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.
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”.
When 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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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[7/27/2020 10:02:44 PM]