City of Miami

Part 2: Marlins' Samson is not going down alone

Posted on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010

Florida Marlins' president: Officials knew about profits

As the outcry grew over illuminating team financial statements made public this week, Marlins president David Samson said Wednesday that city and county officials were aware of the ballclub's relative health during negotiations for a publicly funded baseball stadium.

But that stands in contrast to statements made this week by several Miami-Dade commissioners, as well as those of a county official speaking on behalf of Mayor Carlos Alvarez.

Appearing on 790 The Ticket on Wednesday evening, Samson said the leaked documents -- which first appeared on the team turned a $49 million profit for 2008 and 2009 should have come as no surprise to elected officials who negotiated the $642 million stadium deal.


by Bradley Knoefler

The City of Miami Community Redevelopment Agency's failure to reduce slum and blight is well documented and can be seen firsthand every day in the Park West and OMNI neighborhoods of Downtown Miami.  Beginning with the 1982 Redevelopment Plan, which has never been implemented (see 2008 comparison with 1982 plan), to the wasting of millions discovered in the 2003 Audit, to a report to the Miami City Comission by the 2005 CRA Oversight Committee which again confirmed that the CRA had not fulfilled its mission of reducing slum and blight. Finally the 2009 Formal Request for Legal and Performance Audit of CRA's documented that the CRA continues with its old practices of spending money on anything but fighting slum and blight. The last straw was the refusal of the CRA to fund a neighborhood beautification project requesting a meager $25,000 grant (of a total project cost of $65,000) in order to beautify nearly 500,000 s/f of blight, prompting a frustrated e-mail to the CRA Board (Why do projects which create jobs and reduce slum and blight never get funded by the CRA?)  

So what do you do if you have invested millions in the neighborhood and the slum and blight is putting your business and property at risk? - Redevelop the neighborhood yourself!

CRA continues demolition in Overtown


Late Friday evening the City of Miami Community Redevelopment Agency cut electrical service to the threatened building housing the Apostolic Revival Temple,  proceeding with the demolition process despite a Miami-Dade County Judge's temporary stay on the demolition order.  "We think it was done illegally," Pastor Allen of the Temple stated, "I called FPL and they said there was no cut off order for my service, and how can they do that - I thought there was a stay on the demolition until Friday," he said, "what if we win? - how are we going to have service next Sunday without power?"  Doris Hall, representative of the property owner said "this again shows how the CRA is manipulating the system to get what they want - they probably showed FPL the demolition order and 'forgot' to show them the Judge's stay order." she noted "we will inform the Judge first thing Monday morning of this blatant disregard and violation of her order."  James Villacorta, Executive Director of the CRA, gleefully watched as the power was cut. "he's out here all happy and jumping up and down acting like he did yesterday when they demolished Moe's garage," said a local resident, getting emotional, "it's not right - this is all we have left."  Ernest King, a well known local artist who had been looking to put a live/work art gallery in the old Moe's Garage property confronted Villacorta, who had been attempting to lobby support for the CRA.  "don't come out here all boasting about your big projects," he said, "It's disrespectful to us 'cause we know we aren't part of them."   


Ms. Hall also blasted the CRA in a letter to Jim Villacorta for refusing a $4,000 grant request to eliminate the 'crack den' stating:

" If the urgency of the demolition stems from the public liability from people entering the property and the trash strewn around the property, why would you not allocate funds on an emergency basis, as you are allowed to fund up to $4,500 without Board approval.  Would this not be considered negligence on your part, since the CRA trust fund is holding over $70 million dollars needing to be reinvested with the taxpayers and residents in Overtown to create jobs and revitalization of these properties?..  We believe that the true intent of the CRA is to demolish and acquire the properties through an eminent-domain like procedure in violation of Federal, State, and Local laws, in order to assemble the remaining parcels for a large development project."

Read more »

City of Miami to demolish historic Overtown building



The owner and tenant of the threatened Overtown properties filed a last minute legal action Friday against the City of Miami CRA, the City of Miami and Miami Dade County requesting a stay of the demolition order slated for the morning of Monday, March 1.  The suit also requested $17 million in damages.  The action claims that the City acted "in clear error" by grouping three buildings together and selectively showing pictures of only the damaged buildings to the Unsafe Structures Board, not the structurally sound building at 1024 NW 2nd Ave currently occupied by the Apostolic Revival Temple, the tenant of the building.  The Defendants are also accused of violating Federal Fair Housing laws by "redlining, blockbusting, racial profiling, forced gentrification and non-provision of temporary relocation; manufacturing of slum and blight," using eminent domain-like actions in violation of State Law as well as acting contrary to their own Redevelopment Plan which calls for "preserving and revitalizing historically significant stuctures in the redevelopment area.".  A Fair Housing Complaint was filed with the DC office of US HUD late Friday as well.

Meanwhile the City of Miami Community Redevelopment Agency seems determined to charge ahead with the demolition.  A PR spin campaign was launched with a WSVN Channel 7 News report which showed the CRA Director donning a gas mask to justify the demolition of the property while barely mentioning the Pastor's building and the large development project in the works.  Phil Bacon, the developer who wants to buy the property, posed as representing 'local business interests' and stated that "When buildings get into these conditions, they are simply economically irretrievable"  This is despite the proposal on the table to stabilize the property and allow revitaization for $25,000 when the CRA has allocated $46,502 to demolish them.  "I can't understand why they can't delay the demolition to explore preserving the properties," said Derek Cole, Board member of the Overtown Community Oversight Board (OCOB), "As a community we voted unanimously to request a stay of execution and so far the CRA has ignored the wishes of the Community."  Irby McKnight, community activist and past Chariman of OCOB, also wrote to Commissioner Dunn to express concerns about the demolition of the properties.  David Chiverton, past candidate for City Commissioner, has expressed his support for saving the buildings.   

Read more »

Miami ranks #6 in Forbes poll on America’s most miserable cities

Forbes magazine recently released a listing of the 20 most miserable cities in America and Miami is #6. Here's why Miami received that ranking.

No. 6 Miami, Fla.

The weather and no personal state income tax are nice, but the city rates in the bottom 10% of areas when it comes to commute times, violent crime and corruption. Foreclosures hit 7.2% of homes in 2009, 10th worst in the U.S.

Here's how misery was measured, verbatim from the online article:

Our Misery Measure takes into account unemployment, taxes (both sales and income), commute times, violent crime and how its pro sports teams have fared over the past two years. We also factored in two indexes put together by Portland, Ore., researcher Bert Sperling that gauge weather and Superfund pollution sites. Lastly we considered corruption based on convictions of public officials in each area as tracked by the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Like many, I'm sure you're questioning the some of the metrics used in the poll. Check the Forbes site for photos and other details.

America's 20 Most Miserable Cities

  1. Cleveland, OH
  2. Stockton, CA
  3. Memphis, TN
  4. Detroit, MI
  5. Flint, MI
  6. Miami, FL
  7. St. Louis, MO
  8. Buffalo, NY
  9. Canton, OH
  10. Chicago, IL
  11. Modesto, CA
  12. Akron, OH
  13. Kansas City, MO
  14. Rockford, IL
  15. Toledo, OH
  16. New York City, NY
  17. Sacramento, CA
  18. Youngstown, OH
  19. Gary, IN
  20. Philadelphia, PA

Photo: David Adame

Must read from the Miami Herald on City of Miami finances

Posted on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010

Miami leaders fear a financial meltdown

Facing a widening financial crisis, Miami leaders are already projecting a $45 million budget shortfall this year that could force the city to deplete its reserves and sell key assets to stay afloat.

Rising costs, slumping property tax collections and ever-growing pension obligations are feeding a meltdown that's now forcing administrators to look for drastic new sources of income not needed since the state took over Miami's books 14 years ago.

``We understand the gravity of the situation,'' said Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.


Author's nite: Wondering why article fails to mention Marlins Stadium project?

Dunn selected District 5 Commissioner; agrees to serve as caretaker

The City of Miami Commission special meeting to select a representative to fill the seat of suspended Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones ended with Rev. Richard P. Dunn sacrificing the opportunity to run in the November general election should Spence-Jones' suspension be upheld. Dunn agreed to a caretaker role over the next ten months and not to seek the seat in November.

After a couple of rounds, the votes were split with Commissioners Gort and Carollo in favor of Dunn and Commissioners Sarnoff and Suarez voting for Pierre Rutledge. The compromise caretaker position was recommended and Dunn acquiesced with the next round of votes unanimously in his favor. Also making a notable impression was Alison Austin who very well could have received the nod had she run during the General Election in November 2009 or the Special Election on January 12.

Open letter to City of Miami commission from "Concerned Friends of District Five" [POLL]

January 25, 2010

Dear Commissioners:

The unfortunate situation that led to the suspension of Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones has left a community in limbo and its residents without representation and severely disadvantaged.  On Tuesday the City of Miami Commission must, pursuant to the City of Miami Charter, appoint a commissioner for District Five.  It is with this in mind that we concerned friends and residents of the City write this letter to the commissioners in the hope that they swiftly and thoughtfully restore representation to District Five. We also recognize that this will be our newly formed Commission’s first major decision, and its first opportunity to set the tone for this new decade. 

Recent articles in the Miami Herald have suggested that the Commission is considering Rev. Richard P. Dunn, II as a candidate.  Patrick Range, who news reports have also rightly identified as a qualified candidate, has respectfully declined to be considered for the appointment.  We believe that, for a district of over 60,000 residents, consideration must be given to more than one willing candidate.  The discussion must be widened.  The politics of Miami can no longer be restricted to a select few.  District Five needs the Commission to cast a wider net and take this opportunity to consider the abilities and talents of other citizens who have earned due consideration—people who presently serve the City, and the residents of District Five, selflessly and with enthusiasm and unquestioned integrity. 

We therefore urge the Commission to expand its search to include, and consider:

Alison Austin

Basil A. Binns, II

Dr. Robert Malone

Pierre Rutledge

Erica Wright

These people are only a small portion of the best of District Five, but their demonstrated talents and capabilities are demanding of consideration.  Each is known to the residents of District Five and not merely the special interests who work behind closed doors to influence the governance of our beautiful City.  It is important that this new Commission continue with the refreshing leadership it has shown thus far and act in the best interest of District Five on Tuesday.  If our Commissioners do that, they will have acted in the best interest of the entire City of Miami.  We trust that our Commissioners will not disappoint us.


“The Concerned Friends of District Five – Now and Always” 

2525 SW 3rd Ave

Number 1508

Miami, Florida 33129

(305) 987-1260

Stephen Hunter Johnson

Barron Channer

Hattie Willis    

Rossetta Rolle Hylton

Gihan Perrers

Thomas F. Harrison

Alison Wiley

Noel Johnson

Neil Cox

Drew Barrett

Jason Walker

Christopher Richardson

Mayor Regalado questions hiring practices on Marlins Stadium project

Regalado Workers

If you recall all the hoopla about the Marlins Stadium construction, there are concerns about the number of jobs promised from the project. New Mayor Tomas Regalado is calling on the inspector general to investigate. Check this out: 

Miami Today: Mayor Regalado protests what he calls lack of local jobs on Florida Marlins ballpark construction

By Risa Polansky

Proponents pitched constructing a new, retractable-roof Marlins ballpark as a local jobs generator. As the largely publicly funded stadium rises on the site of the old Orange Bowl in Little Havana, Miami's new mayor says he's not seeing it in practice. (Read more...)