Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Economic Development Fund 124 is Back: Juan Zapata Called it the "Mother of All Slush Funds" in Early July. By Geniusofdespair


  Project 124

Read it On Scrib

The Mayor is foregoing rules for some of the recipients/projects (3 at Opa Locka) being pushed by Llorente for starters).  Rebeca, we need you to stop this and go back to the way it was. What is the return on investment on these projects anyway? Are the ROI's positive? Beach sand? Really.

The current rules tied to the 2004 Building Better Communities bond program limited economic-development grants to $10 million a piece, a restriction aimed at reserving the borrowed funds to businesses and projects large enough to be “game-changing” for the economy, according to a 2010 memo setting rules for the program, see this whistle blower document (at least read the first page):

Read it on scrib
This is a travesty of our tax dollars, Read the July Doug Hanks Herald Article when Zapata called it the "Mother of all Slush funds" at the meeting:
Miami-Dade commissioners balk at plan for business grants
(read the 43 comments on Eye on Miami)
By DOUGLAS HANKS  (this is the July Hanks column except the parts in red italics)

Miami-Dade commissioners on Thursday stalled an effort to use property taxes to fund about about $40 million in business grants for projects that included a private-jet hangar, charter school complex and production facility.

After harsh questioning by Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, the commission’s economic-development committee voted to delay considering a request by Mayor Carlos Gimenez to rewrite the rules of a dormant program aimed at recruiting large business ventures. The Gimenez administration wants to allow smaller businesses to use $75 million set aside from a 2004 ballot initiative that gave Miami-Dade authority to use property taxes to borrow $3 billion over several decades for a long list of infrastructure and construction projects.

“I think we had a really good idea that turned into something it wasn’t supposed to become,’’ Zapata said. “If we scream ‘jobs’ loud enough, this will somehow make this a good idea.’’

The current rules tied to the 2004 Building Better Communities bond program limited economic-development grants to $10 million a piece, a restriction aimed at reserving the borrowed funds to businesses and projects large enough to be “game-changing” for the economy, according to a 2010 memo setting rules for the program.

By waiving those rules, Gimenez’s staff want to give $5 million infrastructure grants to six businesses, including Miami Ocean Studios, a planned studio and production campus in northwest Miami-Dade and a for-profit medical school planned by Larkin Health in southern Miami-Dade. The money would reimburse businesses for costs tied to roadwork, sewage hookups and other infrastructure expenses, as well as for public parking facilities, according to presentation documents.

“We are trying to deal with the economy now, rather than the economy they were dealing with in 2004,’’ Jack Osterholt, the deputy mayor overseeing economic-development, said after the meeting. “We wanted projects that were sustainable, and would keep people working.”

The proposed grants, along with money tied to a similar BBC program without a $10 million threshold, include backing for projects tied to several influential people.

Improvements in Miami’s Design District, a popular retail destination controlled by Craig Robins, a top art collector, would get $1 million. Miami-Dade would earmark $5 million for a commercial project backed by the foundation of former congresswoman Carrie Meek.

Another $5 million would go to the Orion private-jet terminal, an Opa-locka business partially owned by Leonard Abess, who famously sold City National Bank of Florida in 2008 for $945 million and then gave $60 million of the profits to employees. A charter-school complex in Palmetto Bay backed Wayne Rosen, one of the top contributors to Miami-Dade commissioners’ reelection efforts, would get $5 million.

After the meeting, Rosen said his Parkside at Palmetto Bay project, which includes retail and housing, would bring jobs to the heart of the village.  (Councilman Schaffer spoke for the Village of Palmetto Bay with no authorization to do so and gave inaccurate information to the Committee. The project was rejected at least twice but Rosen sued or threatened to sue to get the project. It is near the Perrine Enterprise zone not in a Palmetto Bay enterprise zone. An expert was brought in and did not see it as a viable money making project, that is for starters, Schaffer never mentioned any of that he said the village was behind the project all the way. Also the city submitted a different project and it was turned down).

“We are the catalyst to get that downtown district started,” he said. “I believe in the redevelopment of their downtown district, and I’m willing to stay the course to get this project under construction, to create jobs and create a downtown district that I can be very proud of.”

Rosen’s venture sparked one of several tense moments during the hearing, with speakers noting he was the top contributor to Commissioner Lynda Bell, who chairs the committee and was running the meeting.

“We have a county commissioner sponsoring this project who is running for reelection and the project would benefit her largest campaign contributor,” Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner said shortly after Bell called her up for a requested speaking slot. Bell said she sponsored the resolution needed to fund the Rosen project only because she represents Palmetto Bay, and that the mayor’s office approved the applicants. “This under the purview of the mayor,’’ she said.

Rosen also dismissed the suggestion that the grant would be related to his campaign contributions to Bell. “My projects are approved on their merits, and there’s no outsiders pushing it,” he said.  (right, Lynda Bell didn't push it at all for her largest campaign countributor Wayne Rosen who gave her campaign and ECO over $23,000.)

The motion to defer voting on the grant proposals passed 3 to 1, with Commissioner Barbara Jordan objecting to the delay. “We have timelines tied to this list,’’ she said.

Thursday’s debate centered on a tiny portion of the 2004 Building Better Communities program, which passed overwhelmingly when voters endorsed eight ballot questions. The words “economic development” didn’t appear on the ballot, but an appendix approved projects tied to the planned bond sales earmarked $75 million for business-grant program.

Despite having 10 years of economic boom and bust, Miami-Dade has yet to tap the borrowing authority tied to the proposed business grants. The Beacon Council, the county’s economic-development arm, hoped to use about $15 million for a major air show near the Homestead air base, but the project failed to win needed backing from the Pentagon.

Frank Nero, head of the Beacon Council from 1996 to 2013, said the new guidelines abandon the original plan’s intent.

“One of the reasons we put in the $10-million threshold was to keep it from being divvied up by commission district,’’ said Nero, who was ousted by the Beacon Council board last year in part over scrapes with Gimenez. “You’re borrowing the money. It better be a significant project because you’re going to be paying off the bonds for 20 or 30 years.”

Along with the business grants, the Gimenez plan would use $18.5 million from the economic-development allocation for beach re nourishment along Miami-Dade’s coast. Thursday’s vote defers taking up the entire recommendation for 30 days.

Dollars for the BBC program come from a countywide property tax reserved solely for debt payments on voter-approved bonds. Commissioners decide when to borrow more money for the BBC program, and Miami-Dade next year will pay about $75 million in debt service tied to the $2.9 billion initiative, according to the latest budget proposal. Projects funded including the Miami Port Tunnel, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, bridge repairs and library construction.

Osterholt said the administration planned to stagger payouts from the proposed business-grant program so that Miami-Dade could avoid increasing debt service tied to the property tax. That would mean the program would have no impact on the tax rate. Either way, the program would have no impact on next year’s budget.

Larry Williams, the current Beacon Council chief, cautioned against dismissing an effort to help smaller businesses grow.

“These are the type of things that lay the foundation for economic development,’’ he said. “These investments can be game changers.”



Anonymous said...

The whistle blower document asks: What is in it for Linda Bell? P a cushy job that's what's in it.

That was good reading, not just the first page.

Anonymous said...

Not quite "game changers". I think Frank Nero had in mind to bring a big company here with more than a few jobs. You need big money to entice them to such a loser town.

Anonymous said...

This is straight out a money grab for lobbyists and campaign contributors.

Again this bond program which was passed by the voters was clear in its intent:

The funds were to be unitized for the sole purpose to attract large job/ tax producing private sector investments.

The Ten million dollar threshold was purposely established to thwart exactly what they are now proposing.

These funds were to be only tapped for "game changing" projects
Ideally the new incremental taxes generated would actually amortize the bond costs.

As you often point out bonds are costly ways to fund government. The way they are proposing the Balkanization of these funds will cost far more than the face value.

As for the argument that these funds were not used for ten years -- Bond issuance priorities -- Developing the regulations and a little thing like the recession.

If they Pass this and they probably will Miami Dade County will be at competitive disadvantage in seeking game changing job/tax producing private investment.

Anonymous said...

Tim Schaffer is owed an apology for how he was vilified by the Shelley Sanczyk misinformation machine. He was correct in each and every representation he made before the BCC, but his mistake was merely being early to the party. Mayor Shelley Stanczyk failed to have the guts to show her face to that BCC meeting and actually take a position. Perhaps her no-show was driven by the conflict created in the thousands of dollars in campaign donations she received from Wayne Rosen, delivered to her personally by Wayne along with a lobbyist named “Chino” back in 2010.

The first show (anti-Schaffer) was merely a distraction for the EOM reading public as quite a bit has been happening outside of the view of Palmetto Bay residents. Mayor Stanczyk and gang appear to have, once again, cooked up their position outside of the public eye as there has been ABSOLUTELY NO PUBLIC DISCUSSION of any “official” position. We were told in the original post that Schaffer had “no authority” yet we now read in an official County document that :

"Parkside at Palmetto Bay is considered the first major development in the commercial center of Village of Palmetto Bay (Village) and the cornerstone of the development of a downtown center. The Village considers this project an important catalyst for the development of immediately surrounding properties. The proposed development is also located within the boundaries of the County’s Enterprise Zone."

Just who, which village officials, as in “The Village” actually “considers this project an important catalyst.” I can find no such discussion in any Palmetto Bay public record. Why can’t Stanczyk ever present a consistent and truthful position to any resident?

It now appears that Councilman Schaffer did speak for the Village of Palmetto Bay with authorization to do so and did actually provide accurate information to the Committee.

Mayor Stanczyk owes Councilman Schaffer a public apology.

Anonymous said...

You are so wrong regarding Councilman Schaffer. Schaffer is kissing Rosen's ass and we all know it. Schaffer is the one who should apologize to the residents of Palmetto Bay.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I agree that voters should never vote for any bonds. The fact that much of the money does not go to worthwhile projects, as well as lax accounting of how the funds are spent, and interest charges over decades, make bond projects a waste of taxpayer money. Changing rules and hiding who is really behind these projects are unfortunately the way business seems to be done in South Florida municipal governments.

Anonymous said...

Dep Mayor Jack O. says the County wants to invest in sustainable projects. Consider, then, that the Larkin property in South Dade sits 4 feet above sea level. Not where I'd be investing my money.

Geniusofdespair said...

Enough Palmetto Bay...this is a bigger story than your stupid little village.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a stupid comment: "Dep Mayor Jack O. says the County wants to invest in sustainable projects. Consider, then, that the Larkin property in South Dade sits 4 feet above sea level. Not where I'd be investing my money."

This is exactly where we should be investing money: dead center in the transit corridor. Mayor Stanczyk is so off base in opposing this money. She needs to quit worrying about personalities and focus on the project.

US1 is where the money needs to be spent, bringing transit sustainable projects and people to the corridor. Old Cutler is 18 feet above sea level in Palmetto Bay. We do not need any development there, especially in lands that are undeveloped.

Anonymous said...

We need to use this money for the new courthouse. We need to stop borrowing money for things, and just save and pay for needed things with our savings. This wasteful spending has got to stop.

Delayed gratification is what I tell young couples now. Save your money until you can pay cash for your home or have the whole family chip in to pay cash for it, and then pay them back. Don't get a mortgage because flocks of predators are in the mortgage business now, and thousands of people around the world will own your mortgage.

Likewise bonds for everything we need in the community is not financially healthy. Remember Detroit.

Anonymous said...

Mark my words, this is Lynda Bell lining herself up for a job, probably with one of Rosen's shell companies. FBI, FBI, FBI.

Anonymous said...

We just built a new family court house. Just how many stinking court houses do we need? I bet the number is based upon how many connected contractors there are looking for work. How long is this new, yet to be opened courthouse, expected to last?

Bonds for a new Civil Court house, to join the recently built Federal Courthouse and local Juvenile/family courthouse.

The cycle of taxpayer abuse continues in Miami-Dade County.

Maybe we should convert the baseball venue to a courthouse. We can hold bond hearings on the spot for all the drunk and disorderlies arrested at games. It would save time and transportation costs.

How about creating a virtual courthouse where traffic offenses could be heard via the Internet, saving so many people from having to take time off work to attend hearings in some far off section of Miami-Dade County?

Anonymous said...

what do we expect the equation is simple: Gimenez+Bell= Corruption

Anonymous said...

The majority of these Miami Dade politicians do not understand what a fiduciary obligation is so I cannot expect them to understand the clear voter intent of the BBC program in the first place, even though it was approved only ten years ago.

I'm so tired of these Commissioners giving our tax money away to their friends/family/contributors against the wishes of the tax payers who approved these bonds contingent on certain criteria. To change the game after the fact it almost criminal. It is at minimal a severe breach of their duty to the tax payers.

Enough! If they can't figure out how to allocate the funds or don't need them as they were intended in the first place, don't use them and don't incur the debt/obligation! Did it ever occur to these people they don't have to funds something if it's not needed? Instead this attempt to re route that money is outright absurd!

Anonymous said...

This is a dog. Another waste of tax dollars. Along this vein voters should vote No on the Referendum Question asking for a new courthouse. $380+ Million? For one building? That bond will cost the taxpayers over $1 Billion. Even the Miami Herald recognized its a dog.

Anonymous said...

Also vote no on the FIU issue. That's another Trojan horse, unfunded too in addition to stealing public land.

Anonymous said...

FIU should be using less and less land. With the technology we have today, most students should be taking classes in their homes on their computers, iPads, and televisions. At the same time, their enrollment should be 10 times what it is today, with the same or smaller footprint.

Anonymous said...

The juvenile courthouse is being paid through an assessment on non-criminal traffic violations.
So when you get that speeding ticket you can know where some of you $294 fine is going.

Anonymous said...

Tim Schaffer is not owed an apology. He had no authorization to speak on behalf of his city.

Anonymous said...

"FIU should be using less and less land. With the technology we have today, most students should be taking classes in their homes on their computers, iPads, and televisions. At the same time, their enrollment should be 10 times what it is today, with the same or smaller footprint."

That's why I wrote it's a Trojan Horse. It's a land grab. They are not using what they have efficiently and hire so many ex politicians who have plenty of ideas of what to do with taxpayer property/revenue.

Pat said...

Buildings should have multiple stories. Are you listening FIU.

Anonymous said...

Before $160 million is spent in West Grove it is a good idea for the commission to consider removing the toxic waste now sitting throughout the neighborhood, left in the aftermath of Old Smokey which has created a cancer cluster killing and hurting generations.

Anonymous said...

I see what you mean about FIU. A student now when they pay for a class could get the course outline, tapes of all the lectures, the textbook, the workbook, and a website for on-line questions and help, as well as a phone number. These HD TVs now show every little detail, and the teacher could be human size or bigger. A student could play a lecture tape 20+ times until he got it. Also computers are very patient teachers, they will go over the material infinitely until you get it, and give you thousands of problems until you can apply the information. All of these things can happen in the virtual world. In fact before it is over, all of us may be taking classes online in our pjs. I don't understand why they feel the need additional land.

Anonymous said...

A new courthouse is needed. For the public. Gov't budgets don't allow for the saving of money like was suggested to buy a house with all cash.
What irks me is that so many Non-essential projects, whether stadiums or private museums, or things under the guise of 'infrastructure grants' for private businesses are getting funding, but since there's no glitz and glamour to a courthouse it slowly decays.

I know a lot of public officials are against the new courthouse because they don't think they'll ever use it. And they're right; most of them belong as defendants in the criminal courthouse on 12th street instead.

Anonymous said...

Vote No on the new courthouse scheme. $390 Million means $1 Billion when you add in the interest payments. And there is no site! Michael Lewis at Miami Today wrote about this scam. Lewis asked if a developer would get the money? Lewis says vote No. The courthouse voter referendum question is a boondoggle to benefit the "usual suspects".

youbetcha' said...

Clutch tutoring does the online teaching for FIU students. Works great for their clients.

FIU charges MORE for online classes in spite of more students per class and no physical infrastructure required with associated expenses such as electricity and campus facilities.

Anonymous said...

I could see charging more in the beginning as you have to get top notch teachers who are leaders in the field, and cover initial production costs. After that all you need is the tape. In fact, a professor could teach future generations from the grave long after they have died.

Anonymous said...

It turns out Carlos Gimenez has been plotting to give money to one of his best friends, Jeff Berkowitz. Gimenez wants to give Berkowitz $9 Mil. (Program has a $10 mil limit so Jeff only gets $9 mil.)
On Agenda now...

Anonymous said...

last anon

The program's original rules require projects between $10 million and up to $25 million.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. You are right. The projects are supposed to be for a minimum of $10 Mil.

Anonymous said...

Just because you can borrow money does not mean you should. Just because you have a credit card does not mean you should use it.