Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cutler Bay/Palmetto Bay: WOW! What a mess. By Geniusofdespair

Jose Luis Castillo

I only printed the second document that Former Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall mentions -- as you know I am not a fan of Jose Luis Castillo:

These attachments are a request for a hearing under the Town of Cutler Bay charter “Bill of Rights”. But, I do not believe it will be respected. The reasons are articulated in the second document which outlines what has happened in Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay. Many requests made by me as the mayor, for the council to act on possible violations by lobbyists, have been ignored.

With Kindest Regards,

Ed MacDougall, Private Citizen and former mayor
Town of Cutler Bay
From Former Mayor Ed MacDougall:

If I am misguided, then I shall discontinue my fight. But, I truly feel it is the duty of each of us to protect our system of government from themselves.

These are the events surrounding a lawsuit filed by Jose Castillo against the Town of Cutler Bay/Mayor MacDougall and Art Nanni through attorney Jeffrey P. Leary. Mayor Eugene Flinn has also been served legal papers by Jeffrey Leary. Mayor Flinn advised in writing that Mr. Leary is the attorney of John Dubois. In addition, John Dubois told me personally that Jeffrey Leary is his attorney.

As mayor of Cutler Bay, I promised not to allow corruption in our Town. In this attempt, I have done the following.

I first brought to the attention of our council that one of our lobbyists, Fausto Gomez, had made a campaign contributions to vice mayor Sochins 2012 election. He made that contribution by check from a company he owns unrelated to his job as our lobbyist. Mr. Gomez did not disclose his contribution which is in direct conflict with our charter and ordinance. The purpose of the charter provision was to ensure that campaign contributions from people that the town hires, especially those made through an unrelated company, are made public. I believe in the rule of law and upholding our charter and as such brought this to the council’s attention at three different meetings. The council refused to hear the matter or put it on the table for discussion. I later filed a complaint with the Miami Dade Commission on Ethics. They replied that there appeared to be a violation but since the council refused to hear it, the Commission on Ethics would not act on the matter.

In 2014 I brought to the attention of the manager that Richard Candia, another lobbyist who was being paid $40,000/year by the town to represent our interests, had taken $100,000 from the Miami Dolphins owner (confirmed in a phone conversation with Richard) to represent them in support of the stadium. Our council had passed a resolution opposing the $400 million tax increase for the stadium. Richard Candia was released as a lobbyist for Cutler Bay and subsequently arrested a couple of months later by the FBI in a corruption scheme. At the time I did not realize my conversation with Mr. Candia was most likely recorded by the FBI.

In 2012, during the largest zoning issue the Town has taken up, the Publix center development, council member Susie Loyzelle consistently voted to approve the site plan, which eventually passed. I eventually learned one of the lobbyists for the project was Jose Castillo, who not only lobbied for the project but had worked as Loyzelle’s former campaign manager. Councilmember Loyzelle never disclosed her relationship with Mr. Castillo, nor did he disclose his relationship with her.

Soon after the Publix vote for their new project, it was brought to the entire council’s attention that per our charter both councilmembers and lobbyists must disclose, prior to a hearing, any conversations they have with each other regarding quasi-judicial matters. Mr. Castillo did not make these required disclosures and since no other member of my council would act, I filed a complaint with the ethics commission. Mr. Castillo pled no contest and paid a fine.

It was told to me then that Jose Castillo would get back at me.

During the recent 2014 election, Jose Castillo ran the campaigns of council member Peggy Bell for mayor and Ed Wolmers for council seat one. At the same time he was running their campaigns, he was also a paid registered lobbyist for a new project, “Old Cutler Village”. In other words, he was being paid to lobby the council, including Peggy Bell, to vote in favor of a zoning change while being employed by Peggy Bell to consult on her campaign. In my opinion this is a conflict of interest, and as such I could not support either individual’s campaigns.

After I was made aware of Mr. Castillo’s dual role as lobbyist and campaign consultant, I decided to come out publicly for Art Nanni. In a letter of support I made the statement that Peggy Bell had as a campaign manager, Jose Castillo, who had pled guilty to an ethics violation. Jose Castillo has sued me personally for slander for using the term “pled guilty” and not “pled no contest”. It has become very personal for him.

While attempting to get my support for his campaign, I had a conversation with Ed Wolmers who stated that Jose Castillo had given him $3,000 to support the vote on the Old Cutler project. Ed Wolmers told me he refused the money, so that must mean he is honest so he would like my support for his council member campaign. Given the illegal nature of such an offer, I reported my conversation to the Town’s attorneys via email. I later learned Mr. Wolmers told two other people the same story, each of whom have filed sworn statements to what they were told. Mr. Wolmers now denies that he made this comment to any of us. The council was advised on the matter but never responded.

Four days before my term as mayor ended, I was sanctioned by the council because of my letter of support for Art Nanni. My sins, so to speak, were that I used the term “pled guilty” and not “pled no contest” with regard to Jose Castillo’s ethics complaint. They argued this constituted making a false statement. The fact that I had signed not only my name but my position as mayor they labeled a misuse of authority, even though it was not done on town stationary nor using town resources. It was Ed Wolmers who asked for a hearing and Peggy Bell who agreed to bring it to the council. Remember, both were still using Jose Castillo as their campaign consultant and both were counting on his ability to get them elected. Also, vice mayor Sochin was photographed in a private meeting in a public restaurant, with Jose Castillo and it was never publically disclosed. Admittedly, not an illegal act, but Add to that, the photograph of Jose Castillo with Cutler Bay council member Susie Loyzelle, Palmetto Bay V/M John Dubois, Palmetto Bay Council member Karen Cunningham and Palmetto Bay Council member Laura Siegel all at a private party, and a picture can be drawn. I have the photos.

We now have a council in which at least two of the five members have openly used Jose Castillo as their campaign consultant. Castillo is listed as a lobbyist for the Old Cutler Road project, the 9.5 acre Old Cutler Village project at SW 184 Street and OCR which they are seeking a "Master Plan change and zoning change”. Jose Castillo first registered as a lobbyist for the 184th Street property on 2/24/14; he amended it on 9/18/14 presumably due to his being hired by Peggy Bell. All lobbyists’ registrations expired on 12/31/14. He re-registered on Jan. 27th. 2015. This project is on the border of Palmetto Bay with Cutler Bay, directly affecting each municipality.


Anonymous said...

My perception of Mayor MacDougall was always positive and I thought him to be the most qualified, honest and good intentioned Republican contender for the House seat now held by Curbelo. I am sure he is on point with his complaints/observations about the conflicts between electeds and lobbyist/campaign consultants but his words now ring hollow. If you are only as good as the company you keep,former Mayor Mac is just as bad as those he has now complained about. His relationship with Mark Goodrich, the shadowy and overpaid consultant who sought to pervert the election process in Homestead by promoting the misleading charter petition initiative to get more time in office for Judy Waldman, says it all. His support of Judy's chauffer/husband election is beyond comprehensible and negates any credibility or good will he once had.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that the voters can see exactly where the problems lie in both Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay, yet they have been unwilling to stop it.

Thank you Mayor Mac for standing up for the little guy. Keep shining the light on the cockroaches.

Anonymous said...

Former Mayor MacDougall needs to stop selling sour grapes. I looked into what Mayor MacDougall was found guilty of by his own Council and it is not pretty. He berated one of his own residents and told the resident that his children would, "never amount to squat," in an email. He also was found to have violated Cutler Bay's truth in government ordinance for the actions he took against Castillo and Peggy Bell. I also don't know how you can have a "private meeting in a public restaurant" like he states. I used to be a supporter of MacDougall, but never again now that he has shown his true colors.

Anonymous said...

^ signed JLC's mother

Anonymous said...

Could we be seeing trolls paid by Jose Luis Castillo to attack one of the few people willing to take a stand to prevent the sale of both Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay to special interests? The above comments sure read like paid trolls. Perhaps they are taking a break from writing paid reviews for Amazon.

Anonymous said...

So what the sour grapes anon is saying is that Mac is no Jose Luis Castillo?

old cutler neighbor... said...

crap crap crap. Where do I sign-up to oppose the old cutler thingy?

Anonymous said...


The attempt by MacDougall to stay relevant is silly by sullying those currently on the dais is beneath Mac but way above Goodrich.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

MacDougall is an embarrassment to himself and our town. I've lived in cutler bay for over 15 years. Every time I hear MacDougalls name its associated with some accusation or conspiracy. A bit like Joe Carrollo in his good days. I wonder what MacDougall will say when more is known about his relation with Goodrich and lobbyist Bob Levy.

Mike-CutlerBay said...

The old cutler road rezoning project will be a disaster for residents of Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay. If this individual - Mr. Castillo - is lobbying FOR the project then any business relationships between him and counsel members of either town should absolutely be considered a conflict of interest.

Is it true that Mr. Castillo was simultaneously a lobbyist for the developer seeking the zoning changes AND campaign manager for the current mayor's election campaign? How can that be justified as ethical?

Anonymous said...

Lobbyists have figured out that the best way to influence those in power is to help put them into office. Developers hire J.L.C. to lobby for their projects. J.L.C. works as a campaign consultant for local candidates getting campaign donations from these same developers, land owners, real estate PAC's etc. The politicians get sucked in. The lobbyist becomes their friend, and they vote for the projects their friend recommends. The elected official deludes themselves into believing there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. But there is something very wrong with this. They lose the trust of the people they were elected to represent. Peggy Bell and Sue Loyzelle, John Dubois, and Karen Cunningham - I don't trust any of you to do the right thing. Every yes vote for a developer becomes suspect. Lobbyists have figured out that the best way to influence those in power is to help put them into office. Developers hire J.L.C. to lobby for their projects. J.L.C. works as a campaign consultant for local candidates getting campaign donations from these same developers, land owners, real estate PAC's etc. The politicians get sucked in. The lobbyist becomes their friend, and they vote for the projects their friend recommends. The elected official deludes themselves into believing there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. But there is something very wrong with this. They lose the trust of the people they were elected to represent. Peggy Bell and Sue Loyzelle, John Dubois, and Karen Cunningham - I don't trust any of you to do the right thing. Every yes vote for a developer becomes suspect. You have sold out your communities and I have no respect for anyone of you.

Anonymous said...

There are no perfect people and since local politicians are people, certainly none of them are perfect either. But I have watched Mayor McDougall for many years and on matters of the environment and Cutler Bay land use he has been a responsible leader and steward. JLC began his career in Hialeah representing reprehensible county politicos such as Natacha Seijas, Google her, what a gem. Then he decided to head south to Homestead where he helped Linda Bell another reprehensible get elected to the county commission. That was a disaster and soon she was gone. Thank you Daniella Levine-Cava! But JLC indeed does have it all figured out. Get nice and cozy with local politicians, represent them on their campaigns, then wait for the votes to land right where they should, in the hands of the developers he also represents. If this type of conflict of interest were happening anywhere else but in the Alice in Wonderland topsy turvy world of South FL politics the pitch forks would be out and all these local sell outs would be running terrified before the mobs. I too have lost faith in our local officials who were not smart enough to realize what they were doing when they cracked the door open and with the force of big money and power the lobbyists blew it off the hinges sat down in our council chambers and now are smoking cigars celebrating their success. All we can hope for at this point is that all our local officials with lobbyist entanglements each and everyone of them whether male or female - grow a pair of big ones - break those ties! Prove to us anew that you work and vote for us not the lobbyists and those issues they represent. We will forgive you. You can do this! But will you?

Anonymous said...

Go to the Livablecutler community page on Facebook to learn what to do to oppose the development on Old Cutler and sw 184 St. It's a great page to follow environmental and development issues in the Old Cutler Rd. corridor.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Karen Cunningham a registered lobbyist? That sure does cut out the middle man. Why hire a lobbyist to work the Palmetto Bay council when you can elect them directly. This is a classic case of cutting out the middleman. And who knows what deals are being cut when she is hanging with all her fellow lobbyists.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Karen Cunningham uses her Palmetto Bay office to gain admittance into meetings with State Senators and Representatives in order to lobby on behalf of her clients. She would not have to register as a lobbyist if she claims to meeting with them as a fellow elected official. How do you split your two roles? Isn't this what former Homestead mayor Bateman got in trouble for?

Anonymous said...

Ugh, business lobbyists...I just had chemo yesterday and I'm not sure which makes me want to puke more.

Anonymous said...

Why did MacDougall take so long to get this out? These events happened a year ago, why is he suddenly coming out with his complaints? I wonder if he's been going to council meetings and speaking with council members since he ended his term as mayor. There is a Cutler Bay council meeting tonight at 7:00. I wonder if MacDougall will show up with his posse and try to steal the show.

Anonymous said...

It should be illegal for lobbyist or developers to work on or give money to an elected officials campaign. Any politician in Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, the County or any where else this takes place have the balls to put an end to this? The person who did that would earn my vote and my respect.

Anonymous said...

Dear anon with chemo... I am so sorry that your treatment is required. I don't know who you are, but I wish you well. I hope to see you in the community well and spunky using your energy to make things sane.

Best thoughts,

a Palmetto Bay neighbor

Anonymous said...

So sorry to some that there is a perception of a posse or posses out there to "steal a show". None of this is about any of that. This is about harmful influences systematically grabbing hold of our local councils or attempting to. If Mayor McDougall had been the one to have hired Castillo or someone similar to that I would be blasting him. No posse, just a bunch of fed up citizens disgusted with what we see happening.

Anonymous said...

The anon who mentioned lobbyists putting people in office has got this scam figured out very well. JLC mastered his trade in West Kendall with the Community Councils and then followed the money to Palmetto and Cutler Bays. It's very likely that most of the comments against Mac come from the JLC posse of trolls who have mastered 5th grade English. The rest wear his colored-coded T-shirts and show up at zoning hearings in favor of various projects, even though most of them live closer to Hialeah.

No Zoning Change said...

Here's the bottom line: 9 acres on OCR next to 130 acres of now publicly owned and recently restored coastal wetland is up for development. The officials that are voting on it are in cahoots with the developer's lobbyist. Cutler Bay people- call the councilmembers and show up for meetings to at least try to stop this!!

Anonymous said...

The shame of this is that I think most of the council members started out wanting to do the right thing. I remember when Peggy Bell talked about wanting to access the bay and acknowledged that the best place to gain access was at 184th and Old Cutler. Is she that same person, or has her lobbyists connections changed her? Her campaign manager, Castillo, is one of the lobbyists wanting to build on the very land she once wanted to save. Castillo has an even closer relationship to Castillo then Bell does.

Both Mixon and Coriat appear to be environmentalist, their vote will either cement that image or blow it to shreds.

While mixed use and smart growth is environmentally friendly when placed in the right location, this is not the right location. It is surrounded by walled in communities and a wetland. All traffic will be forced onto Old Cutler and 184th, adding to the existing traffic nightmare.