Category Archives: Featured

America’s Casablanca — A Book Review

Before I ever wrote a word about The David Winker Affair — it had just broken in the news — I was ranting about Miami Corruption to a friend. I already knew I would write about Winker because what I had already learned rubbed me the wrong way.

That’s when my friend said, “You’ll get a much better understanding of Miami Corruption today, if you read ‘American Casablanca‘”.

Boy, were they right!


America’s Casablanca: A “True Novel” about Miami’s Emergence from Bankruptcy and Corruption, by José García-Pedrosa, is a true eye-opener about Miami politics and how it’s been crazy after all these years, to quote Paul Simon.

However, let’s get the least important stuff out of the way first: This book is clearly self-published and screams for an editor. A h/t is given on the last page to Dr. Norma Martín Goonen, for editing and helping shape the book. However, she may have been too close to the author. Although they met after the book was written, they were married somewhere along the way. And, I suspect, her normal employment is not writing or editing. There are typos galore and an odd lack of a space after many quotation marks, a habit that became infuriating over 300 pages.

Furthermore the events related in the book, of which Garcia-Pedrosa was a participant, is a complicated web of people and motives spanning decades. An editor in on the ground floor — so to speak — at the beginning of the project, might have given the book a different outline. There’s far too much back and forth in the chronology. Some of that is necessary. However, some of it was intrusive, especially as events accelerated near the end of the book. There were times I wasn’t sure the meeting being described took place before, or after, the meeting just described. In this book it could be either. A few words here and there could have made things clearer, but a better outline could have solved the problem. I’m sure it’s something Garcia-Pedrosa grappled with; his solution didn’t work for me.

Having said that, this is not a book you read for the fancy prose. This is a book you read to see current City of Miami District 3 Commissioner, “Crazy” Joe Carollo, meltdown time after time over the many decades he’s been a Miami politician, sucking off the government teat while bullying opponents, misusing his authority, having people followed, and lying about just about everything.

Sound familiar?



Here’s where this book review takes a slight tangent:

I had no idea this book would be [mostly] about Crazy Joe. He turns up as early as the preface and is the focus of every chapter, even if he doesn’t make an appearance. The events depicted in American Casablanca happened, for the most part, because of Carollo. Every one of his shenanigans back then echoes in present day Miami politics and informs my Miami Corruption Tapestry, starting with The David Winker Affair.

I don’t want to take that tangent here, so look for it as Part Four of The Miami Corruption Tapestry, coming soon to a browser near you.

Tangent over.



As a self-admitted carpetbagger, having only lived in South Florida since Hurricane Wilma, I was unaware of most of the events related in this book. Therefore I had never heard of Xavier Suarez referred to as Hurricane Xavier, but that’s a moniker he gave himself along, with “a meteor the size of Texas”, “an earthquake”, and — later — “not deranged” as the media happily reported on his every stumble.

Others called Suarez different things as his 2nd term of Miami Mayor began in 1997. His continued antics led to stories of chaos in the Miami Herald, NYT, USA Today, TIME Magazine, and the London Economist, which called him El Loco in its headline.

However, it wasn’t long before Joe Carollo, who lost the election, challenged the results in court over the issue of bogus Absentee Ballots. He was successful. After some more court decisions, which eventually tossed all Absentee Ballots, even the honest ones, Suarez was disqualified. Crazy Joe was appointed the Mayor of the City of Miami.

Essentially, this book is the inside story of those roller-coaster years. The author, José García-Pedrosa, was hired by Suarez to be Miami City Manager (one of the most powerful positions in any city) having been hired away from Miami Beach, where he held the same position.

As it happened, Carollo hated García-Pedrosa for an incident from all the way back in 1982. As Miami City Attorney while Carollo was a Commissioner, García-Pedrosa ruled Carollo had violated Florida’s Sunshine Law.

It took 15 years for Carollo to get his revenge and he was as vengeful as anyone named Crazy Joe could be. García-Pedrosa only served 5 months as Miami City Manager and was fired by Mayor Carollo 3 times in his last 2 weeks.

While Carollo really needed no reason to fire the City Manager, because he served at the pleasure of the mayor with Commission approval, he threw every mendacious and false claim he could invent at the author, including charges of criminal conduct. Nothing was ever proven against García-Pedrosa.

Naturally the author is biased participant in the events, so it’s worth taking a whole shaker of salt while reading the book. Clearly he has an axe to grind.

I found myself Googling many aspects of this story and the publications that wrote about it contemporaneously: Miniskirt mayor, George Magazine, 60 Minutes, The New Yorker, along with Spanish language cartoons. There were many threads I wanted to pull on, all of which led me to agree that Miami politics has been a 3-ring circus for a very long time.

Which naturally leads to the Miami Herald, the newspaper of record during this period. Bottom line: The Miami Herald has always been a lousy newspaper, which this book proves over and over again.

While García-Pedrosa has an agenda, so did The Miami Herald, and he proves it.  It was willing to look past Corruption and Cronyism to come to the defense of Crazy Joe with mendacious articles or editorials that didn’t dig any deeper than the surface.

The Miami Herald is still useless in holding elected officials accountable, as any Miami Muckraker will tell you. It will look the other way, provided its executives can still hobnob with the movers and shakers at all the charity balls; a strata of society that the average Joe/Jane never reaches. The Miami Herald‘s view of us way down here is obscured by those clouds below them.

The most recent example of this paper’s idiocy is the recent endorsement of Katherine Fernandez Rundle for Miami-Dade County’s state attorney. This endorsement perplexed everybody and anybody who cares about social justice. Rundle had already served 27 years in the position and — SOMEHOW! — never found a police officer to have committed crimes against citizens. Never even took one to court

Even The Miami Herald realized this endorsement was bullshit when it wrote:

This is not a full-throated, unequivocal endorsement of the incumbent. Her 27-year tenure has been at times flawed, at times infuriating, at times befuddling. She can, and must, do better.

Miami New Times had the perfect rejoinder:

Some would say it was both infuriating and befuddling when Rundle opted not to charge the corrections officers who locked 50-year-old Darren Rainey, an inmate at Dade Correctional Institution, in a scalding shower and left him to die. And when Rundle said she couldn’t prosecute Jesús “Jesse” Menocal, a Hialeah police officer with a history of using his power to prey on women and girls because there were no witnesses to make the case. (This, despite the Herald’s own investigation, which found that prosecutors never interviewed three out of four witnesses and dismissed the women as gang members and runaways.)

Yet somehow, the editorial board pulled off the gymnastic journalistic feat of citing those “missteps” and still giving Rundle the thumb-up for another four years. The Herald argues that Rundle has the “muscle” and “valuable experience” to push for reforms in police departments, jails, prisons, and courtrooms.

This is not a review of The Miami Herald, so I’ll leave it here. Suffice to say García-Pedrosa proves it was bird cage liner back then. Current events show it still is.

The author almost lost me at the beginning of Chapter Eight — You’re Fired, which began with several passages about a section of Miami called “Germ City”. This small section struck me as being racist. It was only 4 paragraphs — and I could have read more between the lines than is really there. [I tend to see the world with Racism Coloured Glasses. Read page 157 and 158 of the book and tell me what you think.] Those paragraphs disturbed me greatly and I almost gave up reading the book.

However, the author did lose me near the end of the book for 2 reasons:

  • He relates his involvement in the international squabble between Cuba and ‘Merka, which has little to do with the events in the book, other than another way to criticize Carollo;
  • As Miami closed in on another Mayoral race, García-Pedrosa engaged in the same kind of backroom machinations that I have always found distasteful to try to become the next Mayor , even to the point of an attempt to change the city’s residency requirements in order to run for mayor.

Bottom line: It’s a whole lot easier to understand the crazy politics of Miami today by reading about its recent past in America’s Casablanca: A “True Novel” about Miami’s Emergence from Bankruptcy and Corruption, by José García-Pedrosa.

Fighting City Hall; The Miami Corruption Tapestry — Part 2.5

This is a continuation of the August 29 post “Winker? I Hardly Know ‘Er – Part Two of the David Winker Affair“, renamed The Miami Corruption Tapestry.

In that exciting episode I related:

What a difference a few days make. Another shoe has now dropped.

An ad hoc taxpayer group, an HOA, and the Coconut Grove Village Council spent cold hard cash to erect a billboard to SHAME the City of Miami into doing the right thing.

There are several ironies to observe here:

  • The last private citizen to successfully fight City Hall was current District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell, long before he ever thought to run for office;
  • Day Avenue is in Commissioner Russell’s district;
  • Unless he takes the long way around, Ken Russell needs to drive past this billboard to get to City Hall.

▌READ: Unpacking Grand Avenue


The Miami Corruption Tapestry so far:

The David Winker Affair
Winker? I Hardly Know ‘Er
An Email to the City of Miami & An Open Letter to Miami Taxpayers

An Email to the City of Miami & An Open Letter to Miami Taxpayers — The David Winker Affair; Part Three

The begining of The Deep Dive

Wake up, Miami taxpayers. You’re being played for suckers…again. And, by the same gang of [alleged] crooks that fleeced you once before.

Everything old is new again.

I’m currently reading America’s Casablanca: A “True Novel” about Miami’s Emergence from Bankruptcy and Corruption by Jose Garcia-Pedrosa, (published in 2019). Someone I highly respect touted this book when I was recently ranting about unfettered Miami Corruption.  This book is look at Miami politics from the inside.

Quick bio: Garcia-Pedrosa is a Cuban-American, moving to Miami as a child, where he finished high school, doing well enough to get a scholarship to Harvard (according to the blurb on the back of the book). After collecting a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law, he returned to Miami, where he championed the causes of Cuban exiles. Over the years he worked on many cases, including pro bono on behalf of Elián González, the child who became an international Tug of War between Cuba and ‘Merka that roiled Miami’s large — and politically powerful — Cuban community.

Where Garcia-Pedrosa fits into the Miami Corruption Tapestry: He later went on to become City Manager of Miami Beach. Not long after that, he joined the Big Leagues. He was hired as City Manager for the City of Miami when Magic City was going through a whole lot of misery, for a number of reasons. His service to the city lasted only 5 months. A very rocky 5 months. During the last 2 weeks of his short tenure, he was fired 3 separate times. As the Sun Sentinel tells us, the third time was the charm:

He asked the City Commission, which supports him, to let stand his final dismissal by Mayor Joe Carollo.

But Garcia-Pedrosa got in a parting shot against Carollo, saying the mayor used “seven or eight different and false excuses” to fire him.

“The residents of Miami do not deserve such dishonorable conduct by Mr. Carollo,” he wrote in a statement.


Bottom line: Miami has been dealing with batshit Crazy Joe Carollo — one way or another — for some 3 decades. Xavier Suarez has been kicking around just as long (although voters just put him out to pasture again; he recently lost an election to become Miami-Dade County Mayor). These politicians don’t go away when they are term-limited. They just recycle themselves, up, down, or sideways.


Back to our narrative, which is already in progress: The Miami mayor who hired Garcia-Pedrosa as City Manager in 1997 was kicked out of office for voter fraud soon afterwards. That’s the aforementioned Xavier Suarez. Suarez was the first Cuban-born mayor of the City of Miami way back in 1985.


Crazy Joe Carollo pops up in Part One and Part Two
of The David Winker Affair. This is Part Three.

From here on in, I am renaming this series
The Miami Corruption Tapestry.”


Suarez eventually retired from politics to spend more time with his family. Maybe 4 years was all his family could stand because in 1997 he ran for Mayor again and was reelected again.

The ’97 mayoral campaign was an ugly one, but Suarez eventually defeated <checks notes> Crazy Joe Carollo. Then Crazy Joe challenged some absentee ballots as fraudulent and won. [Maybe this is where Mad King Trump gets it from.] Suarez was never officially accused, but the rumours flew. Nevertheless his election was overturned and the office was given to <checks notes> Crazy Joe Carollo, who keeps turning up in every corner of my Miami Corruption Tapestry. Carollo did not win reelection in 2001.

Suarez went on to become Miami-Dade County Commissioner for District 7 and, eventually, Carollo went on to become a City of Miami Commissioner, which is when he first appeared on my radar. One takeaway from the Carollo years I’ve personally witnessed — and everything I have read — is that he’s still crazy after all these years. 

MUSICAL INTERLUDE

And, Crazy Joe is still costing the city untold dollars in legal fees. Tangent over.


Here’s my basic point, even tho’ I took so long to make it: The same people have been picking the pockets of Miami taxpayers for decades — going back before the madness of 1997. Then Miami voters forgot all about the madness of ’97 and kept electing these same rapscallions, as if none of it ever happened. And, as if it didn’t cost the City of Miami both money and reputation while it was happening.

There will be more on Garcia-Pedrosa’s book in later chapters of The Miami Corruption Tapestry, but The David Winker Affair is just a continuation of decades of corruption.


When The David Winker Affair broke, I sent an email to the entire hierarchy of the City of Miami government seeking to get to the bottom of this travesty. I am still waiting for a reply.

Here it is:

EMAIL TO CITY OF MIAMI:
Subject: QUESTIONS – ON THE RECORD
Date: August 22, 2020
From: Headly Westerfield

CC List: Adele Valencia, avalencia@miamigov.com , Mayor Francis Suarez, fsuarez@miamigov.com, City Manager Arthur Noriega, anoriega@miamigov.com, City Clerk Todd B. Hannon,  clerks@miamigov.com, City Attorney Victoria Méndez, VMendez@miamigov.com, Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla, District 1,  adiazdelaportilla@miamigov.com, Commissioner Ken Russell, District 2, krussell@miamigov.com, Commissioner Joe Carollo, District 3,  jcarollo@miamigov.com, Commissioner Manolo Reyes, District 4, mreyes@miamigov.com, Commissioner Keon Hardemon, District 5,  KHardemon@miamigov.com, dwinker@dwrlc.com

I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on television. I am a semi-retired, freelance investigative journalist who has been writing about Miami issues, on and off, for about a decade.

Most recently I was made aware of the David Winker story, which intrigued me as a classic case of corruption: The city coming down hard on a man who has launched several lawsuits against the city and won most of them. What intrigued me most was that a 65+ page dossier was produced, and the document was used to start Code Compliance inspections.

It took me a while to obtain this file. To her credit, Department Head Adele Valencia only passed along the specific property complaints (not the entire dossier) to her Compliance officers. Violations were noted and posted. It is my understanding that these violations are being disputed, as is the right of every Miami homeowner or business cited.

However, after a far more careful reading of this dossier, I have come to several conclusions:

1). This is the type of document usually prepared by a private investigator as oppo research against a candidate;
2). At one point it appears as if David Winker was under personal surveillance at a location away from his home, i.e. stalking;
3). And, most importantly, these documents were obtained through fraud, which may have contravened federal laws.

I draw your attention to Page 1 of Exhibit B in the dossier. About 2/3rds of the way down the page it says, “Your Social Security Number has been verified. Thank you.”

This means that someone fraudulently used Mr. Winker’s Social Security Number on 7/27/2020 at 10:02:44 PM [according to the upper right-hand corner of the next page] to obtain this exhibit. Exhibit C, and maybe a few others, appear to have been obtained through the same illegal means. Other exhibits are publicly available docs that anyone can access.

I request answers to the following questions:

1). Have you ever reported an address to Code Compliance for inspection? If yes: Was it an address within your District?

2). Do the records of Code Compliance Violations come across your desk as a regular occurrence, or do you need to request them to stay up-to-date? [Ms. Valencia is exempt from this question, unless she’d like to volunteer some information I may be unaware of.]

3). Do you support the use of city resources to whack opponents over political disagreements? If no, what do you intend to do about it?

4). What is the current status of the Violations posted at Mr. Winker’s door, case number CE2020014267?

5). Is the accessory use permit fee just a tax grab, especially in the era of The COVID?

David Winker is not the first victim of Code Compliance being used as a cudgel. There are media reports going back several years that Code Compliance was used against the enemies of Commissioner Carollo. Those people subsequently used Code Compliance against the Commissioner 9 months later.

However, Mr. Winker’s case is the most egregious because of the way the information was obtained and how the city allowed this colonoscopy, based on a dirty dossier [I can’t believe I just typed that], to initiate a simple Code Compliance Complaint.

None of this is because David Winker is “scum”, a word I recently saw used against him on Twitter. This was done to punch back at an activist lawyer who has been holding the City of Miami accountable. Possibly, and more importantly, it’s also a shot across the bow of anyone who might want to fight city hall, as Commissioner Russell once did.

6). Don’t you feel just a teensy-weensy bit dirty being used this way?

7). Has the City of Miami begun an investigation into how these documents were fraudulently obtained? Who illegally obtained them? Who illegally distributed them to Miami City Hall? [There may be different answers to each of those questions.] If not, why not? If not, it would appear as if the city is a willing co-conspirator to a form of identity theft, a federal crime.

8). Are you aware that just a little bit of the information contained within this file could lead to Identity Theft (which appears to have already happened to have obtained Exhibit B)?

9). Does the city know how many people have received this dossier, with all its private and personal data? I ask because I have a copy and I never should have seen it.

I am on deadline and would appreciate as fast a turnaround as you can. If I publish before you reply, and your reply changes anything within my article, I will update my story.

You can also phone me at ███-███-████, but I prefer stuff to be on the record. Email is always best.

MUSICAL INTERLUDE #2

As I say, I am still waiting on an answer from someone — anyone — in the city. Are there any questions I forgot to ask?

Stay tuned for Part Four of The David Winker Affair, aka The Miami Corruption Tapestry.

Winker? I Hardly Know ‘Er – Part Two of the David Winker Affair

Image

David Winker has been described by Concerned Citizen as a “disheveled heavy-set man” in the anonymous hit job — the 95 page dossier — the city used as a basis to inspect the home where he lives and slap some code violations on the property, which happens to be in his wife’s name.  She’s just collateral damage in this crazy story.

I can affirm — and would so so under oath — that David Winker, activist lawyer, is a disheveled, heavy-set man. When I first met him, literally while making introductions, his wife started straightening his collar because it was askew. Almost sheepishly he related he just arrived from a YouTube LIVE podcast and must have been disheveled during it.


Read: The David Winker Affair – Part One


And, he is heavy set, with the body of a football player, which he inherited from his football-playing father. Ironically his father forbid him from playing football. Growing up in Canada he played hockey and ‘Merka’s national sport, baseball. Although these days he occasionally reviews high school football.

I spent 4 hours with David Winker. Mostly we talked at his dining room table, which the City of Miami seems to think is a dedicated office. The rest of the room is filled with the flotsam and jetsam of a large family room occupied by people with children. If this were my house I wouldn’t necessarily want a client to see that clutter and Winker assured me he doesn’t meet with clients there. But, I didn’t really care about that.

Nor did I really care about most of the other items in the 95+ page dossier.

Mostly I wondered why I was even there.

Then I remembered that my source told me I would uncover Miami Corruption, so I stuck with it.

I asked about every exhibit in the 95-page document and it felt dirty. Nothing in this colonoscopy — other than about 40-50 words — had anything to do with the Code Compliance Violations tacked to Christina’s house. Not the pages and pages of printed screenshots labeled “Exhibit A: Winker Tweets/Social Media Assaults.” Exhibit B is every traffic ticket, parking violation, and some “no valid license plate history.” Exhibit C is called Winker Criminal DWLS. I could go on and on through “Exhibit J: Winker City of Miami Permit History”.

Part of the Winker DossierWhen we were done, I wanted a shower. But, I had to ask about every page — every exhibit — in those 95 pages if I wanted to find the corruption I was promised.

Winker’s wife drifted in and out of the room during this rectal examination, until she had to go do children taxi.

Winker copped to some of it; he also had reasonable explanations for some of it; said some of it had been cleared years ago, but he forgot to file those docs that would take them down; and (later) showed me why the plate on his pickup truck appeared invalid. His registration is valid. However, someone tore off half of the little yellow sticker to put on their own car because their sticker had expired. [Apparently this is more common in Miami than I knew.] The problem to replacing the sticker is The COVID and government offices not being fully operational yet.

Later we walked completely around the property where I examined the supposed Code Violations.

The granny flat, f’rinstance. It’s a converted garage and had been a granny flat for who-knows-how-long? However, it was there the last time the City of Miami signed off on all these surveys and documents, both before and after the last sale 8 years ago. It’s all on record. Public record. Records available to Code Compliance, had it wanted to look.

The surprise was meeting Winker’s mother, who snowbirds in the granny flat. Normally she’d be back in England at this point in the year, but that’s another thing The COVID complicated. (FULL DISCLOSURE: We share a Queen. I’m Canadian.) 

But, all of this is getting so far away from the dossier. This cannot be stressed enough: almost nothing in that document was germane to the issue of Code Violations. It was an attack on a taxpayer by another anonymous taxpayer throwing anything and everything against the wall to see what sticks. And, it’s pretty clear that it was compiled by a private detective as oppo research.

It’s disgusting.

Why would anyone do such a thing?

It all goes back to Winker’s profession. He’s a lawyer for hire. In his spare time he sues the city and wins. According to Miami New Times:

Beyond representing the group calling for a recall of Carollo in a case against the city, Winker has openly criticized City Attorney Victoria Mendez for defending Carollo in the recall effort and acting as his “private law firm.” He also has filed ethics complaints against the MLS soccer stadium construction effort.

Winker also sued the city after it appointed the lawyers and lobbyists of developers to serve on a zoning review board. LAW.COM picked up that story with Activist Criticizes Naming Developer Attorneys to Miami Zoning Review Group:

Escarra, Leiva and Tapanes represent most of the big developers before the city and will have front-row seats shaping the city’s development regulations. Winker maintains It would be difficult for them to focus on the public’s best interest rather than their clients’ priorities.

“Miami has an image problem, and these appointments are the quintessential ‘foxes guarding the chicken coop,’ ” Winker wrote in a letter Friday to City Attorney Victoria Mendez. She had no comment by deadline.

Winker argued the appointments violate the Florida Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees barring private employment and public office with conflicting interests.

Winker won that argument, too.

Then there was the time Winker filed a suit against the City of Miami and Ultra Music Festival, the massive, yearly, 3-day EDM fun fest. He filed on behalf of the Brickell Home Owners Association, which would have to include some heavy-hitters, just based on the zip codes. That contretemps was big enough for Billboard to take notice. Winker lost that one. Ultra went ahead in what many people believe is an environmentally sensitive area and the squabbling has really never ended. Another Miami mess. But, that’s not this story.
 

And, that’s the problem with this story of Miami Corruption. To tell it properly, it’s necessary to weave an entire wall tapestry in which Winker’s Code Violations is just one vignette in the corner. Stick with me because I’m growing fond of this analogy.
 

In another corner of this tapestry is Coconut Grove, a community I know well because of the hundreds of stories I’ve written about it. Another of Winker’s pro bono lawsuits was on behalf of a Coconut Grove homeowner who righteously opposed the fact that the city’s building department approved permits to build two houses on Day Avenue without the 10 feet setback AS REQUIRED BY LAW.
 
This is Code Non-Compliance. The laws are clear. How does a thing like this happen? 
 
Either the permitting department doesn’t know WTF they are doing or somebody greased the skids so that these house could get more square footage. That would be bribery. That would be Miami Corruption.
 
There are now calls to tear down these houses, but the city seems to be leaning towards turning away from the problem.
 
You can read more about it here: Residents: West Grove is losing its identity because Miami doesn’t enforce zoning code.  But — again! — that’s not the story I’m trying to tell today. However, it will turn up in subsequent chapters of The David Winker Affair, which is one reason I mention it here.
 
Another reason: It adds new names to the canonical list of suspects I’m compiling. Who is Concerned Citizen? Rather than narrowing things down, this list grows with every conversation I have.
 
Winker has amassed a number of powerful enemies due to his activism. They are all suspect until one person confesses, or is outed by another anonymous concerned citizen. So far no one has shared the real goods on who might have hired a private dick to go through David Winker’s dirty laundry.
 
Without question Winker’s most powerful enemy is Miami District 3 Commissioner Joe Carollo. For the record Winker doesn’t put him on my suspect list. I disagree. I wouldn’t put it past him because he’s used code compliance as a cudgel against his enemies in the past…more than once.
 

Ironically, as I was preparing this part of The David Winker Affair, more Winker stories came in over my electronic transom, delaying its publication. They converge at the recall effort for Miami District 3 Commissioner Joe Carollo.
 
I don’t want to get too deep in the weeds about the Carollo recall because it’s as tangled as all the other threads in this tapestry. However, it would be dead center.
 
If you like weeds, start here: He’s not called Crazy Joe for nothing. Miami New Times published A Brief History of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo’s Craziest Moments on May 14, 2018, long before the recall effort even began.
 
Here’s the recall in non-legal jargon.
 
CIVICS 101: Citizens wanting to recall a Miami politician have specific laws to follow. The first step is registering the recall effort with the city. Oddly enough you do not have to register the the specific language of the recall petition and could make up any series of lies, but you’ll still have to convince 5% of the district to sign on to your theory. Your recall effort does not begin until you get your first signature and you only have 30 days before the recall petitions must be turned in. [Who is allowed to sign the recall petition is also regulated, but that’s deeper weeds.] Finally, the law directs what you do with the petitions once that deadline nears, how the signatures are verified (no Santa Clauses allowed), and what’s required of the city at that point.
 
Think of the recall like a fishing line spun out into the community (to begin a new metaphor I can torture). The recall law keeps the line taught.
 
Once the recall petitions were signed, sealed, and delivered by Take Back Our City, the City of Miami allowed the fishing line to go slack. Now it sits in my imaginary tapestry as a tangled mess, emblematic of Miami political corruption. Only the courts can untangle this Gordian knot, which would have already been solved — one way or another — a long time ago, were it not for the tangled mess Miami government has made of it. Throwing it into the courts has delayed the entire process, which may have been exactly what Carollo wanted.
 
Yesterday Ladra reported Miami’s Joe Carollo tries to recall the recall by getting petitioners to recant in which she tells of unidentified “young women” who are roaming various neighbourhoods, trying to get people to disavow their earlier signatures on the recall petition. Keep in mind only some 1900 people were needed for the petition to succeed and these “young women” knew where they all lived. Ain’t that some shit?
 
Ladra:
 
 
Miami City Hall, formerly the Pan American Air Lines Sea Plane Terminal,  Coconut Grove, Miami, Fl... Via Amplification, Inc. | Miami city, Florida,  Miami photosThe Miami Herald, as only that rag can, took a look at the same story and chose to parrot Joe Carollo’s lies, before relating why there’s been such a delay in this recall,  how that delay gives Crazy Joe all this extra time to intimidate petitioners into recanting, and why these shenanigans are bad for democracy. But I expect no more from the Miami Herald, which has been totally useless in ferreting out Miami Corruption. But I digress.

Carollo and his attorney, Ben Kuehne, confirmed Wednesday that an undisclosed number of residents have signed forms expressing their desire to be removed from the recall petition. In his lawsuit, Carollo claimed that the recall organizers misled and lied to some of the 1,941 voters who signed petition forms, arguing in part that Spanish speakers were confused by a document written only in English.

“Many people were lied to and told that this was for something other than to recall me,” Carollo told the Miami Herald. “Dozens of people are telling us that they didn’t sign [any] recall against me. They voted for me, they like me, but their names appear [on the petition].”

Carollo added: “If these people wanted me out of office so badly, they’re not gonna change their mind and take their name off the petition.”

There’s a similarity to the way Carollo brazenly lies without providing proof and the way Mad King Trump lies, but that’s another story for another day. The main point is the Miami Herald buried the lede:

“We knew it was only a matter of time before Carollo started a campaign of intimidation,” said David Winker, an attorney for the recall group. “Given his track record, you can’t blame residents who are getting a knock on the door from Carollo’s people [for] signing whatever is put in front of them.”

Winker said intimidation tactics by Carollo were “exactly what inspired the recall in the first place.” The petition focused on controversies that have marked Carollo’s term since he was elected in 2017, including accusations that he pushed the city’s code enforcement department to target properties owned by Little Havana businessman Bill Fuller, including the Ball & Chain nightclub.

Carollo obtained copies of the petitions — which include signers’ names and addresses — through a public records request, the Miami city clerk said Wednesday.

The very same Miami city clerk that tangled the fishing line in the tapestry in the first place.

So all that legal wrangling is costing taxpayers money. That’s one of the things that concerns Concerned Citizen (Remember: This story is about that malcontent). None of this was ever really about code violations. This is a baldfaced attempt to silence a critic of the City of Miami with an enviable track record in court.
 
Take Back Our City, the recall committee, recently held a presser on the courthouse steps:
 
 

IN SUMMATION:

My source promised I’d find Miami Corruption if I dug into this story. I also promised you, dear reader, corruption if you stuck with this story. However, it just didn’t turn out to be the kind of corruption my source alleged and that you are probably expecting.
 
That happens sometimes. You get a tip and chase it down wherever it might go. When I was writing Fox “News” criticism (9 years I’ll never get back) I once got a tip from a very reliable source that Flava Flav dated Bill O’Reilly’s wife back in the day. I chased that story right down to Flava Flav himself.
 
SPOILER ALERT: It’s not true, but it was fun looking.
 
However, while chasing down this story I did find some real Miami Corruption and real crimes committed. It just wasn’t the corruption and crimes my source alleged.
 
Bottom line: Florida’s laws on privacy were breached to obtain, and then distribute, David Winker’s information contained in the 95 page dossier. Both are crimes, which may — or may not — have been committed by the same person. Worse yet, Federal laws were also broken.
 
These will be easy crimes to prove. The rapscallion who committed this crime left their fingerprints in Exhibit B. The language cannot be more clear.
Your Personal Information in Florida motor vehicle and driver records is blocked in accordance with the Driver Privacy Protection Act.

Your Social Security Number has been verified. Thank you.
Furthermore, in the top right-hand corner of every page in the subsequent report is the following notation:
[7/27/2020 10:02:44 PM]
The government helpfully dated and time-stamped the request. It won’t take a colonoscopy to discover the IP address of the criminal interloper; just a few sharply worded subpoenas.
 
I feel like I’m living in a noir movie now. What kind of crooked private detective would break Federal law to obtain kompromat on an enemy? And, what kind of Concerned Citizen would overlook these criminal trespasses in a false attempt to prove an activist lawyer is crooked?

END OF PART TWO.

Stay tuned for Part Three of the David Winker Affair in which I reveal the questions the City of Miami needs to answer, not that I believe it ever will.

The David Winker Affair – Part One

As this article was in the edit stage, Miami sent out the following, making it easier to rat out your neighbours.

Let’s start with a generally accepted fact known by every homeowner, developer, and builder: If you send a city by-law inspector to any address, in any town in this country, it’s more than likely they will find an infraction…or two…or six. Which brings us to the latest brand of insidious Miami Corruption:

Unscrupulous people are using the City of Miami’s by-law inspectors to settle political and/or personal squabbles. And, it’s ugly as hell and getting worse.

This has probably been going on for quite a while, but on a small scale; petty neighbour vs. neighbour bullshit, HOAs trying to get leverage, or just mean folk looking to make trouble. However, it only recently became public that the city’s Code Compliance office is an international joke.

This ugly mess broke out into the open back in 2018 when 2 city employees, both Code Compliance Inspectors told stories about District 3 Commissioner “Crazy Joe” Carollo — under oath and testifying at his ethics hearing.

NB: Crazy Joe is also at the center of a recall effort that’s as tangled and convoluted as anything else in Miami. That’s not the story I’m writing about but, it is tangentially related.

In “Carollo Might Have Broken the Law by Sending Code Enforcement After Ball & Chain’s Owner”, it’s alleged Carollo attempted to illegally use two Code Compliance Officers to…Wait! I’ll let Miami New Times’ Jerry Iannelli finish that thought:

Those employees’ allegations came during an investigation launched this past March when Bill Fuller, co-owner of the nightclub Ball & Chain, complained that Carollo was illegally using code enforcement investigators to target his businesses, all because Fuller helped Carollo’s election opponent.

Moreover, Crazy Joe has done this very same thing before. From the same article:

This isn’t the first time Carollo has been accused of sending code enforcement after his enemies. As New Times detailed last week, he used a nearly identical scheme in 1996 to attack Rodney Barreto, a local fundraiser and lobbyist. Barreto was the godson of then-Miami Mayor Stephen P. Clark, who frequently sparred with Carollo. Barreto also supported Carollo’s 1995 election opponent, Victor De Yurre. At the same time, Barreto also owned a series of parking lots outside the then-existent Miami Arena.

Carollo openly admitted to the Miami Herald in 1996 that he sent city employees to shut down Barreto’s allegedly illegal lots, but the city eventually let Barreto reopen them. Carollo claimed he was simply trying to trim “fat cats” from the city government, but the Herald said De Yurre’s supporters were the ones who wound up hit hardest.

“This is just basic, vindictive politics,” Barreto told the Herald in 1996. “It’s all promoted by Joe Carollo. This is not a nice message the City of Miami is sending here.”

Of course, because it was an ethics hearing, Carollo was allowed to defend himself. That’s not a rabbit hole I’m going down right now, but a week later Jerry penned “Video Suggests Carollo Lied to Miami-Dade Ethics Board“, which could be worth your time. However, here’s an important takeaway:

New Times obtained two seven-second clips from a witness who says he was riding in a GMC Terrain that night when Carollo was caught idling outside the Little Havana valet parking lot. The source — who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from Carollo — says the clip, which begins in the middle of a heated Spanish-language argument, shows Carollo arguing with a Ball & Chain parking attendant, which corroborates the account that three witnesses gave the ethics board.

Reprisals? In Miami? Never happens.

IRONY ALERT!!!

It wasn’t but some 9 months after that when Bill Fuller and Martin Pinilla, the business owners Crazy Joe had targeted, held a presser accusing Crazy Joe of living in a glass house.


To bolster their claim Fuller and Pinilla provided “photo evidence of each violation collected via Google Streetview.” It’s not like they hired a private dick to go through Crazy Joe’s dirty laundry.

But, someone did hire a private eye, a shamus, gumshoe, private investigator, sleuth, spy, bloodhound, eavesdropper, flatfoot, peeper, shadow, snoop, tail, P. I., Sherlock Holmes, bird dog, and/or slewfoot because that’s what happens in the next chapter of Code Compliance Corruption, as the laws are being used and abused to settle political scores.



David Winker, looking professional

Before I get too far along, let me introduce David Winker. I’ll tell you more about Winker in subsequent chapters of what’s looking like will be a multi-part story, but suffice to say that he is a Miami lawyer for hire. As a side gig he sues the City of Miami and, more often than not, wins.

This ugly episode will likely be his next lawsuit against the City of Miami.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED:

On August 6, 2020, Miami Code Compliance Department Head Adele Valencia received an anonymous 95+ page dossier on David Winker, activist lawyer and Miami homeowner. The only allegations in those 95+ pages that Code Compliance would care about can be quoted from the after-action report in an email from Valencia obtained by the Not Now Silly Newsroom:

On Thursday, August 6, 2020, the Code Compliance inspector conducted research on the permit history of the property through iBuild and Laserfiche, researched the property records on the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s Website, Sunbiz, the Florida Bar, and Realtor.com, and personally visited the property in the field.

The Code Compliance inspector inspected the home from the public right of way and opened a Notice of Violation, Case Number: CE2020014267.

The Code Compliance Inspector issued a Notice of Violation for 1) home occupation business without a Certificate of Use and/or Failure to follow the requirements for a home occupation business; 2) failure to obtain a valid Certificate of Use for the type of business being conducted; 3) Failure to obtain a Business Tax Receipt for the type of business conducted; and 4) illegally operating a business in a residential zone; 5) work performed without a permits and/or permit not finalized; and 6) illegal units. 

Clearly it didn’t take 95 pages for “Concerned Citizen” to hate on Winker’s property. So why were all those trees felled? The Not Now Silly Newsroom has obtained the entire dossier and is shocked by its contents. It was clearly prepared by a private investigator and alleges everything from traffic infractions to property liens; from tax troubles to Lis Pendens (which is going to be the next nom de plume I ever assume); From Exhibit A to Exhibit J. That’s right: Nine exhibits.

The file is a throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks. It even includes tweets that Concerned Citizen labels “social media assaults.” I hope nobody looks at my timeline. I swear a lot.

A careful reading-between-the-lines of the exhibits seems to indicate that at one-point, Winker may have been under surveillance away from his home. Private dicks follow their quarry. Some people would call that stalking.

This dossier — this colonoscopy — is nothing more than a hit job. Whether any of it is true, or not, it’s an attempt at character assassination to silence someone holding the city to account. None of it is germane to the issue of the property and the alleged violations. This is the politics of personal destruction. And, it’s a shot across the bow of anyone who may decide to become an activist and fight city hall.

Furthermore, Concerned Citizen is not subtle at all. A letter addressed to Honorable [sic] Elected Officials of Miami City Hall begins: “RE: David J. Winker: Activist or Opportunist?

The first line attacks Winker as “disheveled” and the last line of the first paragraph says, “Unfortunately he is just a vicious individual.” Between those ad hominem attacks is the nature of the Winker’s real crime:

He came onto the scene about two (2) years ago by purportedly calling out the City of Miami and its elected officials on everything under the sun: from the soccer deal to building code violations, ethics issues to task force appointments, recalls to settlements, etc.

LEFT UNSAID:  Winker keeps winning his lawsuits against Miami, which means that the problem is not with him, but with the city. Yet, Concerned Citizen disagrees: The havoc David Winker has caused needs to be addressed categorically. I am extremely concerned that as a taxpayer I will be forced to pay higher taxes or lose services based on the many lawsuits or lost revenues caused by this man and his negative motives. Enough is enough.

Home Sweet HomeIn other words: I prefer City of Miami malfeasance to allowing a pro bono lawyer holding the city to task. [TO BE FAIR: One of the allegations is that he’s not *really* pro bono.]

Having been following this story from afar, I contacted Winker, who agreed to an interview.

We spent 4 hours together, at his house in the Shenandoah neighbourhood, one of Miami’s oldest subdivisions, going back 100 years now.


But first, a mea culpa.

I walked away from my reporting about West Grove for a variety of reasons, Pop’s death, not getting enough traction on my investigative stories, the time and money it was costing, and the distance to Coconut Grove: 35 miles. I should have been paying better attention in the interim, but I was UberLyfting hard. While otherwise occupied Coconut Grove has turned into a crazy game of telephone, a viper’s nest of innuendo, and enough conspiracy theories to launch a new QAnon.

END OF PART ONE.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part Two, in which I:

  • Write more about David Winker and his Non-Code Compliance;
  • Discover what Federal laws may have been broken;
  • Codify the Florida privacy laws allegedly breached;
  • Try to discover who paid for the 95 page hit job;
  • Who might be Concerned Citizen;
  • And, how all of this relates to Coconut Grove.

Rapacious Developers Are Destroying A Historic Black Neighbourhood

The Charles Avenue Historic Marker the first time this author saw it.

In 2012 the city designated Charles Avenue, one of the oldest — if not the oldest — street in Miami, a Historic Roadway

The Not Now Silly Newsroom has documented time and again how developers around Charles Avenue have done nothing but obliterate that history.

The latest outrage is the most massive attempt at gentrification in West Grove since the last outrage, which was the Grove Gardens Residence Condominiums (which this reporter calls The Monstrosity). First a quick course in a century plus of West Grove history.

In the late 1800s, as cities in the north were already metropolises, Coconut Grove was still a mix of swamp and dry land, just getting started. Its settlement pre-dates the City of Miami, which grew faster and taller.

Commodore Ralph Monroe, one of the earliest residents, advertised in the north to his rich industrialist friends. He offered a totally immersive rustic experience at Camp Biscayne, where people could fish, hunt, and sail. This was before any roads could bring tourists to South Florida. Boats were the only way in. South Florida’s tourist boom — now its biggest industry — begins there and then.

The earliest gathering of what could be considered a community in Coconut Grove were the Bahamians that drifted up through Key West looking for work. Mariah Brown (known as Mary the Washerwoman at the Peacock Inn) was able to buy a small plot of land on what would become Evangelist Street and, later, Charles Avenue. [Her house on Charles Avenue is now a replica.] Eventually a gentleman by the name of Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup became the largest landholder in Coconut Grove, and one of Florida’s first Black millionaires.

E.W.F. Stirrup had a crazy idea that would have got him lynched anywhere else in the south. He thought that growing Black families needed Black home ownership. As more people moved to the area for work, Stirrup built more than 100 houses with his own hands on land he owned in Coconut Grove. These simple shotgun and Conch-style homes were sold, rented, and bartered to the hardworking men and women who really built Coconut Grove — and greater Miami — out of the swamp.

Read more about E.W.F. Stirrup here.

That simple fact made Coconut Grove a unique place in this country. Before it was swallowed by Miami (in an illegal annexation that could never happen today), it had the highest percentage of Black home ownership than anywhere else in the country.

Skip ahead a bunch of decades. The neighbourhood remained, for the most part, cohesively Black, as Black districts often do, because White folk won’t live there. And, as Black districts often are, this one was poor; the average wage was less and, therefore, the ability to get home loans was decreased, if the people weren’t redlined altogether. The neighbourhood slid into a slow, inevitable decline. However, the area that surrounded this enclave became one of the most exclusive in in this entire country. The Black pioneers, and their descendants who continued to own the houses, became land rich and cash poor. That’s why West Grove (as distinguished from White Grove, to be blunt) was ripe for gentrification.

Read about the wall Miami mandated built to separate the Black
and White communities in Coconut Grove: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

If one drives around the neighbourhood, you’d see how, on lands that once belonged to Stirrup (and his descendants), properties have been bought, combined, developed, and walled off. These very small gated communities along Franklin — of 4-12 units — were the first beachheads into what has become over the years runaway gentrification. Grand Avenue, once the thriving Black business district, is undergoing its own challenges through gentrification, but that’s another story for another day.

I digress. Here’s some more recent history.

Approximately 15 years ago someone amassed several contiguous properties on Main Highway at the corner of Franklin Avenue. A developer bought the package and built The Monstrosity.

I entered the picture afterwards, in February of 2009. I remember returning from that first visit to Coconut Grove and telling several friends that I wasn’t sure what I had discovered, but I thought there was a story to be written. I was wrong. There have now been many stories written.

On the day this writer discovered the Charles Avenue Historic Marker — and the E.W.F. Stirrup House — it was my very first time in the neighbourhood. And, coincidentally, it was these 2 properties immediately behind the historic marker — 3227 and 3247 Charles Avenue — that provided the first mystery to be solved. That day I rushed home to look Charles Avenue up on Google Earth. Despite these lots being empty earlier in the day, Google Maps had a small house on each lot; one a shotgun, the other a Conch style, if I recall correctly.

Where did these houses go and why?

In a coconut shell, here’s a short history of these 2 properties:

They had been in the Stirrup Family for a few generations. When the rapacious developer showed up to build the Monstrosity, he entered into a complicated property swap with the Stirrup descendants. In exchange for 2 brand new condos in The Monstrosity — and $10 to make it all legal — they would give the developer these 2 properties on the north side of Charles Avenue and a 50-year lease on the historic E.W.F. Stirrup House.

Almost as an aside, this writer spent almost a decade trying to save the E.W.F. Stirrup House from Demolition by Neglect, despite it being designated historic in 2004. That fight was lost and is told elsewhere in these pages. Long story short: That house is now  replica after the same developer used Demolition by Neglect (nearly a decade of open windows on a wood frame house) to argue in front of Miami’s Historic Preservation Board the house was too far gone to be saved. In other words: They used the conditions they created to successfully argue they no longer had an obligation to restore the house, instead building a recreation.

Read more about the E.W.F. Stirrup House.

Would this have been the fate of the E.W.F. Stirrup House if it had been owned by the White pioneers of Coconut Grove? One needs only look to the Barnacle State Park, where Commodore Monroe’s house was saved, for your answer. E.W.F. Stirrup was his friend and contemporary.

But, back to these 2 houses. Where did they go?

The developer knocked them down to use the lots as a marshalling yard to build The Monstrosity. That neatly solved a construction problem. Crews were able to use the Stirrup property as a pass-through, as opposed to having to use the busier Main Highway. However, the neighbourhood lost 2 affordable houses of “vernacular style”. Ironically, the city of Miami successfully passed a law to save these “vernacular” houses recently, saving these last few shotgun and Conch-style homes. Had this law been in place, I would have had a greater shot at saving the Stirrup House and the developer never would have been able to knock down the 2 houses across the street.

What happened to these 2 properties after that? Financial jigger-pokery, if you believe blogger Heinz Deiter (and I do). Deiter alleged that the developer valued the 2 condos in the not-yet built Monstrosity at $500,000 each, which was a huge stretch. Then he went to the bank and claimed he now owned $1,000,000 worth of property on the north side of Charles Avenue. Despite prevailing property values to the contrary, the bank took his word for it.

He was able to obtain a bank loan using those properties as collateral. Once these properties were no longer needed for this grand scheme of building the Monstrosity, the developers had a new scheme. They simply stopped paying off the bank loan and allowed the properties to go into foreclosure. The bank repossessed, put the properties up for auction, and they were bought by a company whose owner was a partner in other companies with the developer who had just defaulted. Then, through some more LLC jiggery-pokery, these properties were conveyed back to the same developer.

Bank distress auctions are supposed to be arm’s length. This one was not. By my estimate the bank took a $750,000 bath on these properties. When I tried to interest the bank in what I considered to be a fraud upon it, they were very incurious and didn’t seem to care at all. After all, it’s only money.

Not Now Silly has written other stories about these 2 properties, like the night valets from Commodore Plaza were illegally using them for overflow parking at $6 a car, ripping off the city of Miami and creating chaos on a residential street.

Read more about the Night of the Mad Valets.

Which gets us to the real topic of this post after all that preamble. These 2 properties, combined with several others, both on Charles and William Avenue, will be turned into what appears to be a 30 room, 2 story hotel.

Back in 2016 I worked on a secret project, which was an attempt to connect all the various rapacious developers in Coconut Grove with all the properties they owned, or controlled, along Grand Avenue. I created a map, which I colour-coded by property ownership. It was during the making of this gentrification map that I accidentally discovered that Peter Gardiner (of the Pointe Group) had not only bought into the redevelopment project at the E.W.F. Stirrup House B&B, but had purchased these 2 properties under discussion at $1,000,000 a piece.

I booked an appointment to interview Gardiner, knowing I was going to pull a massive Bait & Switch.

We started our discussion with the Stirrup House and he assured me that as a lifelong Coconut Grove resident, he wants nothing but the best for Coconut Grove. Whenever he said that, and he said it several times, I heard, “Nothing but the best for White Grove.” He talked about what a wonderful steward his companies will be in Coconut Grove.

When I thought we had exhausted that topic, I pulled out my colour-coded map of Grand Avenue. I told him that these properties along Grand — including ones he owned through Pointe Group — have now been flipped so many times that the properties can no longer pay for themselves. Property is a machine that has to pay for itself. These properties along Grand will never pay for themselves unless Miami upzones the properties allowing for heights and densities greater than the 5 storeys allowed in the Miami 21 plan.

Read more about Grand Avenue here and of a 16-year old
Grand Avenue improvement plan that never happened here.

Then I also let him know that I knew he had recently bought these 2 properties on the north side of Charles Avenue. I laid out the history of these properties, including the suspected fraud upon the bank, and his only reaction was that maybe he hadn’t done his due diligence on these properties. Ya think?

Keep in mind that these 2 properties were overvalued at $500,000 each when they were traded for condos in the Monstrosity. They sold in 2015 for $1 million each, a markup of 100% on properties that were valued by the owner himself. However, Heagrand Inc, bought them for a mere $215,000 at the bank’s distress auction just 4 years earlier.

These properties (and all of the others that will need to be combined to build this hotel) are zoned Single Family. However, based upon the price paid, they will NEVER be able to make back their money by building a single family home on any of these lots, and a few of them still have houses on them.

I made it clear to Peter Gardiner in 2016 that I would fight him tooth and nail on any upzoning effort and that was 2 years before I saw this hotel rendering.

These developers have property flipped themselves into a corner. They now have land that can never pay for itself. The only way they can make any money whatsoever is by building big and building up. By building a hotel on these properties, as a matter of fact.

Something I’ve learned: Developers have better lawyers than the city. They tend to get whatever they want. Something else I’ve discovered through this process of investigating properties is that developers plan for the long game, sometimes decades in advance. This plan has been in the works since the beginning. I heard talk of it 9 years ago, but dismissed it as a fantasy. But the fantasy now has an architect’s rendering.

CROSSING THE LINE FROM JOURNALIST TO ACTIVIST

Recently I did something I’ve never done before as an advocacy journalist. Normally I research a story, write it up, publish it, and then promote the finished article. This time, while still researching this article, I went to the neighbourhood Homeowners’ Association [HOATA] and passed around the architectural rendering you see here. I challenged them to fight this project with everything they have otherwise the gentrifiers win and the neighbourhood loses.

PREDICTIONS:

  • The developers will use conditions it created — just like they did on the Stirrup House — as the reason to argue for redeveloping these fallow lots;
  • The developers will use the height of the Monstrosity to argue this hotel is not too big for the community;
  • The developers will argue they need not plan for on-site parking because the Miami Parking Authority is planning a huge, honking parking garage right next door as part of the Coconut Grove Playhouse redevelopment project;
  • People [that I won’t name yet] who claim to protect the neighbourhood will come out in support of this massive development (if they haven’t already in secret talks) because they have dealings with these developers in other parts of Coconut Grove;
  • Miami-Dade County, which is redeveloping the Playhouse property, will come out in favour of this massive development (if it hasn’t already in secret talks);
  • Gable Stage, expected to occupy a redeveloped Playhouse, will come out in favour of this project (if it hasn’t already in secret talks);
  • Community activists will fail to mount a successful fight to block this project;
  • Miami’s Planning and Zoning Board will approve this upzoning because, again, developers always seems to get what they want;
  • Miami Commissioners will fail to stop the project (if they haven’t already given tacit approval in secret talks);
  • Miami Commissioners will attempt to squeeze community concessions out of the developers — which will be small potatoes, unenforceable, and forgotten soon after — once they realize this is a runaway train.

To sum up: This battle is already lost unless the community fights the upzoning at the Planning and Zoning Board, to put the kibosh on building a hotel for rich White Folk, so that other rich White folk make a small fortune in a historic Black neighbourhood.

Because, make no mistake, at the core of every story about Coconut Grove is a story about Racism.