PAC.
The transfers are not in and of themselves illegal, but given both Alex's well documented history of looting his campaign and PAC accounts to cover his living expenses, and the stories that have been making the rounds of Renier sitting with Alex in his office and other locations when he engages in meetings with individuals looking for his assistance and vote on an issue important to them, there is a legitimate question as to why Renier would transfer $75,000 THAT HE NOW NEEDS FOR HIS RUNOFF CAMPAIGN to his brother's PAC.
And then of course there are the questions about who is behind some of the donations like the 2 donations totaling $80,000 that Renier's PAC received from a Delaware company being fronted by Miami attorney William Riley.
Who would be so eager to see Renier Diaz de la Portilla on the County Commission that they would pony up $80,000? Or for that matter, why would the donations of so many on the list below be tied to companies inside the City of Miami that currently have business before the commission on one issue or another?
The antics involving the Diaz de la Portilla brothers will continue, and while they certainly deserve a lot more coverage than they've gotten to date concerning the who, how and why's of the money that Renier has collected, and Alex has spent, a more interesting story about campaign money involves the PAC created to support the candidacy of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle's reelection.
KFR AND THE PAC THAT SUPPORTS HER
Fernandez-Rundle received a dubious, and high controversial, "With reservations" endorsement by the Herald the weekend before the primary election which set off a firestorm among some in the community over the obvious thumb on the scale that this endorsement, coupled with a lack of in-depth coverage - you can see just how much coverage the Herald has given Fernandez-Rundle - that for the most part focused narrowly on just two complaints about her management of the state attorney's office: A failure to prosecute cops who have killed civilians over the last 27 years regardless of the circumstances or evidence, and the failure to prosecute anyone for the murder of Darren Rainey in the shower at the South-Dade Correctional Facility.
There are so many other issues that the Herald has ignored or sidestepped over the years, from the failure of Fernandez-Rundle to prosecute public corruption which , to Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo who has violated the City Charter's Section 4 (d) on bypassing the City Manager to order city employees to do his bidding so many times that it might as well be removed from the Charter, or to the antics of any of a handful of other high profile Cuban politicians who she's protected over the years like a mother duck herding her little collection of baby ducks across a busy highway.
There's also her willingness to accept what have to be considered as legal bribes from lawyers, law firms, sundry lobbyists and high rollers in the community, , and that's before the revelations on the hundreds of thousands of dollars her charity received from a handful of rich criminal defendants resulting in their cases being dismissed or downgraded to misdemeanors.
The Herald has always demonstrated a convient amnesia when it comes to chronicling the past history of local politicians at election time, and Fernandez-Rundle has certainly been a beneficiary of that amnesia, because along with the issues above the Herald got amnesia when they failed to include , or the $110,000 in donations from Puerto Rico - many of them from fictitious individuals and addresses - , that were alleged to have been funneled to her from her boyfriend.
For a public official whose supposed to be above the fray, and conduct her personal and professional life with an eye on avoiding even the appearance of corruption, Fernandez-Rundle and the people who she entrusts her reputation seem to like to skate on the edges.
For instance, .
At the time of my story, the PAC had collected $133,500. Since then, the PAC collected another $117,500.
Buried in the list of the latest donations was one for $3000 that was logged in as deposited on August 13th, that should cause folks in the news media to say, "What The Fuck!"
Right under a nice $10,000 from MASTEC - aka Jorge & Jose Mas of Melreese Golf Club/David Beckham fame - is one from Armor Correctional Health Services.
Who are they you ask? .
You would think that one of those crackerjack, smart new reporters that the Herald has hired to juice it's so-called reporting would have been checking on the money going into these local PAC's, and that if a story about some guy who nobody knows about failed to properly account for the $3000 plus that he loaned himself and spent on his failed campaign, that maybe, just maybe, somebody at the Herald might have thought that $3000 from a major private prison medical provider with a laundry list of allegations of abuse of prisoners UNDER THEIR CARE might be of interest to readers, seeing as Katherine Fernandez-Rundle has a soft spot for prisoners being murdered by prison guards.
It's Miami. Bitches!
It's always amazing to read this kind of racist tripe from a guy whine about why anyone else would be ungrateful for having, "benefited from the largess of this Country," when the way they've managed to become a millionaire was by bribing politicians and peddling influence.
It's Miami. Bitches!
LOBBYIST ERIC ZECHILLA THOUGHT HE'D HAVE SOME FUN YESTERDAY ON TWITTER, "OWNING THE WOKETOPIAN LIBS." UNFORTUNATELY THAT FUN WAS BASED ON HIS RACIST BELIEF THAT NBA COACH DOC RIVERS HAD, "SO BENEFITED FROM THE LARGESS OF THIS COUNTRY MORE THAN MOST FOLKS IN TEN LIFETIMES," THAT HE SHOULD SHUT UP ON RACE RELATIONS. ZICHELLA QUIT HAVING FUN WHEN I SHOWED UP AND ACCUSED HIM OF BRIBING POLITICIANS
We are definitely living in strage times.
Take lobbyist Eric Zichella. He's a guy, who along with his partner Les Pantin represent a long list of clients at both the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County.
NUMBER 180 - AUGUST 27, 2020
Zichella has also for the last several years served as the Interim Chairman of the city's Finance Committee, a position he holds because of his appointment to that committee by Commissioner Joe Carollo.
You would think that being both a high-priced lobbyist, and also the Interim Chairman of a powerful committee overseeing the City of Miami's finances that he'd has some sense about making essentially racist comments on Twitter.
Yesterday, in response to a Twitter post from Stephen Hunter Johnson, an attorney with Lydecker Diaz, about the comments that NBA Coach Doc Rivers made about the police shooting in Wisconsin, Zichella weighed in by posting the comments below.
Hunter Johnson's response was:
Of course, not only do I not have any guilt about how I conducted myself in prison but he did not even remotely "establish" anything revealing that I was part of any white supremacist prison gang, although I've written in the past about my years as the President of one of the first Jaycee prison chapters in the country, and my involvement as both the Chairman of the Inmate Council in one prison I spent 4 years in, and well as being one of the leaders of the 1972 state-wide prison strike in Ohio - all incidents that were documented by newspapers in Ohio at the time - and I have posted on this site copies of stories I wrote about prison conditions, including this story about a Black guy on the verge of death at the Springfield medical Facility back in 1980.
In Zichella's diseased mind, I guess he would think this would qualify me for membership in some white supremist prison gang.
And then I showed up.
I don't mean to brag, but there are thousands of folks who have come to appreciate and look forward to my engaging in good, free-fo-all Twitter fight at 240 characters a punch.
Zichella and I exchanged about an hour or two of punches over the implications of his revealingly racist opinions about what is going on in our country as the result of the continued shooting and killing of unarmed Black men, and as it became apparent that more folks were joining in to take shots at him, Zichella, in the tried and true method of trying to shoot the messenger instead of dealing with the message, shifted from the issue of racism and started implying that I must have deep dark secrets of how I was able to survive the 20 years I spent in various prisons around this country, first insinuating, before finally coming right out and stating that I only did so by being a member of a racist, white prison gang.
I guess the big thing that really pissed Zichella off was when I accused him of legally, "bribing public officials."
It was after another hour or so of back and forth that I told Zichella I was moving off of Twitter to my blog to deal with this issue in depth.
I'LL GO OUT ON A LIMB AND SAY THAT IF THIS ISN'T BRIBERY, THEN DONALD DUCK IS A KANGROO
On September 30, 2019, Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo's ECO, Miami First, received a $10,000 from Zichella's lobbying firm, P3 Management NA LLC.
What's interesting about the timing of this "donation" is that TEN DAYS after Zichella made this "donation" to Carollo, Carollo returned the favor by reappointing him to the City's Finance Committee, where he presides as the Interim Chairman.
How sweet was this? Did Zichella bribe Carollo to reappoint him to the Finance Committee. He'll say no, but NO ONE goes around giving an elected official who has the ability to appoint them to a public board $10,000 just out of the goodness of their heart, especially when the elected official returns the favor 10 days later.
Even more basic is why would a lobbyist who represents clients before the Miami City Commission even be allowed to sit on a committee as powerful as the City's Finance Committee?
In addition to the $10,000 that he gave Carollo, Zichella seems to have covered his bets not only on the commission, but also on the possibility that current Miami City Commissioner, and county commission candidate Keon Hardemon would be sympathetic to his clients by giving him $9000 in October of 2019.
And just to make sure that he took care of the new Big Dog on the City Commission, Zichella has given Alex Diaz de la Portilla a total of $25,000 in donations.
All of this is from a guy who had the gall to write:
EVEN IN THE BANANA REPUBLIC EVERY VOTE COUNTS - EVEN A FELON'S
On the morning following the November elections of 2108, I went to the county board of elections and registered to vote. It was, as the headline in the photo above stated, the first time that I had registered to vote in 34 years, and it was made possible because of the passage of Amendment 4 giving felons the right to vote.
My first opportunity to do so came the following April when I voted in the election for the mayor and council people in the Village of Miami Shores where I live.
That morning I, like all the other residents were allowed to cast 3 votes, for the seats that were up for grabs among the 7 candidates. I voted for Crystal Wager, who became the mayor, Julio Martinez, who I knew wouldn't get elected but who's willingness to stand up and say things that many other residents wouldn't, and for Steven Loffredo.
I did not vote for political operative Christian Ulvert, who I had by then written about unfavorably. ()
The final vote for the third open seat turned out to be a tie. Christian Ulvert and Steven Loffredo each got 893 votes.
Had I not been allowed to vote, and had I not voted for Loffredo instead of Ulvert, Christian Ulvert would have won that election by ONE VOTE!
Loffredo went on to win the runoff election.
Never believe that your vote can't make a difference!
It's Miami, Bitches!
NUMBER 181 - SEPTEMBER 14, 2020
HOW TO PISS AWAY $100,000, AND LOOK STUPID IN THE PROCESS
NUMBER 182 - SEPTEMBER18, 2020
Yesterday, Circuit Court Judge Alan Fine, "struck down the (recall) petitions as illegal in violation of clear Florida law."
This should not be considered a surprise, because from the very beginning this recall effort was destined to fail.
To refresh everyone's mind, the idea for a recall petition came into the fevered brain of local democratic political operative Juan Cuba after he and Joe Carollo exchanged words at a city commission meeting, and Carollo with his usual flair for vitriol, called Cuba a bunch of names which caused Cuba to go off in a snit and declare that he was going to initiate a recall.
The only problem was that Cuba didn't live in Carollo's district.
That was the first problem.
The second problem was that the recall petition was a mishmash of issues including the various code violation fights that Carollo had been waging with Bill Fuller, the owner of the Little Havana Bar Ball and Chain and other bullshit that should have never seen the light of day.
The third problem was that Cuba didn't have any money to finance this recall effort, and when you add the fact that he didn't live in the district, it should have dawned on former City Manager and multimillionaire Joe Arriola, who for his own reasons decided to jump into the fight and annouce that he would put up the money to finance the recall effort - he supposedly spent $100,000 to pay for the initial petition signature being collected - that maybe instead of jumping headlong into the fight the way he did, he should have considered starting from scratch by having a petition written and reviewed by his attorneys that made more sense, along with making sure that the people behind the scene did everything by the book.
And so, the petition gathers were hired, they went out and collected the signatures, and instead of making absolutely sure that they covered their asses by submitting the petitions within the written and stipulated timeline, they got cute, and instead of submitting the petitions by 5 PM on the 30th day, as the law required, they emailed them in over the weekend.
It was a case of stupid is as stupid does.
Even then, when the petitions were challenged, Arriola and his lawyers could have made a decision that instead of trying to fight a long, protracted legal battle, they could have just jettisoned the petitions, formed a new committee, written a new recall petition, and just done it all over again the right way.
That was too easy for everyone involved, because by then everybody involved was determined to show everyone else how big their balls were, and so after at least a half dozen court hearings, and countless wasted hours involved in bullshit, the press release below spells out the result.
Once again, the citizens of Miami got fucked, and Joe Arriola pissed away $100,000 that coulda, shoulda been spent on something more productive.
It's Miami, Bitches!
LOOKS LIKE THE CAROLLO'S, MIAMI'S PREMIER GRIFTER FAMILY HAS RUN OUT OF MONEY
It's kind of hard to believe, but it looks like Joe Carollo has run out of money. In no small part, his ability to lean on deep pocket developers and others looking to buy a vote on the Miami City Commission have come to realize that Alex Diaz de la Portilla is now the top dog on the commission and that he is the guy whose hands have to be greased in order to get stuff done in the city.
It couldn't have come at a worse time for Carollo, because at some point someone is going to have to come to grips with the fact that his almost 18 month stall over dealing with the Code Violations that Bill Fuller revealed at his can't continue to be ignored, especially since it now appears that Carollo has all but abandoned the property, as evidenced by the comments included in a Non-Service Return on by a process server looking for Carollo's wife, Marjorie, that claimed the property is now, "vacant and vandalized.
NUMBER 183 - OCTOBER 5, 2020
There's not a lot of information that I was able to find on Velocity Investments, LLc, that is the company that is suing Marjorie in Small Claims Court, but between the fact that Carollo's $2 million house in Coconut Grove is now not only vacant, but vandalized, and Marjorie seems to owe somebody enough money that they've decided to go after them in court doesn't biode well for the guy who not that long ago was bragging about how he was going to run the city from his seat on the city commission.
Perhaps Adele Valencia - the city's almost non-existent Code Compliance Director might be encouraged enough by theis news to actually do her job and send code compliance inspectors over to 3230 Morris Lane, in the grove and see what's wp?
It's always going to be, It's Miami, Bitches!
GRANT STERN WROTE A STORY ABOUT A FATHER AND SON WHO OPERATE A CHARTER SERVICE AT OPA-LOCKA AIRPORT AND CALLED THEM MEMBERS OF THE RUSSIAN MOB. THAT PISSED THEM OFF, AND NOW THEY'VE SUED HIM FOR $15 MILLION. I THINK GRANT BETTER KEEP WEARING THAT MASK
NUMBER 184 - OCTOBER 23, 2020
No one shows up at a business with an order to shut them down an hour after the ordinance is passed if there hadn't been a well orchestrated plan in place just waiting for the commission's vote.
This ordinance, beside being a bullet crafted specifically for Bill Fuller also raises very serious concerns for every other business in Miami, who as a result of this ordinance could become the subject of this kind of vindictive and business destroying activity by the thugs who currently sit on the city commission and their hand-picked Butt-Boy City Manager, who can be counted on to continue to lie, cheat, and generally fuck over the residents of Miami on behalf of his masters.
You can bet that this fight is far from over, and you can also bet, if there was a place to lay some money down, that this bullshit attack orchestrated by Carollo, and sanctioned and supported by Noriega, Mendez, Pons and the other thugs on the city's payroll is going to come around and bite then in the ass in ways that they are not ever aware of yet.
The will be well deserved, but in the process, the taxpayers of Miami will probably find themselves on the hook for a couple million dollars.
It's Miami, Bitches!
THIS COULD BE THE SINGLE MOST VINDICTIVE, DESTRUCTIVE AND BUSINESS DESTROYING PIECE OF LEGISLATION EVER PASSED BY THE MIAMI CITY COMMISSION, AND TRUE TO FORM YOU'RE FINDING OUT ABOUT IT HERE BECAUSE THE MIAMI HERALD HAS SHAMEFULLY JUST QUIT PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT GOES ON IN CITY HALL
Even before he was sworn in as a city commissioner in 2017, Joe Carollo had already turned a lazer focus on putting Bill Fuller out of business.
Those of you who are regular readers remember the stories about Carollo dragging city officials and employees on walking tours and entering Fuller's properties illegally in an effort to find violations, followed by , and then there was , which resulted in the above photo, and of Carollo's vicious attacks against Fuller during several commission meetings including the one held on February 14, 2018, which eventually resulted in - which the 11th Court of Appeals in Atlanta has now ruled can go forward.
It now seems however, that in recent months Carollo along with his sock puppet enabler City Attorney Victoria Mendez were busy at work behind the scenes in a new effort to attack Fuller, which came first came to light through a usual misdirection play by Carollo at the October 8th Commission meeting.
The problem is that in order to what and how Carollo did what he did and the actions that took place hours after the ordinance in question was approved that resulted in the following "message" being released by Butt-Boy City Manager Art Noriega on Monday, required a degree of digging, because while these morons somehow continue to keep getting caught, it does take some focused sifting through bullshit to uncover what they're up to - a feat that consistently seems to illude the ability of the local news media who I purposely waited before doing this story in order to see whether Noriega's message below might have been enough to stir any of these lazy fucks out of their stupor.
NUMBER 184 - OCTOBER 28, 2020
In all the years that I've been doing what I do, a city manager has never been forced to release such a "message" to try and clean up a skanky piece of business, and to do so by lying in the process.
The plot to shut down Ball and Chain was a cooked up scheme orchestrated by Carollo, and enabled by Victoria Mendez, the City Attorney, Maurice Pons, the head of the Building Department and his fellow commissioners who pretended that they did't know what Carollo was really up to at the October 8th City Commission meeting where the below item was the very last item on the agenda.
Because it was a new ordinance, it should have been included in the list of new ordinances for First Reading, but by burying it at the very end of a long agenda it was the first step in making sure it could hide in plain site, because few people spend the time it takes to read and review All of the items on most city commission agendas.
While it was the last item, it actually was introduced by Carollo during the 7th item that came before the commission that morning. This item was a new ordinance, proposed by Commissioner Russell to deal with the waste and construction runoff into the Bay created by contractors who allegedly try to cut corners and save money by doing so.
Carollo introduced his ordinance by trying to tie it to the 2 houses in the West Grove that had generate so much attention after city officials - actually then Zoning Director Devon Zayas - flagrantly, and without any logical reason other than he sold the city down the river, gave the developer permission to do what he did.
Carollo use of this incident was a clear effort of misdirection, but then, since no one was pay attention, and since his fellow partners in crime were there to run cover for him, the ordinance easily passed unanimously on First Reading. Here is .(Click on NA1 - Amending Chapter 1 - Enforcement Of Construction Sites.)
On October 22nd, the ordinance came up for a 2nd Reading, and was the last item heard before the lunch break. This time, Carollo's pal Alex Diaz de la Portilla did the honors of moving the motion, and Commissioner "Sellout" Russell, in one of his obvious moves intended to suck ass, seconded the motion. It passed without comment. . (Click on SR 4 Amending Chapter 2/Article IV/Division 2)
Approximately an hour after passage of this ordinance, employees of the City of Miami Building Department showed up at Ball and Chain and served the following letter to Bill Fuller, shutting his establishment down.
NUMBER 185 - OCTOBER 29, 2020
After I posted my story yesterday about the way in which Ball and Chain was summarily shut down last week, I got a call from Zak Bush, one of the co-owners of Ball and Chain who informed me that prior to last week's commission meeting he had submitted a video comment for the public comments section of the meeting, and I guess to no one's surprise, the video was not played during public comments.
Bush told me that when he realized what had happened, and had his lawyer contact the city attorney, and after the usual hemming and hawing, she agreed to make sure that the video was aired.
It was, after the commission came back from lunch, and after city officials had showed up at the door of Ball and Chain to shut them down.
Some might see this as an egregious example of attempting to attempting to keep the public in the dark about what the commissioners were going to do, but I see it just as another Thursday.
Here is the video. His first comments deal with the ordinance that Carollo introduced last week to bar music in public places after 8PM. His second comments are about the ordinance that I wrote about below.