Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Porta-Potty Devotee Vince Lago Running for Coral Gables Commmission. By Geniusofdespair

On 2/17/13, just 2 days before Vince attested to his residential address on the application, the house stood empty with permits in the window and a porta-potty outside.

Looks like the house is empty 2/17/2013

Wouldn't you think a Coral Gables resident would prefer running water and a toilet. It appears Candidate Vince Lago has been using a porta-potty for a few months and lives in what appears to be an empty house. I assume the porta potty means he has no running water in the house, but I have never been in it -- not on his A list. To get a Homestead exemption you have to RESIDE ON THE PROPERTY AS OF JANUARY 1.  

Our guest blogger Gabler has plenty to say about this:

In the world of political candidacy, Vince Lago is the Waldo of the current Coral Gables election period. Being the elusive person that he is, Vince has apparently resided all over the place while his developer friends and contributors created “The Man” for the Coral Gables commission seat in District 2.

From the city qualifying records, it seems that Vince “lived” in his San Amaro home just long enough to grab the 2012 homestead exemption. Then, following the 12/31/11 Homestead Exemption deadline Lago amazingly popped up in the city of Miami (1/1/12) when his mailing address was changed for the homesteaded property’s waste bill.

Most importantly, once everyone realized that one had to live in Coral Gables for at least 12 consecutive months to be eligible to run for office, Lago meandered his mailing address back to his wife’s parent’s house inside the city boundaries. According to Coral Gables Waste Department billings filed with the city for Lago’s run, he received his mail at 2 different addresses for his homesteaded property on San Amaro.

Now, if one was to look at Lago’s voters registrations, he used the voter’s card for his in-laws house to qualify for the election, but in actuality even at time, his voter’s registration (and his wife’s) was associated with an apartment on the other side of Coral Gables. In fact, he just recently voted absentee from that address in March.

So, where does Vince Lago live? Who knows?

The house on which he and his wife are carrying homestead exemption, and the house of record on his candidate application, has been vacant for much of the required residency period. In fact, on 2/17/13, just 2 days before Vince attested to his residential address on the application, the house stood empty with permits in the window and a porta-potty outside. Throughout 2012 there were “Notice of Commencements” filed with the county clerk’s office for major work done both outside and inside the house.

The dumb thing about our elusive Lago’s situation is that once he was living in Coral Gables, it made no difference where he lived as long as it was 12 months previous to qualifying. He didn’t need to qualify under his San Amaro address, unless of course, he was justifying his homestead exemption on the house with the porta-potty.

Green porta potty (unfashionably placed near  the sidewalk) and dumpster on 4/02/2013 at Vince Lago's homestead exempted home.
As of this week, the house remains empty, with its porta-potty and dumpster. The city of Coral Gables qualification file shows that Lago’s 2012 Homestead Exemption automatically rolled over into the 2013 year. Homestead Exemption normally applies to where one lives, not where one renovates property. Someone needs to tell Vince Lago.



Anonymous said...

Pardon the pun, but this is the kind of crap I would expet in Homestead, not Coral Gables. Sigh, I guess third world politics has arrived there, too. The problem is that neither the city clerks who are the municipal supervisors of elections nor "law enforcement" in Miami Dade seem to be interested in protecting us against this kind of dishonesty. In my view, this type of siuation disenfranchises voters as much or more so than absentee ballot fraud. The burden should be on the person filing to run to clearly and credibly show he or she lives where they say they live at the time of filing so that the sanctity of the ballot can be preserved by preventing one who is not qualified legally to be on the ballot from getting elected. As it stands now, the burden is on the challenger to bring the matter to court to have the non qualified party ejected from the ballot. This should also apply to office holders who move out of their municipality or district. For example, it was common knowledge that in 2007, Homestead Councilman Norman Hodge left Homestead and relocated ot Alabama yet he continued to collect his Council pay and benefits. Incredibly, he is back in Homestead and has set up a Facebook campaign page to run for the seat he previously held. the current seat holder likely no longer resides in Homestead and several different directories for pastors show his address in the north end of the county, yet the agency charged with taking care of the bad guys chooses to take the statements of the Councilman at face value rather than get out on the street and do some good old fashioned detective work. Are the voters really that apathetic or are we too busy trying to get by and make the rent or mortgage payments to notice that those who seek office are scoundrels ?

Anonymous said...

I would have said Hialeah first anon but so many are actually beating them out right now, it's almost comical. Hopefully, the property appraiser will sort this mess out with the Homestead exemption along with other political train wrecks mis using them.

Political corruption anywhere within Miami Dade County is the norm here. Decent people can't win or won't run and no one can blame them. The banana republic of Stalin/Lenin is alive and well here all while these people use the government/politicians/lobbyists for their funding & shields (watch a BCC procurement & grants at a meeting for one day)!

Gabler said...

The Gables election is next Tuesday, if someone going to file a complaint with elections they better hop to it.

The fact is blazingly apparent that lago never lived there. There are numerous code enforcement citations and fines for a vacant house going back to 2008. Even while Lago sat on the Gables Planning Board, he was racking up notices from the city on the condition of the house. I don't believe he will make a terrific elected official if he doesnt get things right when he knows the rules.

Anonymous said...

That house is probably the best kept joke in code enforcement don't you think? Why hasn't someone from public works ratted the guy out to the media? They have got to know he is misrepresenting himself to everyone...that should be illegal.

Anonymous said...

Some ought to tell the state people about the fraud.

G•L•O•R•I•A said...

How can he run if he has continuously lived in Coral Gables for 12 months? Isn't that illegal?

Who is watching the store for us folks?

Anonymous said...

This is such an overreaction to a very logical scenario...Lago moved into his house sometime in 2011, but then had to remodel the place in 2012 due to mold/safety issues. In the interim, the guy was forced to move in with his in-laws (who also live in Coral Gables) and is set to move back into his HOME in a month or so (yes, the residence that he owns, has lived in and will be living in again shortly). Who wouldn't list the only HOME that he owns and will be living in for the duration of his potential term on the qualifying paperwork???
Seriously folks, it is not a crime to renovate your HOME and still call it your HOME. Worst case scenario is that he doesn't qualify for the 2013 Homestead exemption. Big freaking deal...although that even seems counter-intuitive to me, but has no effect on the paperwork that he has already submitted.

Anonymous said...

Did Lago get a sweetheart deal - gift?

Records show he paid 405K but houses in that neighborhood sell for over $1M. Even in the worst of economic times homes in that area around UM never really lost value.

$325K mortgage held by Ironwood Financial, LLC (Vara brothers?) and Rene Muria (super attorney CG?).

He went for the Homestead exemption on the lower value. Without it, house gets appraised at FV and his property taxes double maybe triple. Assessed value is $500K, taxable value $463.

5200 San Amaro Dr This is a Single-Family Home located at 5200 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables FL. 5200 San Amaro Dr has 3 beds, 2 ½ baths, and approximately 2,680 square feet. The property has a lot size of 0.25 acres and was built in 1956. The average list price for similar homes for sale is $1,120,767 and the average sales price for similar recently sold homes is $1,147,283. 5200 San Amaro Dr is in the 33146 ZIP code in Coral Gables, FL. The average list price for ZIP code 33146 is $1,158,581.

Anonymous said...

Large construction projects require portable toilets for the many trades that will be visiting the property. Very common for people not to put the full scope of work on the permits, to save permit fees. I'm sure someone will dig deeper.

Anonymous said...

So where are the workers and construction vehicles? How long has WM had a bin there?
The yard looks semi maintained is that to avoid more code violations.
This is a duck because it walks, quacks and looks like a duck. Duck is both a noun and a verb in this case.

Anonymous said...

People are digging. This house has code violation citations connected to lago all the way back to 2008. They included things like overgrown lots, open pools, construction debris, illegal signs and whatever... The neighbors know what's happening there as do Gables code enforcement.

They even had to mitigrate a huge fine.

Lago sat on the Coral Gables planning and zoning board while all this happened. CG code enforcement people did their job in spite of his title. They are brave souls.

If he wins, I would guess a Bell-like attack on the code enforcement department will be coming.

Anonymous said...

Homestead exemption fraud is a big deal. It is lying. It is cheating the taypayers. And it carries a large penalty.

If Lago has been living there and was entitled to the 2012 exemption and the 2013 exemption, then let him prove it by providing his fpl bills like the other candidates did. He gave them a waste department bill-- that shows nothing other than the house waste bill was assigned to him. It doesnt show that the was occupied. Even the bills did not come to the house.

Anonymous said...

Lago purchased the house in the end of 2011.

If you review the records you will see that he just purchased the house and has been renovating the home since he purchased it. I have no issues bringing problems to light but lieing is just irresponsible.
The fine that was mitigated was paid by the previous owner, come on guys don't make shit up. That house was abandoned for years before he purchased it.

Also don't forget that 33133 is in coral gables, Edgewater drive.

Anonymous said...

To the last buffoon:

The rule for homestead is NOT when you bought the house.

Reside on the property as of January

Anonymous said...

To Ross Hancock, aka the mystery blogger.

12D-7.007 Homestead Exemptions – Residence Requirement.
(1) For one to make a certain parcel of land his permanent home, he must reside thereon with a present intention of living there indefinitely and with no present intention of moving therefrom.
(2) A property owner who, in good faith, makes real property in this state his permanent home is entitled to homestead tax exemption, notwithstanding he is not a citizen of the United States or of this State. (Smith v. Voight, 28 So.2d 426 (Fla. 1946)).
(3) A person in this country under a temporary visa cannot meet the requirement of permanent residence or home and, therefore, cannot claim homestead exemption.
(4) A person not residing in a taxing unit but owning real property therein may claim such property as tax exempt under Section 6, Article VII of the State Constitution by reason of residence on the property of natural or legal dependents provided he can prove to the satisfaction of the property appraiser that he claims no other homestead tax exemption in Florida for himself or for others legally or naturally dependent upon him for support. It must also be affirmatively shown that the natural or legal dependents residing on the property which is claimed to be exempt by reason of a homestead are entirely or largely dependent upon the landowner for support and maintenance.
(5) The Constitution contemplates that one person may claim only one homestead exemption without regard to the number of residences owned by him and occupied by “another or others naturally dependent upon” such owner. This being true no person residing in another county should be granted homestead exemption unless and until he presents competent evidence that he only claims homestead exemption from taxation in the county of the application.

Can we get a retraction?

Anonymous said...

Retraction Request Translation: Lago just got the message this hurts his campaign.

Anonymous said...

Gabler: I am not Ross Hancock

If the property appraiser supplies wrong information, take it up with him:

The property appraiser will have to make a determination, as you stated:

(4) "A person not residing in a taxing unit but owning real property therein may claim such property as tax exempt under Section 6, Article VII of the State Constitution by reason of residence on the property of natural or legal dependents...."

there is no one living there: not the property owner OR "of natural or legal dependents".

Geniusofdespair said...

I have contacted the Property Appraiser and he said he would look into this matter.

Geniusofdespair said...

In the meantime:

Discourse addresses this issue in detail ending with:

"In other words, it depends.

The Court also tells us, in footnote 12, that the “true” permanent residence is a separate matter from domicile, so forget anything you know about that concept.

I’m willing to bet that had the Lagos actually moved in, then been forced to move out pending the works, they’d have a very strong case that the San Amaro house was their “true” residence. But never having moved in at all – even accepting that they intended to – makes it a tougher case. So I don’t know. But I think on the facts as he describes them, Mr. Lago has at least an arguable case, maybe more."

Anonymous said...

From Discourse:
Gang says:
April 3, 2013 at 11:11 pm

I am just thinking the law reads you have to be living in the house prior Jan 1 of the year you claim. He doesn’t say he ever lived there.

We don’t “transfer” Homestead Exemptions (unless you port them, which is math and still has be in the right filing period).

The homesteads stand alone on the relationship between the owner and a particular house. One homestead expires when you tell the tax office that you no longer live there and they cancel it, or otherwise it will automatically roll over. You then reapply at the appropriate time for the second one after you move in to the new residence. One home has nothing to do with the other. That is why it is always better to be in a new house at the end of the year rather waiting to the beginning of the new year to move.

Intent to move in does not fly. Living there does.

Anonymous said...

The hurricane Andrew argument doesn't cut it in Lago's case because the people lived in the house and had to move out. Vince Lago never moved in. That is the difference.

South Gables chick said...

He used the 2013 homestead exemption form for some reason in his qualification papers. Lago never needed it, he just needed to provide proof of residency. I think it is pretty silly of him to even bring it up. Everyone knew he didn't live there. I believe he was faking the homestead to knock off 50 k off those high taxes. And he got caught with hand in the cookie jar. Tsk tsk.

Anonymous said...

Don't expect anything good to come from Lopez-Cantera. He will side with his Republican buddies who gave to his campaign. Follow the law Lopez-Cantera or else everyone will be getting Homestead exemptions while they are rennovating and flipping. Oops I changed my mind.

Anonymous said...

So let's see, Lago has a degree in what - Masters in Construction Management and is a LEED green associate and he does what for a living - implements practical and measurable green building design, construction, and operations solutions in his work as a project executive at BDI Construction Company.

And he did not think for a moment that a house that sat for years with no A/C, buttoned up tight, would not have a mold problem? BS!

Either he is dumb as a rock when it comes to construction or he is making up a story he can tell with a straight face.

Anonymous said...

After reading the Froomkin article: I hope Lago sued his home inspector for not finding the mold.

Anonymous said...

He didn't use a conventional lender so he most likely was not required to do inspections.

Anonymous said...

Lago's financial disclosure shows no mortgage or liabilities of any kind, so he must have paid cash and not needed an inspection.

Anonymous said...

Good lord... "Third World", "Hialeah", just have the balls to say; "You don't want another spic in Coral Gables." Half of you liberal dumb-asses love to complain about the way things work politically in Miami-Dade County but fail to realize it is the same in all major cities including Democratic Party run cities like Chicago, Boston, and New York.

There is nothing to see here. The kid has been trying to fix up the house, and clearly intends to live there.

Geniusofdespair said...

You are indeed a putz. You might look at yourself as a spic but it is you who are racist.

Anonymous said...

Genius, all of Miami knows that you are good friends with Hancock, who was just hammered by the voters. Ohh, by the way, Mayor Cason embarrassed Cabrera as well.

Congrats to Vince Lago and Mayor Cason.

Geniusofdespair said...

I doubt 1) All of Miami knows - since I didn't know. And 2) that I am good friends with Ross Hancock.

I think I might have met Ross once, I am not even sure that I have. Wait, I did at a Urban Environment League function. I did email him and he me over stories. but that is it. I lectured him on the importance of fundraising and I do like some of his positions.

When someone spends almost $45 a vote(Lago) against someone spending $4 a vote (Hancock) it is hardly a match-up. You need at least a minimum of HALF to win. Hancock is not a good fundraiser...but he almost won against Fresen with no money.

Ross Hancock said...

Yes, but Fresen didn't spend his contributions on his campaign -- he lived off of them. Lago used his developer contributions very well.

Anonymous said...

Lago also had a ton of unpaid volunteers knocking on doors and waving signs for him. UNPAID.

Whether this blog or Mr. Hancock want to admit it or not, Lago has been a part of the Coral Gables community for a long time. This blog's attempt at muck-raking fell short for that reason.

Mr. Hancock was not only a terrible fundraiser, he was a terrible campaigner as well. Unless Obama runs for a third term I doubt he will ever have the type of impact he did against Fresen.