CRESPOGRAM REPORT
BARRED FROM NUMEROUS GOVERNMENTAL COMPUTER NETWORKS FOR TELLING THE TRUTH
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MAY  20, 2016

IN THE CITY OF MIAMI, WHEN WATERFRONT PROPERTY GETS

PUT OUT FOR BID

YOU KNOW THAT THE RESULTS WILL PROBABLY INCLUDE REVELATIONS THAT WILL MAKE YOU SAY WTF, BUT EVEN THAT WON’T PREPARE YOU FOR THE NASTY SCHEME BEING ORCHESTRATED BY MAYOR TOMAS REGALADO AND HIS HENCHMAN STEPHEN KNEAPLER, WITH AN ASSIST FROM CITY MANAGER DANNY ALFONSO OVER THIS MARINA PROPERTY

PART I

During the six years that I have been writing this blog, the City of Miami has been in embroiled in a half-dozen or so fights - including lawsuits - over the way in which they’ve issued or managed the RFP selection process for city owned waterfront property.


Today there are still lawsuits and appeals making their way through Florida courts over the Watson Island project, the Coconut Grove Marina project and the Miami Marine Stadium.


Several of these fights have had two things in common, they were proposals supported by Mayor Tomas Regalado, and they involved Regalado’s pal and henchman Stephen Kneapler operating behind the scenes, either to further Regalado’s schemes, or Kneapler’s personal interests.


Destined to join those previous examples of Regalado meddling and Kneapler lurking around like like a vampire on the prowl for a neck to bite  is the RFP that the city issued last year for a major redesign and upgrade of the Rickenbacker Marina property which has for many years been leased to the Melwani family.


Ostensibly, the city wanted to see an upgrade that included increased retail space, an enlarged maria and incorporating a parking garage to compliment the city’s plans for the Miami Marine Stadium.


The city initiated the process for by issuing an RFP that called for the submission of proposals on February 1, 2016. When the deadline arrived, three companies had submitted proposals. Each of these were were made by newly formed companies made up of partnerships capable of providing all of the RFP’s requirements. (The schedule and complete list of RFP documents can be found HERE.)


One bid was from a company called Virginia Key Marina LLC a/k/a RCI Group, headed by Robert Christoph Sr. and his son, Robert Christoph Jr., who operate the Miami Beach Marina. Until last year Christoph Jr. had also operated Monty’s Marina and Seafood Restaurant on city owned property.


A second company called New Rickenbacker Marina LLC a/b/a Tifon, headed by Aabad Melwani, the current leaseholder, and a third company called Virginia Key SMI LLC, whose parent company was Suntex, a company that operates marinas around the country.


Because this is a City of Miami deal, the process that resulted in the selection of the Christoph’s proposal as the winner of the RFP and the subsequent fallout over that process has turned out to be one gigantic cluster f... .


Among the things that convinced some folks that the selection process was a cluster f..., was that Pamela Weller, the General Manager of Bayside Marketplace and member of the Selection Committee came up with a set of scores so different than the other 4 members of the Selection Committee that it left folks wondering not only whether she had been the same room with everyone else, but worse, whether she had been a plant to knock the proposal submitted by Aabad Melwani and his partners out of contention.


The scoring sheets, which I’ve included below as backup show the vote totals with and without Weller’s numbers.


WITHOUT WELLER’S NUMBERS

THE CHRISTOPH                  THE Melwani                    THE SUNTEX

PROPOSAL                            PROPOSAL                         PROPOSAL


        85                                             92                                        81

        85                                             84                                        77

        95                                             94                                        84

        87                                             90                                        84

     _____                                       _____                                 _____

      352                                            360                                      326


WITH WELLER’S NUMBERS


        78                                            58                                       100

     _____                                       _____                                 _____

       430                                          418                                      426


Weller not only gave the only perfect score of 100, but she did so to the bidder who had received the lowest score from the other 4 members of the Selection Committee.

Under normal circumstances this anomaly would be enough to set tongues wagging and prompt a protest from Melwani and his partners, which in fact happened, but along with the Melwani protest, the Suntex folks also filed a protest.  (Both of those protest documents can be found HERE.)


Unlike other local governments, the City of Miami doesn’t believe in allowing independent 3rd parties to have a say in evaluating or ruling on issues like RFP protests, so instead of these protests going before a Hearing Master where the issues could have been discussed in a public forum - so the public could have become aware of what was being alleged by the protesters - these protests were handled by the City Manager and his decision was then transmitted to the Director of Real Estate Asset Management (DREAM), who on May 10th issued Memorandums denying both protests. (Both of those protest documents can be found HERE.)


And that’s where things would have ended were it not for the fact that over the last several weeks an anonymous packet of newspaper clippings started being provided to key people within the city that focused everyone’s attention on one of the largest, and most costly environmental catastrophes that ever occurred in Miami-Dade County.

The distribution of these newspaper stories prompted a dramatic new turn a couple days ago when the Suntex group submitted a new supplemental protest calling on the city to disqualify the RCI Group, for their involvement in this catastrophe.


The plain language of this new protest centered on the failure of Robert Christoph Sr and his son’s failure to include any information on their central role in this spill, which according to the language in the RFP automatically disqualifies them from any further consideration.

The exhibits cited in the letter can be found HERE.


While it appears that it took a little while for the folks at Suntex to connect the dots linking the Christoph’s to this disastrous sewage spill - which managed to wash ashore on Virginia Key as it made it’s way south - you have to figure that it was not a secret to the Christophs or to Stephen Kneapler, who has long acted as Christoph’s fixer in dealings with the city.


This in turn raises the question of when, and how much did the Mayor of Miami and the City Manager of Miami know about the involvement of the Christophs in this disastrous environmental pollution, and the fact that according to the City’s own RFP guidelines,  that involvement should have been an automatic and mandatory termination of the participation by the Christophs in this RFP process?


THE INVOLVEMENT OF STEPHEN KNEAPLER


I have written about Stephen Kneapler and his past criminal activities including his receiving a lifetime ban from ever being involved with a publicly traded company after he and his brother looted Richmond Industries, his tax evasion problems, and the time that he and then Commissioner Sarnoff got into a snit, after Sarnoff claimed that Kneapler had called him a “pussy” during a City Commission meeting.


I’ve also written about Kneapler and Tomas Regalado, and how Regalado has used him as his representative and go-to guy when Regalado needed a personal representative in meetings held behind closed doors.


Kneapler has also had a long relationship with Robert Christoph Jr, starting when he and former Mayor Manny Diaz - who had the lease to the Monty’s Marina and Restaurant - sold that lease to Christoph back in 2004, in a deal that included Kneapler’s continued management of Monty’s Seafood Restaurant.


In my December 14, 2015 story that dealt with the sweetheart deal that Christoph received from the City when the City Commission refused to press for Christoph Jr. to pay back more than $200,000 in unaccounted revenues that the City’s Independent Auditor discovered he owed the city from his years running the Marina, I never addressed the rumors that Kneapler had been the one who interceded with the City Manager to short stop a discussion on this issue by the Commission by getting the Manager to insert the item in the Consent Agenda, but that in fact, is what people who were privy to what happened with this deal have told me is what happened.


And now, in the fight over this RFP, it is again being widely alleged by folks with intimate knowledge of what’s going on behind the scenes that Kneapler has been having breakfast meetings on an almost weekly basis with City Manager Danny Alfonso, and that he and the Mayor are in cahoots to do whatever it takes to make sure that the Christophs get the contract to take over the Rickenbacker Marina property.


People keep trying to tell me that I’m too adamant in my belief that Tomas Regalado has no compunction in screwing the citizens of Miami, but I defy anyone to tell me that allowing a family who was involved in one of the largest and most damaging environmental disasters to hit this community, and who, the last time one of them had a contract with the city of Miami to operate a restaurant and marina on city-owned waterfront property managed to screw the taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars should get another opportunity to do the same thing seems like the right thing to do, even if Mayor Tomas Regalado, City Manager Danny Alfonso and fraudster Stephen Kneapler are doing everything they can to make it happen.


It’s Miami. Bitches!

A CRESPOGRAM EXCLUSIVE