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.
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, email@example.com , Mayor Francis Suarez, firstname.lastname@example.org, City Manager Arthur Noriega, email@example.com, City Clerk Todd B. Hannon, firstname.lastname@example.org, City Attorney Victoria Méndez, VMendez@miamigov.com, Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla, District 1, email@example.com, Commissioner Ken Russell, District 2, firstname.lastname@example.org, Commissioner Joe Carollo, District 3, email@example.com, Commissioner Manolo Reyes, District 4, firstname.lastname@example.org, Commissioner Keon Hardemon, District 5, KHardemon@miamigov.com, email@example.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.
This is a copy of the email I sent to the City of Miami Office of Communications. It was addressed to an email address I was given over the phone by a recording when trying to reach that department. I have yet to receive a reply.
To: Press@Miamigov.com Date: Aug 10
Subject: Trying to obtain information
I appreciate any help you can give me. I am a semi-retired journalist (with limited funds) trying to get to the bottom of a mystery concerning Coconut Grove’s historic E.W.F. Stirrup House at 3242 Charles Avenue.
It appears that when the Grove Gardens Residences Condominium project (3540 Main Highway) was first proposed (in 2005 or 2006 or 2007; sorry to be so vague) promises were made concerning the renovation and rehabilitation of the E.W.F. Stirrup House on Charles Avenue. However, no one seems to remember what exact promises were made and this is what I am trying to find out.
People in the neighbourhood tell me that when the Grove Gardens Condominiums were first proposed the surrounding community had several objections. Those on the east side of Main Highway, in the gated communities like Camp Biscayne, were concerned about the proposed height of the project. Another group was bothered that the 100+-year old Taurus Bar might be torn down. A third group was worried about the historical E.W.F. Stirrup House coming under the wrecker’s ball. Accordingly, the height of the project was scaled back, and the building was stepped back, so the street view didn’t present a massive condo tower. Then the Taurus Bar was saved and (reportedly) moved back 7 inches and placed on a new foundation.
However, nothing was ever done to the Stirrup House, which has now been empty approximately 7 years, and possibly longer.
Those in the neighbourhood I have interviewed tell me that the house had been given an historical designation, but I can find no proof of that. They also told me that it was their understanding the developer promised that the E.W.F. Stirrup House would be renovated and rehabilitated to become a neighbourhood Historical and Community Resource Center, honouring the original Bahamians who came to Coconut Grove in the late 1880s. However, I cannot find any confirmation of this either. Others have told me the same story, except it was the Mariah Brown House further down the block that was to be renovated and turned into a Community Resource Center. This cannot be confirmed either, but both cannot be true.
I note that whatever promises were made, if any, on the Stirrup House and/or Brown House, they have not been fulfilled. Both houses have been empty since I discovered them in early 2009 and, I am told, much longer than that.
Last year, according to newspaper articles, the owner of the E.W.F. Stirrup House petitioned the City of Miami to rezone the E.W.F. Stirrup House as a Commercial Property in order to build a Bed & Breakfast in the house. I have been unable to find out whether this change of zoning was ever granted.
So, you see, I have a lot of rumour and conjecture, but no facts.
Here are my specific questions:
Did the developer of Grove Gardens Condominiums make any specific promises concerning the E.W.F. Stirrup House in order to get its building permits?
If so, what were they?
If not, what community concerns were addressed to get the building permits?
Is there an Historical Designation for the actual E.W.F. Stirrup House?
Is there anything to prevent the destruction of the E.W.F. Stirrup House?
Was a change of zoning, from Residential tp [sic] Commercial, granted for the E.W.F. Stirrup House?
Who is the registered owner of the E.W.F. Stirrup House?
Who is the registered owner of the Mariah Brown House?
Were any promises made concerning the Mariah Brown House?
Recently Charles Avenue was designated an Historical Roadway from Main Highway to S. Douglas Road. What practical effect does this have?
I am trying to save the E.W.F. Stirrup House from what appears to be Demolition By Neglect. To that end I am using my Blog to get the word out. This is what I have posted on Coconut Grove so far:
[Deleted Chapter titles and URLs for Parts 1 through 3 of this ongoing series]
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you in advance for any help you are able to provide to me. Feel free to phone if you require any further information.
This email was sent a week prior to my discovering that (allegedly) illegal work has been taking place inside the E.W.F. Stirrup House without then benefit of a Building Permit. The questions asked in this email become more crucial now that the (alleged) rapacious developer Gino Falsetto continues to renovate the E.W.F. Stirrup Housewithout a Building Permit. Will Gino Falsetto be allowed to get away with his alleged Bed and Breakfast Con? Will anyone at the City of Miami Building Department hold Gino Falsetto accountable? Will Gino Falsetto continue to be allowed to thumb his nose at City of Miami regulations concerning trash allowed to pile up on the property he controls, but doesn’t own? Will anyone at the City of Miami ever respond to my emails or phone calls?