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

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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.

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.

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