FEBRUARY 9, 2015







Dear Commissioner Hardemon,

A year ago a lot of folks, including me, had high hopes for you and the possibility that you might represent a new beginning for District 5.  Today, the big question is whether you will still be around in a year, or whether your high-handed ways, continued disrespect of your constituents and know-it-all attitude will lead to a recall effort to get you out of office.

Folks were willing to overlook the baggage of your family and your relative inexperience when they elected you because they believed that you were supposedly smart, well educated and offered a generational promise that those attributes, along with the energy of youth would lead to your rolling up your sleeves to work with the folks in your community in an inclusive way to address some of the myriad of problems that make District 5 the worst place to live in Miami.

Instead of walking the streets of your District and acquainting yourself with the problems that begged to be looked at, you started jetting off to Washington and New York. Instead of attending community meetings where you could hear first hand the concerns of the residents of your District - especially those folks up in the Northeast section of your District  - you sent your staff.  When people wanted to set up meetings to talk with you, you ignored their requests. 

In the almost 5 years that I’ve been writing this blog, the protest organized by the Miami Worker’s Center and held in front of Miami City Hall in response to comments you made to the Miami Herald regarding the terrible conditions in several buildings owned by Slumlords who the City recently sued was the first time that I, or anyone else, had ever seen folks so pissed as to actually show up at City Hall to protest against the actions of a Commissioner.

It took the embarrassment of calling you out through a protest in front of City Hall for you to meet with these poor folks about a severe housing problem that is in YOUR District!

And when it came to your actions at the December 29th SEOPW CRA meeting, you pretty much demonstrated that you were little more than a petty dictator.

It was those actions that prompted the community meeting at the St. James Institutional Missionary Baptist Church to talk about what you had done.

As you had done at the December 29th CRA meeting you demonstrated just how little respect you have for the folks that you represent, because instead of engaging in a thoughtful and factual explanation of how you made the decisions you made regarding the award of the $90 million in CRA Tax Increment Funds to the developers of the Miami WorldCenter project, you made your presentation all about YOU, and in the process you ended up acting like a third-rate street corner preacher with a bad parody of Chris Rock thrown in.

Instead of trying to address the issues in a calm and thoughtful manner, you spent your time trying to convince the folks in the room that they should be grateful that YOU were looking out for their interests - even though the reality of your actions proved otherwise - and between hitting yourself in the head with the microphone and pacing the floor and acting like a preacher trying to get the audience to go along with a call and response supporting your high opinion of yourself, I realized that you had obviously been watching too many Chris Rock comedy specials.  The only thing you didn’t do was drop the microphone on the floor before walking to the back of the room.

It was a jive-ass performance of half-truths and flat out lies unbefitting you and disrespecting the people who look to you to represent their interests as the City Commissioner for District 5.

Worst of all, you and Neil Shriver both blatantly attempted to mislead folks when you claimed that you were FORCED - let me repeat that - that you were FORCED to give the developers $90 million in tax increment funds because if you hadn’t, the deal would have fallen apart.

Unless those Worldcenter lawyers walked in the room with guns and stuck them in your face, YOU WEREN’T FORCED TO DO ANYTHING except look out for the interests of the residents of the CRA District.

You didn’t do that!

The so-called deal that you claimed you were FORCED to go along with was largely made up of unenforceable pledges and bogus hiring promises, and was actually was worse in some regards than if you had done nothing!

Here is the analysis of your deal that was handed out at the meeting, and which you refused to address in a substantive way.

For this crap you gave away $90 million in future Tax Increment Funds that could have been spent in far better ways to benefit the residents of Overtown.

As the analysis above points out, your claim that you got the best deal you could doesn’t hold any water because deal or no deal, the end result when it came to construction jobs for the folks living within the SEOPW CRA District remained the same: the developers AREN’T REQUIRED to hire a single construction worker from Overtown, or from anywhere else in District 5, in order to comply with the agreement because the only enforceable provisions that the developers and the contractors need to honor is to hire construction workers from within Miami-Dade County, and even then, only a total of 30% of unskilled labors and 10% of skilled labors need to live in Miami-Dade County.(Section

Even worse, you inexplicably managed to negotiate backwards on the County’s “Responsible Wage” provisions by reducing the established rate of $14.50/hour plus $4.67 in benefits, to $11.58 if health benefits are provided, and $12,83 if no benefits are provided. (Section

You also claimed - and you tried to make a big deal of it - that you negotiated a better rate for Journeymen Electricians.(Section  Of course, you failed to mention, and it was left to other people at the meeting to point out that you failed to negotiate a better rate for the iron workers, carpenters, masons, or any and all the other skilled trades.

But again, even if you had, your so-called negotiations  failed to include any enforceable provisions that would HAVE REQUIRED that workers living within the SEOPW CFRA boundaries, or for that matter living within District 5 would have been able to get A SINGLE ONE of those jobs because like the contract says the only enforceable provision is the one that requires that construction workers are residents of the County and not the City or Overtown.

If you look honestly at the terms of the agreement above, you have to agree with the conclusion that everyone else has reached that you  basically gave away $90 million in taxpayer money for an unenforceable labor agreement, a reduction in the County’s “Responsible Wage” provisions, a  minor increase in the rates for journeymen electricians, and an insider deal where 3 retail outlets in the Worldcenter Mall controlled by SEOPW CRA insiders will get a deal for a 20% rent reduction.


As for your claim that you got the best deal you could because the developers wouldn’t give you a better deal, I said then, and I say now, that that was pure bullshit.

Here’s why I said it, and here’s why at the end of the day they would have hung in there until you forced them into a far better deal than you got.

As always, it’s all about the money.

Neil Shriver took offense when I said outside the meeting room that you “had given the developers $90 million dollars.”

“We didn’t give them any money,” Neil replied. “They’re getting tax increment funds.”

Shriver is correct in that Tax Increment Funds (TIF) are involved, but his implication when he denies that you “are giving them $90 million dollars,” is predicated on the notion that the developers would not see a penny of that money until they had completed the project and fulfilled their so-called deal with the SEOPW CRA. This was, and is, misleading as to what can happen with these CRA Tax Increment Fund deals.

Contrary to how most folks think these deals are structured, when the CRA - both the OMNI and SEOPW CRA - does one of these TIF deals with a developer, the developers don’t have to sit around and wait until they complete their project in order to start collecting these Incentive TIF payments.

These agreements allow for developers to use the commitments from the CRA as collateral on loans from banks, and to transfer the TIF payments to cover those loans.

Now, it’s true that the contracts supposedly limits how this money is supposed to be used.

But this is the City of Miami’s CRA’s we’re talking about here, the same two agencies that I was able to document several years ago were incapable, or unwilling to supervise a measly $400,000 in TIF money that they gave the University of Miami to finance the crappy film that Robert Townsend produced, leaving town owing folks as much as $200,000.

The notion therefore, that anyone associated with the SEOPW CRA has the intelligence, willpower or fortitude to start digging into a multimillion dollar giveaway to developers so closely tied politically to City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to find out how the TIF money is actually being spent is a pipe dream.

Money is fungible. If a developers uses a TIF agreement as collateral for a loan and sticks that money into his construction account before transferring amounts totaling that amount into other accounts, who’s going to track all that down?

No!  TIF money represents in many instances nothing other than a windfall of cash that developers, with a little cooperation from their bankers, and a blind eye from the CRA’s can split up among themselves, or do anything else they want to do with it, including rewarding the politicians who gave them this money.

It’s difficult to believe that either you or Neil Shriver would be clueless as to how TIF money can be used to collateralize loans, and that in order to get their hands on that $90 million dollars - which was a big-ass-chunk-of-money by anyone’s standards, and especially for these guys - that they really threatened to walk away over efforts to get them to pay a little more for construction workers, especially since none of these provisions in the contract that Hardemon claims were accomplishments were enforceable to begin with.

All of this is what’s got some people really upset Commissioner,  because instead of seeking or accepting offers from folks willing to provide you with information and insights into negotiating with these developers, you decided that you were smarter than anyone else and did this on your own.

And you did it so secretly that the only person’s account of what was actually negotiated is yours. Unfortunately, the written record doesn’t support your claims that you went to the wall on behalf of your constituents.

You’ve royally pissed off your constituents with your behavior and your unwillingness to pay attention to their concerns, and unless you take advantage of the revote on the Worldcenter Development Agreement that comes up this week to push for a Community Benefits Agreement that provides real benefits for YOUR community from the Worldcenter developers, I think you might not have too many more opportunities to give away taxpayer money, because just like those folks who showed up to protest against you at City Hall last month, as well as the growing anger in your community over the way that folks have been evicted by developer Michael Simkins that resulted in one of his backhoe’s being torched, I think there are folks ready and willing to mount a campaign to remove you from office for failing to look out for the best interests of your community.

It’s Miami, Bitches!