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THE POWER OF MITIGATION OF THE CITY OF MIAMI BEACH CORRESPONDENCE FILE
A suggestion was made to Miami Beach officials that regular reports be provided by the City of Miami Beach listing and totaling the amounts of fines written off via mitigation, dismissal, et cetera in three categories 1) special master writeoffs, 2) city manager writeoffs, 3) city commission writeoffs. The writeoffs would be warranted via a warrant form setting forth the details, a copy of which would be forwarded to the city accountants for compilation of the reports. The City Manager Kathie Brooks like her predecessor, Jorge Gonzalez, who was forced into retirement over concerns with unaccountability and corruption, finally responded on 11 January 2013. City Attorney Jose Smith, who drafted the 2010 resolution for writeoffs by the city manager and city commission, said the proposal was “moronic.” None of the Commissioners responded. David Arthur Walters, Editor
.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS From: David Arthur Walters<miamimirror@gmail. "Granado.gov>. Nevertheless. for tinkering with the sluggish machine will get us nowhere fast. planning. an expert was hired internally to streamline processes. I understand that the city manager and city commission usually defer to the city attorney's advice for one reason or the other.gov> Ms. with all due respect. namely. I'll bet that you know the department that I allude to. Rafael" <RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. despite the diligence of some of the best city employees.gov>.com> Date: Sat. It seems that. Kathie" <KathieBrooks@miamibeachfl. and thank you very much for your feedback. I wish you could have given your own professional opinion on my accountability proposal. we still hope for radical reform. recommendation. Good Luck. Ed" <EdTobin@miamibeachfl. Matti Bower Bower <mayorbower@miamibeachfl. literally outsourcing crucial aspects of governance such as data collection. are outraged by the negligence and laziness of some officials. I am thinking of one department in particular that was the subject of outside consulting. top management was changed.gov> Cc: Deede Weithorn <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Jan 12. et cetera. no matter what is said by anyone at all. and the city commission. All too often I have seen deference to the opinions and proposals of outside consultants at considerable cost to the city. instead of self-reliance on internal resources that should be competent to address the issues. and yet we have more of the same. and that the refusal of one special master to go along with the city attorney and mitigate and or dismiss cases that the master feels does not warrant mitigation as he interprets the law is bitterly resented for one reason or the other. individual special masters.gov>. "Smith. which the city attorney characterized as "moronic" because it would regularly report how much is written off or 'mitigated' in fines by whosoever writes them off. "Tobin. analysis. David Arthur Walters Page 1 of 13 . we have more of the same. 2013 at 10:58 AM Subject: Re: Your Feedback Requested re Transparent Writeoffs To: "Brooks. Jose" <JoseSmith@miamibeachfl. the city finance analyst for the city manager. and on serious consideration of input from residents and businesses who. Brooks: You are welcome.
tropical.gov We are committed to providing excellent public service and safety to all who live. FL 33139 Tel: 305-673-7010 / Fax: 305-673-7782/ www. the following are examples of actions that have been recently implemented: The City entered into an agreement with Crowe Horwath LLP to audit the processes of certain regulatory departments and divisions including the Special Master Office. Brooks Interim City Manager 1700 Convention Center Drive. Respectfully. transparent and collaborative.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS On Fri. I continue to work with the Chief Special Master and the City Attorney to identify best practices for the Special Master Office and review their applicability to the City. MIAMIBEACH Kathie G. Walters. The audit will identify and document any deficiencies and recommend potential improvement opportunities. historic community. Miami Beach. As a result. The City is finalizing the implementation phase of a new multi-department computer system that will allow greater flexibility as to the reports that may be generated by the Special Master Office. I am committed to ensuring that the City of Miami Beach has a government that is open. Additionally. Page 2 of 13 . Kathie <KathieBrooks@miamibeachfl.gov> wrote: Good evening Mr.miamibeachfl. Jan 11. Our City's government must at all times promote accountability and provide information to residents about what their government is doing. 2013 at 7:44 PM Brooks. work and play in our vibrant.
MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS From: David Arthur Walters [mailto:miamimirror@gmail. Jan 5. Smith. 2013 at 9:31 PM To: "miamimirror@gmail. Kathie. Rafael" RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. 2013 at 11:37 AM To: "Granado. Jose. and I think I Page 3 of 13 . Rafael. winners or losers. I recall that I entered the courtroom at 9:30 am and found a fascinating case ongoing involving a repeat violator rental issue.gov Cc: "Brooks. 2012 10:44 AM To: Brooks. It is about following the law and insuring that justice be done. Smith. FL 33139 Tel: 305-673-7470 / Fax: 305-673-7002 / www. My proposal would help hold individual authorities accountable for their respective roles in upholding or subverting the rule of law. December 08. everyone "wins".gov> Happy New Year Mr.gov>. but saying that since there were two fines the total would amount to the total imposed. City Attorney OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY 1700 Convention Center Drive. the city attorney ostensibly wanting to halve the fine imposed. Jan 3. Jose< JoseSmith@miamibeachfl.com> Thu. Nor is about who gets credit or who gets "blamed". Rafael" RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. Jose" <josesmith@miamibeachfl. Jose" <JoseSmith@miamibeachfl.com>. 2013 at 12:09 PM To: "Smith. The Special Master process is not about "conflicts". Tobin. Ed Subject: Re: Your Feedback Requested re Transparent Writeoffs David Arthur Walters< miamimirror@gmail. Jan 6. Kathie" <kathiebrooks@miamibeachfl. and thank you very much for your concern. Kathie" <KathieBrooks@miamibeachfl.com" <email@example.com> Your comment is moronic.miamibeachfl.gov David Arthur Walters< miamimirror@gmail. Deede Weithorn Cc: Granado.com> Sun.gov Cc: "Smith. When that happens.com] Sent: Saturday. Miami Beach. MIAMIBEACH Jose Smith.gov> Sat. "Granado. "Brooks. Granado.gov> Thank you for your imbecilic response which I shall report to the Morae who may appreciate it.
City Attorney Sat.com>. and neither have you.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS heard the name "Biscayne LLC. DeedeWeithorn<dweithorn@bpbcpa. Jose" <josesmith@miamibeachfl. and once that it known. "Tobin. so let him or her take credit for that. Smith's response to my question is that he believes in following the law. Brooks: As you are aware from my follow up email. Now that I think about it.com> Cc: "Granado. I may be of better service to the city if you would leave a copy of the program that would allow me to listen to the recording. Ed" <EdTobin@miamibeachfl.Miami" <msallah@miamiherald. Rafael" <RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. I could not make out the names of the parties at the hearing nor did I hear the properties identified.000 to $5.000 was wanted. which would be only natural since his advice would be invaluable to any successor. and corruption are probably false. Mr. so let it get credit for that. David Arthur Walters cc. but I have no contact information Page 4 of 13 . Michael . for the whole thing boils down to who really is accountable for the mitigations. and wound up with a recording that I cannot play because the program given to me with it has been outdated. 2012 at 10:44 AM David Arthur Walters< miamimirror@gmail. His opinion would be greatly appreciated.gov>.gov. including one where a reduction of a fine from $33." I stuck around for a few more cases.com> 8 December 2012 Dear Ms. "Smith. upon whom the "blame" should fall is clear. while the special master may want to be strict. Dec 8.gov> Bcc: Kim Stark <kim@miamisunpost. and it would my pleasure to refresh my memory. It is my information from inside gossip that you may have consulted with Jorge Gonzalez on this and other issues. "Sallah. whether the negative criticism is deserved or not. City Manager cc.gov>. I figured there must be an agenda or docket for the day. Tobin has not responded at all. which the city manager has not spoken to. I received the impression that the city may want to be nice.com> To: kathiebrooks@miamibeachfl. conspiracies. I enjoyed the proceedings as much as I enjoy Judge Judy's trials. It dawned on me that the conflict between the city attorney office and the special master court would be resolved by my accountability proposal. and that the rumors of preferential treatment. Mr.
to mitigate. those persons with discretion to make writeoffs are more easily corrupted. David Arthur Walters Miami Beach Writeoffs. for some time. I am sending along a copy of this communication to Commissioner Weithorn since she may have some valuable input drawn from her extensive accounting experience. even so. and he has not been responsive to me in the past anyway. I have not recommended an audit of previous writeoffs unaccounted for by the City Clerk. and waive. as is usually supposed when I ask "indiscreet" questions. Any certified fraud examiner would want too see a regular accounting of writeoffs. I know you have affirmed your faith in transparency on a previous occassion. Smith's standard of conduct. Perhaps a forensic audit would clear the air and prove that everyone concerned is abiding by Mr. or believe in the current conspiracy theory that a "Ring" rules the city and may have been taking advantage of the discretionary power to writeoff or to neglect to enforce. Not that I suspect organized official corruption in our city by the beach. Very truly yours. but to improve it.pdf 359K Page 5 of 13 . I believe accountability is essential to transparency. It is with that in mind that I am writing up a brief report late next week and submitting it to several editors for publication. to "attack" our city. Mind you that it is not my intention. abate. I have simply suggested a system of accountability for the future. In fact. because without one. I suppose a public records request to obtain the information privately would result in a fee of thousands of dollars. people should know the extent of all writeoffs.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS from him.
gov>. especially in terms of numbers.gov> If only everyone could and would actually follow the law! Mon. Ed" <EdTobin@miamibeachfl. Jose< JoseSmith@miamibeachfl.gov>.gov>. suggesting that those fees be waived provided that the responsible parties confess violations before being caught.gov>. "Tobin. Since you are intimate with the reasons that we account for conduct. However. Granado below).gov> To: David Arthur Walters <miamimirror@gmail. I am told by contractors that the Building Department regularly waives double-permit fees anyway. the city commission. Oct 29. What I would like to have from you is some quotable feedback on the subject before I write up my report. Rafael" <RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl.com>. "Brooks.gov> I’m in favor of following the law.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS Tue. David Arthur Walters< miamimirror@gmail. I believe from you. Ed" <EdTobin@miamibeachfl. Brooks: I understand that you may consider my proposal to account for and regularly report amounts written off by the city manager. I do not believe I need to enumerate those reasons for you here. "Tobin.gov> Dear Ms. Nov 6. 2012 at 10:54 AM David Arthur Walters< miamimirror@gmail. Ed" <EdTobin@miamibeachfl. "Granado. Jose" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Cc: "Granado. Page 6 of 13 . Jose" <JoseSmith@miamibeachfl. 2012 at 11:59 AM To: kathiebrooks@miamibeachfl. and the special masters for fines (see correspondence with Mr. I would like to include another category. I noticed a memo.gov> Cc: "Brooks.gov>.com> Mon. Kathie" <KathieBrooks@miamibeachfl. 2012 at 12:25 PM Smith. Rafael" <RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. Rafael" <RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. double-permit fees waived by the Building Department.gov Cc: "Granado. "Tobin. "Smith.com> To: "Smith. despite the fact that Director Scott says he is generally opposed to doing so. The new policy that I propose would enhance the transparency that you recently espoused. Oct 29. Kathie" <KathieBrooks@miamibeachfl.
2012 at 1:58 PM To: David Arthur Walters<miamimirror@gmail. Sep 24. David Arthur Walters David Arthur Walters<email@example.com> Mon. Page 7 of 13 . "Granado. Rafael"<RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl.com> Thank you. Ed" <EdTobin@miamibeachfl. I will bring it up to the City Attorney's Office for their consideration. Regards. 2012 at 6:52 PM To: David Arthur Walters<miamimirror@gmail. I am thinking of the future instead of auditing the past at this point. David David Arthur Walters<firstname.lastname@example.org>.gov> I am not aware of any such records. Rafael"<RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. MIAMIBEACH Rafael E. I believe it is a good idea to track and report writeoffs in all three categories. Granado.gov> Thank you. Rafael<RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl.com> Mon.gov Cc: "Tobin. Who would be the appropriate person to consider the idea for possible action? D. 2012 at 6:43 PM To: "Granado.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS I am copying Mssrs. 2012 at 10:53 AM To: "Granado. Sep 24. Tobin and Smith since I also asked them for their opinions on the matter.com> Tue. so I believe maximum transparency would be wise. City Clerk CITY CLERK'S OFFICE Mon. Sep 25. Sincerely. Someone is eventually bound to beg askance of discretionary behavior. Granado. Granado. Rafael" RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl.gov> Thank you. Mr. Sep 24. and might save us all from the writing of too many novelettes.
Ed" <EdTobin@miamibeachfl.gov>. "Brooks. Rafael<RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. "Granado.gov> Mon. pertaining to lien reductions in excess of $100. Kathie" <KathieBrooks@miamibeachfl.gov> Mon. Rafael" <RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. City Clerk Page 8 of 13 .com Cc: "Tobin. Georgie" <GeorgieEchert@miamibeachfl. Please note that the Finance and City Attorney’s Office maintain a binder containing all resolutions.gov> Thank you. "McMillion. Jose" <JoseSmith@miamibeachfl. Regards. Rafael" <RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl.gov>.gov>. MIAMIBEACH Rafael E. I have met with representatives of the City Attorney’s Office and the Finance Department. Jimmy"<JimmyMcMillion@miamibeachfl. Ed" <EdTobin@miamibeachfl. Sep 24.gov>. and they confirm that there is no report that is compiled by the City that contains the information you are seeking.com Cc: "Tobin.gov>. I am also checking with the Finance Department. Jose" <JoseSmith@miamibeachfl.gov>. "Granado. Regards. MIAMIBEACH Rafael E.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS Granado. "Echert. City Clerk Granado. 2012 at 5:18 PM To: David Arthur Walters miamimirror@gmail. from June 27. Walters.gov> Good afternoon Mr. "Smith. Steven"<StevenRothstein@miamibeachfl. Granado. Rafael<RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. Sep 24. please let me know. "Rothstein. David Arthur Waltersmiamimirror@gmail.gov>. 2012 at 1:59 PM To: "Smith.000 that have gone before the City Commission. If you wish to review this binder.gov>. 2001 to date. Granado.
which I have presumed from the manner in which my public record request was responded to. etc. Rafael" RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. I am asking for your confirmation that no such system exists.gov Mr. and the reason therefore etc. David Arthur Walters Page 9 of 13 . its date. "Smith. Jose" josesmith@miamibeachfl. abatement. Granado: Good Moon Day! I am winding up a few loose ends before I take the city's suggestion to leave town. Sep 24. and I am sending a copy of this email to Commission Ed Tobin on the chance that he might personally consider my suggestion. city commission. but for a confirmation that regular reports are not created to let everyone know how much the city.gov Cc: EdTobin@miamibeachfl. by whom.com> Mon. abatement. and city manager. I also suggested to various officials including Jose Smith that a special form called a mitigation warrant be including in every file involving mitigation. dismissal etc. settlement. has written off (mitigated etc) in fines. Although I doubt that officials have read my suggestion or have seriously considered it. via special masters. I am highlighting a request below.gov. made simply because I think it is a good idea and is no way intended to be an "attack" on the city as personified by any official. not for records. Best regards. with a copy to the clerk for compilation of data as to amount of mitigation.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS David Arthur Walters<miamimirror@gmail. 2012 at 11:11 AM To: "Granado.
The main concern of caring members of the community appears to be the writeoffs for mitigations and dismissals. which they appear wont to do pursuant to a code provision written by the city attorney that does not Page 10 of 13 . Rafael" RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. I thought there might be an extra copy. Ed" <ed@miamibeachfl. Granado. for example. That warrant form would refer to the governing ordinance and cite the reason for and the amount of the abatement or amount dismissed.gov>. Granado: Thank you very much for providing me with a copy of the illuminating “book” that was prepared for the legal oversight meeting held last Wednesday. in addition to or in lieu of email. and other papers upon which is scribbled "finance settlement" etc.gov> 25 August 2012 Rafael E. the result being the net revenue figures you already report. I suggested to the city attorney that each file settled for an amount less than the original fine contain a uniform form warranting the writeoff--for example. I am glad you limited the provision of statistics you provided on Special Master cases via copies of the ‘City Clerk’s Office Monthly Report as the production cost although reasonable is costly to my nonprofit endeavors.com> Date: Sat. that the city attorney can advise the city manager or finance manager or the city commission to mitigate or dismiss cases contrary to a special master’s ruling. "Tobin. The warrant would also serve as an explanation of what happened to people ignorant of city processes. City Clerk CITY OF MIAMI BEACH Subject: Special Master Statistics Request Mr. I obviously reasoned wrongly that the city might already produce regular reports that would help whosoever is responsible for overseeing the special masters assess their performance. It appears that the information I wanted is not available inasmuch as the monetary figures you provided represent only revenue collections net of unstated writeoffs. Aug 25. against which the amount of writeoffs would be matched. A copy could be used for data collection. My apologies for putting your staff to the trouble of copying it for me. not only by the Special Masters but also by the City Manager’s office and the City Commission.gov Cc: Matti Bower Bower<mayorbower@miamibeachfl. It occurs to me that such a regular report would report the gross amount of fines in each of those three categories. receipts. the writeoffs for the Special Masters being broken down by each magistrate. 2012 at 11:14 AM Subject: Re: Special Master Statistics Request . My intentions were to be helpful and not to "attack" the city personified by some officials.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS From: David Arthur Walters<miamimirror@gmail.PRR 7002 To: "Granado.
15) .15 = $4. Walters. 2012 at 4:45 PM. Granado. I shall send a copy of this to Madame Mayor Bower and Commissioner Ed Tobin in case they might be interested enough in my suggestion to make it a part of Special Master procedural reforms. in my recent internet version of Chapter 30 of the Miami Beach Code. David Arthur Walters On Thu. MIAMIBEACH Rafael E. We have gathered the following records that we believe are responsive to your request: 1. The documents are available for pick-up at the front Counter of the Office of the City Clerk.gov> wrote: Good afternoon Mr. 2. Aug 23. 2012 Special Master City Attorney Oversight Committee. but I would prefer for you to review the one year that I have compiled to ensure that the information contained therein is what you are seeking. Rafael <RafaelGranado@miamibeachfl. we will retrieve the additional information. The material distributed to the Mayor and Commissioners for the August 22. Please simply confirm that such reports do not exist. Best Regards. Please make no attempt on my account to compile any such reports.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS appear where I expected to find everything to do with mitigation and appeals. The total costs to duplicate this material is $12.) Please note that our data goes back to 2005. 2012 Special Master System City Attorney Oversight Committee meeting.for the materials distributed to the Mayor and Commissioners.50. City Clerk Page 11 of 13 . We have also compiled for you one year (July 2011– July 2012) of the data that is gathered by the Office of the City Clerk relating to Special Master cases. I am in receipt of your public records request. and 29 pages single sided (29 X $0.00) and one single sized page (1 x $0. (This is the Materials that I referenced at the August 22.20 = $8. If it is. Regards. This is broken-down as follows: 40 pages double sided (40 X $ 0. Granado.35) for the monthly (July 2011 – July 2012) reports.
Number of complaints dismissed by the city attorney or settled without petitions being filed in the circuit court (presumably by authority of the commission exercised by the city manager). or rather preoccupation. I do use a Google blogging facility to store some articles I write since I operate without funds. Any other relevant information that a statistician would compile. Jose. please let me have a copy of the report.. Smith. and on the Internet in what used to be called e-zines. from the date our statutory alternative to the code enforcement board was formed or from whatever date statistics were compiled: Number of special master cases brought each period. Rafael Cc: Bower. It is natural for people on all sides to complain about the disposition of special master cases one way or the other. One area of interest is the Special Master Tribunal's struggle for independence from the City Attorney's Office. and those lost without settlement. I would love to have your statistics on the following. Number of complaints dismissed or settled by special masters or settled each period. 2012 10:47 AM To: Granado. August 23. Number of complaints actually appealed to and disposed of via the circuit court. Ed Subject: Special Master Statistics Request Mr. and to make broad generalizations of wrongdoing. their total complaint value and total amounts settled on. and your comment that some sort of statistics were available.com] Sent: Thursday. and their total complaint value and the net amount settled on. running period-to-period. although I do not think highly of journalists. Granado: I was pleased to meet with you yesterday to discuss the new public records request system. the total complaint value and amount settle on. I am really not a blogger and know nothing of that sphere except what I read in the papers. I suppose that you may already have that or similar important information reported to city officials. In that case. I really do not care if I am published if I can do some good. One of my freelance articles on the subject happens to be in the SunPost currently in your lounge on the first floor if the stack has not already been prematurely dumped. In terms of occupation. and/or the value of those won. But I am published here and there all over the world in print. and their value. Page 12 of 13 . and sometimes I call myself a journalist when working on certain subjects. I noted a reference to complaint dismissal statistics at yesterday's meeting on permit master oversight. Although you were introduced to me as a blogger from the blogosphere. I am an author. Matti H. Tobin. but my posts do not come close to being blogs as bloggers describe them.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS From: David Arthur Walters [mailto:miamimirror@gmail.
I noticed some sort of agenda and "book" being circulated at the meeting. and wonder if you have an extra copy of it or if it is online? Sincerely.MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS By the way. David Arthur Walters Page 13 of 13 .
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