JUNE  22, 2016





There will be a lot of numbers bandied about this afternoon but there is only ONE NUMBER that everyone needs to pay attention to, and that is the NUMBER 3.

3 are the number of City Commissioners needed to either throw this RFP out, or to ignore all the arguments in favor of throwing this RFP out and vote to support the award of this project to Robert Christoph Sr, and His son, along with their partners.

No other number means more, and by the end of the meeting you will understand why, in the City of Miami if you can buy, borrow or steal 3 City Commissioners you can get away with almost anything.


While you can expect to see the Suntex lawyers try to introduce legal arguments about why this protest needs to be thrown out, the real fight over this issue occurred at the last City Commission meeting and Suntex lost it - even though most people were - and are today - clueless as to how I could say this.

The First Rule of Bureaucratic Warfare is: He who controls the paperwork, controls the game.

At the last Commission meeting it was Francis Suarez who made the motion - and fended off attacks - to have this Issue be the first order of business.  His argument was that he wanted there to be fairness.

There was nothing fair in Suarez’s proposal, and it as a skillful parliamentary move on his part to get this proposal past the protest and accepted.

In political fights like this, especially when there is a 75 year contract worth over ONE BILLION DOLLARS, fairness has nothing to do with anything and Suarez’s real goal was to remove the opportunity for the Suntex lawyers to argue about all of the issues outside the 4 corners of the initial protest they filed.

It was a tag team effort, because by doing this Suarez gave Commission Chairman Hardemon the ammunition to shut down these efforts by telling the Suntex lawyers that they can make all the arguments they want after the vote on whether to uphold their protest has been voted on.

Hardemon has already revealed his authoritarian bent as the Chairman, and now he’ll waste little time in bitch slapping the Suntan lawyers every time they open their mouths to say anything about sewage, pollution, etc.

The Suntex attorney’s will be left with no recourse other than to focus on the issues that they raised in their original letter of protest, and I figure that within 30-45 minutes tops, they will have gone through those items, while the opposing attorneys will have argued that these issues have no merit, and the vote will end up being 3-2 to reject the Suntex Proposal.  The 3 sure votes to reject the protest will be Hardemon, Suarez and Gort.


Had the agenda allowed for a discussion of all of these other items - items such as the involvement of The Christophs and their Miami Beach Marina in the massive sewage spills that forced 20 miles of South Florida shoreline to be shutdown, or the issue of the efforts to expand the marina by allowing boat docks out into the basin, or the issues involving Daniel Rotenberg, the Director of the Real Estate and Asset Management Department and his massive Conflict of Interest involving his being part of Tate Capital to be discussed first, that would have set the predict for the RFP to have been thrown out.

But thanks to Francis Suarez, that won’t happen.

So, the first thing to expect when this Item Number II comes up, is for the Mayor to take to the podium to announce that his administration is in agreement with the environmentalists, members of the Virginia Key Steering Commission, the Women’s Club of Coconut Grove and any other do-gooders that he and his administration agree with them, and that there will no boat docks permitted to be built in the basin.

This will pretty much shut all of those folks up, because boats slips in the basin is pretty much all that they care about. None of these people have much interest, or desire, to express concerns about the corrupt behavior of city officials, the back-room dealing involving the fraudster Stephen Kneapler, or even the wholesale purchase of the Commissioners required to get this deal approved, because some of these same people only acquired the money that allows them to be do-gooders thanks to the similar behavior of their ancestors in their dealing with the City and the County.

Even worse, when push comes to shove, as I discovered in 2012 when the Miami-Dade Heritage Trust were being taken advantage of by the Friends of The Marine Stadium, the Heritage folks got all huffy and puffy and were ready to show up at City Hall to protest the way they had been treated - until they were offered a seat on the board of the phony committee that was formed by the City Manager - while the Friends of the Marine Stadium continued to scheme behind the scenes with Manny Alonso Poch on his hair brained scheme that eventually blew up in November of 2014.

A seat at the table, and a shot at a piece of the money is more than enough to shut up most of what passes for the do-gooder groups in Miami, so don’t expect much hue-and-cry or arguments and speeches about principles or honesty, transparency, integrity and corruption from these folks.  They will be all to happy to pat themselves on the back, congratulate themselves on making the city pay attention to them, and go home.

Now, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be a spirited debate over the bad behavior of the Christophs and the massive environmental spill of raw sewage in the bay, or their failure to include that information in their proposal - that the language of the RFP so clearly required - but between the lawyers for the city - in this case a team of assistant City Attorney’s from Coral Gables who seem to be brighter than the City of Miami’s own lawyers - and the Christoph lawyer, with an able assist from both Commissioner Suarez and Commission Chairman Hardemon, this will all be turned into a convoluted legal debate that for folks unfamiliar with the ways of lawyers will pretty much look like a mud wrestling match.  But that’s because that’s what the goal is, to make thing so confusing that the average viewer will not be able to reach a clear an decisive decision about who’s right and who’s wrong.

As for the allegations about the Director of the Real Estate and Asset Management Department, Daniel Rotenberg, keep in mind that the only place that those allegations have seen the light of day has been on this website.

David Smiley, the Herald’s City reporter has now managed to write 2 in the last 5 days without once mentioning the name of Stephen Kneapler, or of including even the slightest reference to Daniel Rotenberg’s relationship to Tate Capital, or Tate Capital’s relationship to Robert Christoph Jr., or to Rotenberg’s own claims about possible misbehavior behind closed doors made in an email to me that:

        “I won’t put in writing what has been going on here

        internally, but it has not been peaceful. I hope I get

        the chance to voice myself tomorrow.”

The Miami Herald once again demonstrates that they’re only willing to cite independent sources when it fits with their preconceived version of events.

But then, it”s the Miami Herald and most people have figured out that no matter how much money the Knight Foundation continues to pour into trying to keep them relevant, their on the stairway to the basement.

So how will Part II turn out?  Like Part I, the Christophs will carry the day.  The vote will be 3 to 2, with a possible 4-1, depending on where Frank Carollo’s head is by the end of the meeting.

Like the first vote it will be Hardemon, Suarez and Gort - and possibly Carollo for, and Russell against.

So here are a couple closing tidbits.  First, I’ve written a lot about how Commissioner Hardemon’s auntie Barbara was hired by the Christophs as a way to make sure nephew Keon understood who he needed to make sure got the deal, but I haven’t addressed either Commissioner Suarez or Gort.

Gort’s the easiest, so let’s start with him.

On June 7th, Richard Kuper registered as a lobbyist for the Christoph group. Who’s Richard Kuper you ask? 

Richard Kuper used to be Willie Gort's Chief of Staff back in the day when  Willie served as a City Commissioner.  When Willie left office, Kuper went on to become the Executive Director for the Miami-Dade League of Cities.  In that capacity he’s paid - or was the last time I checked - $102,000 a year, plus benefits.

That didn’t stop Kuper from moonlighting as a bond counsel, and he was hired on a project basis by the law firm who does a lot of the city's, and the SEOPW CRA's bond work. Kuper was part of the team that did the last SEOPW CRA bonds - the $60 million dollar package. 

Although he was listed as part of the team, when the CRA paid the law firm over $400,000 for their services, his pay was shielded from public scrutiny because he was in effect hired as a "sub-contractor, and whatever he was paid was an internal matter

Kuper’s wife currently works in Willie Gort's Office - Rosa Roig-Kuper - and has been there for several years. 

It’s no coincidence that Willie Gort and Francis Suarez are both on the board of the Miami-Dade League of Cities, and Suarez is this year's president, nor that the Christoph’s went out and hired him late in the day to make sure that Willie voted the way they needed him to vote.

Francis Suarez is a little more sophisticated and slick.  He’s already raised $1.3 million for his race for Mayor next year, and he’s not in need of money - although he will be well rewarded for what he’s already done and what he will do today.

The really important thing for Suarez this time out is to use this meeting as an example that he’s up to the task of being “The Man.”  Suarez has a well earned reputation of being a lightweight, and now that he’s not only the odds on favorite - unless Raquelita loses against Gimenez and decides to run for Mayor of Miami   - to become the next Mayor, but he’s also been working hard to get the language in the Charter changed so that if does get elected he will be a “Strong Mayor.”

This is an opportunity for Suarez to demonstrate that he’s up to that task.

The first evidence of his realizing that this was an opportunity for him to show his skills - learned by sitting and watching Sarnoff for 6 years - was at the last commission meeting, where, even though he’s the Commissioner for District 4, he basically took this item away from Commissioner Russell - who is the Commissioner for District 2 - and made it his own.

Remember what I said at the beginning of this piece:

The First Rule of Bureaucratic Warfare is: He who controls the paperwork, controls the game.

Suarez just took this item away from Russell like a 6th grader taking away the lunch money of a 3rd grader. Look for Suarez to continue this behavior at this meeting, because both he and Hardemon pretty much treated Russell as if he were the City Commissioner from “nobody cares what you think” at that meeting.

Finally keep an eye on the Mayor.  If he stands up to speak, see if you can see Brian May’s hand stuck up his ass as Regalado moves his lips. 

Just like the Skyrise issue where May was the lobbyist for Jeffrey Berkowitz, he is the principal lobbyist for the Christophs, and May’s modus operandi is always to make sure that the politicians say the words he’s written.

So that’s my Cliff Notes for this afternoon’s meeting. There more, but it’s best to wait and watch these guys in real time and chime in then.

The Christophs will walk away at the end of the meeting with a solid vote of 3 to 2 victory, with Frank Carollo possibly falling into place as the 4th vote on Item Number 2.

Just remember, you heard here first from Crespodamus!

I’ll be live tweeting at @crespogram starting at 2 PM.