Lobbyist and Politicians Run Amok in our Piece of Paradise
I'm a Hispanic Environmentalist citizen of South Dade, Cutler Bay. I moved here in 1995 from the Gables area so I have witnessed many changes to include incorporation and quite a bit of unwise development. Yes I was one of those who foolishly thought local home rule would be a good thing overall, although I had reservations. I should have trusted my gut. But before incorporation we saw rampant and unsustainable development of open spaces rubber stamped by Miami-Dade County government, so how much worse could it get?!
I chose to move south due to the affordable housing market and the open green space character of the Old Cutler Road corridor and all that beautiful open land to the south and east of our historical road. Those were the days when traffic jams were caused by thousands of land crabs and by the caring residents not wanting to crush them in their summer migration over Old Cutler as the land crabs searched for food and fodder in the open land and pine rocklands. Today there are only a few land crabs but there certainly are plenty of traffic jams, daily. So home rule to me meant that citizens of the area could positively influence their city governments to suppress unbridled and environmentally unfriendly development.
Then something happened.
Lobbyists moved into our cities along Old Cutler, well not physically moved in as none of them live here but in effect their devastating influence did. And today what we have are local city governments and town councils controlled from behind the scenes by shadow politicians, the lobbyists and the interests they represent. In Cutler Bay alone there is one current council member with ties to second rate lobbyist Jose Luis Castillo, Sue Loyzelle. She has been known to fight hard in chambers for Castillo projects.
Currently running are Peggy Bell and Ed Wolmers both being managed by that same Castillo. The Cutler Bay council has five members, so three is all Castillo needs: Bell, Wolmers, and Loyzelle. Castillo has been heard saying, indirect quote, once the current government of Cutler Bay is gone, I will own that town. We will know soon enough.
And don't think Palmetto Bay is immune from the lobbyist-ebola virus, call it the Eblobbyist virus. Palmetto Bay has 2 infected by Castillo: Cunningham and Dubois. Tim Schaffer, he is another story. But he will vote with them. He said at a county meeting last week, supporting Wayne Rosen, the tax base of Palmetto Bay is mostly residents, as if that is a bad thing.
So should the Castillo voting block breakout in November because you vote for Castillo Candidates in Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay, every zoning change, variance, accommodation to a development plan, and any other related favor that comes up when Castillo's hand is in it, will have a free pass.
Some of you may need proof of the strings that have become attached to our candidates and politicians so let me offer some evidence. In the latest disclosure by Peggy Bell of her campaign of contributors here are some highlights:
• Jose Castillo/Green Point Group, $3300 - lobbyist for 9 acre property next to Cutler Wetlands on SW 184 St and Old Cutler Rd. He will lobby for a change in zoning from RU 1 residential to Mixed Use, which means they can build ANYTHING the Cutler Bay Council approves, to include a 3-4 story strip mall. This zoning change application is already in process and the issue will be heard shortly after the elections.
• Juan Mayol, $ 1000 - Attorney and lobbyist for 9 acre property next to Cutler Wetlands on SW 184 st and Old Cutler Rd. Working with Jose Castillo.
• Howard Nelson, $200 - Lawyer for property owner of above 9 acre property, also lawyer that represented same property owner in past negotiations with SFWMD where SFWMD bought adjoining 129 acres Coastal Wetlands currently under restoration. District paid 24 million for the 129 acres and now same greedy property owner wants even more for the other 9 acres by getting the zoning change which will immediately inflate the price of the land.
• Brian Bilzin, $200 - Lawyer for property owner of above 9 acre property…
• Sue Loyzelle, $50 - Current Cutler bay Council member, also managed by Castillo in the last election, lobbied hard for Castillo and developers of another unpopular project in Cutler Bay, the mega Publix shopping center in the potato field. Issue is not resolved and will likely be back up for votes in upcoming term of the council.
Citizens of South Dade we must free our towns (you too Homestead) from the toxic strings of these outside lobbyists and developers. This is a puppet show gone deadly viral and Castillo's hand is maneuvering the politician puppets who are sick with ego, power, and self interest and love for this modern day Svengali with his linen clothes and expensive watches. If he only managed campaigns, it wouldn't be so bad. It is the lobbying of the same people he manages that is toxic.
Do not vote for any candidate with ties to Castillo and his clan. Castillo has been involved absentee ballot fraudsters under arrest, supported and managed horrible individuals in the past such as Lynda Bell, Mark Bell and Natacha Seijas. And now he intends to control our local politics until they have paved over every inch of green space with hot asphalt and cold concrete, and nothing and I mean nothing lives in that!