Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Miami Beach's Billionaire George Lindemann: This Is a Story for The Miami Herald ... by gimleteye

All a man has is his reputation, and in my humble opinion the best George Lindemann could do is cease the SLAPP suit against Maggy Hurchalla in Martin County. Basta. Enough. Once I thought I knew George, but so much money, time and energy has been spent, it defies rational explanation except that his lawyers have everything to gain by keeping the matter open and active.

To the very wealthy, the cost on continuing a SLAPP suit is a nuisance. It is not so trivial to his opponent; Maggy Hurchalla. That is one of the points about SLAPP suits, and it one of the reasons that The Herald should get involved.

There is another reason, too. If one strips away the legal technicalities it appears that Lindemann's goal -- to secure a right to privatize Florida's water supply, through a contract to sell water on his property to a local municipality -- is patently to benefit Florida's shadow government: Big Sugar and rock miners.

This is more than a nuisance lawsuit, and The Herald should be all over it. Here is the latest:

Big wins give hope to keeping Lake Point developers in check

Sally Swartz
Palm Beach Post
September 13, 2015

Sally Swartz

Victories in the ongoing battles between Martin County residents and governments and Lake Point — plus an unrelated win upholding Martin’s protective growth plan — gave county residents reason to celebrate last week.

Forbes 400 billionaire George Lindemann Sr. and his millionaire son, George Lindemann Jr. are developers of the Lake Point rock pit in western Martin, involved in lawsuits agains the county, South Florida Water Management District, and a SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, against former Martin Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla.

There are four big wins to cheer.

Martin Circuit Court Judge F. Shields McManus found the county innocent of breaking public records laws. Lake Point accused the
county of destroying or altering emails between Commissioners Sarah
Heard and Ed Fielding and former Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla and
failure to turn them over promptly. McManus said the county “did not
unlawfully refuse” to let the emails be inspected.
The Florida Elections Commission levied an unusually large fine
—$4,500 — against John McAuliffe of Palm City and Martin County
Residents for Tax Fairness. The Political Action Committee accepted
money from individuals and corporate entities connected with Lake
Point to back a Lake Point employee and the editor of a monthly
newspaper in their unsuccessful bids to win seats on the Martin
County Commission. McAuliffe falsely certified that three of the
finance reports for his PAC were accurate when they weren’t, and
reported spending money without adequate cash to cover expenses.
Judge McManus ruled that Lindemann Sr. must answer questions in a
deposition, despite his lawyers’ claims he knows nothing about the
Lake Point project. It’s also a chance for residents to learn why the
Lindemanns are so involved in Martin projects and politics. Lake Point
lawyers recently launched yet another lawsuit against the county on
behalf of Bill Reily, developer of the failed Pitchford’s Landing
project in Jensen Beach.
And, unrelated to the Lindemann cases, a state administrative law
judge upheld Martin’s protective growth plan, limiting the chances
that controversial projects such as the failed Extreme Water Sports
Park will try to break the county’s protective urban services

Lake Point is a rock mine east of the Port Mayaca Locks near the
Martin-Palm Beach County line. Under an agreement with a previous,
growth-friendly majority on the Martin Commission, the firm was to
mine rock on the land for several years and then turn over the land to
the South Florida Water Management District and build a stormwater
treatment facility.

Lake Point has sued Martin, claiming the stormwater project doesn’t
have to follow county land development rules and that the firm can
mine on the entire property — plus transport and sell water to other
counties. The firm once made a presentation to West Palm Beach,
offering to supply the city with water, but Martin maintains the
company cannot supply water to others.

Lake Point litigation includes many other issues, which, if the two
sides can’t settle, eventually will go to trial.

The Florida Elections Commission ruling is interesting because of the
$4,500 fine. Most FEC fines are of the slap-on-the-wrist sort, in the
$200-$400 range.

According to an email from environmental lawyer Virginia Sherlock, the
McAuliffe PAC had only eight donors: Martin County Leadership Council
($23,000), a nonexistent group that only incorporated after the FEC
complaint was filed; Lake Point lawyer John Metzger and J & K
Investments ($250 each), located at the same address; McDonald Hopkins
LLC, Metzger’s law firm ($1,000); and Floridians for Accountability
($120,000) a PAC that received money from Lake Point groups.

Martin County Infrastructure Policy Council, Inc. ($22,735) and
Treasure Coast Citizens Council ($6,673.50) also are non-existent
groups not listed on Florida’s or other states’ corporation sites.

Talk about proof of the need for election law reform.

Critics sometimes claim the county should give in to special interests
to avoid lawsuits. Recent results, though, show why standing up for
what’s right is the better choice. Eventually, bullies will get the
message that Martin defends its rules and its actions. And the county
is not afraid of a fight.

Sally Swartz is a former member of The Post Editorial Board. Her
e-mail address is

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