“HE IS AN HONEST MAN”
That could cost Jonathan H. Parker the election
October 9, 2015
By David Arthur Walters MIAMI MIRROR
Jonathan H. Parker, Candidate for Miami Beach City Commission Group IV, thanked his supporters and welcomed interested parties with generous provision of food and beverage at the popular Liquor Lounge establishment on the corner of Collins Avenue and 16th Street, across from Loews Hotel.
I was tipped off to the event by an acquaintance in the Flamingo Park neighborhood. He said he had met Mr. Parker and he seemed to be an honest man. I was not familiar with him, and had forgotten that I had seen his name in a long list of candidates for Group IV.
I looked up his profile on the Internet to discover we had a few things in common, such as experience as an executive in the travel and financial businesses, and a presence in Hawaii where he holds a law license in addition to licenses in New Jersey and Florida.
When he greeted me at the door, I asked him if he knew whatever happened to an old acquaintance of mine in Hawaii, Duane Carlsmith. Mr. Parker knew nothing of him and introduced me to his political consultant, Michael W. Kesti, Chairman of Government Relations Group, LLC.
I asked Mr. Kesti what it takes to be a successful lobbyist. Influence is the key to success, he said, so you must have access, and that can be gained by raising the money that puts candidates in office. Yet there should be no quid pro quo, or particular legislation in return for money you raised. Can you be against most politicians? No, politicians are your market, and you must be ready to represent their sometimes contradictory agendas. Do you have plenty of dirt you could tell after you retire? Not as long as it is under investigation. So what is up with Mr. Parker? He is an honest man.
Mr. Kesti is the Palmetto Bay lobbyist who tipped off the FBI in 2011 to possible corruption that led to the arrest of mayors Michael Pizzi and Manny Maroño, and lobbyists Richard Candia and Jorge Forte. Well, Jonathan Parker had better be an honest man with a lobbyist like Mr. Kesti around.
Most everyone gathered for the event at Liquor Lounge were intimates who have lived on the beach or in the county for many years. In other words, they were diehard locals. I was the odd man out. Leading questions: Where do you live? How long have you been here?
The first question in Manhattan, for example, especially in meat markets, is usually, “What do you do?” I guess that question is considered impolite here. One is left guessing. The gracious lady turned out to be wife to Jay Almeida. I guessed from Mr. Almeida’s prominent but reserved appearance that he was a retired police chief. In fact the gentleman is president and CEO of the PHN Group and also of Bank Vision US, and he also heads the prestigious International Business Council of South Florida.
I asked him if he endorsed Mr. Parker for commissioner.
“Of course I do,” he said, “I have known him for many years. He would be a good for Miami Beach as commissioner.”
“What do you like the most about him?”
“He is an honest man. Sadly, it will be difficult for him to win in this political climate….”
I tried to provoke Mr. Parker into denouncing the mayor, as has become the custom of late. But Mr. Parker steers clear of disparaging the mayor. The mayor’s failings are obvious, so he believes it is better to address the issues in a positive manner. For example, he is for rehabilitating the Convention Center, which has always been a political football, now carried by the mayor. He happy with the pretty new façade proposed, but is not so happy with other aspects.
He was finally moved to address a few scandals appertaining to the mayor and his cohort in a brief question-and-answer session. Namely, the Exaggerations; the Sleazy PAC; and the Rebecca Flap.
First of all, it is standard practice for incumbents to take credit for programs instituted by their predecessors.
Secondly, the now shut-down politically action committee’s fundraising activities were probably legal, but it was definitely unethical in the higher sense for the mayor and a commissioner to call upon organizations with business before the city to donate money to a PAC touting the mayor’s purported accomplishments.
Finally, The Rebecca Flap, a conspiracy theory sketched from scanty information that the mayor and his political consultant, David Custin, who is running the campaigns of the mayor’s slate, are conspiring to sell out the old folks’ home by the marina to a Chinese developer, roundly denied by everyone, including the mayor in multiple email blasts, is problematic.
One of his pet peeves is that is hard for people to get thing done at city hall despite the claims to excellent service and the fact that everyone there is quite nice.
I tarried to converse with a few other people. The adjective “honest” was prodigiously applied to Candidate Parker. Some individuals present were connected to the Miami Rotary Club, where Mr. Almeida manages its public image
On the way out I told Mr. Parker that in the past I had always seen many signs around my neighborhood during elections. The only signs I have noticed this election are a few signs advertising Mayor Philip Levine, side by side with the identically designed signs of commission candidate John Elizabeth Alemán, a nice lady whom I happen to like, and they all had been knocked down and were being anointed by dogs.
Mr. Parker said someone unknown was taking his signs down, so he had sent email to all the candidates advising them to alert the police if they have any information about the practice.
He offered me a few of his signs to erect. I respectfully declined, explaining that I like him, but do not know all the candidates, and must remain impartial, so to speak.
I have a habit of liking people once I get to know them, providing they keep their promises. Jonathan H. Parker actually emphasizes that he keeps his word, that he does what he says he will do. People who know him say he is an honest man. That is to say he is not thoroughly cursed with the underlying crisis or hypocrisy of humanity.