CRESPOGRAM REPORT
FEBRUARY 18, 2015
BARRED FROM NUMEROUS GOVERNMENTAL COMPUTER NETWORKS FOR TELLING THE TRUTH

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THE TAXMAN COMETH
HOW DOES A CITY OF MIAMI AGENCY GET AWAY WITH TRYING TO GET THE LEGISLATURE TO CHANGE THE LAW SO THAT THEY CAN BECOME SELF-FUNDING, AND WHY ARE THE RESIDENTS WHO LIVE IN THE DDA DISTRICT BEING KEPT IN THE DARK
 PART II
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If there is a single issue that crystallizes the political philosophy of the current Mayor and members of the Miami City Commission it has been their unwillingness to raise taxes, even symbolically, come hell or high water. 


Among those who has been at the forefront of voting against increased ad valorem taxes since he’s been a City Commissioner has been none other than Commissioner Marc Sarnoff.


Yet, without a single public hearing, or the slightest effort to initiate or have any public discussion, either as a member of the Miami City Commission nor the Chairman of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the Commissioner and a small number of people associated with this city agency have for the last two years worked feverishly behind the scenes to get the Florida legislature to change the law so that the DDA could, on it’s own, impose an additional ad valorem tax to fund it’s operations.


This year, State Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla has industriously been working like a beaver in Tallahassee to push forward a bill that would allow an additional ad valorem tax to be imposed on all the property owners - residential and business - who live within the boundaries of the DDA District.


I first wrote about this issue on January 1st of this year in my story, DDA CONSPIRES TO RAISE AD VALOREM TAXES, and expected that someone, or some news organization - especially the Miami Herald - would consider the efforts of a City agency acting on it’s own initiative to finance it’s activities through an additionally legislatively mandated ad valorem tax might be an issue that would be of interest to the folks who live and own businesses within the boundaries of the DDA. 


Folks in the DDA already pay the lion’s share of ad valorem taxes in the City, so you would think that someone at the Miami Herald - or any of the local business newspapers, or TV stations, or even any of the glossy magazines - might consider this effort to levy a new  ad valorem tax worthy of at least a mention somewhere in their pages, or on their newscasts.


YET, NOT A FUCKING PEEP HAS COME FROM ANY OF THESE FOLKS!


Of course when it comes to the Miami Herald, my sources, and the sources of other folks have confirmed that their policy is that if Al Crespo writes about an issue, no one at the Herald is supposed to write about it - unless of course on rare occasions they rip my story off and rewrite it without giving me credit.


Now, that’s not only pretty childish - both refusing to cover stories that I initially write about, and/or ripping me off on occasion - but it’s actually even worse for this community, because I do break a fair number of stories that deserve a larger audience.


This does however explain how this legislation is now in it’s 3rd State senate Committee and how State Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla could introduce the  below strike and substitute amendment to his original bill last Friday, without there being a mention by anyone at the Herald, even on their political blog about this?

How do you like that reference to “societal ills associated with urban blight?”


Urban blight is a problem, but the “last” piece of urban blight within the DDA boundaries is the Worldcenter property, and they just got $90 million from the SEOPW CRA as a reward for their plans to building a shopping mall condos, a convention hotel and convention center on that property, so the DDA would be hard pressed to find any significant urban blight within their boundaries justifying this kind of legislative action.


If there isn’t any urban blight in the DDA District, then why the effort to change the law?


First, to be fair, I don’t want to leave the impression that the DDA is imposing a totally NEW ad valorem tax. They are already entitled to as much as 0.5 mill in ad valorem taxes provided by the City. The big difference though, is that because they are a dependent agency of the City of Miami, they currently have to go before the City Commission every year and submit a budget based on the amount of ad valorem taxes that they want to City to give them. They’ve never, at least in the time I’ve been paying attention gotten the full 0.5 mill.


With this new law, the DDA would by-pass ever having to ask the City again for money, or to account for the ad valorem taxes that they receive, and in the process they would establish themselves as an independent power base freed from accountability and oversight by the City for this money because it wouldn’t be coming from the City’s coffers, but from the ability to collect the money directly from the taxpayers.

Even if the DDA were an honorable and principled agency, there are folks who would have a problem with any agency of city government having this much financial autonomy.


But this is the City of Miami DDA we’re talking about here whose unsavory behavior during the reign of Commissioner Marc Sarnoff as it’s Chairman includes their efforts in 2011 to operate their own Absentee Ballot operation to help Sarnoff get reelected; the discovery that they have violated their own By-laws in appointing members to terms beyond the 12 year maximum that they are allowed to serve; to the way in which the DDA’s PR company, Schwartz Media pimped for Teresa Sarnoff to get favorable treatment in an article in Miami Today about her End Homelessness Now foundation, in advance of her running to replace her husband, and of course the DDA’s activities in putting together a promotional book for Sarnoff about his years as a City Commissioner that required threats of a lawsuit to force Alyce Robertson, the DDA’s Executive Director, to turn over.


And these mind you, are just the stories that I’ve written about. There are also the activities of Sarnoff, as the DDA Chairman, which have prompted the City of Miami Beach to threaten to sue the City over the Watson Island project.


None of this is happening in a vacuum.  This effort to self-fund the DDA is not something that Sarnoff, his pal and legal benefactor Jay Solowsky, or the other members of their little clique are pushing because they believe that this represents a good government initiative.


It is my belief, and I’m sure that when you read this many of you will agree with me that Sarnoff and his little clique have been working on this scheme because if his wife manages to get elected to replace him as the City Commissioner, there is no way that she will take over as the Chairman of the DDA too. 


The Chairmanship of the DDA will be left for her hubby.


Imagine Teresa Sarnoff getting elected, and then Marc Sarnoff being nominated to the DDA Board where his cronies on the Board appoint him as the Chairman, free of the control and the purse strings of the Miami City Commission!?!


In short order Sarnoff will position himself as the unofficial Mayor of Downtown Miami, operating the DDA as a separate and independent fiefdom, and in the process aggrandizing as much power as he, Solowsky and the others in their clique can amass.


And thanks to the failure of the local news and business media doing their job, only those of you who come here to read what’s going on inside the City of Miami, will be able to say, damn, Crespo done predicted it again, while the residents of the DDA District wake up when their tax bill arrives and wonder why they’re required to pay a new ad valorem tax to support the DDA.


At that point the Miami Herald Editorial Board might, and I say just might decide to write one of their whiny editorials about how the Florida Legislature screwed up in giving Sarnoff and his cronies an opportunity to turn a city agency into a giant cash cow, but by then it will be too late, because the blame rightly should go to the local news media for failing to do their jobs in letting the residents of the DDA District know that this is going to happen to THEM!


Welcome to the new Miami, Bitches!