Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lobbyists in Miami-Dade and the politicians who serve them: how business gets done ... by gimleteye

Al Crespo, of the Crespogram Report, offers a disturbing view of the working gears in a contract award in the city of Miami. He suggests, and he is right, it is just one example of an entrenched status quo.

The mechanics of lobbying are no different at County Hall. It's not even clear what the contract is for, but it doesn't matter: the instance at hand stands for the whole sorry mess of interactions between well-connected lobbyists and the politicians whose campaigns they sometimes control.

The case disclosed by Mr. Crespo involves the competition for a city contract between two companies girded for battle with competing phalanxes of the lobbyist corps. Often, though -- as in the recent case of FPL lobbying for permits necessary to build two new $30 billion nuclear reactors at Turkey Point -- it is a powerful corporation aiming to undermine laws and regulations whose clear intent is to protect the public interest. The chipping away is ceaseless.

The influence of lobbyist money in political campaigns virtually assures that the public interest will be damaged whenever there is competition between corporate profits and intangible benefits related to quality of life.

To this fact, anyone in a position of authority simply shrugs. That includes the owners of the mainstream press.

A decade ago, I watched and wrote how the building boom transformed elected officials from their purported roles protecting the health, welfare and safety of citizens and taxpayers into pawns for the zoning operations of the Growth Machine. My anger was based on observations, a decade earlier!, how the HABDI/ Latin Builders faction transformed the county commission, including former Miami mayor and now eminent grise Maurice Ferre, into lapdogs of campaign contributors.

Has it ever been different? Was it different during Steve Clark's incompetent reign over the last of the Anglos? I doubt it. Today it is Marin, Guttierez, JL, BM, DLP, and MDG. In the end, these characters and the roles they play are inter-changeable across generations. This is why the radical right must be called foolish when they complain that if only regulations were made to vanish, that corporations could police their own activities. It is exactly this manifestation of human nature and the reversion to corruption that requires government to lay down tough and enforceable prohibitions against insider dealing and manipulation of the public interest.

Where is the public official who will advocate that?


Anonymous said...

Nice to hear some City of Miami crap on your blog. The commissioners for this city make the county crew look like a bunch of saints. There is not one commissioner out of the five that considers the needs of the people first. Not ever!!! Let's not ever forget that it was Sarnoff's final vote for the funding for the baseball stadium that sealed our fate. The real pisser is when I have to pay my property tax each year for these thieves to control

Thanks Al Crespo for your very important blog. I wish every person in our city read it!

Geniusofdespair said...

We are all creating our niche reporting out here in blog town. Al Crespo covers the city very nicely. Once in awhile we weigh in. We do the State as it relates to the County and County politics. We all can't do it all.

Anonymous said...

Al Crespo's crespogramreport is a "must read".

Anonymous said...

We need people like Al Crespo to show what truly goes on in the City of Miami. After all not everyone would be aware of some one like Armando Gutierrez, the power behind the throne of King Tomas. Who by the way I hear is planning a family dynasty. Rumors have it that Raquelita in being groomed for the job. Only in Miami!!!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately smaller cities and their councils are not immune. In Cutler Bay, Sue Loyzelle voted in lockstep with a developer that wanted to build a new shopping center with many anti-green variances. Their lobbyist was Jose Castillo who also ran Loyzelle's election campaign.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your blog as well as the Crespogram report. No matter how disappointed, controversial and scathing your reports against these lobbyists, nothing will ever change. In fact, the best marketing tool for their continued influence are the very blogs that attempt to destroy them or cast these characters as evil, law breaking or unethical individuals.

In all the years or writing about how they all wield their influence peddling and their unethical behavior, nothing ever changes. I venture to say the mere acknowledgement of their doings in fact help build their mystique and business.

In other words the more you write about the usual suspects the wealthier and more influential they become. Prospective clients are sent your blogs to showcase how important and critical they are are in the process, not too mention their names coming up on a simple Google search only to find bloggers advocating their disgust for their ultimate success in the process.

I have found that most clients (that do business in Miami ) do not care how ethical or unethical their influence peddlers are as long as they deliver. That is the key.. the ability to deliver a contract, a vote etc.

The joke on the street is to see who can get their names or firm mentioned on you blog as it will certainly generate much needed new business.

Keep up the good work and let's continue generating new business for the usual suspects!

Geniusofdespair said...

My objective is to inform the public. I don't care if it helps the lobbyists or not. People should know what is going on.

Anonymous said...

Lobbyists like to lurk in the background. They don't like exposure for anything but the good deeds they intersperse with their mostly bad deeds and behavior. They are hookers for the buck.

Anonymous said...

Who's Armando Guitierrez? Is he the boletero who's jail?

Al Crespo said...

Knowledge, like water is a powerful thing. Do not underestimate the value of the daily reporting on the big and small assaults on the public's trust that bloggers can produce. Like drops on a rock, one day that rock might break into pieces because of the repeated drops.

The efforts of Eye On Miami, The Straw Buyer myself and others, does have an affect. We're not going to change human nature, but in many ways, each of us had managed to make an impact on how the politicians in this county operate.

Some results have been good, and some not so good, but I signed on for the long haul, and I feel that every year I do this my voice grows stronger, as my knowledge and resources grow stronger.

The lobbyists are important, but not as important revealing just how as the elected and appointed officials who make the decisions that impact on everyone's lives do what they do.

If you think things are bad now, think back and ask yourselves how much worse would it be if all of us who spend our time and effort trying to educate, expose, and generally raise the level of awareness of what the politicians are trying to do had decided not to do anything.

In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, and I believe that each of us is in our own way is trying to to help more and more people see out of that one eye.

It's not easy, and we might not succeed in ways that will prove to be earth shattering, but I am personally encouraged by the almost daily messages I get from readers who appreciate my efforts, and most importantly, put their trust in me by providing me with documents, tips, and inside information on what is going on inside the City of Miami.

They feel they have no voice, and in my flawed way I try to be their voice because the Miami Herald, the TV stations, and much of what passes for the establishment watchdogs won't.

al crespo

Anonymous said...

Almost all the lobbyists are so slimy. Ever see them standing around the hallway outside the County Commission chambers? Ick. Makes a normal person want to go home and take a hot shower, using bleach for soap.

Geniusofdespair said...

Well said Al. Well said. Small changes add up.

BodyRxMiami said...

It is very important that we really tell how we feel about our politics or our government has been run. We should not keep silent since it will come back to us.