Mainstream Media Bakes Farewell Cake For Ethically Challenged Mayor

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Philip Levine (l) Jimmy Morales (r)

MIAMI HERALD BAKES A FAREWELL CAKE FOR MAYOR PHILIP LEVINE

The report of a decline in bribery is fake news

By David Arthur Walters

AS THE PRESS SPINS

March 31, 2017

“MIAMI BEACH Bribery attempts drop, but they still happen,” declaimed the headline at the top of the front page yesterday.

That was followed by the subheading: “A survey reveals that 22 percent of Miami Beach public employees say they’ve been offered a bribe at some point in their career.” The employees were not asked if they accepted bribes. Pray tell.

That percentage does not jibe with a subsequent statement about the December 2016 survey that of “218 employees in departments most likely to be targets of bribery… 100 reported having been offered a bribe as some time in their career.”

Well, 100 divided by 218 is 45.9 percent, not 22 percent, but never mind that because the timing of “sometime” makes meaningful comparison impossible, and so does the rest of an incomplete hodgepodge of statistics from several years of surveys instead of a straightforward table of side-by-side statistics for all categories.

The employees were not asked if they accepted bribes, and the report does not say whether employees who said they received offers were asked to identify the persons who offered the bribes so an attempt could be made to corroborate their statements or law enforcement alerted to keep an eye on them.

Of course there is a difference between a free lunch and a cash donation, and lunch will probably be declined.

What is clear is that the report takes the cake, that it is a liberal propaganda piece bidding Mayor Philip Levine—a wealthy media mogul who was himself disgraced for soliciting campaign contributions from developers of city properties—farewell forever because his political career has been washed up with the defeat of his great friend Hillary Clinton.

The “Get It Done” mayor’s vainglorious demeanor and censorious conduct alienated honest reporters to begin with. What followed turned many of his followers against him, although he certainly is not to blame for everything that has gone wrong.

Haste makes waste: “King” Levine’s “prime minister,” city manager Jimmy Morales, is partly to blame for bad planning and thuggish rush to completions resulting in massive public disturbances, costly overruns and stalled projects.

Exposure of public corruption is improbable because the parties to it are unlikely to confess to it unless someone rats them out or law enforcement gets something else on them and offers them a deal.

The administration has made that more difficult, for example, with its software upgrades, making it inconvenient for delators to confidentially access online building permit and inspection records, requiring them to identify themselves and obtain permission from the owners. And that is not all to show that the often advertised “increased transparency” is a canard in respect to some crucial records.

The administration has also replaced municipal magistrates or “special masters” who hear code violation cases with virtual stooges who provide no meaningful review for the discriminatory policymakers who are their masters.

The city has in the past refused to adopt a county whistleblower ordinance to encourage informers to come forward.

The county ethics commission, a retirement farm for prosecutors, is a joke on Miami Beach taxpayers despite its randomly correct findings. Just prior to the last wave of arrests, its director, Joe Centorino aka “Sleeping Joe” declared at a meeting with bloggers that Miami Beach had cleaned itself up, and when a reporter noted that, bullied him by email. The Miami Herald has ignored numerous reports of inadequacy of that commission as well as allegations of Miami Beach corruption, not to mention the commission’s egregious violation of public disclosure law when its commissioners were filmed whispering behind folders at a meeting.

The result of the ethics commission’s recent “investigation” into allegations made by one Antonio Halabi damned the commission to infamy for its lack of due process: the commission forwarded his allegations, including evidence that the city manager had raised himself above the law, to city officials. The accused naturally responded in the negative; the commission took their word for it and dismissed the case without offering Mr. Halabi an opportunity for rebuttal.

That is not all that demonstrates the incompetence and selective enforcement of the ethics commission and the bullying attitude of its director when his investigations are criticized.

Now here we have another condignly unbalanced report from the Miami Herald, representing the so-called fourth branch of government that is in actually part of the real fourth branch, the bureaucracy, posing as news in a way that suits the very definition of “fake news,” false inferences from survey facts that do not really indicate facts at all.

The city is congratulated for taking an expensive ethics course run by the county ethics commission, a notion that was scoffed at by the likes of Commissioner Ed Tobin, because even a moron knows what corruption is. Or maybe not, because when wrong is done long enough, wrong seems right.

Mayor Levine and the majority of commissioners he sponsored waived the city’s ethics requirements so that Commissioner Tobin could apply for the police job while sitting on the commission. Levine lauded Tobin, and said he would like to similarly waive the ethics code for himself. But when the commissioner crossed him, he accused him of being unethical, leaving us to wonder why the commissioner failed to pass the ethics test given under the purview of the mayor’s new police chief, forcing him to get at police officer job on the mainland with the City of Miami,

Mr. Levine may be one of the most ethically challenged mayors to sit on the dais since the notorious Mayor Alex Daoud. Just for example, millions were paid by the city for the air rights above the Sunset Harbour shopping center owned beneficially by him and his great friend and partner Scott Robins, and then, while mayor, he attempted to push through zoning to his advantage; the ludicrous premise handed down by the state ethics commission was that the advantage to him would not be immediate. This time, however, the county ethics commission did not put its nose where there is no sunshine.

The city also is applauded for the allegedly improved morale of its employees, who “felt” they have better whistleblower protection. The mayor naturally “thinks” there has been “a tremendous change in culture” under his tenure.

Please “think” and “feel” again, because thinking in itself is not knowing, neither are self-congratulatory feelings.

Critical thinking is indeed useful, so think again about what deposed Mayor Matti Bower said after Mr. Levine was crowned a strong mayor over his court of faux reformers as his prime minister bragged about the number of people fired, leaving key people around in honey pots such as the problematic Building and Code Enforcement departments for years, yet now saying key staffers were replaced.

City workers, averred Madame Bower, a grandmotherly politician who was friendly with scores of employees, reported they said they had been cowed by the new regime. That is, fear and intimidation was the rule.

We all know the corporate drill: you had better have a good attitude and be positive about us or you had better find another job.

Here is something else to “think” about: The “indicative” statistics quoted by the Miami Herald are meaningless in terms of “indicating” facts.  South Florida is by virtue of its Third World influences perhaps the most corrupt region in the United States. Federal law enforcement is charged with curbing corruption of the local, county and state police power in all departments, but with a deliberately limited staff. Economists have even declared that a certain degree of corruption is good for business. Republicans led by President Trump may desire to cut the FBI staff in half. Miami Beach is a drop in the bucket. Arrests there come in intermittent waves as a handful of investigators work priorities from place to place. When Miami Beach is hit, corruption may decline for awhile, and lessons are learned as to how to avoid detection.

Now the Miami Herald also reports that the $3.5 million recently plundered from city coffers, an event that led to the departure of finance department staff, “remains unsolved and under investigation.”

The mayor’s wealth sidekick on the dais, Commission Rick Arriola, told the Huffington Post that the matter is under investigation, that the city will get back every penny. and that “audits are the responsibility of the city’s outside auditors and the city’s CFO.”

What a ridiculous statement that is, for the problem is that the finance department and auditors did not bother for ages to reconcile cash balance on books to cash in bank, a routine bookkeeping procedure.

Mr. Arriola would surely fire his controller and bookkeepers for failing to detect the imbalance in a month if not in a day given the modern software relations between banks and their clients.  Since he is so sure of recovery, he should personally guarantee it, as the amount is rather miniscule for him given his good fortune.

By the way, the attack pieces of the Huffington Post were so imbalanced that I was tempted to rebut them and give the mayor some little credit for the hundreds of millions allocated for the war against global warming. At least we are not wading around in knee-deep water in South Beach.

Yet it is high time that a major media outlet took the mayor and his ilk to task  despite more threats of SLAPP libel suits. It is safer to do so now that his great friend Hillary Clinton has gone down in flames.

But the Miami Herald must “feel” sorry for the mayor, and “think” that it has a duty to boost from time to time the official sources needed bolster its sales. Therefore we have this astonishing farewell cake baked for Mayor Philip Levine

XYX

LINK TO MIAMI HERALD PROPAGANDA COVERAGE

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH SHUTS DOWN ONLINE BUILDING PERMIT SEARCH FOR GENERAL PUBLIC AND HINDERS ACCESS TO RECORDS BY REQUIRING PUBLIC RECORD REQUESTS AND FEES AS A RESULT OF EMBARASSING DISCOVERIES BY PUBLIC INFORMERS

CAN I VIEW PERMIT HISTORY ONLINE?Permits issued for any property in the City of  Miami Beach from 1990 to 04/26/2016 are available through Velocity Hall Online Permitting.

Click here to access permits before 04/26/2016 Velocity Hall Online Permitting

Permits and other processes transitioned to the City’s new software can be obtained via the Citizen Access Portal at https://eservices.miamibeachfl.gov/EnerGovProd/CitizenAccess/Site/Public/Main

Note:  If you are not either the owner, contractor, engineer, architect  or owner representative, you will not be able to register at the Citizen Access Portal and therefore; may submit a public records request to the Building Department’s Records Management Section.  Click here to download the Records Request Form

NEW CITY MANAGER SWEEPS ALLEGATIONS UNDER RUG

OFFICIAL BULLSHIT PREVAILS – THE FAKE REFORM

THE MAYOR’S SUNSET HARBOUR HONEY POT

FAUX REFORM OF MIAMI BEACH GOVERNMENT

THE SHAMEFUL COUNTY ETHICS COMMISSION

ALLEGED CITY SANCTION OF CORRUPTION RING

CITY MANAGER RETALIATES AGANIST LAW ABIDING BUSINESS

THE CRESPO ATTACK ON SHAMEFUL EHICS COMMISSION

MIAMI BEACH CORRUPTION AS USUAL

ETHICS COMMISSION UNRESPONSIVE TO SUNSET HARBOUR INQUIRY

THE ROOTS OF EVIL IN SUNSET HARBOUR

WHISPERING GOVERNMENT ATTORNEYS

ED TOBIN AND HIS POLICE DREAM JOB

MIAMI BEACH SLEAZE AND THE UNRESPONSIBE ETHICS COMMISSION

Miami Beach City Manager Sweeps Dirt Under Rug

MORALES
Typical City Boss

 

NEW CITY MANAGER SWEEPS ALLEGATONS UNDER THE RUG

July 3, 2013

Preface to future moral corruption?

By David Arthur Walters

Miami Beach—New City Manager Jimmy Morales has broken his promise to address the City of Miami Beach Commission in response to fired fire inspector David Weston’s allegations that he was fired on ethics charges trumped up by the city attorney’s office because he persistently complained that millions of dollars of permit fee monies had gone missing.

Weston’s allegations were brought to light earlier this year in a New Times article about alleged corruption in the Miami Beach Fire Department. Weston, referring to a number of arrests of city employees over the years, has alleged that several City of Miami Beach departments are racketeer-influenced, corrupt organizations.

Another so-called RICO allegation was made more recently by former Police Chief Carlos Noriega and two other former police officers along with the current police union president in a class-action suit filed earlier this year and subsequently withdrawn, against the city for an alleged scheme to defraud police officers of workers compensation benefits.

City Manager Jose Smith categorically denied that his office had anything to do with the Weston firing: “My Special Ethics Counsel Jean Olin had no knowledge of his employment with the City and did not take part in the decision to terminate his employment,” he stated in an email.

Smith apparently based his statement on an Oct. 9, 2008, letter Human Resources Director Ramiro Inguanzo sent to Weston, stating that any involvement by Olin would have been improper: “Please be advised that Ms. Olin’s role as Special Counsel to the City would preclude her from discussing matters related to your employment and/or termination from the City. Additionally, Ms. Olin has no knowledge of your employment with the City and did not take part in the decision to terminate your employment.”

However, records easily available to Smith belied his statement. Jean Olin was definitely involved in the ethics determination resulting in Weston’s termination. She was privy to an inquiry by the county ethics commission staff that had cleared Weston of ethics violations, and it appears that the City’s decision was made pursuant to her advice.

Smith and Interim City Manager Kathie Brooks reported to the City Commission on March 13 that Weston was terminated for violating the city and county ethics codes, not mentioning that the county ethics commission had cleared Weston. Smith also said that members of the Fire Department’s chain-of-command said they were unaware of the allegations of misconduct made by Weston.

Weston begged to differ with the Smith & Brooks Report. He filed an extensive rebuttal with city commissioners along with corroborating documentation including a comprehensive file showing his reports of missing monies, replies from senior officials, actual documentation of missing sums, before-and-after Miami-Dade County Ethics Commission rulings, timely annual outside employment reports, memos from the Fire Chief granting him employment waivers, signed evaluations acknowledging his collection of monies, emails mentioning the same, threats to stop holding permits for unpaid balances, and the Miami Dade audit confirming his allegations.

Weston said he had offered to resign when the investigation was ongoing since he would have no trouble finding a better job, but was fired instead, probably because involuntary termination deprives employees of certain benefits. However, his employment status did not entitle him to those benefits. He said he presently sought to have his personnel record changed to reflect a voluntary rather than involuntary termination. He declined to respond to our question as to whether he intended to sue the city and its officers for defamation per se in respect to the ethics charges which he had repudiated in his rebuttal.

Commissioner Michael Gongora forwarded the Smith & Brooks Report and the Weston Rebuttal to Jimmy Morales, who became the new city manager on April 1. On April 16, Morales responded to our belief that he would sweep the matter under the rug.

“Nothing is swept under the rug. I will get to this and report back to you and the Commission accordingly.”

Morales did not respond to our June follow ups, therefore we contacted Weston, who said his rebuttal had been summarily dismissed by the new Human Resources director, Sylvia Crespo-Tabak:

“This is in response to your letter of April 17, 2013,” she wrote, “in which you request that the City revise its records to reflect that your separation in March 2008 was due to a voluntary resignation rather than a dismissal. The City Manager and I have reviewed and discussed the documentation you submitted along with other relevant information. We did not identify anything to indicate that we should make changes to the record, as you requested, or to suggest that this matter was not closed in 2008.”

On June 25 we pointed out to Crespo-Tabak that she had not specifically addressed any of the points made by Weston. We offered that the determination of unethical conduct apparently made on advice of the city attorney’s office was subjective, arbitrary, and at variance with the findings of the county ethics commission. We asked her for the “other relevant information” mentioned in her summary dismissal. She has not responded by press time.

We confronted Morales with the proposition that he had broken his word of honor by not addressing the issues raised by Weston and reporting his finding to the commission as promised. We opined that he had, in fact, brushed the matter under the rug, getting HR to do his dirty work.

“With respect to David Weston’s employment with the City and his termination,” he replied, “I asked the new Human Resources Director to carefully review the file and let me know if she felt that the termination was merited or if there had been any impropriety in the matter. Neither she nor I have any reason to defend what occurred in the past. She conducted her review and discussed it with me. Her conclusion was that the termination was in fact appropriate under the circumstances. I understand that Mr. Weston may not agree, and that you may not be satisfied with the result. Whatever differences you have with the past administration does not mean that everything that occurred in the past was wrong. In my judgment, reversing the past action with respect to Mr. Weston was not warranted.”

Anyone may want to break a promise if keeping it would do more harm than good. Jimmy Morales is a polished politician and bureaucrat, not a business manager, and politicians are not famous for keeping their word. Our professional-city-manager or weak-mayor form of city government supposedly allows the administration to run the city like a business, free of partisan politics. We believe a good business manager should have carefully investigated Weston’s report for administrative inefficiencies and policies detrimental to the business, and, if any were found, recommend and implement necessary remedies. Simply denying that not everything the previous administration did was wrong is either a political excuse or bureaucratic bluff.

In other words, the conduct here portends business as usual. Sacrificing the previous city manager on the altar of discontent was cathartic. We feel good about that, so let us not constructively criticize the new administration until another purification rite is evoked by public clamor. Let us keep our mouths shut until dissatisfaction mounts, until a few more F.B.I. arrests are made, and then we shall clamor for change once again, and crucify the unelected boss who runs the city. The new city manager would do well to regularly advertise his positive accomplishments and keep his resume updated just in case.

Unfortunately, Jimmy Morales, recently dubbed Supermanager for the high expectations had for him, has missed several opportunities in his summary dismissal of the Weston affair, although he is not entirely to blame.

He is losing the opportunity to correct the causes of the negligence and corruption that results in millions of dollars of what Weston called “missing monies.” Law enforcement was keenly interested in Weston’s allegations, but the police could do nothing unless they caught someone in a criminal act and found a willing prosecutor. Weston was not the only one talking about so-called missing monies. Our ‘Getting Ahead of the Job Con’ and other investigations points to the possibility of many millions lost due to favoritism and gross negligence and possibly criminal corruption. It appears that city officials have discretion via the city manager as advised by the city attorney to waive, reduce, mitigate and otherwise not collect fees and fines, their intentional neglect encouraged by sovereign impunity. City Attorney Jose Smith officially determined that a proposal to account for writeoffs by amount and person responsible for them was “moronic.” The only thing he recommended was to “follow the law,” no doubt as interpreted by his office.

Of course the city manager is not the strong mayor that we need. He is just the manager not the political power. If the part-time hydra or many-headed commission does not have the unified will to empower him to make the necessary changes, he will eventually be sacrificed like the last manager for the bad blades of grass in the lawn, not having a press agent to report his good deeds.

Morales is also losing the opportunity to improve personnel policies. He is just a manager, but he could at least recommend that the city commission pass a whistleblower law that would allow a body independent of the city administration, such as the Miami-Dade County Ethics Commission, to investigate and resolve whistleblower complaints. The state whistleblower law provides that local entities can provide such as an alternative to filing complaints in the courts. City of Miami employees, for example, may file whistleblower complaints with the county ethics commission. Morales certainly understands the merits of the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission: He had a hand in its creation when he was on the County Commission, and subsequently pled no contest to an ethics charge brought against him for not providing documentation for $580,081.27 in campaign expenditures, and agreed to pay a stunning $250 fine. The State whistleblower law provides substantial incentives for blowing the whistle.

There should be a device independent of the local chain-of-command and its HR hirelings. As a woman remarked in testimony before Congress recently, making a rape complaint via the chain-of-command is like telling your father that your brother raped you. City of Miami Beach Commission Michael Gongora, now a candidate for mayor, was asked if he would advocate a whistleblower ordinance for the city. He referred the matter to his assistant, and our follow-ups were unanswered at press time. At least he said the issue of whether or not the city should have a strong mayor system should go to the electorate, but not at this time.

Morales could have competent human resource attorneys improve personnel procedures and policies. For example, Weston was an “at-will” employee, meaning that he could have been terminated without cause providing his civil rights were not violated. Instead of just firing Weston or accepting his resignation, the city practically made a federal case out of the whole affair, creating a record that damns the city, opening up the city to potential lawsuit.

We imagine this scenario in Weston’s case: someone said, “Good grief! Weston is in a boat slip business with the guy that owns and runs Permit Doctors. He doesn’t have an investment in the permit expediting company nor is he employed by it, but the fact that a fire inspector is associated with him in a completely different business still looks bad. It creates an appearance of impropriety regardless of what the ethics rules say. Besides, this fire inspector is too pushy, not minding the Fire Department’s business, nosing around the Building Department, complaining it’s not doing its job.

“Basta!> We’ve got to get rid of him.”

The man would have resigned. And he was right about a lot of things, and there was much more that Morales could have recommended and have done if he had carefully studied Weston’s rebuttal along with other information about “missing monies” instead of summarily dismissing it without discussing the issues raised. But it appears from the city manager’s response that it is going to be business as usual around here, perhaps accompanied by a game of musical chairs played by insiders from around the county.

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Miami Beach Mayor His Own Worst Enemy

Levine Morales

Philip Levine and Jimmy Morales

MIAMI BEACH MAYOR PHILLIP LEVINE

HIS OWN WORST ENEMY

 

Editorial by David Arthur Walters
PRESS INDEPENDENT

Mayor Philip ‘King’ Levine’s ‘Get it Done’ rush to construction blitzkrieg in South Beach has cost local businesses yet untold millions of dollars, and he could care less about the damages the haste and negligence has done.

Yes, negligence, due to the utter neglect of the clamor raised by outraged victims despite the known vindictiveness of the wealthy mayor, and the mendacity of his henchman, Jimmy ‘Nice Guy’ Morales, the city manager, whom people are learning the hard way to distrust. But do not blame Jimmy. He is not his own man. He is probably just following orders.

MAYOR ARTICLE ADDITION 20151130_150739
The Mayor’s Sunset Harbour Shopping Center

 

Philip has his finger in the dike, sincerely believing he is saving Miami Beach from the Great Flood, beginning with his own Sunset Harbour shopping center, impounding money from other areas to give himself priority, forgetting what the torah reveals about the ultimate reason for such cleansings.

It is his arrogant manner, his way of doing things, carried out by his stooges, that is at issue here. It has been a classic case of “my way or the highway” with this tyrant and his majority court, and, of course, his chancellor. Mr. Morales, a lawyer who breaks his promises, places himself above the law, and hides behind the skirts of his troubleshooters, is ready to pave over the resistance or immure it in concrete. Sometimes they do not even bother to “just say no to naysayers.” They say nothing at all when confronted with sound reasoning.

Mr. Levine associated 35% of the electorate that voted for his opponent in November with a “tiny minority” of “screamers and yellers,” consigning them to more hell until the next election, that being his interpretation of “democracy,” one that reminds us of General Hindenberg’s remark that “democracy” means people vote for their leaders and then get out of their way, as they soon did or were exterminated by Adolf Hitler.

Not that Mr. Levine is a Der Fuehrer. His public works propaganda and control over committees reminds us more of an Il Duce. The difference is in the followers. Capitalists liked them both in the beginning. Fascism, which does not abhor the profit principle as long as it favors the power elite, is the perfection of capitalism in the ultimate incorporation of competition.

Tamerlane (Timur) would approve of Mr. Levine’s tactics. Tamerlane’s propaganda was effective: mounds of his opponents’ skulls were erected at the gates. He abducted architects to design his capital. Anyone who objected to the renovations of his shopping center at Samarkand was beheaded as an infidel. However, he would advise Mr. Levine to listen to negative criticism from at least one small, easily conquerable sect, as he did, instead of shutting everyone up for good.

Again, we are concerned more with the process here than the end. The end may be worthy yet it may no longer be worth having given extreme means. No less than Hume elaborated on its degrees, in ‘On Qualities Useful To Ourselves.’

“No quality, it is allowed, is absolutely either blameworthy or praiseworthy. It is all according to its degree. A due medium, say the Peripatetics, is the characteristic of virtue. But this medium is chiefly determined by utility. A proper celerity, for instance, and dispatch in business, is commendable. When defective, no progress is every made in the execution of any purpose. When excessive, it engages us in precipitate and ill-concerted measures and enterprises: By such reasonings, we fix the proper and commendable mediocrity in all moral and prudential dispositions; and never lose view of the advantages, which result from any character or habit.”

We should have been careful what we wished for when we wished for a strong manager, weak city manager, instead of the weak mayor, strong city manager specified by our city charter. Now we have a de facto strong mayor and his lackey for a city manager.

That he was reelected should give the egotist no cause to gloat, for people worship powerful leaders even against their own best interests. Indeed, studies show that 65% of the populace are “F-Type” (fascistic).

Philip Levine offered no olive branch to his opponents after the election, said nothing about reconciliation, willingness to work with the opposition he associated with “screamers and yellers.” Wherefore this editorial in that vein, resting assured that he will suffer the fate of his fellow tyrants if he does not change his ways.

XYX

South Beach Lucky Numbers Halloween Crash

CRASH HEADER

SOUTH BEACH SEVEN ELEVEN HALLOWEEN CRASH

“Both numbers are lucky.”

3 November 2015

By David Arthur Walters MIAMI MIRROR

A 2007 Audi in which two women were fist-fighting crashed into the 7-Eleven at 9th Street on Washington Avenue in South Beach at 5 a.m. last Friday, taking out two pillars and bursting into flames. One woman fled the scene after she and her companion were pulled from the car by Good Samaritans.

Little did the astonished witnesses at Pizza Rustica across the street know that the sidewalk café at which they were sitting was illegally situated right on the corner, jutting out in such a way to traffic crossing Washington Avenue that it especially jeopardizes the lives and limbs of pizza lovers.

A complaint about the precarious pizza corner was lodged with the city’s code enforcement department. Hernan Cardeno, Esq., the department’s director, said nothing could be done about the clear violation because the city manager had rendered it legal by permitting it.

CRASH Permitting IT

The City of Miami Beach has a strong city manager, weak mayor form of government. City managers may with impunity act as virtual dictators, placing themselves above the law ordained by the political body, the city commission. Jimmy Morales, Esq., the current city manager, however, is subject to the dictates of Mayor Philip Levine, who is a de facto strong mayor by virtue of a so-called purchased majority on the commission and a city manager subservient to his dictates.

For example, for last New Year’s Eve celebration on Espanola Way, Jimmy Morales waived the requirements for the special event permit ordinance designed to protect the public although the ordinance does not provide for such a waiver. One of the restaurant owners, whose request for a special event permit had been denied as submitted too late, had for some time insisted that code officers enforce the code equally for all restaurants on the street, including two other restaurants that had applied for permits; those two businesses were eventually favored by the waiver of all special event permit requirements. The troublemaker’s landlord, Scott Robins, who owns the buildings along one side of Espanola Way, and who is a partner and close friend of the mayor, brought a retaliatory eviction suit against the tenant as a result of his persistent insistence on equal enforcement of the laws. The city manager allowed the celebration to proceed without permits as an answer to the complainant, so he would know who is boss of the city. Such retaliatory behavior favors competitors who are friends with officials and/or are obedient to the whim and caprice of the powers that be. Yet the county ethics commission took the officials’ prevarications for granted without asking the complainant for a response, and dismissed the ethics complaint he had made.

Since Major Levine and his faux reform majority seized control over the city largely for the benefit of contributing vendors and real estate developers, South Beach seems to be returning to the Wild West days that the police department had managed to considerably dampen. Top police brass were gotten rid of and outsiders wheeled in. The public request for the hiring of a city manager from outside the area, however, was ignored, and Jimmy Morales, a political insider and home boy, was shoed in despite the recommendations of a professional recruiting firm. The newbies brought in to head the police department are naturally compliant with the wishes of the local political force, although police departments in theory work for the general public.

The police department responds efficiently and effectively to specific complaints. Proactive enforcement, however, of quality of life ordinances and traffic laws is the bugbear plaguing the city. And neighborhood relations have deteriorated. Some of the new officers are unapproachable, unfriendly, even hostile, and often unfamiliar with the local code of ordinances.

Crime does seem to be rising, at least according to anecdotal reports. Getting statistics on all types of crimes and not only the UCR Part I on major crimes has proven virtually impossible. A high-ranking officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the books are being cooked by the new police chief.

“(Chief Oates) is under reporting crimes. Crime in Miami Beach is out of control, and they’re cooking the books to lie about the real numbers and actual specific crimes.”

Police chiefs and their departments everywhere will always be blamed for whatever goes wrong on the streets. Statistics can always be interpreted two ways. Yet, when a police department refuses to regularly release easily generated reports, as is even done online in some jurisdictions, or neglects to even write reports in some instances, it must have something to hide; either incompetence of misconduct.

However that may be, the community is left waiting for genuine, radical reform. In the interim, expect more arrogance on the part of undisciplined officials, more serious crimes to result from the toleration of minor crimes, more pedestrians maimed and killed.

And expect more cars crashing into storefronts, as at the 7-Eleven on Washington and 9th Street. One of these days a car or truck is bound to careen into that sidewalk café at Rustica Pizza across the street.

CRASH across the street

The owner, a respected lawyer, has set out a couple of planters as barriers. Concrete would be better. Still, that might not do considering that two pillars were knocked down across the street.

“Oh, someday the pizza people will be hit,” said a worker repairing the damage at 7-Eleven, “and the city and the manager will be sued. Seven and eleven are lucky numbers.”

# #

(Related Article)

CITY OF MIAMI BEACH PERMITS ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN

The Risk to Life and Limb May Be Worth the Profit

23 October 2014

By David Arthur Walters MIAMI MIRROR

CRASH worth the profit

Pizza Rustica sidewalk café corner permitted at 863 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach

CRASH miami city

La Pizzeria de la Lemoni unpermitted sidewalk café corner at 4600 N.E. 2nd, Miami City

News accounts that at least ten people were injured on Saturday the 4th of October by a car crashing into La Pizzeria de Lemoni’s unpermitted sidewalk café at the corner of 46th and Northeast Second Avenue in Miami reminded me that, nearly four years prior, I had pointed out to the Code Compliance Division and the City Manager of the City of Miami Beach that part of Pizza Rustica’s 22-seat sidewalk café was dangerously perched on the corner of 9th and Washington Avenue.

“Rustica seating on corner under umbrella endangers customers,” I reported to Code Compliance in 2010, “impedes the fire department. Miami Beach ordinances mandate 5’ corner and crosswalk leeway, and maximum umbrella height of 6 inches.”

CRASH inches

Image to Code Compliance in 2010

City officials did not respond to my concern, which I posted on Miami Mirror for the benefit of accident victims and their lawyers in the event of a crash. Given my experience as a pedestrian with reckless and sometimes intoxicated drivers, I believe it was only a matter of time until Rustica customers were maimed and perhaps killed while eating their pizza.

Indeed, the traffic has become more and more troublesome since then on the beach, as I duly noted when I walked upon a man killed in broad daylight by a taxi at the intersection in front of the Five Guys Hamburger joint on Washington Avenue.

I contacted Code Compliance again after this month’s accident in Miami, only to be told that the sidewalk café was permitted, period. So their hands were tied.

You see, the city’s strong-manager, weak-mayor form of government provides the city manager, an unelected official, with virtually dictatorial powers provided that he does not alienate a majority of city commissioners, as did former city manager Jorge “Boss” Gonzalez, who was forced out after 14 years on pretexts of corruption and negligence; he insisted that he had bent to the will of commissioners, and that the corruption was rooted with them. He was replaced by Jimmy “Nice Guy” Morales, a political insider with no city management, who was shoed in to the position despite a professional recruitment firm’s recommendations. Mayor “King” Levine, a wealthy public relations mogul and real estate developer supported by the Clintons, purchased his seat and contributed to campaigns in order to obtain a “reform” majority on the commission, which he leads during the honeymoon period. Although Levine is bowed to as the “Great Leader,” City Manager Morales wields considerable dictatorial power. Commissioner Michael “Boy Friday” Grieco, a criminal defense attorney, has stated that the commission almost always follows the city manager’s recommendations “blindly.”

In fine, the theory based on the city charter is that the city manager or his designees may permit sidewalk café arrangements prohibited by the commission’s ordinances because the commission has provided that he can do so. So if he or his designee, say, the director of the public works department, does not prohibit arrangements prohibited by the code, they are permitted. Such exceptions to the rules, permitted by the rules, reminiscent of the sovereign discretion of kings to break the laws because they are divine fonts of law, are said to create corruption honey pots for sticky fingers.

Now the sidewalk café ordinance does provide that the city manager shall immediately correct life safety violations, “defined as those conditions which, in the reasonable determination and judgment of the city manager, involve serious danger and/or risk to the public health, safety or welfare,” and that “the city manager may cause the immediate removal, relocation and/or storage of all or part of a sidewalk cafe in emergency situations or for public safety considerations.”

His judgment and his reason reign supreme unless a majority of part-time, lowly-paid commissioners take exception to it.

City officials did not respond to my thesis that the city’s legislature never intended to establish laws that would endanger the safety and welfare of the public. That intention would obviously belie the very reason for its existence. Any such laws would be null and avoid under a higher constitution. Solomon said not to count on riches in war, so I said the city should not count on having sovereign immunity as per the absurd Trianon decision of the Florida Supreme Court, or on the legislature, or on insurance coverage, if people are maimed and killed due to the intentional negligence of its officials. Even if immune, or covered by insurance, is injury and loss of life worth the profits to Pizza Rustica and the sidewalk café fees to the city? And why would insurance companies underwrite such dangers?

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Public safety is the very reason the Miami Beach sidewalk café code specifies that café’s be at least five feet away from corner curb cuts, pedestrian crosswalk signals, fire hydrants, crosswalks and the like. New York City goes even farther to protect cafes from corner accidents, which are quite common: nine feet from the corner is the rule, measured from the outer edge of the sidewalk café to either the curb line or the nearest obstruction.

I was not surprised by silence of public officials, for none of them will speak to be on the record for publication. Press inquiries are referred to Nannette Rodriquez in the Communications Department, and she has little or nothing to say about such embarrassments, especially when pointed out by someone not a member of the city’s handful of approved press organs, and is internally infamous for not suiting the current regime’s need for 100% appreciation of everything it does.

However, a reliable source of information within the city has informed me that there are several situations besides the Rustica corner that are troubling reasonable officials, therefore they are meeting to discuss reasonably what may be reasonably done to prevent the permitting of prohibited arrangements in the future.

That being said, I must splurge on Rustica’s popular pizza this weekend—my current budget after rent is $7 per day. Miami Beach is home to the highly regarded Pizza Rustica franchise operation, and is owned by influential attorney Susan Tiffany, its president and legal counsel.

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South Beach Lumpen Proletariat Alley Club

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SOUTH BEACH LUMPEN PROLETARIAT

The 633 Meridian Avenue Alley Club

27 October 2015

By David Arthur Walters SOUTH BEACH HERALD

The City of Miami Beach Police Department has recently responded almost every night to complaints about the loud music, shouting, and fighting behind 633 Meridian Avenue, a building located in the old crackhood known as Seventh Heaven below 7th Street, the butt end of the Flamingo Park Neighborhood and only three blocks off South Beach’s famed Ocean Drive.

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The apartment building and 7,000 sq. ft. lot on which it sets, appraised together at $1,225,000 by the county assessor, was purchased in 1998 by Candace Partnership LLC, a front for prominent Miami Beach slumlord David Muhlrad and his wife Candace. Mr. Muhlrad, who happens to have been the city’s first code compliance chief, owns numerous white with red-trim apartment buildings on South Beach that house the tourist resort’s Hispanic proletariat, on the fringes of which are the Lumpen Proletariat, living sometimes within the structures and sometimes without.

The police department, especially the gang suppression unit and narcotics unit, together with the economic downturn dubbed the Great Recession, rid the neighborhood of most of the issues aka problems in the crime-ridden neighborhood, including the noisy all night drinking parties mistakenly associated with ethnicity instead of vulgarity.

The hardened vestiges of those hellish nights along with new arrivals from Central American countries with high crime rates squat in one place or another and roam the alleys on foot and on bicycles probably stolen. Living on the margin, they survive by means of odd jobs and misdemeanors, and numerous pints of Old Milwaukee and Busch beer.

Now they have found a hospitable place to carouse to their hearts content just outside the alley apartment of 633 Meridian Avenue, a building long associated by the city’s code enforcement department with noise, over-flowing garbage bins, cockroaches, vermin and bedbugs.

Mind you that the majority of the residents are decent, law-abiding, mostly undocumented immigrants who do not have the means or the credentials to live in a better place, people highly unlikely to complain to the authorities and risk being deported despite President Obama’s facially lenient immigration policy.

As residents know all too well, one tenant can create hell for everyone in and around a building. The tenant in this case is not a bad guy at all. Indeed, he is well known as a nice guy, a fellow with a job, a wife, and a child. He excels in hospitality, wherefore the virtual nightclub near his back door, in the common area where women wash their clothes.

Now they dare not wash in the evenings. Indeed, most of the women and many of the men who live on the block take care not enter the alley. Lingerers even as late as 8:30 A.M. were seen last week on a big couch intended as rubbish; three men were “entertaining” a woman on the couch in broad daylight. Others may from time to time be seen sleeping, drinking, and urinating under their host’s window even later in the mornings.

Major Mark Causey deployed a special squad last week to roust the revelers when the party got going at 6 PM, but they were back in full force that evening. La misma mierda each night thereafter. Police came and went each night. Rumor has it that some partiers were taken to the airport on occasion. It is difficult obtain reliable information from the illegals because they are afraid of hence extremely hostile towards (expletive deleted) Americanos who do not speak their language.

People in the neighborhood go to work tired and irritable from being awakened by the public nuisance. Some wish that the cops were not so nice, that they were as mean as the ones the Hondurans and Guatemalans are running away from for good reason. One fellow wanted by the police back home actually stabbed his wife several time a couple of years ago as his friend looked on. She survived.

Those days were really bad. People today pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe that the rapes, thefts, robberies, and murders not return along with the noise. Wherever noise and other quality of life offenses are tolerated, serious crimes are encouraged. You see, it is a matter of respect.

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Absent a police state, it is a landlord’s business to keep the peace on his property with the help of the police if necessary. Neither David Muhlrad nor his son Mark Muhlrad have returned calls made and messages left at their headquarters, the Starlight Hotel on Ocean Drive. Whether the police department has had a word with them is unknown at this time.

The city’s code compliance department is responsible for responding to noise complaints during its working hours. Those complaints are handled by police officers after hours. It has been the custom for all complaints to be recorded for public view on the city’s web site.

Only six noise complaints currently appear on the city’s site, beginning March 2003 and ending November 2012. That figure is absurd considering the number of complaints made to code compliance and the police department during that period, not to mention the nearly night calls recently made. A formerly problematic property across the alley, owned by the father of a county attorney, used to generate numerous calls to the 911 operator, yet the police department neighborhood coordinator said only two calls were made.

The code compliance department has not responded by press time to an inquiry asking whether many complaints may have been unrecorded, or tampered with, or perhaps inadvertently dumped. The city recently alleged that it had created a system whereby only supervisors could make changes to the records, and that those changes were tracked. A previous request, however, for a tracking record, and an inquiry as to whether such a system really existed, was not answered.

The traditional absence of accountability and transparency has led to suspicions of corruption including favoritism. It just so happens in this instance that Mr. Muhlrad is a close relative and business associate of Russell Galbut, one of the most influential real estate developers in the city. They are indeed so-called Old Cronies of Miami Beach, as is the new reform city manager, Jimmy Morales, who answers to Mayor Philip Levine, a de facto strong mayor because he controls a commission majority.

The mayor’s right-hand commissioner, Michael Grieco, has said that the commission almost always takes the city manager’s recommendations for granted. Many of the city’s activists, tired of corruption, desired to have a city manager from out of town instead of an Old Crony, but Mr. Morales was shooed in despite the formal recommendations made by a profession recruiting firm.

Daniel Oates, a chief from out of state, was chosen for the police department to replace Chief Raymond Martinez, who had resolved many issues resulting from a clamor over the latest wave of F.B.I. busts of code enforcement officers.

There have been complaints about the new chief’s apparent leniency towards the Lumpen Proletariat except for the beating of a model and a man who came to her defense. Otherwise the police department appears to be up to snuff. Its response to calls is efficient and effective although a more right-wing approach would be appreciated by some stake holders.

A suggested resolution to the disturbances created by alley life has been floated. Mayor Levine plans on converting a huge parking lot behind the convention center into a park. That would be an ideal sanctuary for the city’s destitute; the ragamuffins; unemployed or underemployed aliens; vagrants; homeless; or anyone else, for that matter, who cannot afford to drink in the clubs and needs a community center to socialize. The self-policed park could be named Lumpen Proletariat Sanctuary.

Now it is said that every story needs some balance. Not everyone minds the noisome alleys of South Beach. An elegantly dressed lady at the senior center had this to say:

“Isn’t it wonderful at night to hear the young people celebrating their lives in the alleys?”

“You mean the sound of music, shouting, breaking bottles, that kind of thing?”

“Yes, I love it. It reminds me of my youth.”

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City of Miami Beach Compassionate Parks Program

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CITY OF MIAMI BEACH COMPASSIONATE PARKS PROGRAM

Sleeping in parks now allowed by mayor’s reform regime

19 October 2015

By David Arthur Walters MIAMI MIRROR

City of Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and City Manager Jimmy Morales in cooperation with Police Chief Daniel Oates, Homeless Outreach, and the ACLU have informally developed a much lauded Compassionate Parks Program that allows vagrants, homeless, gypsies, and anyone else for that matter to sleep in South Beach parks free of charge. The Miami Beach Police Department provides security.

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A few people objected to the informal program instituted by the reform regime, but they were dissuaded when it was pointed out that many distinguished people picnic and sleep in Central Park in New York City, the most civilized city in the world. People are people, and no distinction should be made between someone with a permanent address and someone without one.

An Allied Security officer who had been instructed by his superiors not to allow sleeping in Lincoln Park was corrected by a peace officer who instructed him to let houseless people sleep in the park because, “This is their house.”

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The Compassionate Parks Program is expected to become very popular as winter sets in up north and tourists flock to the beach. Again, no distinctions should be made between a tourist and a so-called vagrant simply because the former prefers to pay $200 a night for a hotel room. And the latter may supplement his income selling coconuts or articles woven from palm fronds without any cost for materials.

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Food is available at the Lincoln Road Community Church, whose minister said at a recent meeting that he came to South Beach for the express purpose of feeding the homeless. Without them, he would be without a job.

It was noted at the meeting that other cities are far more compassionate than the City of Miami Beach. Los Angeles County, for example, accommodates 44,000 homeless, with large camps established to that end in the City of Angels.

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Miami Beach must not be outdone. Mayor Levine, an affluent propagandist and real estate developer, well known for his compassion, wants to convert the big parking lot behind the South Beach convention center into a park. He has been urged to provide ample sleeping areas there for all comers, and to install vending machines for the provision of food and beverage that can be accessed by qualified homeless persons with special vending machine cards. Wine, beer, and whiskey should be provided as well since tourists are allowed to drink on the beach.

Anyone interested in supporting the Miami Beach Compassionate Parks Program should contact the mayor’s office.

XYX

Miami Beach Officials Neglect Traffic Safety

 

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MIAMI BEACH CITY MANAGER NEGLECTS TRAFFIC SAFETY

 

17 October 2015

By David Arthur Walters MIAMI MIRROR

City Manager Jimmy Morales, Esq. has obviously failed to provide adequate safety measures during the rush to development in the city perpetuated by de facto strong Mayor Philip Levine and his bevy of contractors and developers.

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Many people have complained about traffic delays and the risks presented to pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers at improperly barricaded and marked intersections where police officers were not present or were present chatting with one another including their supervisor.

TRAFFIC Barricades nowhere to walk

Most of the barricades are provided by Bob’s Barricades, which advertises itself as the largest provider of barricades in the country. In 2005 the $164 million judgment against it for forcing a teen into onto an improperly marked lane of travel was recognized by the National Law Journal as the eleventh of the Top One Hundred Verdicts judgments for negligence that year. (McKinney v. Bob’s Barricades). Arthur W. Tifford, the plaintiff’s attorney, was criticized for persuading his client to accept a $5 million settlement before the jury returned with that verdict. He said collection of the large amount was doubtful and the process was long, whereas cash was immediately needed. Mr. Tifford ran afoul of the disciplinary arm of the Supreme Court during his career, and was disbarred by his own petition over a cash shortage shortly before he unexpectedly died this year.

Miami Beach is infamous for the desultory enforcement of traffic laws, and the rush to construction and increased traffic throughout the city has made the lack even more evident. The Miami Beach Police Department lays the blame on a persistent shortage of about 30 officers, but that explanation does not wash when they are seen in back parking lots and in the streets chatting while drivers regularly violate the laws. Motor Unit officers are few and far between, and they tend to lay the blame on a lack of training and experience of other officers rather than their outright negligence.

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Drivers turning left are always a great hazard to pedestrians. Vehicles turning left off 5th Street have been seen going up on two wheels as pedestrians run for their lives. Walk signals are inconsistent from intersection to intersection, and sometimes do not work at all, confusing pedestrians.

Evidently intoxicated young drivers are sometimes seen rapidly accelerating on Washington Avenue to show off how powerful they think they are behind the wheel. That is not to mention slower moving traffic. A left turning taxi recently knocked a Crunch fitness member flat when he left the gym at 13th street and Washington Avenue, seriously injuring him. The company turned out to be uninsured. A moped driver was killed down the street at the Five Guys intersection by a cab.

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The city provides bicycle lanes where cars and delivery trucks are often parked. And the trucks park on the curbs outside of the times allowed. City officials excuse this as, “Oh, well, you know stuff has to be delivered, and we don’t have enough parking,” et cetera.

TRAFFIC UPS BLOCKING TWO WAYS

UPS trucks have been seen parking across the street where the man was run over on Washington. The drivers were dining at Pepper’s, an excellent Mexican eatery; apparently there was no room for their trucks across the street at the Post Office. Pedestrians had to walk out into traffic to get around the truck blocking the pedestrian lane.

UPS PEPPERS CROPPED

The neglect of traffic safety is just one of several indications that the city is being badly managed under the mayor’s current administration. If we are to have a strong mayor, weak manager city, then both must go.

-YXY-

From Las Olas Café File – Chronic violations despite multiple complaints to city manager

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