Friday, April 18, 2014

Miami Dade Payout to the Private Sector: Read it in the Miami Herald. By Geniusofdespair

Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald says:

Florida’s largest local government spends more than $6 billion a year, offering a lucrative source of dollars for hundreds of vendors, contractors and grant recipients.

See the entire list of 500 in the Miami Herald. (Hit on the short list and it will keep going)  It will make you sick when you think about Library funding.  Hanks says further:
The list captures the end results of the yearly budget decisions that are getting underway this spring as commissioners and Mayor Carlos Gimenez decide how to allocate tax dollars. The dollars go to churches and schools administering county poverty and Head Start programs, contractors building county projects, service providers equipping county workers with phones, fuel, and other goods.
Florida Power & Light has a comfortable hold on the top position. The for-profit utility received nearly $370 million in Miami-Dade checks over 36 months, or an average of more than $300,000 a day. If Miami-Dade has a massive electric bill, it also digs deep to purchase fuel. MacMillan Oil, a Hialeah company, snagged the No. 3 spot with about $240 million worth of payments from Miami-Dade.
Do you now see why I don't want CULTURAL ENTITIES TO GET MORE MONEY! Look at number 7 and 11.

Read more here:

Guest Blog: The Big Sugar Claim the Everglades cannot have both a more natural Water Quantity and Quality is a False Dichotomy

The following comments are reprinted from a Sierra Club Everglades list-serve. Eye On Miami, several months ago, commented on the same OPED that Mr. Fink is responding to, in his piece below. Click here for our reaction to Neal McAliley's Herald editorial at the time.

From Larry E. Fink, M.S.
Waterwise Consulting, LLC

Embedded below is an example of Big Sugar's advocates posing the false dichotomy of water quality versus water quantity and attacking the total phosphorus (TP) WaterQuality Standard as overly protective.

This ignores the modified Plan 6 Alternative: the spillway/flowway that breaches the Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD). This alternative can rehydrate the Everglades with water of higher water quality now, while relieving the stress on the HHD (Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee) and the imminent threat that poses to the public health, safety, and welfare, as well as the water quantity and quality stresses on the East and West Coast estuaries.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Mayor Hall of Shame. By Geniusofdespair

Former Mayor Bateman of Homestead is in the paper today for not declaring a gift (plane ride) from Dade Medical College owner Ernesto Perez.  He might get slammed with a $500 fine from ethics.  Are they kidding with these fines? Even I can afford that.

The two last mayors of Hialeah admit to shadow banking, charging interest rates of 3% a month in some cases. When Carlos Hernandez, the current Mayor, was running he LIED and said it was untrue that he participated in shadow banking. He didn't "contradict himself" in court yesterday, as the Miami Herald said today, he lied when he he ran for Mayor.

This video was uploaded in 2011. Sure doesn't match his testimony yesterday in court.

Meanwhile Former Mayor Julio Robaina's very serious case on income tax evasion is winding through the courts (that is how they got Al Capone). It is totally disgusting.  I often wonder had we been given a REAL choice for mayor, would Carlos Gimenez have won? Julio Robaina got a startling 48.98% of the vote. Almost 100,000 people voted for him and he was an accused candidate even then, in July 2011.  Carlos Gimenez just was a lucky guy that voters are so willing to elect a man under investigation (in other words, stupid voters).

Gimenez posed as a moderate. Julio Robaina won the absentee ballots by 1,000 votes. In early voting, a favorite of Democrats, Gimenez found victory, 22,315 to Julio's 17,280.  Carlos Gimenez had all the Democrat strongholds, but now he is sucking up to Conservative hardliners and the T. Party.  Get a moderate Republican to run against him and you can put Gimenez out to pasture. His alliance with Lynda Bell is going to do him in. He is raising money for her. I told his son that it was a big mistake. I believe it. I gave Gimenez a campaign contribution. He fooled me. I  will never do that again.  And, Carlos we don't want a straw vote including cultural institutes. Just do as Xavier Suarez suggests and REFUND the stripped money from libraries, raise the taxes for libraries or find it in the budget. The Straw Vote will cost us SO MUCH MORE because you are piggy backing other things in the vote NOT FAIR.

Blue were Robaina supporters and Green were Gimenez. Gimenez won in Democratic areas.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

People's Climate Change Rally in Miami … April 22nd, Earth Day … by gimleteye

US Senator Bill Nelson is holding a field hearing on climate change and its impacts in Miami-Dade County on April 22nd. Bring your family to the rally. Let your children know we are leaving them a world that, in a few short decades, will deny them the equity value of their homes.

The following message comes to us from Sierra Club:

The public is invited to attend the People's Climate Rally, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. outside the US Senate Field hearing, Miami Beach City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Drive on Tues., April 22, Earth Day! Please RSVP to:

"The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy." -- Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day

P.S. Also, don't miss the CLEO Climate Action rally with US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) Friday, April 25, from 5 to 8 pm. in the Pinecrest Gardens Banyon Bowl in Pinecrest, FL (the old Parrot Jungle.)

An ECO with $218,950 to spend: We the People. By Geniusofdespair

We the people.  Obviously Republican.  I reported on them before.

Property Appraiser Race Will Be a Slugfest. By Geniusofdespair

Alex Dominguez ($41,000 - except $36,535 is a loan to the account) and Pedro Garcia ($43,255) the former Property Appraiser, are ahead of the group in fundraising. Albert Armada also loaned himself $10,000. This is a non-partisan post but as we know, there is really no such thing in Miami.  Carlos Lopez Cantera was the property appraiser but he left to (barf) become Rick Scott's Hispanic face (Lt. Governor).

Alex Dominguez is on the left.

$1.6 billion settlement on water and sewer: tithe the contract value to benefit environmental groups … by gimleteye

I met Bill Johnson, the new director of Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department, during the Homestead Air Force Base (HABDI) fiasco in the mid 1990's. Johnson, a capable facilitator, went on to run another operation chock-a-bloc full of wheeling and dealing: the Port of Miami.

The Water and Sewer Department, previously run by uber-insider John Renfrow, is now set to be a career milestone for Johnson. Yesterday Judge Frederico Moreno approved the settlement agreement between EPA and the county, thanks to a lawsuit by Biscayne Bay Waterkeepers.

Funny how Miami environmentalists set the parameters of the great maneuvering for county contracts. Come to think of it, why not assign 10 percent of the contract fees to a foundation for the benefit of qualified environmental non-profits who act as watchdogs for the public interest? Establish the foundation board from the ranks of the region's universities, provided those universities don't take money from the Great Destroyers.

Imagine how far $160 million would go in building the muscles for groups like Biscayne Waterkeepers or Sierra Club or Friends of the Everglades. Golly, that kind of money might even turn some of Miami's fabled attorneys to work on the environmental side of the ledger, jumping from clients like rock miners, sugar billionaires, and assorted land speculators outside the Urban Development Boundary.

Hell, if 10 percent of water and sewer contracts were put into a foundation for the benefit of public interest watchdogs, even bankers like Leonard Abbess might redefine their interests in local environmental affairs.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

McMansion ban in McMansion part of county? Oh no! … by gimleteye

It must be end of times! Pinecrest discusses McMansion ban! Does anyone have a sense of deja vu?

Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner gets a grand pat on the back for suggesting that Pinecrest limit McMansions, but golly, the train left the station a long, long time ago.

Actually it was during the last boom-before--bust cycle that McMansions sprouted faster than kudzu in South Miami and Pinecrest.

It is dreadful to see that the last building bust didn't kill off the urge to splurge on square footage in acreage once filled with mango, citrus and avocado groves. We wrote about it in 2007.

Oh well … according to the Miami Herald, in Pinecrest "several contractors spoke out against the proposed changes". We guess the most recent squadron of bankrupt bilkers, builders, and bankerz did not stand up to be counted. The ones that survived are biding their time not just in Pinecrest but at the UDB. (see Sofer collection, below)

Pinecrest may limit ‘McMansions’


Pinecrest council members want to study possible new rules aimed at limiting property owners ability to build large homes on relatively small lots.

The council decided Tuesday not to immediately approve a set of such rules, instead opting to get more input from contractors and village residents. Several contractors spoke against the proposed changes, but Mayor Cindy Lerner said the council needs to act to preserve the village’s character.

The Cruise Industry Challenges the Mayor and his Minions. By Geniusofdespair

For those of you who don't get the Miami Herald:

Bullies on both sides. I love the way they say it is composed by "Concerned Citizen." Did they see David Beckhans in his underwear yet? Does anyone except the cruise lines and politicians care about the port? Not really. It is just a money losing venture with an over-paid director.

Why is Turnberry/Soffer Family giving big to Lynda Bell? By Geniusofdespair

Why is Jeffrey, Jackie and Don Soffer giving BIG ($2,500 during March) to Lynda Bell's campaign. The secret is the Soffers/Turnberry want the UDB LINE MOVED and they know Lynda is the one to do it. They own a parcel of land out west near where the Target plans a store (They are building inside the line).

Miami Herald Business Section April 14th

The reason the plans to move the UDB are on hold, as stated in the Miami Herald, is because of this election. District 8 County Commissioner Lynda Bell would never have moved the UDB line before the election. Just wait, see what we are in for if she gets elected.

The family also gave thousands to Mike Haridopolos, Republican, although Don gives to Democrats at well. Jeffrey Soffer is a loser, he gives to Marco Rubio and he gave to Mitt Romney.  Marsha Soffer is the only one to give Dems...even Emily's list.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I blame the Democrats and of Course Marco Rubio For the Thomas-Gayles Maneuver. By Geniusofdespair

Darrin P. Gayles - Florida Circuit Court Judge - Soon to be US District Judge

Judge William Thomas
Marco Rubio pulled his support of Judge William Thomas in August or September - he wouldn't blue slip him (approve him). Thomas is not only black but also gay. Rubio sullied Thomas's reputation with some bizarre arguments that lawyers and other judges dismissed as trumped up. Instead of the Democrats fighting for Thomas they chose  - what I call the bobble-head solution - treating people like bobble-heads, where heads are just treated as interchangeable.  The Obama administration found another gay, black judge, thus forcing Rubio to support him. Rubio couldn't possibly reject two gay, black judges. It was smart of the Democrats but not without consequences.

Are judges that interchangeable?  Who suffers? Of course, William Thomas and maybe our judicial system. Thomas said he was once Judge William Thomas now he is known as the Gay, Black Judge William Thomas. He said his privacy and his life was changed dramatically by the incident.  I think Frederica Wilson should have stood by her man and given him more support instead of capitulating to the Democratic maneuver.  But the Democratic trick worked against a stubborn Marco Rubio, and all is done -- the Dems got their gay, black judge however they left William Thomas in the rubble.

To Global Warming Skeptics, Surrender-ists, and Deniers (and doesn't Rush Limbaugh resemble the late Sen. Joe McCarthy more, with every passing day?) … by gimleteye

Tom Friedman, in the Sunday NY Times, found a star to articulate words I've been reaching for. Ford is one of the narrators in the current Showtime series, "Years of Living Dangerously", dealing with the questions and concerns of climate change.

"I asked Harrison Ford, a longtime board member of Conservation International, whether working on the documentary left him feeling it was all too late. “It isn’t too late; it can’t be too late,” he said. “Is it too late to teach our kids the difference between right and wrong? If we are not ready to redress something happening on our watch, how can we expect our kids to do something about it?”

Exactly. Our generation's time is nearly up. Not all the wealth in the world or fame (cf. Ted Williams) can change the fact: we all go out with a last breath.

So the human response to man-made climate change is a matter of ethical conduct. Coming generations will be dealing with a shit storm we simply can't imagine, except through science fiction.

Republicans of the far right -- which pretty much describes the GOP -- are shifting, ever so imperceptibly, from a majority of deniers to a majority of: well ok, there is climate change but we can't do anything about it.

The GOP surrender-ism goes hand-in-glove with isolationism. The problem for voters who believe global warming is a very serious issue (the majority, by the way) is that the surrender-ists are dissolving, fading, disappearing just like ole Rush, the blowhard multi-millionaire and worst of this generation's snake oil salesmen (at least Glenn Beck had the guts to recant). Why even the Miami Herald, WLRN and WPBT believe that climate change is a serious threat to South Florida. Amazing, after all the years of refusing to even raise the topic.

The problem with surrenderism is that it -- literally -- hands over our collective fate to corporatists who will cling to the status quo to their last breaths. Damn the rest of us.

What will our children and grandchildren do, with that worst-ever-in-the-history-of-civilization legacy? A recent IPCC report suggested that unless we get our acts together, we can soon expect the erosion of the world's economies on the order of a half percent per year. That adds up, very fast, and like most climate predictions, could be far on the short side.

Ford told the NY Times, “Nature will be just fine without us. Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature. That is why we can’t save ourselves without saving nature.”

Ford is right. Friedman is right: "We can still do this. We are closer to both irreversible dangers on climate and scale solutions on clean tech than people realize. Just a little leadership now by America … would make a big difference."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pepe Diaz and other depressing things. By Geniusofdespair

This is Lynda Bell's ECO. She has over $100,000 collected. Looks like someone wants to thank Lynda Bell for her vote --Procurement: Contractors, like Safe Wrap, should be outlawed from giving contributions since the guy needed Lynda's vote to get the contract which he did.
No one is running against Pepe Diaz. There is no end to the private funds from corporations that funnel money into campaigns for bad candidates. See what Black Lawmakers are up to...

I was at the courthouse reading a wacky deposition given by one of our elected officials -- and it was very wacky -- and this damn staff woman was sneezing all over everyone and touching all the computer keyboards. Now I am sick and the fucking teapot won't stop whistling. Why write? I can't change squat. I can't even stop the teapot. Too much effort.

"How will the money be spent? They won’t say. They don’t have to.
But records of past years’ fundraising and interviews with caucus leaders indicate that less than 10 cents of every dollar raised actually goes to college scholarships for the students whose names were projected on large screens at the gala." (Using kids, disgusting.)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Do Something Great For Yourself And Your Family: The Day of No Sugar Challenge … by gimleteye

There is a new book out about one family's commitment to go sugar-free, for an entire year. It's not easy, I know, to make the change but never mind wonder-drugs: just take sugar out of your diet and you will feel much, much better.

I've been mostly sugar-free out of a commitment to fixing our Everglades. Call it: the political is personal. Sugar poisons people, poisons the Everglades, and poisons Democracy. That's the short form (read other EOM posts on Big Sugar, for the longer form!)

If you haven't already, check out Dr. Robert Lustig's "Sugar: The Bitter Truth". More than 4.5 million people have viewed the lecture that describes the impacts to health from sugar.

Sugar is addictive. But once one makes the commitment to weed out sugar from your diet, the positive effects are immediately evident. The first thing I noticed is that cutting out sugar really lessens the inflammatory response across a range of health issues. That goes for aching knees from years of too much impact.

Once you start eliminating sugar, the way you view your grocery store changes entirely. One could make the argument that the failure of the big chain grocers to understand the consequences of sugar addiction helped open the door to billion dollar competitors who succeeded by marketing healthier foods. The big grocers and industrial food suppliers have all succumbed to the addictions of sugar, too.

In terms of our daily diets, we often use sugar to lift us from low points in the day when we feel sluggish and tired. The point, of course, is that the sugar high/low cycle feeds an addiction.

"Take the day of no sugar Challenge" and you will see what that means. You may be tempted along the way to reach for a soda or candy, but recognize your power to change. Keep a piece of fresh fruit nearby to help you; really, it doesn't take much to get you through a sugar low.

And if you are really bold, cut out sugary carbohydrates. You will feel better, I promise. And reducing sugar's influence on the Everglades might make you feel better too (even if you are a lobbyist for Big Sugar).

PS. If you want to learn more, check out The Institute for Responsible Nutrition. This is a brand new effort to fix what's wrong with public health at the building block level. Who says Eye On Miami can't deliver positive news!

If the New York Times finds it fit to print, why not The Miami Herald? "We Should Be in a Rage" … by gimleteye

It is only an opinion piece but Charles M. Blow's "We Should Be in a Rage" comes as a shock. In the blogsphere, strong language is everywhere.

When Blow invites us to be in a rage about voter suppression, he touches a nerve at EOM. Right along side absentee ballot fraud, voter suppression is a key tactic of those seeking to influence the outcome of elections.

"A vote is the great equalizer, but only when it is cast. The strategy here is simple: Break the spirit. Muddy the waters. Make voting feel onerous and outcomes ambiguous. And make it feel like a natural outgrowth of tedium and bickering, and not a well-funded, well-designed effort. Make us subsist on personality politics rather than principled ones. The greatest trick up the sleeves of the moneyed and powerful is their diabolical ability to render themselves invisible and undetectable, to recede and operate behind a front, one relatable and common. Our politics are overrun with characters acting at the behest of shadows."

So true. The Shadows that Blow writes about are everywhere in South Florida; in fact, "the diabolical ability" of insiders to manipulate political campaigns and policy outcomes has found some of the most fertile earth in the nation, in Florida.

Wouldn't it be special, if the city's only daily newspaper -- The Miami Herald -- would focus its editorial attention on those diabolical abilities and why Miami voters should be in a rage, too.

The Opinion Pages|OP-ED COLUMNIST

We Should Be in a Rage
APRIL 9, 2014
Charles M. Blow
The New York Times

Voter apathy is a civic abdication. There is no other way to describe it.

If more Americans — particularly young people and less-wealthy people — went to the polls, we would have a better functioning government that actually reflected the will of the citizenry.

But, that’s not the way it works. Voting in general skews older and wealthier, and in midterm elections that skew is even more severe.