Healthcare and Sunshine – Congress is Critically Ill

West side view of the United States Capitol building.

HEALTHCARE AND SUNSHINE

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

Article I, section 5 of the United States Constitution clearly states that ‘‘each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings.’’ The senators and representatives are therefore expected to conduct the people’s business in the best manner possible, that is, efficiently and effectively in the interest of everyone concerned, and not in the special interests of factions.

It is to that end that the public business should be conducted publicly by Congress in all respects.  Yet from the time of its constitution we hear of backroom and cloakroom deals and closed committees where fundamental business is done in the dark by members who are evidently ashamed of their political factions. And we hear of working documents deliberately withheld for fear of criticism. They know that conspiring is inimical to the public interest, and that their objectives would not be realized if their behavior were transparent instead of opaque.

It is no wonder that the members of Congress, who are supposed to be representing the people at large, have established no ironclad rule or have not passed an effective law prohibiting such conduct on pain of expulsion or imprisonment unless the conspiring is justified by national security.  They are the enemy of the people as constituted. That is not to say that the people are any better at heart, for people deserve the leaders they elect.

Healthcare is vital to the public interest. Now the Democratic faction has complained that the Republican faction in the Senate secretly contrived a plan to repeal and replace so-called Obamacare with so-called Trumpcare. The plans are so-called because the members care more about the relative power of their respective parties and their prejudices than about the health and welfare of the American people.

There are admittedly problems with the Affordable Health Care Act that could be fixed in one way or another, perhaps with a single-payer, national health insurance program enjoyed by civilized nations. Otherwise the existing act could be tweaked. Most importantly, something could be done to convert mismanaged health care, conducted in the interest of providers and insurance companies, to managed health care, conducted in the interest of the human beings.

But no, Republicans, who are now in the majority, prefer to blame President Obama and his party for forcing a national health care act down their throats when they were a majority. Wherefore the House got a bill passed in public, but that bird will not fly in the Senate, so the Republican senators privately concocted their own plan, in secret, say the Democrats, along the lines of the purported theme of the Republicans ever since they eschewed Reconstruction in the South: rob the poor to pay the rich.

After the Republicans pulled the rabbit out of their top hat, Warren Buffet, the famous welfare capitalist, showed his tax return on Megyn Kelly’s new television program. He said the Republican bill would save him hundreds of thousands of dollars in one year, and he had friends who would save millions. He said he did not need the money. In fact, he claimed he likes to live in the same old house, that he could live nicely on a hundred-grand a year, and that he loves to apply his fortune to humanitarian causes rather than floating around in a multimillion-dollar super-yacht and so on.

Well, Republicans deny they are the greedy, racist party, and they make some good points about the faults in the bill they resent so much that they tried to get it repealed about fifty times. Whatever they do, let them do it publicly, and let not the pot call the kettle black because we all hail from the African continent regardless of our current birth certificates.

We recall that Republicans made the same complaint, about secret healthcare conventicles held after Barrack Obama was inaugurated in 2009.

For example, Dr. Michael C. Burgess, representing Texas, spoke at some length, on January 12 and March 10, 2010, on the lack of transparency, which he thought could be solved with a Minority Resolution of Inquiry, a tool that members have to ask for information they believe is being withheld from them needed to make an informed legislative resolution. He knew that his recommendation was futile, but he wanted to get his two cents in, and the media did take notice.

“Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue much as we have done over this past hour, talking about this same issue, the health care bill that is now before the House and Senate, even though none of us have seen the finished product, and what has happened on the issue of transparency over these past several weeks since the House adjourned in the middle of December.”

That sounds familiar today because the people have failed to discipline their senators and representatives so that all public business is conducted in public and that all documents are immediately available to anyone concerned.

“This bill has nothing to do with health care any longer…. This was, how do we get the outcome we want, which is to pass this bill? There is something wrong with the process when you say, ‘We can’t let you read it. We can’t wait. We’ve got to do it in a hurry. And oh, by the way, the benefits that are going to come to you off of this bill actually start in 2014. Your taxes will start next week….’”

Here we go again. Obviously something is wrong with the way business is conducted on Capitol Hill. The obstruction is augmented by supermajorities.

“This debate now has become an internal debate on the Democratic Party. We will continue to be blamed on the Republican side for obstructing this bill, but please understand there is nothing that we can do. We lack the numbers to stop this bill— supermajority in the House, a 60-vote majority in the Senate. All the Republicans can stay together and the bill still passes because we just simply do not have the numbers….”

The Senate is a de facto supermajoritarian institution because the rules allow that a bill can be held up forever by a filibuster unless 60 votes put an end to the delay.

The so-called nuclear option was deployed by Republicans so that the hurdle could be overcome and the nomination of Neil Gorsuch by President Trump could be confirmed by a simple majority. The nuclear exception to the 60-vote cloture rule had been created in 2013 by Democrats partly in response to Republican prejudices delaying the appointment of black judges.

The change in tradition may be a precedent for deploying the nuclear option to pass sweeping legislation such as national healthcare reform. In any event, the Senate’s structural reputation as a de facto nonpartisan institution has gone down the drain.

Arguably the supermajority rule should somehow be made permanent in such a way that it would apply to crucial public issues, such as health care bills; that is, the Republicans would not get their health care bill passed, characterized as “mean” by the President, who would not veto them no matter how mean, without a supermajority.

“The arguments that are going on right now are arguments entirely within the Democratic conference,” said Dr. Burgess. “And it is a conference committee, if you will, of the Democratic conference where they’re trying to work out the difference the Democrats have with Democrats over the bill, and ignore the Republicans—blame them, to be sure, because they’re useful to blame as being obstructionists, but realistically no Republican is obstructing or slowing down this bill. We can’t. We would like to, but we can’t.”

Dr. Burgess feared that he would not outlive the Affordable Health Care Act: “This is sweeping legislation that has a long half-life and is going to affect the way of life in this country from this day forward, really long past my time on this Earth, and I suspect a long time past the life expectancy of almost everyone who is serving in this body. So it is so important that we get this right. It is our obligation. It is the oath that we swore on this floor the early part of January of 2009 after those very famous elections, those historic elections that created the new Presidency, created a supermajority for Democrats in the House, created almost a filibuster-proof majority in the other body.”

Dr. Burgess noted that Barrack Obama’s approach sounded pretty good early on: “He said there was going to be a mandate to cover children. He said there was not going to be an employer mandate nor would there be an individual mandate, but that anyone who didn’t have insurance would be able to have insurance just as good as a Member of Congress under a program like the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program….”

But contingencies always arise that impact good intentions. The Great Recession presented huge budget problems, and then we had a flu epidemic, et cetera. A special Senate election may change the balance of votes. Coverage and cost had not been discussed during the campaign and after the inauguration, but now a cost of around a trillion dollars, was to be funded by increasing taxes on energy, and motorists back home already suffering from severe recession were outraged by expected increases in fuel costs.  There are backroom conspiracies, and the content of the bill is a mystery. After the bill is signed it will be up to an agency to make a myriad rules, and one administrator is in charge of that, yet that person has not been nominated and confirmed.

Dr. Burgess wrote a letter to President Obama on September 30, 2009, wherein he respectfully asked him for full disclosure of information on negotiations and agreements related to the national health care bill. The details would include among other things the names of the special interests.  A Resolution of Inquiry was filed on December 17, and here in January he is vainly telling the House what an important tool it is. Another important tool he and his colleagues extolled is C-SPAN. Yes, it may be boring because editors do not spin the proceedings into a story, but a free and democratic people must have public affairs aired, C-SPAN must be an option.

“The American people understand that C–SPAN is sunshine. C–SPAN represents good government. C–SPAN was the foil that the American people had against the excesses of a Presidential administration that overstepped its bounds and brought us the spectacle of Watergate and the crumbling of a Presidency. C–SPAN is the preventive medicine that keeps that from happening again in the future.”

Phil Gingrey of Georgia, speaking right before Burgess on January 12, thought he knew what the American people think about the whole affair:

“Here is what they think. I know the President knows this, and I know the Democratic majority knows this, and I know that’s why they want to pass this thing in the dark of night. They don’t want C–SPAN looking in. They don’t want Republicans looking in. They don’t want the American people looking in. They want to get out of that hole and get out of town. That’s what their plan is.”

Florence Nightingale, who was called “the prick in the side” of the power elite, would know what to do with the unhealthy Congress: she would open the windows to let in the light and fresh air, and she would scrub the place clean even though she did not believe in germs.

Michael Burgess is an obstetrician, born 1950. We hope he is not a hypocrite even though hypocrisy is the underlying crisis of humankind. Given reelection, good habits, genetics, health care, and intentions he may very well live long enough to assist the United States Congress in giving birth to a Sunshine or Open Window Law that will afford all inquirers insight into the workings of Congress. Until such a law is made, it shall remain the mortal enemy of the democratic republic.

xYx

2017 Miami Beach

How Great Can America Be?

1b72f-gulliver_cymima20151105_0022_16

HOW GREAT CAN AMERICA BE?

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

I think therefore I am, I am what I think, and thought is the breath of my existence, so I did not realized that my spirit had been repressed into One Dimension until I was enlightened by Herbert Marcuse that:

“One-dimensional thought is systematically promoted by the makers of politics and their purveyors of mass information. Their universe of discourse is populated by self-validating hypotheses which, incessantly and monopolistically repeated, become hypnotic definitions or dictations.”

For example, Make America Great Again is being trumpeted to the high heavens of late by the Flimflam Man, about whom Nothing Greater Can Be Thought.  That is to say that This Great Nation of Ours is no longer great. And just how great was it, anyway?

Greatness in this once Great Nation of Ours must be as measureable as the Flimflam Man’s waistline. Quantity and not quality counts, and we are to use his presumably gargantuan tool as our measuring rod. Yet we have no way of knowing how long his ruler is, nor even its width or depth, as long as we are diminished in comparison to mere points, to live a one-dimensional, pinheaded, or windowless monadic existence in Pointland.

Intercourse in this totalitarian Universe of Discourse is naturally reduced to the most one can get with the least expenditure, and the producer is systematically attuned and atoned to the social product. The automaton no longer thinks about the social product; it thinks him. The Universe of Discourse, which is the sine qua non of human existence, is a manufactured system aka the Best of All Possible Systems and The American Way.

“The efficiency of the system blunts the individual’s recognition that it contains no facts which do not communicate the repressive power of the whole. If the individuals find themselves in the things which shape their life, the do so, not by giving, but by accepting the law of things—not the law of physics but the law of their society.”

“Thus emerges a pattern,” continues our perverse guru, “of one-dimensional thought and behavior in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe. They are redefined by the rationality of the given system and of its quantitative extension.”
Can if be that the Flimflam Man is the only person who has emerged from One Dimensional existence? Is he the One to save us from the News of Reality that is faking us out?

I feel fortunate that I came across a copy of Professor Marcuse’s book at Kafka’s Kafé on South Beach before that absurd used bookstore and cafe was rationalized by The System.

I had, by the way, already managed to broaden my consciousness, from Pointland to Flatland.

I also encountered a few New Age books at Kafka’s, but they did not inspire me to stand up because the New Age is really a product of One-Dimensional Society.

“The reign of such a one-dimensional reality does not mean that materialism rules, and that the spiritual, metaphysical, and bohemian occupations are petering out. On the contrary, there is a great deal of ‘Worship together this week,’ ‘Why not try God,’ Zen, existentialism, and beat ways of life, etc. But such modes of protest and transcendence are no longer contradictory to the status quo and no longer negative. They are rather the ceremonial part of practical behaviorism, its harmless negation, and are quickly digested by the status quo as a healthy diet.”

Now there is no way to overcome repression without consciousness of repression, and then and only then can one become fully individuated as a three-dimensional entity via the fourth dimension, and therefore partially freed from the flattening gravity of circumstances.

Please stand by for the elevator.

How Miami Beach Officials Get Away With Torture

Umberto Boccioni, The Street Enters The House
 
OPEN LETTER
Michael Grieco, Commissioner
THE CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
Miami Beach, Florida

Plea for Formal Remediation of Unreasonable Noise and Maladministration

Dear Commission Grieco:

I have posted this letter on the Web for your easy reference. You have said that my letters are too long for your cell phone, so I am hoping that you have access to a desktop or laptop computer. I am also hoping that your colleagues have the equipment and power of continuous concentration to consider this document and act upon it. If I do receive a response, I shall provide voluminous factual information to support my thesis upon request

This is my petition for legislative and administrative action to mitigate unreasonable noise, vibrations, exhaust fumes, and other pollution in construction projects in the City of Miami Beach by requiring contractors to include statements of probable pollution impact and their remediation program in their bidding documents, and by requiring owners and developers to provide temporary housing to residents whose lives are unreasonably impacted by construction pollution in all events, and especially when the city waives the charter provision of a civil right against such disturbances.

The need for such legislation was made evident to your neighbors during the horizontal drilling of a 2/3 mile long redundant sewer line. The noise, vibrations, and fumes around the entry and exit holes can only be described as torturous, of the nature that terrorists and other criminals are subjected to by the police power in other parts of the world in order to drive them out of their buildings or to confess to their crimes.

The only expression of concern was that the customers of Joe’s Restaurant, frequented by the affluent and vested interests, not be disturbed.

The charter protection was waived by the city because the drilling contractor had contracted to be present on the North Dakota pipeline. A responsible city official for that reason declared that the project was “time sensitive,” but implied that the city was in imminent danger of being inundated by sewage, which if expressly stated would have been a bald-faced lie. There was no emergency. In fact, an engineering report stated that there was a very small chance of a break in the existing sewer main, and that there was no imminent danger of it failing. The drilling team left town a year ago and the redundant project is just now winding up.
Many complaints and pleas were submitted by victims to the mayor, commissioners, and administrative officials. Responsibility for the outrageous disturbance on weekends and evenings was shamefully shirked by administrative officials, with the exception of Eric Carpenter. The mayor was too important to receive the victims at city hall; the commissioners, who were notified time and again of the issue, were unresponsive.
The rule of thumb when only a small number of people are disturbed is not to provide for their general welfare but to ignore them the best one can. This usually works politically because of the local culture: with some remarkable exceptions, people not only do not love their neighbors but they do not even want to know them unless there is something in it for them. Further, traumatized people tend to be concerned with their own predicaments to the exclusion of others.
The duty to address the complaints was delegated to the general contractor and his public relations employee. Shutting down the project until adequate sound protection could be obtained was out of the question due to the drilling team’s scheduling needs. The general contractor slapped together a wooden box for the gigantic engine to reduce the decibels. That project created more noise in the evenings and took all too long for a minimal result. In fine, it was too little too late, including too late to file for an injunction in circuit court, and the racket dragged on for months. The public relations sophist did what she could, which was to simply shine people on with specious rhetoric.

A meeting was held by your powerful neighborhood association. A public works official finally publicly addressed the ongoing nuisance. As an engineer he had no sympathy with the people suffering the unreasonable pollution due to a drilling process that is usually employed out in the boondocks and not in the residential neighborhoods of small cities such as ours. I have an account of that meeting if you have a personal computer and the time to consider it.

That account includes the tearful complaint of a woman who was being tortured by unreasonable vibrations and noise at 419 Michigan Avenue, near your home. She apparently thought David Mancini was the city’s official contractor, and that the 419 Michigan Avenue project was his responsibility, which he has nothing to do with.
As you know, the groundwork at that site for a small hotel, across Michigan from the healthy Vibe studio, seemed almost interminable due to water conditions. I estimated that the entire declared valuation of the hotel construction was absorbed by the groundwork, although a superintendent told me the extent of the groundwork was expected. Still, I have asked the building department to collect affidavits and documents upon completion to make sure that a correct value is declared and all permit fees are paid, which has not always been done in the past under the city’s Rob Peter to Paul to Breakeven Policy.
I hope that woman has recovered. I shall never forget her tearful plea for relief from the awful noise and vibrations. But manly engineers and city officials are deaf to such pleas from small minorities. There is always collateral damage in the fog of war against nature. The fact that there are so many complaints in our city creates a din that tends to deafen city officials unless, again, there is something in it for them if they respond to it.
There were so-called activists around town who could have raised enough hell to get some relief. Unfortunately, they either had their noses in the wrong place, or they were afraid to speak up because they had their own needs. After all, His Honor the Mayor said after the last election that people who complained about things would have to wait until the next election to be heard.

Therefore, I hope you will at least respond with your position on what you can do to make sure that city officials in instances such as this provide for the welfare for all stakeholders, not just the welfare of those represented by the power elite’s political bureau on the commission.

Sincerely,

David Arthur Walters

Are Miami Beach Politicians and Lawyers Dishonest?

Dan Gelber and Michael Grieco for Mayor of the City of Miami Beach
 
 
ARE POLITICIANS AND LAWYERS DISHONEST?
The Fake Poll and Fake PAC Episode
 

by David Arthur Walters
PRESS INDEPENDENT
June 4, 2017

 

Dan Gelber stooped to conquer his opponent, Commissioner Michael Grieco, in the race for City of Miami Beach mayor by casting the first stone, or at least Grieco says so, out of sheer desperation, using an unethical “push poll” to push voters into believing that Grieco is a political prostitute.

Up to that point in the campaign, Grieco had been saying that “Gelber is a good man.” He might have remained silent now rather than lower himself to the traditional political mudslinging that Gelber is an old hand at in his professed career of fighting corruption, yet he took the bait and strenuously denied the charge.

He called Gelber “Dishonest Dan” for using a fake poll to advance himself to the coveted position of mayor by suggesting that he, Grieco, was using a friend’s political action committee to raise money from people doing business with the city. Hypocrisy was apparently afoot, for he countercharged Gelber with using an unregistered PAC to his own ends. He admitted to having “many friends who chair or participate in political committees, campaigns, and other forms of political free speech,” but denied that he had any control over or raised money for a PAC by the time he made the statement to the Miami Herald, which did not name the PACs alluded to.

We recall that Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon pioneered push polling, an unethical practice condemned by the American Association of Political Consultants and the American Association for Public Opinion Research and ethics activists who like to see it outlawed. Democratic voters received telephone calls during Nixon’s 1946 run for the U.S. House against Democrat incumbent Jerry Voorhis: “This is a friend of yours, but I can’t tell you who I am. Did you know that Jerry Voorhis is a communist?”

The negative aspersion does not have to be stated as a fact with push polling. When George W. Bush ran for governor of Texas in 1994, voters were asked whether they would be more or less likely to vote for Governor Richards if they knew that lesbians dominated her staff. During Barrack Obama’s presidential candidacy in 2008, callers insinuated that he was a Muslim or hostile to Israel.

So would you be likely to vote for Grieco if you knew he benefited from a dirty political action committee and then lied about it? If Grieco were a Machiavellian politician, he might ask, “Would you vote for Gelber if you knew he was a bigot and hypocrite?” Or he might have just said, “Gelber is a good man, and certainly is not a better than thou bigot and hypocrite,” knowing that people tend to forget the “not” and would then associated Gelber with bigotry and hypocrisy when his name came to mind.

The greatest sin around Miami Beach, a city already infamous for its corruption over the decades, is the use of soft-money political action committees, whether technically illegal or not. The sordid reputation of such PACs was pioneered on the beach by Mayor Philip Levine when he got on the horn to hustle money for Relentless For Progress, a “dirty” PAC headed by sitting Commissioner Jonah Wolfson, a clever lawyer with a sense of humor—the initials of the committee, RFP, were also the initials of Request For Proposal, the name of the process used for obtaining bids on government contracts.

Levine is loaded, but the self-made businessman in him apparently did not want to lay out more hard-earned money out of pocket to be reelected to a position paying a pittance. He had already spent over a million dollars out of pocket for the mayor’s seat and seats for the bevy of commissioners that purchased him a “reformist” majority on the commission and rendered him a strong mayor in a city with a weak mayor charter.

Relentless For Progress raised hundreds of thousands of dollars right off the bat. Its success was obviously due to the fact that many of the contributors were somehow doing business with the city. Wolfson is not an incompetent lawyer: There was no definite quid pro quo, or promise made to earmark the contributions for the benefit of a certain candidate, therefore no apparent violation of ethics laws. Taxpayers were howling blood murder, as if politicians are charged with working for the whole community therefore are not supposed to do anything to favor particular contributors. The high regarded city attorney, Raul Aguila, opined the PAC was legal, but Wolfson folded the PAC, anyway, and refunded the unspent portion. The city commission slightly amended its political contribution ordinance.

So it seems that Gelber is playing on the public fear that Grieco is a miniature Levine. Both candidates are using their families and careers as prosecutors and politicians to bolster their credibility. Gelber emphasizes fighting corruption as usual. Grieco has the edge, however, in the minutia of city politics, and is well known lately for his battles against massive crowds that would float or hip hop and trash or shoot up Miami Beach.

Grieco says he has “evolved” from serving Mayor Levine, a wealthy developer and public relations mogul, as his right-hand protégé, and has often bitten the hand that once fed him on the dais, yet he wholeheartedly backs the continuation of the mayor’s epic struggle against the Great Flood, which is expected to wash away the Sins of South Beach anytime within the next fifty years, perhaps before the end of this year.

There may or may not be PACS, and any existing PACS alluded to may or may not be in compliance with the elections laws, but dishonesty in all its forms including outright lying is definitely corrupt. Gelber seems to have reasserted his claim in an email blast, so I asked Grieco if Gelber is a liar. Grieco responded with an “?” He did not respond when the charge was more fully described to refresh his memory. Joey Flechas has been asked for his fact-checking documentation of the PACS referenced by both sides. Gelber’s campaign has not yet responded to requests for documentary proof.

June 7, 2017

RAUL AGUILA, CITY ATTORNEY

Estimado Aguila:

I hope you are enjoying business as usual.

Below is a link to a recent Miami Herald article in reference to allegedly “dirty” PAC activity on the part of Commissioner Grieco that supports Candidate Dan Gelber’s notion that it is prohibited by city ordinance.

Curiously, the behavior alleged seems almost identical to that of Mayor Levine/Jonah Wolfson that you deemed legal. A minor change was made in the ordinance later that did not make sense to me at the time.

Attached is a pdf of an article about the first incident.

I happen to be quite fond of Michael, but since I have covered the PAC issue in a recent article, with a title asking if lawyers and politicians are dishonest, I am duty bound to find the truth in this instance the best I can

A pdf of my query about honesty is also attached.</

I am hoping that you will look in to the subject, and render your opinion on it

David Arthur Walters

 
xYx


UPDATE June 6, 2017

Dear Fellow Miami Beach Resident,

Today The Miami Herald chose to publish an article about a political committee that has raised money to engage in political speech. In a clearly coordinated effort, Dan Gelber’s campaign immediately sent an Eblast attacking me over it. However, thus far, the only documented communication attributed to that particular committee was an Eblast the day after the Memorial Weekend Holiday attacking me and my effort to make the Air and Sea Show a new attraction for our city. Many of you received it and called it out for the smut it is. That was a part of Dan Gelber’s coordinated effort

I want to thank in advance so many of you, Miami Beach’s residents, who have contacted me with support and encouragement. I appreciate you seeing the truth and opting to ignore what is a clearly my opponent’s attempt to distort my record, attack my character and avoid talking about substantive issues of the city

Since last year, political consultant Christian Ulvert, and those who pay him, have embarked on a smear campaign to attack my character and falsely attribute The Herald story’s political committee fundraising to me.  As I’ve stated for the record and full transparency:

“I know the chairmen of many political committees, such as John Morgan, Ben Pollara, Brian Abraham, Stephen Bittel, Adonis Garcia and others through my political, personal and professional relationships over the years, so the premise of your question and this article itself merely makes this publication an accomplice to a dishonest attack on me by my political opponent, his consultant, and developer backers. As I have demonstrated, this is a textbook case of character assassination, and in any other arena this would constitute an act of slander/libel.

Unfortunately, rather than report my quote within its original story, The Herald opted to place it at the end with the preface, “Michael Grieco statement, After this article appeared online, Michael Grieco contacted the Herald and asked that the following statement be published:” Yesterday, in person, I made it clear to The Herald reporters that this anticipated written quote should have been my on-the-record response to begin with. In short, and in truth, Dan Gelber’s attack on me is founded on a false accusation based on one person who I’ve never solicited money from, a Chair of a political committee raising money independent of me (which is anyone’s right to do), and the attack by an disgruntled developer who wants Gelber to be Mayor. The truth – Dan Gelber has devolved into either a bad lawyer or an outright corrupt liar, or both.

The Herald article quotes the developer Bradley Colmer, affiliated with Deco Capital. This developer tried to strong-arm me to support a height increase and spot zoning application in Sunset Harbor. I stood up to the developer in defense of The Lofts residents and in opposition to the illegal act of spot zoning. This height increase was mired in scandal, as Mayor Levine himself had to recuse himself because he stood to directly profit from this height increase due to his ownership of neighboring property.

Evidence reveals that Gelber, developer Colmer, and developer/absentee-Mayor Levine share the same political consultant, Christian Ulvert, and the evidence reveals they are illegally coordinating to attack my character and falsely accuse me of raising money for the political committee addressed in today’s article.

I remind everyone that it was Mayor Levine who spearheaded the fundraising controversy in 2015 for the Relentless for Progress PAC, which I had nothing to do with. Perhaps this is Gelber’s way of deflecting or playing defense because he, in fact, is Levine’s puppet and hand-picked candidate.  Powerful people truly do have powerful connections, and will stoop to the lowest levels just to win the Mayor’s office.

I am trying to run my campaign to be your next Mayor mainly on a platform of independent leadership, experience, achievements as a Commissioner, and vision for our city’s future. But Gelber (who only this year surfaced in our city politics) and his henchmen have taken this election season down a path that leaves me no other choice than to fully reveal Gelber’s dishonesty, hypocrisy, and bad positions on issues that adversely affect our local quality of life.

Very soon, I’ll begin my campaign communications to the public. Because of Gelber, it will contain a lot more comparison messaging about us than the predominantly purely positive advertisements I had intended. But we’ll have to thank Dan and his henchmen for that.

Please visit my campaign website and join our effort by hosting a Friend Raiser, signing my candidate petition, placing a yard sign, or volunteering.

Thank you.
Your City Commissioner for Mayor of Miami Beach

JUNE 8 From Dan Gelber

Despite my opponent’s continued lies and denial about his secret PAC, the Miami Herald has just published a second investigative piece that confirms that Michael Grieco is indeed behind it.
As the Miami Herald wrote, “..new evidence suggests otherwise: Handwriting on a public document filed by the group — People for Better Leaders — is identical to handwriting on paperwork the commissioner filled out for city elections, according to two well-regarded forensic document experts.”
Here’s the bottom line.
You
deserve to have the truth from your elected official. There is a pattern of behavior that follows Michael Grieco and the truth is unraveling when it comes to his secret PAC.
“It is my professional opinion within scientific probability and in accordance with industry standards, that Michael Grieco is identified as the author of all the extended writing appearing on [the PAC document],” Flores wrote in a sworn affidavit.”
So far Michael Grieco’s response to these very telling stories has been to accuse the newspaper of a conspiracy, and then somehow blame me for the Herald’s report of his misconduct ––attacking me and my record of service.
I’ve spent a good deal of my life in service to my community – as a long time federal corruption prosecutor, a big brother, a state legislator.  No one – ever has accused me of anything even remotely close to what my opponent has said about me.
I appreciate that some people — when they feel cornered — will panic and display their worst side.
With evidence mounting that he is behind this PAC, my opponent should drop the name-calling and come clean with the voters.
– Dan

 

BY NICHOLAS NEHAMAS AND JOEY FLECHAS

For months, Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco insisted he was not involved in a mysterious political group raising money from developers, lobbyists and city vendors, just as he launched a surging campaign for mayor.

“It is absolutely untrue,” Grieco told the Miami Herald on Tuesday. “You can look right into my soul.”

But new evidence suggests otherwise: Handwriting on a public document filed by the group — People for Better Leaders — is identical to handwriting on paperwork the commissioner filled out for city elections, according to two well-regarded forensic document experts.

Their findings directly link Grieco to the political action committee he has repudiated.

YOU CAN LOOK RIGHT INTO MY SOUL.

Michael Grieco

So far, People for Better Leaders has raised $200,000 from Beach residents and special interests. The political action committee, or PAC, is run by Grieco’s friend, Brian Abraham, the former manager at King of Diamonds, a Miami-Dade strip club.

Abraham’s signature appears on a document filed to state election authorities by People for Better Leaders. But the rest of the form was filled out by the same person who completed Grieco’s city campaign paperwork, according to Thomas Vastrick, a forensic document examiner based in Central Florida.

Vastrick conducted a side-by-side examination of letters from Grieco’s handwriting and the PAC document, as is standard industry practice. Differences in handwriting make each person’s script unique.

“The evidence brought me a very high level of confidence that they were written by the same person,” said Vastrick, who has 40 years of experience in the field and worked for the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service for more than a decade.

He has testified as an expert witness in federal and state courts around the nation, written books and held a research position at the University of Central Florida. He also sits on the board of directors of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

On Tuesday, the Herald published a story outlining Grieco’s connections to the PAC. The article included an interview with a Miami Beach real estate investor who said Grieco recommended donating to the PAC. Another donor said he contributed to the PAC at a Grieco fundraiser in South Beach.

Grieco said earlier this week he had nothing to do with the PAC, and that people who claim otherwise are lying.

Last year, the city passed a law to prevent campaigns from soliciting special interests for PACS. People for Better Leaders has become controversial because it accepted donations from a Miami Beach vendor and a lobbyist, as well as others with business before the city.

Emailed a copy of both handwriting reports Thursday, Grieco said he needed 48 hours to respond.

“Note that my calendar doesn’t and won’t revolve around yours,” he wrote.

Writing on the wall

Grieco’s fingerprints may not be all over the PAC, but his handwriting appears to be.

The Herald hired Vastrick to perform the analysis after it was given a previous expert examination also linking Grieco to the PAC document. That analysis was paid for by a longtime ally of Grieco’s opponent in the mayoral race, Daniel Gelber, and performed by handwriting analyst Dianne Flores of Miami. Like Vastrick, Flores is considered an expert in the field of forensic handwriting analysis.

“It is my professional opinion within scientific probability and in accordance with industry standards, that Michael Grieco is identified as the author of all the extended writing appearing on [the PAC document],” Flores wrote in a sworn affidavit. She declined further comment.

Vastrick’s report represents an independent confirmation of her findings.

In order to ensure Vastrick came to an unbiased conclusion, the Herald did not tell him any details about the controversy surrounding Grieco and the PAC, nor did it inform him of Flores’ earlier conclusion. His examination was based on the same documents used by Flores.

Flores was commissioned by Miami attorney Samuel Rabin, who has donated $1,000 to Gelber’s mayoral campaign, the maximum allowable, according to campaign finance records. Rabin donated an additional $1,000 through his law firm, records show. He did not respond to a phone call Thursday.

The PAC document examined by Vastrick and Flores is a request to the Florida Division of Elections for credentials to use its website, dated Nov. 6, 2015. The form names Abraham and accountant Brian George as the PAC’s officers. Neither man has any political experience. They have not responded to messages. Abraham was not at his family’s Coral Gables office Thursday morning.

The Grieco campaign documents include candidate statements, financial disclosures and campaign-finance filings. All bear his writing.

Expert analysis

The accuracy of handwriting comparison is sometimes contested, as are some other forensic sciences. But courts around the nation allow expert testimony from handwriting analysts, and judges and juries use their findings in reaching verdicts. In Florida, state courts allow witnesses to testify to the authorship of disputed handwriting.

Rumors about People for Better Leader’s connection to Grieco started circulating in January. Outside political fund-raising groups are unpopular on the Beach because of former Commissioner Jonah Wolfson’s Relentless for Progress PAC. Wolfson and Mayor Philip Levine raised money from city vendors and lobbyists for the group before the last Beach election.

In response, commissioners passed a new campaign-finance law in January 2016. The law’s intent was to prevent elected officials and candidates — and people working with them — from shaking down special interests for political access. The commission, including Grieco, voted unanimously in its favor.

Two of the donations to People for Better Leaders came from city vendors and lobbyists. If Grieco or someone acting on his behalf solicited those donations, he could have broken the new law.

An additional Miami-Dade County ordinance, implemented in 2017, would have required Grieco to register to undertake any fund-raising activities for the PAC.

In an interview before the Herald’s original story was published, Grieco doubled down on his denial, emphatically stating that he had nothing to do with the PAC. He and his political consultant, David Custin, said his political enemies, including Gelber, are conspiring to discredit him.

The commissioner then responded angrily to the story once it appeared online, asking if a reporter was on Gelber’s payroll. He later sent out an e-mail blast to supporters thanking them for “opting to ignore what is clearly my opponent’s attempt to distort my record, attack my character and avoid talking about substantive issues of the city.”

Fallout

The PAC is already causing fallout on the Beach. Its activities were raised at a city meeting on Wednesday when Marc Lawrence, one of the owners of the Angler’s Resort hotel, appeared before the commission.

The hotel is seeking a zoning variance at its Washington Avenue location. It contributed $15,000 to People for Better Leaders last year. Grieco sponsored the zoning item on the agenda.

At the meeting, Commissioner Ricky Arriola asked the purpose of the donation. Lawrence replied that he did not know anything about the donation or how it happened.

A corporate affiliate of the hotel’s management company, San Francisco-based Kimpton Group, made the donation. Kimpton did not respond to a request for comment.

IT SMELLS LIKE QUID PRO QUO.

Ricky Arriola

Arriola said he would not support the project of any donor to the PAC until it was clear who was behind it and why it was raising money. While Mayor Philip Levine and Commissioner Joy Malakoff expressed similar concerns, Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez questioned their stance.

“Why are we being mean like this?” she asked. The hotel doesn’t “need to suffer because of any interpersonal conflict you guys are having with Grieco. … Why don’t you guys just put on some gloves and go at it outside?”

Several of the PAC’s other donors also have business before the city.

“It smells like quid pro quo,” Arriola later told the Herald. “That’s why we ban these kinds of donations.”

Grieco left the meeting shortly before its final vote of the

Miami Beach Wages War on Black Week

shootingmiamibeach

MIAMI BEACH WAR ON URBAN BEACH WEEK 2017

Fewer Arrests, Two Dead

May 31, 2017

By David Arthur Walters
PRESS INDEPENDENT

The City of Miami Beach has been waging war on the annual descent of hip hopping, pants-down gangsta rappers and their followers onto the beach every Memorial Day weekend for more than a decade.

The event is a derivative of the outrageous “Freaknik” celebration Atlanta managed to eradicate some years ago simply by towing cars moving at less than five mph. The anecdotal horrors there are legendary, including narratives of how young girls were raped on the hoods of cars to the cheers of the crowds. Freaknik wound up on South Beach, and was renamed Black Week. Then, to avoid racist overtones, it was dubbed Urban Beach Week.  Despite the fact that the majority of the attendees have been law-abiding, the bad apples turned it into a massive, disrespectful, and frightening racist event.

The high hopes of the city’s generals for peace, especially Mayor Philip Levine and Commissioner Michael Grieco, were punctuated this year by a murder over a parking space, a related police shooting leaving one man dead, shots fired into a taxi van, and a seaside melee where one celebrant stabbed another with a broken bottle.

8bf4d-20170527_131507257e2

Michael Grieco was especially crestfallen. His strategy to diminish the pernicious influence of Urban Beach Week by calling in the Air Force and Navy in the form of the glorious ‘Air and Sea Show,’ which he sponsored and got passed by the City Commission, seemed to have failed albeit the roaring fighter jets flying upside down and doing loop de loops over the beach were indeed impressive and reminded everyone of the real meaning of Memorial Day. Outraged by the crime reports, the criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor said there would be no more Urban Week on the beach, and threatened to have bars and restaurants shut down at 5 pm for the last two weeks of May in coming years.

Philip Levine, who happens to be a self-made man who rose from hawking tours on ships to an untold fortune, called a press conference, where he proposed a more moderate solution to Urban Week, banning liquor sales after 2 am on and near Ocean Drive. He indicated he had little respect for inherited fortune when he responded to the shouts of the owner of a belly dancing night club on Ocean Drive that the mayor should have respect for the industry that created the South Beach cache. The mayor shouted back to the effect that the club owner was the only business bellyaching, only because he would lose revenue if he did not stay open until 5 am as usual, and that he should try building a business from scratch instead of inheriting one and being stupid about the meaning of branding.

Now the de facto strong mayor and his commission majority have already managed to roll back drinking on sidewalk cafes to 2 am. A ban on sales both inside and outside Ocean Drive facilities might drive problem drinkers to other areas of the city, so the ban should be citywide. And if alcohol is the cause of trouble in general, why not make it midnight? Why not ten? Why not just have a dry city?

The mayor’s critics may cut him a break since he has decided not to run for reelection and they will soon not have him to kick around anymore. He has a legitimate concern with branding, and branding has been part of his successful business. ‘South Beach’ is in fact a brand name created just a few years ago although the daughter of one of the founders of Miami Beach used the name to denote the south end of the beach. The culture has changed over the years as the Anglo-Saxon population became mixed with Jews and Hispanics, and the brand has followed suit.

Blacks were not supposed to be on the beach after dark in the late 60s and early 70s; some were clubbed by cops for overstaying their welcome. There was a time when Jews were limited to the ghetto now called ‘South Pointe.’ When Cubans arrived in droves, signs could be seen that read, ‘For Rent – No Spics.’ The beach was blighted or suffered the doldrums at times for one reason or another, but it is crowded now, traffic is horrendous, real estate prices are sky high; the mayor’s inferiors, who have utterly failed to build their own businesses and get rich, are being squeezed out. And the mayor, who was supposed to get lots of credit for saving the city from the Great Flood with new pumps and road-raising as every cubic foot of remaining space was being over-developed by his fellow devleopers, is naturally blamed for the city’s ills.

Police Chief Daniel Oates made the only scientific remark at the press conference. He noted that the number of arrests were only half of those last year. That may well be because the crowd was smaller, but a smaller crowd does not necessarily mean well behaved. According to an employee of a Washington Avenue liquor store in the shooting zone this year, “the people were fewer but there were more bad apples.”

What Chief Oates knows is that, even with the best policing, a bomber may blow up your plans. You may make a good statistical guess at the number of minor crimes that will occur during an event, for those are many, but it is impossible to predict in any given year how many murders there will be, especially over parking spaces, for they are few in number if any at all in any given year and are not necessarily related to an event. That is, an argument over a parking space resulting in a shooting is a random or chance event that may occur despite the occasion for a particular event, and may happen on a normal day when some otherwise respectable person gets angry and loses his mind.

That the shooter who caused this body count was a 19-year-old rapper from Brooklyn with friends in a white Mercedes with New York tags down here to perform north of South Beach may be coincidental. Finding parking on Ocean Drive is not easy on normal weekends, and lots of nice people in Florida have guns because Florida is a dangerous place what with so many guns around. Gang bangers abound in South Florida urban areas, and they like to bring their guns and knives wherever they go, including South Beach. A shooting or knifing or two on South Beach ever so often is the norm. Should we blame whatever event that brings people to town for a random shooting?

True, disinhibiting alcohol is the cause of a great deal of trouble whenever it is served, and having a few drinks on Memorial Day Weekend is all the rage. There is a reason armies used to provide prodigious daily alcohol rations to troops; it helped them deal with the horrors of war. Jets roaring overhead inspired persons remembering brave warriors this Memorial Day. It made them feel powerful. Alcohol augments that feeling.

Certain “urban” areas of Chicago have become a war zone; violent crime spikes in those areas on Memorial Day Weekend, reaching a new high this weekend with a body count far higher than South Beach. The key to understanding Urban Beach Week is the socio-cultural meaning of “urban” and the anti-authoritarian celebration of violence of its music.

Philip Levine is right about having the right brand, but no matter how righteous it might be, he is waging a losing war against the very urbanism he has been promoting with advocacy of mass transportation from mainland Miami to the beach. Miami happens to be almost as urban as you can get, and it might not be long until his wealthy peers go elsewhere as the beach is urbanized.

Curbing liquor sales by two or three hours will have negligible effect. That assessment may be wrong, but where are the statistics during this prolonged battle for truncated hours, that the murderers were drinking at a particular place on Ocean Drive after 2 am before shooting someone, and that they had come to South Beach because the bars were open until 5 am? Where are the statistics that strongly indicate that more murderers come to South Beach for Urban Beach Week?

Never mind, killers or not, residents do not like Urban Beach Week because they are disrespected at that time, and many cheered when police officers fired 116 bullets into Raymond Herisse’s car in 2011, with 16 of those bullets striking him dead. That was the Tipping Point. Barriers to a replay were set up, crowds diminished, this year the beach had a more salt-and-pepper crowd as real Memorial Day events were promoted; and now this: two dead, one stabbed—not bad actually.

What we have here in the blaming of restaurant hours is the attribution of effects to a wrong cause. It’s not the restaurants, it’s not the hours during which alcohol is sold, it’s the culture, “stupid.” Well, people are not as stupid as it might seem. They just do not know how to stop the violence because it is rooted in the fabric of our society and human nature.

Protecting the residential areas with barriers, checkpoints with license plate readers, running cars in a circle, crawling the area with cops, calling in the Army and Navy—all that helps in one way or another, but there are still going to be shootings from time to time.

Thanks for all that security, dear city officials and police officers. It was not so bad this year. Cry not in your beer, Commissioner Grieco, we loved the Air and Sea Show. Relax, Mayor Levine, you have our sympathies. Maybe Urban  Beach Week will go to another area, or we can all get together and sing America the Beautiful next year.

Somehow we must stop the violence within ourselves, wager the Inner Jihad, before all hell breaks loose. Let us not kid ourselves about the truth of the matter, and what we must teach at home and in schools lest our decadent nation disintegrates and winds up in the proverbial dustbin of history sooner than expected.

xYx

cf9e6-20172bair2bshow2bjet