SCHEMING BEHIND THE PUBLIC’S BACK
ONCE AGAIN, THE CITIZENS OF MIAMI ARE ASKED TO BEND OVER AND ACCEPT THE RESULTS OF A SECRET, BACK-ROOM DEAL, THIS TIME PUT TOGETHER BY THE MIAMI AND KNIGHT FOUNDATIONS TO TAKE CONTROL OF MUSEUM PARK, WITH AN ASSIST FROM NONE OTHER THAN MIAMI’S PAY-FOR-PLAY COMMISSIONER
MARC SARNOFF
CRESPOGRAM REPORT

BEFORE WE BEGIN


The concerted effort to try and ram the creation of this private conservancy through the Miami City Commission was so flagrantly predicated on keeping as many citizens in the dark as long as possible, that before you read what I have uncovered, I am calling on Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Commissioner Frank Carollo and any other Commissioner that might have concerns about this effort, along with any private citizen who becomes convinced after reading my story below that this is in fact a really bad idea that was undertaken with a conscious effort to take advantage of Miami’s taxpayers, that they demand that nothing be done in support of discussion or passage of the Ordinance that would create this conservancy without first making a public record’s request for all of Commissioner Marc Sarnoff’s emails that contain the subject matters:


Museum Park, Park Conservancy, PAMM, Frost Museum of Science, Museum Park Funding, Museum Park Redesign, and containing any of the following words as part of the search: museum park, conservancy, funding, contract, ordinance.


In addition to the emails, you should also request any and all supporting documents and/or attachments.


The list of individuals that you want to include who either sent or received emails from the Commissioner are:


Javier Alberto Soto

Rebecca Mandelman

Alberto Ibarguen

Matt Haggman

Manny Diaz

Pieter Bockweg

Jorge Perez

Victoria Mendez

Jay Solowsky

Alyce Robertson

Trish Bell

Dan M. Bell


Because Commissioner Sarnoff has a long and detailed history of conducting public business by using private emails to shield his activities, the emails addresses that should part of the search are:


MSarnoff@miamigov.com

msarnoff@sarnoffandbayer.com

maritime@sarnoffandbayer.com

msarnoff@salawmiami.com

info@marcsarnoff.com

mdsarnoff@attglobal.net


Because I have documented that the Commissioner’s wife has in the past been used a way to circumvent the public records law, here are several of her addresses.


tsarnoff@salawmiami.com

teresa@sarnoffandbayer.com


Because some of the email addresses I’ve listed above are maintained on private servers, you will have to make a direct request to the Commissioner for him to turn these emails over, because sadly, while the Commissioner is required by law to turn over all of the emails he has written or received through these private email accounts before he leaves office, Victoria Mendez, the Miami City Attorney cannot be be trusted or relied on to demand that the Commissioner comply with this law, and so consequently, unless these requests are made directly to the Commissioner, all of these emails might very well remain secret forever.


In addition to the emails, a request should be made of the Commissioner’s Text messages.  Text message created in the furtherance of public business are public records.


The time period for these requests should start January 1, 2013 and end on the date of your request.


The citizens of Miami should expect no less than a complete release of ALL of the information related to Commissioner Sarnoff’s effort to turn over Museum Park to a handful of wealthy and politically connected insiders. These emails and text messages should be made part of the PUBLIC RECORD, and posted as attachments to the proposed Ordinance AT LEAST 5 DAYS BEFORE THE 1ST READING OF THIS ORDINANCE.

BARRED FROM NUMEROUS GOVERNMENTAL COMPUTER NETWORKS FOR TELLING THE TRUTH
OCTOBER 19, 2015

In fact, the renderings above could turn out to be far from what the park might eventually look like if this group is successful, because unlike the process that resulted in the original design for the park, a process that included public participation at every step of the way, this time out, the public and the City would be largely excluded.


You see, in addition to the Ordinance which was crafted to give almost everything including the bay bottom over to this secret group, a 45 page Draft Contract has been drafted that reveals a different process than the happy talk about inclusion that the proponents of this effort are trying to sell the public. 


THE ORDINANCE AND THE DRAFT CONTRACT


To begin with, how does an Ordinance and a 45 page Draft Contract intended to turn over a major piece of public waterfront land to an “independent not-for-profit corporation,” get written and introduced to the Miami City Commission without any prior discussion or participation by the members of this “independent not-for-profit corporation,”  who would be responsible for the  “what’s” and “how’s” of that Ordinance and Contract?


What appears to have happened in this case is that both the Ordinance and the Draft Contract was probably written in large part by Rebecca Mandelman, who Andres Viglucci revealed in his September 11th story as originally being hired to develop a plan for this venture before being hired as a Vice President of the Miami Foundation and put in charge of “spearheading this effort.”


A review of the documents supports the claim that both of them were hand crafted to support turning complete control over to an “independent not-for-profit corporation” while depriving both the City and the citizens of transparency and responsible oversight into how this corporation would manage the property.


Here is a portion of the Ordinance that details the powers that this group would have.

What is revealing about the lengths that these foundations have gone through to maintain the secrecy of who and how the actual Conservancy group will operate is that nowhere in the Ordinance are there any guidelines and/or stipulations that relate to the creation or membership of this “non-profit corporation,” including any required participation by representatives of the City on the board, yet the Ordinance spells out with great specificity the “Appointment, terms, qualifications, compensation and general power and responsibilities of the executive director.”

So while the City it seems will exercise no control, or have any say over who will constitute the membership of this group, the Ordinance, with great detail, describes how their employee will do their job.


Even in a city with a history of sleazy and devious underhanded deals, that makes absolutely no sense. Just imagine if some big, public foundation like maybe the Rockefeller Foundation, or the Ford Foundation showed up in Washington one day, and in the name of an anonymous group made an unsolicited request for a Battleship, and the US Congress, without bothering to demand any information or control over this unnamed group, and were instead persuaded to go along with this request and devoted all their time to discussing and voting on the job description for the captain of the ship.


That’s how crazy this pitch by the Miami and Knight Foundation really is!


In her self-serving and very carefully crafted OP-ED that appeared in the Miami Herald on October 7th, Rebecca Mandelman, the Miami Foundation Vice President, and the person put in charge of “spearheading this effort,” wrote that:


          “It will be an arrangement between the city of Miami and the

          Conservancy, which will be tasked with enhancing and managing

          the park.  Above all, it will be a partnership with Miami residents,

          who will continue to own Museum Park and help determine the

          final design and use of the space.”


The public should always be concerned when somebody with an agenda that involves asking for public land and public money starts talking about wanting a “partnership with Miami residents.”


The process that resulted in the original design of the park did try to involve the public from beginning to end. This time out however, the documents spell out a different process.


The Draft Contract makes it very clear that the Museum Park Conservancy members will choose the architect, and other than consulting with the City on architectural style, the “Conservancy shall manage and control the design of the park improvements, including the hiring of the design professionals and the development of all of the Design Documents.”

Contrary to the claims made by Ms. Mandelman, nowhere in this section, or any other section of the contract does it mention participation by the public.


Time and again, scammers and schemers are quick to hoodwink the public by invoking a gratuitous and misleading set of claims about how important public participation is to their scheme, only to make sure that in the fine print of legislation and/or contracts the public is effectively shut out of any meaningful involvement.


In this case, while the Contract require that this group must comply with Chapter 119, better known as Florida’s Public Records Law, it fails to include that they also must comply with Chapter 286, better known as Florida’s Public Meetings Law, which will go a long way in insuring that there will never be any real transparency or involvement by the public in overseeing what this group is up to because, if you can’t sit in a meeting and watch what these people are up to, and then are forced days, weeks or even months after to rely on skimpy minutes of a meeting, then the claim of public participation is nothing more than a hustle, passing itself off as a charade.


LET’S TALK ABOUT MONEY


The claims made by Mandelman and others associated with the efforts to turn over Museum Park to this Conservancy group is that it will take a lot of money to do what they want to do.


The initial claim is that the Miami and Knight Foundations “have secured” $7.5 million, with “significant private resources” supposedly committed to “compliment the park’s public funding.”


When these people say that private money will “compliment the park’s public funding,” that essentially means that they expect the bulk of the money will be coming from the public.


First they want the land, and they they want the public’s money, but to get the public’s money this time they will have to wait until the ink is dry on the contract before providing a list of how much “private” money they really have, and only thenwill a real budget that details just how much public money they really want will surface.

One of the great unsolved mysteries of the 20th century is the area in the Atlantic Ocean identified as the Bermuda Triangle, where on several occasions, airplanes flew into the Triangle never to reappear.


In Miami, we also seem an unsolved mystery that I call the Miami Square. The Square starts at 14th Street and goes south to 8th Street, between Biscayne Boulevard and NE 2nd Avenue.


Within this Square there seems to be bottomless pit driven by a voracious, never ending need for public money to finance museums and performing arts centers.


All of these ventures start out with lofty pledges and commitments made by their promoters that if they were given public land, and construction money, they would never ask for money to operate these grand palaces because the rich patrons and benefactors would step up to the plate and demonstrate their commitment to the public good by picking up the rest of the tab.


Of course, that never happened, and the Arsht Center not only went tens of millions in construction cost overruns, but worse, it continues to receive $4.5 million of “Slum and Blight” money for its operating fund from the OMNI CRA.


The PAMM on the other hand, after Pinky Swearing that if the City would give them the land, and if the County would “gift” them $100 million to build the museum, promised that they would raise the rest of the money to finance construction, and more importantly, as described by Eston “Dusty” Melton, create an endowment fund that would cover any operating cost deficits, “forever and ever.”


To no one’s surprise, the rich folks decided they had other uses for their money, and again, with a tin cup and a woeful lament about providing art the the children in the ghetto, the PAMM folks showed up at the door of the OMNI CRA to get some more of that “Slum and Blight” money that Commissioner Sarnoff has always been so happy to give his elitist friends and political contributors.


And now, as the capstone to his career as Miami’s Pay For Play City Commissioner, Marc Sarnoff, only weeks away from having to leave office, is the sponsor this latest devious and hand-crafted gift of public land and money to his rich friends.


HOW “UNSOLICITED PROPOSALS” HAVE BECOME A NEW WAY THAT RICH AND POWERFUL FOLKS USE TO GO AFTER PUBLIC MONEY AND PROPERTY


More and more, we are seeing a handful of individuals and foundations, led this time by the Miami and Knight Foundations inserting themselves into the public arena to spur or support projects, and using their wealth and influence in new and novel ways.


Interestingly, in this instance these foundations chose to go after the park land by submitting an “unsolicited proposal.” These “unsolicited proposals” for public land and property have recently become a new wrinkle in the bag of tricks of people who feel that their place in the community gives them privileged entitlement when they develop a case of the “Give-Me’s,” and decide to waltz into City Hall with their hand out.


It should come as no surprise that this phenomena has taken hold in the City of Miami through the sponsorship of Commissioner Marc Sarnoff’, whose District’s public property has become fair game for developers looking for deals. Last June, the OMNI CRA, of which he is the Chairman, entertained an “unsolicited proposal” to sell the parking lot behind the CRA’s offices in the Historic Firehouse #2.


The parking lot which had originally been designated as a City Park, was sold to a front company owned by Nir Shohani, a deep pocket developer and major contributor to Sarnoff endeavors, including his wife’s End Homelessness Now Foundation


Several months later, in another of those Miami coincidences, a number of Shohani’s companies, managed by Terry Wellens, who was the manager of the front company that purchased the parking lot,  donated a total of $13,000 to Teresa Sarnoff’s campaign to replace her husband.


Just last week, the Miami Herald reported that the Miami Parking Authority, run by Art Noriega, a Sarnoff crony, got his board to support the purchase of the MPA Parking Garage in Coconut Grove to David Martin, another Sarnoff Crony and deep pocket developer. He too submitted “unsolicited proposal” for this garage. The deal prompted this email from the Herald reporter who covers the County about the story that his colleague did about this garage deal.


And now of course we have the Miami and Knight Foundation with their own “unsolicited proposal” asking the City to give their secret group, a prime piece of city-owned, waterfront land,  along with a blank check to be filled in later so that they can do with the land and money pretty much what they want.


And wouldn’t you know, the coincidences just never stop in Miami. Less than 2 months before this latest “unsolicited proposal” was to go before the Miami City Commission, Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitter, PA, the firm that handles the Miami Foundation’s legal work, decided that they somehow had been remiss in not contributing to Sarnoff’s ECO, and so they gave him a $12,500 donation.

 
A CRESPOGRAM EXCLUSIVE

IN THE LAND OF THE BLIND, THE ONE EYED MAN IS KING


Just imagine that you were to show up at Miami City Hall one day to make an “unsolicited proposal” to take over the city’s signature public park, and you did so without revealing to anyone who you intended to do this with, how exactly you intended to “redesign” the park to reflect your “vision,” how you intended to raise the money that you needed - except of course alluding to the fact that the taxpayers would have to pony up a significant chunk of whatever money was needed - what kind of a legal structure you would create to make all of this legally possible, and that you expected the City Commission to go along with all of this without bothering to ask many questions because you were one of those rich folks in the community who figured that you were entitled to do whatever you wanted with city property and money.


It is this attitude of entitlement and these unanswered questions that should have set off alarm bells following the initial story published in the Miami Herald on September 11th, about an attempt by the Miami and Knight Foundations to do exactly this by creating a Museum Park Conservancy to take over the management of the city’s new Museum Park.


Raising additional concerns in some quarters would have been the news  that Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff had come together with former Mayor Manny Diaz to support this deal.


This dynamic duo were the ones responsible for the City of Miami’s participation in the Marlin’s Stadium hustle, and they were the ones most responsible for the “Global Agreement,” that allowed the 3-Card-Monti game of using OMNI CRA TIFF Funds to cover the operating costs for the Arsht Center, thereby freeing up the money originally committed by the to the Arsht as a way to finance the City’s share of  the stadium deal.


In conjunction with this unholy alliance, it should really alarm everyone in the City of Miami that with the exception of Diaz and Sarnoff, the “unsolicited proposal” that has been put forth to turn over control of a valuable piece of public waterfront land to a group identified as the “Museum Park Conservancy,” does not include the single name of any of the supposed individuals who will be members of this Conservancy group.  I mean, really?  How can anyone believe that the Miami City Commission should ever consider turning over a major piece of very valuable public waterfront land to a non-existent, and non-identified group of individuals?


Since the first news of this proposal became public there has been a growing belief that this scheme is little more than an attempted land grab largely orchestrated by the Miami Foundation with the Knight Foundation acting as the financier to secure the control and operation of the city’s new, signature Museum Park, on behalf of a collection of individuals dominated by wealthy members of the PAMM and the Frost Science Museum Board of Directors, along with the usual contingent of deep pocket developers, political cronies and seasoned with a few obligatory token and pliable representatives from the community to provide an acceptable public face on this ripoff of public land and money. 


The fact that this effort has come forward as an “unsolicited proposal” from these two foundations is another warning bell that should make people pay more, and not less attention.


The secretive way in which this plan has been put together is unfortunately reflective of the kind of nasty back-room dealing that Miami politics has become known for, and underscores a lack of transparency and a willingness by the Miami and Knight Foundations to act as shills for monied special interests at the expense of the public. (I will be addressing additional concerns regarding the participation of both the Miami and Knight Foundations further on.)


Another thing that should have set off alarm bells was the coordinated series of editorials in the Miami Herald, along with a piece of self-serving fluff attempting to pass itself off as a news story put out by The New Tropic, an internet newsletter funded by the Knight Foundation that started appearing 2 days before the First Reading of the Ordinance.


As usual with these controlled public relations campaigns, a series of architectural renderings were released along with a Fact Sheet prepared by the Miami Foundation that was cited by The New Tropic as the source for their story, that was intended to lull the public into believing that these renderings represented what the park would look like if this secret group took over. The initial effort to create that illusion was voiced by, Andres Viglucci, in his September 11th story, who wrote that:


                “The Miami and Knight foundations hired a consultant,

                Rebecca Mandelman, to explore its feasibility and develop

                a plan, and also paid Cooper Robertson to update its

                original plans.”






















After all the years, and all the really nasty, scummy deals that have made their way through the Miami City Commission you would think that even a dumb graduate of a mail-order journalism school who just managed to get a job as a reporter or editor in this town would find these all of these continued coincidences and assaults on the public’s trust worthy enough to prompt a serious and detailed analysis of the connection between the hundreds of thousands of dollars in bundled money - often from out-of-state corporations tied to developers and billboard sign companies - going to the campaign coffers of Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and all of the solicited and “unsolicited proposals” for public land, public money, construction variances, expedited approvals, and all of the other favors solicited by these folks rich folks from the City of Miami during his time in office.


Then again, maybe because Miami has acquired such an unsavory history and reputation of place of dirty back-room deals that make it among the most corrupt cities in the United States, where in 2013 a reporter for the New York Times, in writing about Miami, said,


           “Miami is a city that produces a limitless number of

           crooked public officials, overeager developers and

           outlandish criminals.”


the press in Miami has chosen to focus on the easy stories of reporting on the antics of the “outlandish criminals,” who’ve made Medicare and mortgage fraud major criminal enterprises while ignoring the “crooked public officials” or even worse becoming willing, or unwilling participants in pimping for the schemers who spend their time doing deals with the crooked public officials.


LOOKING BEHIND THE CURTAIN AT THE MIAMI AND KNIGHT FOUNDATIONS


Without the active participation of the Miami and Knight Foundation, this “unsolicited proposal” would never have come to pass.  Therefore, I think that it’s way past time that folks in Miami get at least a peek behind the curtain of how these two foundations operate, and while not attempting to take anything away from the numerous positive contributions they’ve made, and make to the community, these folks are not without blemishes.


PART I - THE MIAMI FOUNDATION AND ITS ROLE AS A HIDING PLACE AND LEGAL MONEY LAUNDERER FOR POLITICIANS


In recent years, the Miami Foundation has greatly increased it’s visibility in the community. They’ve become very big supporters of of number of community initiatives that encouraged lots of folks to give them money that in turn have generated reams of favorable publicity making them a favorite of the young, hip, environmental and techie crowd.


What hasn’t received any press attention, and what I believe to be one of the biggest unreported financial stories in Miami is how the Miami Foundation also provides a legal front for politicians and others interested in hiding money from public scrutiny and do so through the use of what the Foundation calls “Donor Advised Funds,” which I, and others consider little more than legal money laundering.


Last year, I filed 2 complaints with the Florida Elections Commission involving former Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, and current Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle.


My complaints centered on how these individuals contributed their unused campaign funds to the Miami Foundation, and how the Foundation took the $43,200 that Spence-Jones’ gave them, and created a “Donor Advised Fund” for that money so that she could continue to have control of how this money was spent.


In the Fernandez-Rundle case, they deposited the $24,892 that she gave them to her previously created Katherine Fernandez-Rundle Fund. How many people in the community know that the State Attorney maintains a completely private personal foundation that doesn’t have any requirements that she reveal who has given her money or how it has been spent?



Florida Statute 106.041 states that one of the ways that candidates can dispose of unused funds is to donate them to a 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable organization. As I wrote the Commission as part of my complaint in the Spence-Jones case


            “It is clear in the language chosen by the Florida Legislature

            that the transfer of campaign funds to a 501(c)(3) charitable

            organization was not seen or envisioned as an intermediate

            process leading to the continued control of that money by a

            candidate, but rather as a final separation between the

            candidate and those campaign funds.”


The Elections Commission response was that my complaints were “legally insufficient,” because, “the Election Code does not require charitable organizations that receive surplus funds to meet any additional requirements.”


So while this failure in the statute offers a perfectly legal loophole for the Miami Foundation to provide a firewall for politicians to shield their activites from public scrutiny, it none-the-less raises a troubling question when this foundation engages in political activities with the same politicians to whom they are providing this firewall for.


THERE’S ALWAYS A SARNOFF CONNECTION


Establishing “Donor Assisted Funds,” is not the only way that the Miami Foundation provides services to politicians and others who wish to keep secret who gives them money.


Once again, the trail lead back to Commissioner Marc Sarnoff.


If you go to the Miami Foundation’s website, and click on the button NONPROFITS, you will see that you can look up the numerous foundations housed within the Miami Foundation.  If you type in Sarnoff Foundation,  you will get no response.  The failure to be able to discover on the Miami Foundation’s website that the Sarnoff Foundation is parked inside their umbrella is a serious problem.


That it is housed inside is something that I had previously established when I wrote my 2014 story of how he had collected $70,000 from developers and nightclub owners and used a portion of the money to fund a Mini-Police Station in the West Grove.


So, looking for evidence of the Sarnoff Foundation’s existence using the Miami Foundation’s search tool and getting no response raises a question of why not?


The firewall that this arrangement creates also extend to the inability to obtain additional financial information on the activities of these private foundations because the umbrella arrangement provides them cover from having to submit various reports including copies of their IRS Form 990‘s. This is because the Miami Foundation includes all of these private foundations and funds under their own blanket IRS Form 990.


For Marc Sarnoff, Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, Michelle Spence-Jones, and any other elected official who’s savvy enough to avail themselves of these services,  the benefits of being able to receive donations from developers and others seeking favors from City Hall, or in Fernandez-Rundle case the possibility of receiving money from family and friends of criminal defendants or lawyers and law firms representing criminal defendants, or in Spence-Jones’ case the ability to give away campaign contributions to individuals or groups without leaving fingerprints is as good a deal, if not better, than being able to manage these monies through a Swiss bank account, and with a lot less cost.


And just to appreciate that this service isn’t just available for politicians, during my digging around I also discovered that Matthew Greer, a former member in good-standing of the Miami Rich People Club, who was recently convicted of stealing millions of dollars from the low income housing projects he developed also had a Fund set up at the Miami Foundation


Now mind you, none of this makes the folks at the Miami Foundation bad people, because they’re just taking advantage of the law as it exists in order to provide this service to politicians and others, but at the same time when the Miami Foundation folks show up at City Hall looking for a favor, the fact that they’ve been able to provide a favor to the elected official whose sponsoring their “unsolicited proposal” cannot, and should not be ignored.


PART II - THE TENTACLES OF THE KNIGHT FOUNDATION


Without question the Knight Foundation is the 800 pound gorilla in Miami. It has lots and lots of money to give away and that money allows it to act both magnanimously, while at the same time earning lots and lots of brownie points and wielding a lot of influence without having to flex many muscles.


The foundation’s ties to the Miami Herald - the founders of the Knight Foundation were John S. and James L. Knight, who, along with their families were also the founders and largest shareholders of the Miami Herald and the Knight/Ridder Media Corporation - are numerous, and in addition to the steady flow of former Miami Herald and Knight/Ridder employees who have gone on to senior positions at the Foundation, including Alberto Ibarguen who went from president and publisher of the Herald to the president of the Foundation, and Matt Haggman, who went from being a reporter on the Herald to their Miami Program Director, and chief promoter of all things internet, the Herald has always acted as a pliant supporter of anything that the Foundation supports.


It would not be out of place to consider the Miami Herald to be the Knight Foundation’s house organ.


Lately, the Knight Foundation has made itself a very big player in promoting what is considered new media, including all things internet  connected, and in the process reaching out to the same millennial crowd that the Miami Foundation has targeted.


In Miami, one of the ways they did that was to provide funding to a new company called Whereby.US, who in turn created an internet newsletter called The New Tropic.


WhereBy.US was founded by Christopher Soper, a bright young fellow who had been the Project Manager on the Media Innovation Team at the foundation until he parlayed the insider knowledge he gained while watching other folks apply for grants into getting his own $250,000 grant for a new model for local civic engagement.


On January 15th, 2015, The New Tropic announced it’s launch with a chatty introductory “love letter” that started with “We Love Miami,” and then went on to describe all the things they hoped to accomplish through their enterprise including the claim that unlike other similar efforts, they were publishing a daily email newsletter that “curates” the day’s local stories...”


“Curating” the news has a distinct connotation that implies more than just passing on interesting stories, and on the morning of October 8th, The New Tropic newsletter “curated” a story about the Museum Park Conservancy,  just a couple hours before the Ordinance was scheduled to come before the Miami City Commission. It was a story largely based on information contained in a Fact Sheet created by the Miami Foundation.


While the story was chock full of how wonderful turning over control of the park to a Conservancy would be, the writer was unfortunately remiss in not revealing one very important fact:


The story that she wrote involved the foundation that had given The New Tropic $250,000, and a small part of that money most likely went to pay her meager salary that day.


Of course, one reason that she might have failed to reveal that information is that Mr. Sopher and his business partners seem to have gone out of their way not to reveal the existence of that donation to their readers from the very beginning.


In fact, the only way you’ll get any indication that this newsletter is affiliated at all with with the Knight Foundation is that you would have to click from a story on their their daily email newsletter to their website and scroll down to the very bottom where you will find the Knight Foundation logo.


When you’re writing stories and promoting groups and activities funded by the same foundation that funds you, and you fail to reveal this connection, then the failure to comply with the obligation of transparency that we’ve come to expect from what passes for the new media about this kind of relationship constitutes a gross and flagrant failure to follow one of the basic principals of journalism.


For this new generation of faux-reporters/propagandists, the problem when you start “curating” the news and you start with a set of “facts” provided by the group with the biggest self interest in the subject you’re writing about is that what you’re really doing is cranking out propaganda and not reportage.


Again, this doesn’t necessarily make any of these people bad folks, and I agree that whatever gets published by The New Tropic is a step or two removed from the front door of the Knight Foundation, but the more money that this foundation contributes to ventures like this - and thanks to Matt Haggman, there seems to be a real emphasis on “new media” -  then more examples like this are bound to occur where the interests of the Knight Foundation are promoted and supported without there being any revelations that the folks doing the supporting and promoting are essentially on the Foundation’s payroll.


WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE CURRENT PARK?


My arguments above largely deal with process, or the failure of process to reveal specific information about the intentions of the Miami and Knight Foundations regarding their actions as shills for what can only be a collection of rich and connected individuals with close ties to the PAMM and Frost Science Museums.


Because of this, the larger question that these two foundations need to answer is, if in fact they are not acting on behalf of the folks associated with the PAMM and Frost Science Museum, then what is so wrong with the current park that would prompt all of this secret, back-room activity leading to an “unsolicited proposal, instead of initiating an open, inclusive process to discuss its future of the park?”


The park after all is only a little more than one year old, and while it might not be a major people magnet, the same could be said for most of the public parks in Miami and within Miami-Dade County.


We don’t see the Miami Foundation leaping forward to take over the operation of any of those parks, or offering any ideas on how to improve park attendance overall throughout the city.


No, this is a very specific scheme, that from all accounts includes as part of its agenda, the intention to put a fancy waterfront restaurant in this public park.


People in Miami have every right to look at the behavior of these two foundations, and especially the Miami Foundation with a jaundiced eye because in addition to this scheme, rumors are beginning to surface within the community that when given a choice between acting in the public’s interest, or protecting the interests of one of their major sponsors in a recent land use issue, the Miami Foundation chose their sponsor.


IN CLOSING


And so you have it. While there’s a lot of information in this story that might not immediately seem connected, the fact of the matter is that it’s all connected like a jigsaw puzzle.


The effort by the Miami and Knight Foundation to initiate an “unsolicited proposal” to have the City of Miami turn over one of the largest pieces of publicly owned, waterfront land in Miami to a group of anonymous private individuals is actually a VERY BIG story that was never adequately researched and reported on by the mainstream media - especially the Miami Herald.


Legitimate questions abound as to why these foundations decided to take this issue on; on whose behalf are they really doing this for; who are the people who will end up being on Conservancy Board; what is their real agenda, and just what does Commissioner Sarnoff expect to receive as his part of the Quid-Pro-Quo for shepherding this through the City Commission in his last weeks in office?


The revelations of the orchestrated effort to bamboozle the public into believing that they would have a real and signifiant role in the supposed redesign of the park is largely a smoke screen to lull them into a stupor, while the undisputed fact that the public will be expected to pay for the bulk of operating costs of the park is just one more example of the banditry that passes for protecting the public’s money in the City of Miami.


THE INVOLVEMENT OF MARC SARNOFF IN THIS PROCESS, AND THE VERY REAL POSSIBILITY THAT HIS REWARD FOR GETTING THIS PASSED BEFORE HE LEAVES OFFICE IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS WOULD BE AN APPOINTMENT TO THIS GROUP SHOULD PERSUADE FOLKS THAT THIS ALONE MAKES THIS A BAD DEAL FOR THE CITIZENS OF MIAMI!


I BELIEVE THAT AT THE VERY LEAST, THIS PROPOSAL SHOULD BE TABLED UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION, ALTHOUGH IT OUGHT TO BE KILLED OUTRIGHT, WITH A STAKE BEING DRIVEN THROUGH ITS HEART TO MAKE SURE IT STAYS DEAD!


If you agree that this is a bad deal,  then I ask that you share this story to all of your family, friends and co-workers, and ask them to contact the Mayor and your City Commissioners.


TELL THEM THAT THE TIME HAS COME TO QUIT SCREWING THE TAXPAYERS OF MIAMI!


It’s Miami, Bitches!


Mayor Tomas Regalado  305.250.5300

Commissioner Willie Gort  305.250.5430

Commissioner Frank Carollo  305.250.5380

Commissioner Francis Suarez  305.250.5420

Commissioner Keon Hardemon  305.250.5390

 

Courtesy of Cooper Robertson/Civitas

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