NOVEMBER 17, 2014







Imagine if you will, that you own a big house with a very large lawn, and one day you decide you want to sell it.  The house needs some repairs, so you’re willing to make some concessions in order to sell it.

A buyer comes along and tells you he’d like to buy the house, only he doesn’t have any money. He tells you he can raise the money if you’ll take the house off the market and give him some time.

You agree.

The buyer goes off to try and raise the money, and one day he comes and  tells you he’s got a great deal.  Somebody wants to rent the house and property to throw a party, and the guy tells you that it’s a great deal because the money that HE will get for this deal, will be used to help him fix up the house. The only problem is that in order for him to benefit from this deal the buyer wants you to quickly sign over the deed so he can do the deal with this other guy and get that money.

Is that a good deal for you, the property owner?

First off, and this is a really critical issue, you’re not going to get any of that money, because the buyer of your property, besides having done this deal, has also gone and done a side deal with some other folks, including the guy who wants to rent your property for the party, and part of that deal is that you’re not going to be able to start collecting any payments for your property for 3 or 4 years after you’ve signed the deal, which means that you’re giving the property away on a promise of future payments, which would be far less than if you were to do the deal directly with the guy who wants to rent the property to do the party.

Do you think that Emilio and Gloria Estefan would go along with that kind of deal for one of their fancy houses on Star Island?

Do you think that Norman Braman would go along with that deal for a house that he owned?

Would YOU go along with that kind of a deal for YOUR house?

Well, that’s pretty much the deal that the Friends Of Miami Marine Stadium (FMMS) have done with the Miami Boat Show, and that they want the Miami City Commission to go along with on Thursday.

First off, let’s deal with some unpleasant realities.

The Miami City Commission in 2012 gave the Friends Of Miami Marine Stadium a two year window to go out and raise the $30 million they said they needed to refurbish the Marine Stadium.  They haven’t done that.  In truth, they’ve probably raised less than the supposed $15 million they said that they’ve raised so far when it comes to hard dollars in the bank.

By rights, the failure of the FMMS to raise the required $30 million should be grounds for the deal to expire at the end of the time limit imposed by the City Commission, and the City should do what they should have done years ago: assume the responsibility for fixing the Stadium up, and then doing a management deal like the one it has with the Knight Center, the Gusman Theater, and all of the other City properties, all the while maintaining ALL the rights and opportunities for any future opportunities to make money from this property that could then be used to benefit the taxpayers, who are the actual owners of that Stadium and that property.

Of course that’s not going to happen, because unbeknownst to any but a small handful of folks inside City Hall, and the participants themselves, the Friends Of Miami Marine Stadium Board of Directors within the last two weeks voted to do a private development deal with a group put together by Manny Alonso Poch, whose last claim to fame was losing control of the scandal-plagued Arts & Minds Academy charter school in Coconut Grove.

And like a rabbit pulled from the hat of a magician, this deal will be revealed to be worth as much, if not more than $100 million of investment in the Marine Stadium property that might - or might not - have been revealed in detail at this week’s Miami City Commission meeting if I were not writing about this deal today.  This story is covered in PART II of today’s posts.

Secondly, let’s talk specifically about this Boat Show deal, which is a part of this larger Manny Alonso Poch deal.

The City of Miami owns the property. Were they to do a deal directly with the National Marine Manufacturing Association (NMMA) - which is the entity that does the Boat Show - the City would get ALL of the money that the NMMA will be paying to the FMMS, and while I have  not been able to get a real number on the value of this deal, it’s an amount that somebody on the City Commission should demand be made public so that the citizens are aware of what kind of money is actually being allowed to slip away from the taxpayers and into the pockets of the FMMS and through them to this Alonso Poch development group.

If the City did the deal and got that money - something they are as qualified to do as the FMMS Board - they could use it to refurbish the Stadium, and any additional money could go to the General Fund where it could be used to cover the hiring of more police, fix more roads, hire more Code Enforcement Inspectors to help clean up the City and to help pay for all kinds of other needs that the City has, and is unable to pay for.

Lastly, any claims that the FMMS might want to make about this deal only being possible because the web out and found this deal will be absolute bullshit.  Go to Google Earth and do an aerial search of Miami and you will see that the Marine Stadium property is the only significant piece of waterfront property that is within a reasonable driving distance of the Miami Beach Convention Center, the strip of Collins Avenue where the floating docks are used to moor the big yachts, and the Marriott Marina next to Venetian Causeway which is where the bulk of the Boat Show has, and will continue to to be.

The Friends of Miami Marine Stadium didn’t go out and “find” these NMMA people, those people have been looking for a way to cover themselves ever since the City of Miami Beach announced that they were going to upgrade the Convention Center, and the only big question is whether they approached the City first and it was the City who told them to go and do a deal with the FMMS, thereby doing what the City of Miami does best, letting private developers cash in on City owned property through sweetheart deals.

So now that I hopefully got your attention, go and read PART II of today’s stories where you will learn how Manny Alonso Poch, a Crespogram favorite, put together a deal that has been purposely been kept secret because once Poch’s involvement becomes public, a lot of folks are going to start saying, “What The Fuck!?!”