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My name is David Arthur Walters. I am an independent journalist.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Mark Weithorn's Dream Seat on City of Miami Beach Commission



MARK WEITHORN’S DREAM

March 5, 2015

By David Arthur Walters
MIAMI MIRROR

South Beach—I was pleased to attend the fundraiser at the DREAM SOUTH BEACH HOTEL for MARK WEITHORN’s bid for the city commission seat now occupied by ED TOBIN.
Mr. Weithorn emphasized his concern with the regulation of traffic before it overwhelms the beach and makes life miserable for its residents.
I asked him if he was interested in my main interest, breaking up Mayor Philip Levine’s dangerous majority faction, or if the mayor would purchase a seat for him too.
He said the mayor was not financing his campaign, that he was independent, and that he would vote his conscience whether in accord or not with the Levine camp.
Former city commissioner Michael Gongora, who lost the mayoral election to Mr. Levine, spoke briefly before rushing off to a gay event. He endorsed Mr. Weithorn and praised former mayor Matti Bower, who was standing by and whom he called The First Lady of Miami Beach.
I asked Ms. Bower if she would get on the commission and help save the city from the dangerous Levine Majority. She responded that she was always ready to help the city.
Commissioner Deede Weithorn was also on hand. I asked her if she would be interested in handling the city’s budget affairs at the end of her term since she was certainly qualified to do so. She said that that was highly unlikely, but that other cities were interested in engaging her, and that she had a good job with her present law firm anyway.
Ms. Weithorn and I discussed old times including some nasty ones over the tennis center management contract. She reminded me that when a woman takes a man’s name at marriage, that does not mean she agrees with or is in cahoots with everyone with that family name.  She said I should inspect the North Shore Park Center, and I could witness some truth about the new management company.
She mentioned Mark Weithorn’s experience with the Holocaust, the details of which I believe would make a fascinating story.
We shall see if his dream comes true. Perhaps it will. The hospitality provided by the Dream Hotel South Beach was excellent.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

City of Miami Beach Attorneys Seek a Pound of Flesh


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Friday, February 27, 2015

Espanola Peace Plea Falls on Deaf Ears in Miami Beach


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Espanola Way Peace Plea Falls On Deaf Ears


 

Miami Beach Mayor Unresponsive to Espanola Peace Plea

 

17 February 2015

 

Filed by David Arthur Walters

MIAMI MIRROR

 

City of Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has not responded to my plea on 18 March 2014 to do something to resolve a conflict arising from the city’s code compliance department’s pathetic administration of the sidewalk code in the city’s historic Espanola Way district.

 

Complaints about the lack of and selectivity of enforcement had prompted Antonio Halabi, who controls the Flame restaurant on Espanola Way, to complain about unpermitted seats being set out to capture visitors before they got to his restaurant, among other code violations. His competitors subsequently visited his restaurant and threatened him, and code compliance officers allegedly retaliated against the Flame. However, the city’s sidewalk coordinator was forced to resign, and city officials rushed to permit more seats for Mr. Halabi’s competitors.

 

On 26 March 2014, eight days after my plea was made to the mayor, Mr. Halabi’s landlord, a company controlled by Scott Robins, filed an eviction suit against Mr. Halabi. That followed a threatening letter to Mr. Halabi, dated 7 March 2014, the first item therein complaining that Mr. Halabi was threatening the other tenants. Those tenants had been fined as a result of Mr. Halabi’s persistent complaints.

 

Mr. Halabi has refused, on the advice of his attorneys, to discuss the eviction suit and his counterclaim against Mr. Robins. Mr. Robins is incidentally a prominent public figure influential in politics, and a friend and partner of Mayor Levine in several projects, one of them a virtual partnership with the city in a Sunset Harbour development.

 

Copies of my plea for peace to Mayor Levine were sent to Melissa Dunn, Esq., an executive for Mr. Robins’ companies, as well as City Commissioner Ed Tobin, Esq., City Manager Jimmy Morales, Esq,, Hernan Cardeno, Esq., the director of the city’s code compliance department.

 

A copy of my letter appears below. Mr. Halabi, in a public record letter to Mr. Cardeno, has disclosed a plan to assist the city’s code compliance department by forming an non-profit organization that will among other things publish an informational newsletter to thousands of businesses and residents so they may respond appropriately to various issues that they may or may not be aware of that affects their community.

 

-XYX-

 



 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Arthur Walters<
miamimirror@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 12:25 PM
Subject: Honorable Mayor: Please Help With Ideal Resolution of the Espanola Way Affair
To: Mayor Phil Levine <
PhilipLevine@miamibeachfl.gov>
Cc: "Tobin, Ed" <
EdTobin@miamibeachfl.gov>, "Morales, Jimmy" <JimmyMorales@miamibeachfl.gov>, "Cardeno, Hernan" <HernanCardeno@miamibeachfl.gov>, Info@robinscompanies.com


18 March 2014

Mayor Philip Levine
CITY OF MIAMI BEACH

Subject: Resolution of the Espanola Way Affair

Honorable Mayor:

 

I appeal to you for your assistance in resolving a conflict that has arisen along Espanola Way due to the pathetic administration of the city’s sidewalk café code.  I am absolutely certain that the optimum resolution will be in the best interest of the entire community since it will also entail some of the administrative reform you spoke of during the mayoral campaign.

I have written three articles on the subject of which the administration is well aware yet the maladministration continues. I want my last article to be a celebration of success.

In sum, Antonio Halabi, owner of the Flame Caffe & Grill, has suffered substantial financial losses due to the negligent, discriminatory, and selective enforcement of the sidewalk café code by the Code Compliance Division of the Building Department. His efforts to protect his business resulted in direct and indirect retaliation from the city.

Direct retaliation, for instance, included trumped-up charges brought against him in the local code magistrate’s court, which is critically considered to be an extortionate political tool. Although there was no such violation on the books for which Halabi was accused, the magistrate insisted on imposing a fine and refused to rehear the case, which was deemed so politically important due to Halabi’s complaints of maladministration that it was personally directed by former city manager Jorge Gonzales’ appointed director. And that is not all.

An instance of indirect retaliation involved punitive actions taken against smaller businesses, pointing out Mr. Halabi along the Way as the complainant even when his complaint was anonymous, while giving passes or minor tickets to major violators, with the consequence that every business on Espanola Way was set against him. Even yesterday, as he walked along Espanola Way with a Miami Herald reporter, he was hectored by a bully as they counted the illegal seats along the Way. Perhaps as a reformer yourself, you will understand how he must have felt when his good intentions were greeted with rank contumely.

The night before, for the second time since I started my investigation, I personally counted scores of illegal seats set down at the Washington Avenue mouth of the Way to absorb the flow of tourist traffic before it reached restaurants towards the end of the block. I advised Mr. Halabi to call Code Compliance. It appears that a small-fry with a few extra chairs was fined $500 while the big violators naturally motivated to hog the traffic were apparently ignored. And that is not all.

Even Mr. Halabi’s landlord has joined the neighbors, impliedly threatening him in writing with eviction for “harassing” his neighbors because he has asked for just administration of law.

It seemed to me that the landlord had thus condoned the longstanding misprision of city officials and unlawful behavior of his tenants. However, it has now been called to my attention that your friend and partner Scott Robins controls the property, a jewel in his investment portfolio, and that it would be unlikely for him to intentionally approve of misbehavior detrimental to his property interests and the press reputation that he advertises in press releases as excellent. Wherefore please be sure than he gets a copy of this letter so he is fully apprised of this Espanola Way Affair.

 

As far as I was concerned at first glance, the Espanola Way Affair is due to shameful mismanagement of private and public resources.

Who am I to judge? I was employed in the travel industry, real estate development, and shopping center management in my youth. I was fortunate to work under the direction of persons retired from the first lunar landing module project, an intelligence commander fresh from Vietnam, a lowly bookkeeper who took up architecture and wound up owning a third of the hotels in a popular resort destination, and a master builder and developer from Germany. I made humble contributions towards attracting and keeping tourists and good tenants in a way so cooperative that the government mistakenly thought it included price fixing. Whatever the price, it did not prevent the occurrence of one of the most colossal overbooking fiascos in the history of the travel industry involving thousands of tourists more than eager to pay it.

I imagine your vision is far keener than mine given your great fortune in the travel business and real estate development. I am more interested in ideas than the things of this world, and consider myself fortunate although I live well below the poverty line in squalid South Beach quarters. I would rather die laughing than scowling over millions. I have been dubbed an honorable village fool by a high official for not recognizing that our beautiful city on the beach has the best of all possible city governments.

However, whether we happen to be foolish or wise, we are talking about obvious, simple techniques in this case, not about the possible social applications of rocket science. Simple things can be and should be done to attract and capture business along both blocks.

Most importantly, all the tenants should associate together regularly to serve their mutual interest in that very special place called Espanola Way. Instead of vicious competition along Espanola Way, why not have spirited cooperation? The Espanola Way Society should be created to do just that.

Espanola Way should be promoted as an entity. For example, special fiestas, carnivals, street fairs should be held regularly all along the Way, and in and around the large plaza between the blocks, with suitable measures to quickly clear the Way in case of emergency. And why not put a Spanish style fountain in the plaza?

Espanola Way should self-regulate itself in a cooperative way. Since the Code Compliance Division is notorious for its historical unreliability, corruption, and unwillingness to enforce the code unless someone else can be blamed for making complaints, hence is unlikely to change except briefly for scandalous periods subsequent to FBI arrests, a private monitor should be appointed by the Society to serve as host along the Way while making sure that extra chairs are not put out until all the sidewalk cafes are full. And then seating would be placed out according to an agreed upon system. And fines, when rarely imposed by the negligent bureaucracy, would be shared accordingly by those who do not opt out of the system. An attorney truly devoted to the interest of his or her clients would deal with unfair fines and with legislation.

Everyone concerned stands to profit in one way or another, materially and/or spiritually, from the ideal development of Espanola Way, so that it becomes the truly outstanding aspect in every stakeholder’s portfolio.

The beneficiaries would naturally include Mr. Halabi, who may, with your assistance and that of your colleagues, recoup his losses and more, and perhaps even be sufficiently compensated for the severe distress he and his family have suffered at the hands of code compliance officials. Then perhaps Miami Beach will fulfill the dreams he had of the United States of America in his youth instead of being a living nightmare and a black eye on the nation.

It is with that in mind that I pray that you and your colleagues, together with the city administration, will immediately arrange some sort of preliminary powwow and palaver with all the tenants, to hear them out, explain reforms, and assist them in the promotion of Espanola Way so everyone has a chance to succeed to the best of their respective abilities.

Sincerely,

David Arthur Walters
As Editor

Cc

Scott Robins
Ed Tobin
Jimmy Morales
Hernan Cardeno

Letter attached

 

 

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

City of Miami Beach and The Ku Klux Klan Act


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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Corruption Previals in Miami Beach


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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pathetic Miami Beach Code Enforcement Again


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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Miami Beach Fire Sprinkler Case & Sovereign Immunity


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
I am currently working on the press trial of Eisenberg v. City of Miami Beach (The Fire Sprinkler Case), and I expect to have it completed in the near future. The federal judge summarily dismissed the case brought under the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 because she did not believe city officials made the policy that led to the eviction of Mr. Eisenberg’s guests and his arrest at the Sadigo Court Apartment Hotel; therefore, unlike employees of other corporations, their employer, the municipality, should not be liable.
The fundamental issue here is actually a sort of sovereign immunity, which is the so-called right of kings to be above the law where they can supposedly do no wrong. Of course the United States of America was conceived in direct opposition to that authoritarian principle, yet it is still maintained in subtle forms by authorities who would be immune from civil liability for their abuses of power.
I had hoped that Mr. Eisenberg would invest more than the quarter-million dollars he had already put up and risk sacrificing his family to mount an heroic appeal on the point of vicarious liability alone, regardless of the merits of his case, because that point is of national importance.
A collection of my work objecting to sovereign immunity, inspired by former Miami Beach City Attorney Jose Smith, can be examined at this link:
SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY COLLECTION by David Arthur Walters
 
The Press Trial in Progress in re The Fire Sprinkler Case, can be found here:

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