CRESPOGRAM REPORT
MAY 23, 2014
BARRED FROM NUMEROUS GOVERNMENTAL COMPUTER NETWORKS FOR TELLING THE TRUTH
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BENDING OVER FOR DAVID BECKHAM

The nature of politics requires some flexibility when it comes honoring your agreements, but like so many other things in Miami, when politicians decide to honor a deal they’ve agreed to, it’s usually an exception, and not the rule.


Take for instance a deal that many of you reading this probably never heard about, or if you have, you’ve probably never seen the actual agreement.  That deal was called the Global Agreement, and it was voted on and approved by the Miami City Commission and the Miami-Dade County Commission back at the end of 2007.


I know, in Miami Banana Republic time, 2007 is a whole 7 years ago, and who can remember that far back, right!?!


Anyhow, the Global Agreement was the deal that the City and the County reached in order to come up with the money to finance the Marlin’s Stadium, the Port Tunnel, Museum Park, the Miami Streetcar program and to underwrite the annual operating expenses of the Arsht Performing Arts Center.  The deal involved a Three-Card Monti shuffling of monies between the OMNI and SEOPW CRA’s, and a lot of other hocus-pocus rearranging of the boundaries and extension of the life of the SEOPW CRA which has now become a problem because the county, seeing how much money that deal has generated for the SEOPW CRA now wants to get their hands on as much of it as they can.


But that’s another story for another day.


Back in 2007, the Global Agreement listed 7 specific projects that the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County the OMNI and SEOPW CRA determined were “of great benefit to the CRAs and the community in general, for reasons set forth below, and are supportive of said Projects.”


Here are two of those “Projects.”

IT’S A GOOD THING THAT BECKHAM AND HIS 
PARTNERS ONLY WANT TO BUILD A STADIUM 
BECAUSE THEY’RE SLICK ENOUGH TO TALK THE 
PANTIES OFF A NUN

Now, to be fair the language says “may be redeveloped,” and not “shall be redeveloped,” which in politics is like saying , ‘The Mayor sometimes in the next four years MAY decide to tell the truth,’ versus, “The Mayor sometimes in the next four years SHALL tell the truth.”


You can see the difference, right?


Politics in Miami operates on the MAY principle, and not on the SHALL principle.


In any event, this Global Agreement was a legally binding agreement and one of the signifiant outcomes of the agreement was the footprint and positioning of the Marlin’s Stadium, which was designed to allow for the possible construction of a soccer stadium.


That in and of itself is not an insignificant issue, since one of the problems from development perspective is that that vacant land could have been put to better use.


But it wasn’t, and it’s been sitting there waiting for the award by Major League Soccer of a franchise for Miami.


Well, that’s happened, and that’s why David Beckham and his partners showed up.


DAVID BECKHAM AS A 21st CENTURY SOCK PUPPET


Now, I don’t know David Beckham.  Never met him, and don’t necessarily  think I ever will.  But he is in many ways an eponymous example of the cult of personality and “branding” that have become the way that ideas and products are now “sold” to us.


Beckham is a guy who took a natural talent for kicking a ball, and with considerable hard work - and becoming a world-class professional athlete takes a lot of hard work - reached that rarified level of performance that made him a world-wide recognizable celebrity and that in turn, as a result of today’s skewed use of language made him a “brand.”  The Beckham “brand” is big with fashion designers and fragrance manufacturers and with the Sands Hotels and Casinos corporation owned by Sheldon Adelson.


Just a couple weeks ago he was in Macao where he showed to promote their new Venetian Macao Hotel and Casino.

David Beckham is a man of the world, and his skills have made him famous, rich, and as the above photo shows, a front man for people and companies far, far richer than he is who have purposely promoted and  manipulated his fame for their own financial benefit.


Beckham is not there for the heavy lifting.  He’s there to dazzle the rubes with his celebrity, and to take off his shirt and show his many tattoos or kick the occasional soccer ball when the photo op requires it.


That doesn’t make him a bad guy, and he probably understands and appreciates more than anyone else just how fortunate he is.


But having said that, the notion that he would come to Miami and start demanding that he MUST have his soccer stadium on public waterfront land - and that’s the only waterfront land that’s left is public land - has managed to piss off a lot more people than I believe he and his partners have any idea.


The big problem though is not Beckham or his partners and their demands - they are after all just like the Scorpion in the tale of the Frog and the Scorpion: They are what they are - as much as it is with these nitwit politicians like Carlos Gimenez and Tomas Regalado whose willingness to “bend it like Beckham,” underscores why the quality of life in the City of Miami and large portions of the County is declining with every minute of every day that tens of thousands of people in this community are forced to spend in their cars because of a lack of leadership and courage to tell developers that they can’t continue to pour concrete on every single piece of vacant land unless and until some serious and intelligent planning is undertaken to sort this current mess out.


To even consider, much less encourage a soccer stadium on the last significant piece of publicly owned waterfront land - regardless of who or who doesn’t pay for it - is so egregious an example of piss-poor political skill and leadership that hopefully not only will it galvanize the citizens to stand up and fight this, but also to make them realize that the whole collection of nitwit, corrupt and stupid politicians who have our community in a chokehold need to be run out of office!


It’s Miami. Bitches!


HERE IS THE FULL VERSION OF YESTERDAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE.  YOU CAN EITHER WATCH IT HERE, OR YOU CAN GO TO YOU TUBE AND DOWNLOAD IT.

I like listening to slick talkers: guys who are quick on their feet and capable of convincing you that a pile of shit on the table might actually be Shinola, and you better buy some quick before somebody else buys it all.


Listening to David Beckham’s “strategic advisor” John Alschuler at yesterday’s press conference I realized that if I was rich I wouldn’t mind,  for the entertainment value, to spend a few hours in a bar - if I could get him juiced enough to loosen him up - listening to him try to spin me into giving him some money for one of his deals.


Make no mistake about it, Alschuler is a world class spinner.  He can spin so fast that if you’re wearing a toupee in his presence, you better hold it down with both hands.


In the heat of the moment though it’s often difficult to keep up with the various story lines that get spun during a press conference and sometimes you need to sit and watch what was said two or three times to fully understand what actually transpired. 


Here are a couple of the claims that Alschuler made at yesterday’s press conference that warrant a responses as well as other information that needs to get some clarification.


IT’S ONLY PUBLIC MONEY AND PROTECTED PUBLIC LAND


Among the most important objections raised since the announcement was made that the Mayors of Miami and Miami-Dade County announced their support of the Beckham group filling in the FEC boat slip next to the AAA Arena has been the fact that the slip is part of the protected Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves established by the Florida legislature 40 years ago, and that the City of Miami, in 2011 passed a Resolution opposing this very act when the county government got it into their head to undertake a study to see whether this might be a good idea.  I am indebted to the folks at Eye On Miami who posted this resolution on the blog last week.

At the press conference yesterday,  Alschuler backtracked on that when he was asked if the new site would be as profitable for the group as they had envisioned the Port site would have been. 

Of course this answer is misleading on several points, first Alschuler’s claim that “we never envisioned that there would be a subsidy from commercial development,” is irrevelant because that what the $2 million a year subsidy they just got from the Florida Legislature is going to provide.


Secondly, only the future will reveal - if this deal gets approved by the voters - whether this team can support itself without attempting to dig into the taxpayers pockets for additional taxpayer support. No other local professional sports team has managed to succeed doing that so far, so I’d say the odds are probably pretty good that Beckham and partners will be crying poor mouth sooner or later.


Lastly, and most importantly is the fact that regardless of who’s idea it was to include the references to the marina for yachts, a high-rise luxury hotel, a couple commercial buildings and retail space that would include “ a pedestrian plaza likened to Rome’s “Spanish Steps” that would be lined with dining and retail establishments as well as a swanky year-round nightclub,” these guys were, and are, about using this stadium as part of a larger development deal.


Here’s Alschuler’s answer to my question on this subject.

I love the, “If there’s land that’s made available...” That’s the kind of answer you’d expect if you asked a polite Cokehead if they’d like to take a toot, “Well, if it’s available, sure.”


Of course if land is made available they’ll take it. Who wouldn’t? Nobody’s accused these guys of being morons. 


The only question is whether Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez will discover that because Beckham and his partners are such assets to the community there just happens to be a vacant pice of county land that they might be able to get to do a little sidebar development deal?


And I say this because NOBODY, and especially guys as smart as these guys are, are going to be content to spend $20-$30 million dollars - of mostly other investors money - to build a soccer stadium that’s only going to be used 25-30 days a year without attempting to parlay this stadium deal into some real money involving a commercial development deal of some sort.


WHAT IF THE UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI HURRICANES BECOME PART OF THIS DEAL?


A couple days ago, Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald wrote a story about Stephen Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins wanting to structure a deal with the county to get performance payments for hosting events at Sun Life Stadium. 


Here is the part of that article dealing with the possibility of the Hurricane’s moving from Sun Life Stadium to this new soccer stadium.

How would this affect the current proposal? Let’s take a look at this rendering that was included as part of the presentation.

Based on this representation, the footprint of the soccer stadium is 8.4 acres.  That’s for a stadium accommodating 20,000 - 25,000 seats.  A stadium for a major college football program would require a minimum of 50,000 seats, and more likely 60,000 or 70,000 or maybe even 80,000 seats given the fan base of the Hurricanes as well as a stadium capable of  accommodating bowl games.


Based on a preliminary Google search of other college stadiums, the footprint for a stadium able to meet the above criteria, that would also include Skybox Suites and all of the other amenities that are now expected to be part of a new stadium would require anywhere between 14 to 18 acres.


That increased footprint would result in having to reposition the stadium in the above rendering, and most importantly, it would reduce the amount of “new” parkland to the current size of Bicentennial Park.


THE PARKING PROBLEM


Whether it’s a 20,000 seat stadium, or an 80,000 seat stadium, from the beginning, a core concern raised by some folks was parking and the additional gridlock that would be caused by David Beckham’s demand that his stadium MUST be on the waterfront.


The Beckham group’s response to questions about parking was that they had commissioned a parking study and that study didn’t indicate that there would be any significant problems.  The problem with the results of that study however was that they refused to release it.  It was being still worked on was the answer when they were asked where the study was.


It looks now that Beckham and his partners have decided to forgo talking or producing any parking study. Here’s what Alschuler had to say about parking and traffic at the press conference.

The amounts cited above total $17,984,429.00 of taxpayer money spent in recent years to protect the slip’s seawall and making it possible to use as a mooring space to host events such as the Volvo Ocean Race.


When I raised the question of whether the Beckham Group was going to reimburse the taxpayers for this outlay of money, this was the response I got from John Alschuler.

This is a bullshit answer. The car analogy is completely inappropriate, and it’s both obvious that these people have absolutely no intention of reimbursing the taxpayers for these millions of dollars, and that he couldn’t get away fast enough from me, as evidenced in this and the other question I asked where he started looking for someone else to ask him a question.


This is a significant issue that should not be allowed to be ignored or brushed aside.  Time and again the taxpayer money is used to finance one deal or another, only to see the efforts of that money wasted when the politicians get another harebrained scheme in their heads.


In this case, only days ago I went to the FEC slip to take some photos and discovered that workmen are still there on the taxpayer’s dime fixing the area up.  That’s your tax money you’re looking at!

As to the legal issues involving the protection of this bay bottom, I refer you to the website of the Tropical Audubon Society, that has written a detailed letter about the legal issues surrounding the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve.


THROWING CARLOS GIMENEZ UNDER THE BUS


Back in April when Beckham and his partners made their their presentation for the Port of Miami site, they revealed that they also wanted to include a marina for yachts, a high-rise luxury hotel, a couple commercial buildings and retail space that would include “ a pedestrian plaza likened to Rome’s “Spanish Steps” that would be lined with dining and retail establishments as well as a swanky year-round nightclub.”

I reached out to the Miami Parking Authority to get a handle on just what their overview of the parking situation in downtown Miami is, but I have not received a response as of the posting of this story.


It is important to consider that if this deal is approved by the voters that by the time that this stadium is built there would also be an additional 3095 condo units a block or two from the stadium built as part of the World Center Convention Center project, and a sizable shopping mall which will be the first part of that project to be built. There will also be a 5th high-rise tower joining the other 4 high-rise towers on Biscayne Boulevard between 8th and 11th streets.


In addition there is always the possibility that the Skyrise Observation Tower might actually get financing and voter approval, and get built on the Bayside Marketplace property.


All of this will have an impact on traffic congestion in the immediate area and on available parking.


BACK IN THE DAY, THE CITY AND THE COUNTY MADE A DEAL AND THAT DEAL WAS TO BUILD A SOCCER STADIUM NEXT TO THE MARLIN’S STADIUM


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