July 29, 2015

WSJ: Top donor to Jeb Bush super PAC is Miami billionaire Mike Fernandez

From the Wall Street Journal:

A Texas oil man, a Wall Street financier and several former U.S. ambassadors are among the top donors to Jeb Bush’s super PAC, providing hard evidence the Republican establishment is rallying to his presidential candidacy as he girds for a long primary battle.

Mike Fernandez, a Cuban-American billionaire who gave $3 million, is the biggest donor to the Right to Rise super PAC, which set a record fundraising pace and bested all of Mr. Bush’s rivals—Democrats and Republicans—by amassing $103 million in the first six months of 2015.

The names help confirm that the Republican establishment, supplemented with a healthy dash of Florida financial backers from Mr. Bush’s days as governor, are prepared to deliver a powerful flow of money that no other GOP candidate is likely to match.

More here (subscription required).

July 28, 2015

Did a Miami-Dade commissioner spill the beans on Lauren Book's Florida Senate run?


Lauren Book, daughter of mega-lobbyist Ron Book, plans to announce her candidacy for the Florida Senate on Sept. 1.

At least that's according to an invitation Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman sent her friends Tuesday asking them to attend a fundraiser for Book at Il Gabbiano, a posh Italian restaurant in downtown Miami, on Sept. 18.

"As you have probably heard, my very close personal friend, Lauren Book, is planning to launch a campaign for an open Senate seat on September 1, 2015," read Heyman's email, which was obtained by the Miami Herald.

But Book herself has not revealed her plans. She told the Herald that's because she has yet to make up her mind. Book recently got married.

"We are looking at all of our options and have not made a decision of what we're going to do," she said, conceding that she nevertheless has several events on her calendar. "We haven't made any final, final, final decisions yet."

Book, who runs Lauren's Kids, a nonprofit that raises awareness about children victims of sexual abuse, has made no secret of her intention to run for the Broward seat being vacated by Sen. Eleanor Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat. 

Book created a political action committee, Leadership for Broward, last September. It has collected nearly $640,000; some of her donors, such as the Miami Dolphins and GEO Group, a private prison company, also happen to be her dad's clients.

Miami-Dade's mayor is going to Denver with a big crew to discuss transit



UPDATE: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce wrote today to say the delegation list provided by the mayor's office was incomplete. A chamber publicist provided a new one, and it's listed below. The chamber also provided a full agenda that emphasizes how large a role the "P3" financing model plays in the schedule. You can see it by clicking here

 The latest list: 

The Honorable Steven Abrams

Commissioner - District 4, Palm Beach County


Humberto Alonso

Vice President, Atkins


Jolie Balido

Public Relations Agency of Record, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

President and Co-founder, Roar Media


The Honorable Bruno Barreiro

Commissioner - District 5, Miami-Dade County


Javier Betancourt

Strategic Partnerships Committee Chair, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Deputy Director, Miami Downtown Development Authority


Mitchell Bierman

Transportation Committee Chair, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Member, Weiss, Serota, Helfman, Cole & Bierman


The Honorable Esteban Bovo

Commissioner - District 13, Miami-Dade County


Alice Bravo

Director - Transit, Miami-Dade County


Kathie Brooks

Assistant City Manager, City of Miami Beach


James Cromar

Director of Planning, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization


Meg Daly

Founder, Friends of the Underline


Harold Desdunes

District Director of Transportation Systems Development, Florida Department of Transportation


Al Dotson Jr.

Executive Committee Member At-large, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Partner, Bilzin Sumberg


Glenn Downing

Second Vice Chair, Citizen's Independent Transportation Trust


Alex Ferro

Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor, Miami-Dade County


Jose Fuentes

Government Affairs Consultant, Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.


The Honorable Carlos Gimenez

Mayor, Miami-Dade County


Jose Gonzalez

Transportation Director, City of Miami Beach


Jose Gonzalez

Senior Vice President, Florida East Coast Industries


Jesus Guerra

Director, Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization


Matt Haggman

Program Director, Knight Foundation


Alexander Heckler

Managing Partner, LSN Partners


Barry Johnson

President/CEO, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce


Ric Katz

Executive Vice President, Balsera Communications


Jason King

Principal, Dover, Kohl & Partners


Danet Linares

New World Center (Downtown Miami) Committee Chair, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Vice Chair, Blanca Commercial Real Estate


Marcelo Llorente

Managing Partner, LSN Partners


Al Maloof

Director, Government Relations, Genovese, Joblove & Battista, P.A.


Ed Marquez

Deputy Mayor, Miami-Dade County


The Honorable Jean Monestime

Chairman - Board of County Commissioners, Miami-Dade County


The Honorable Dennis Moss

Commissioner - District 9, Miami-Dade County


Dr. Pablo Ortiz

Associate Vice President, Florida International University


Benjamin de la Pena

Director of Community and National Strategy, Knight Foundation


Gerard Philippeaux

Chief of Staff, Office of the Chair, Miami-Dade County


Joe Rasco

Director - Intergovernmental Affairs, Miami-Dade County


Michael Reininger

President/CEO, All Aboard Florida


Eric Riel

Planning, Design + Transportation, Miami Downtown Development Authority


Alyce Robertson

Executive Director, Miami Downtown Development Authority


Dr. Mark Rosenberg

Chair-Elect, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

President, Florida International University


The Honorable Marc Sarnoff

Commissioner - District 2, City of Miami


Paul Schwiep

Chair, Citizen's Independent Transportation Trust


Charles Scurr

Executive Director, Citizen's Independent Transportation Trust


Jason Smith

Legislative Director - District 8, Miami-Dade County


Ana Sotorrio

Public Policy Committee Chair, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

President, ASTS Inc.


The Honorable Francis Suarez

Commissioner - District 4, City of Miami


Daniel Tapia

Director, Governmental Affairs, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce


Anna Ward

First Vice Chair, Citizen's Independent Transportation Trust


Joseph Yesbeck

Executive Committee Member – Governmental Affairs Group Chair, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

Vice President, T.Y. Lin International


Robert Villar

Chief Budget and Performance Reporting, Miami-Dade County


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is flying to Denver next week for a look at the city's transit systems and how officials funded the expansion there. He's bringing with him a large delegation of elected leaders, lobbyists and business executives.

His office on Tuesday released the current delegation list of about 40 people. Most are paying their own way, while Miami-Dade is likely picking up the tab for county officials and elected leaders on the trip. (Gimenez's office did not have a trip budget immediately available Tuesday night.) 

The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce organized the Aug. 5 to 7 trip, which is being billed as a "Transportation Fly-In." Registration costs were $200, plus lodging and airfare.   

Gimenez spokesman Michael Hernández described the trip in a statement: 


Continue reading "Miami-Dade's mayor is going to Denver with a big crew to discuss transit" »

July 25, 2015

Super-lobbyist Ron Book bashes Miami commissioner for 'despicable' behavior on homeless issue (W/AUDIO)


The fierce debate over Miami’s sleeping-mat program for the homeless turned personal on Friday, as Miami-Dade Homeless Trust chairman Ron Book lashed out at city leaders — singling out one commissioner in particular.

Book took aim at Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who spearheaded the mat program. The two men have feuded over whether the county homeless agency should help fund 115 outdoor mats, which are part of a covered pavilion at the Camillus House shelter. Sarnoff says it’s only right that the county chip in; Book says outdoor mats encourage the homeless to stay on the street rather than seek social services, and his agency won’t fund something that’s counterproductive.

The mat program, started last year, runs out of money on Aug. 1.

On Friday, Book said Sarnoff has jumped into the homelessness issue without truly understanding it. And the city of Miami, he said, can’t be trusted.

“They’re never OK, they’re never satisfied, because Marc Sarnoff wants to be nothing but right, and he’s wrong about this, he’s wrong about it,” said Book, who in addition to leading the Homeless Trust is also one of Florida’s most powerful lobbyists.

Book’s angry comments, with his arm repeatedly banging on the table, came during a sit-down meeting with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The meeting, which was open to the public, was an attempt by Gimenez to broker a deal on the outdoor mat issue.

As Book ripped into Sarnoff — who wasn’t in attendance — Gimenez tried to calm him.

“He thinks he’s right, you think you’re right,” the mayor said.

“He’s no expert!” responded Book, his voice raised. “He parachutes in, he hasn’t done any research, he hasn’t gone to conferences, he doesn’t care, ’cause he wants to be right. ... His behavior is despicable.”

Ron Book speaks with county mayor

More here.

July 24, 2015

With 2 hometown candidates expected on stage, Miami-Dade Republicans plan debate watch parties


Just how eager are Miami-Dade County Republicans to see two of their own make their 2016 presidential debate debuts?

Plans are under way two weeks in advance for parties to watch the first debate, which will be aired Aug. 6 by Fox News. 

The Miami-Dade GOP has not endorsed Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush, yet it has invited supporters to gather at a location at least geographically closer to Rubio: the Rebeca Sosa Multipurpose Facility in Rubio's hometown of West Miami, named after his political godmother.

Some of Rubio's friends, though, have organized an event of their own.

Bernie Navarro and his wife, Claudia, along with Navarro's Benworth Capital Partners, a real-estate investment firm, will hold a watch party at Miami Dade College's Koubek Center in the city of Miami. Navarro hosted Rubio and close supporters the day before the candidate launched his campaign in April, as well as Rubio's first local fundraiser as a presidential contender.

Fox News and the Republican National Committee will limit the number of candidates on the first debate stage to 10 (16 have filed to run so far). Bush and Rubio are expected to make it, since both are polling near the top of the field.

July 23, 2015

It's Braman and Regalado v. Miami, but the billionaire pays the legal tab


Auto magnate Norman Braman and Miami-Dade mayoral hopeful Raquel Regalado are suing Miami and Miami-Dade County over county funding for the SkyRise Miami tower. And while both share billing as plaintiffs, it's the billionaire paying the lawyers.

In a financial disclosure form filed with the county school board, Regalado reported an $8,660 gift from Braman for her 50-percent share of the suit's legal bill for the first three months of 2015. The suit was filed Feb. 5 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, and the Carlton Fields law firm is representing Braman and Regalado, now in her second term on the school board. 

In her filing, Regalado, a former practicing lawyer now working as an unpaid radio host, said she did not believe ethics rules required the disclosure since Braman would be paying the lawyers whether or not she was involved in the suit.

She wrote she is disclosing the gift "for purposes of ensuring full transparency related to this issue." 

Read the disclosure form here

Miami Beach woman's push to replace Confederate general statue with environmentalist gains traction

via @DriscollAmy

The push by a Miami Beach woman to replace Florida’s statue of a Confederate general with one of Marjory Stoneman Douglas won support last week from the Miami-Dade Commission for Women.

The commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to help Lynette Long ask Florida legislators to sponsor a bill to replace the statue of Edmund Kirby Smith, who surrendered the last military force of the Confederacy, with one of the champion of the Everglades. Smith’s bronze figure has stood in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection since 1922, where each state is allowed two representatives.

Florida’s other place of honor belongs to John Gorrie, the inventor of air conditioning.

Long has worked for years to see women’s contributions better represented in the nation’s symbols. Her push to replace the statue comes as the U.S. has announced it will feature a woman’s face on the $10 bill and after South Carolina took down the Confederate flag from the state Capitol in the wake of the race-related slaughter of nine people in Charleston.

Last month, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, called on Florida to replace Smith’s statue, calling it troubling “that one of Florida’s statues is an obscure Confederate war general."


Miami drops lawsuit vs. Homeless Trust


A seemingly bitter fight between the city of Miami and the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust may have reached a detente Thursday, with Miami commissioners voting to withdraw a lawsuit against the Trust.

The city filed suit on July 15 against the Trust and Miami-Dade County, looking to secure about $100,000 in public funds for a program that allows Miami police to refer the homeless to Camillus House, where they sleep on 115 mats beneath a pavilion and receive social services. The city initially sought the money from the Trust through a competitive process, but was ranked the lowest of seven bidders.

The ranking should not have been surprising. Trust executives and board chairman Ron Book have opposed the city's mat program, saying it does more to enable street life than dissuade it. But city officials say they filed suit after an appeal was rejected without even being considered.

On Thursday, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, perhaps the biggest proponent of the mat program and the loudest critic of the Trust, said the Trust rejected the appeal because it lacked the signature of City Manager Daniel Alfonso. He said the lawsuit was an effort by the city to "preserve" their right to appeal, but was proving counterproductive.

"We've learned this suit may have the unintended result of not bringing the county and Homeless Trust to the table," he said.

With the suit moot, the city is expected to meet Friday with the Trust and county.

July 22, 2015

Soccer talks teed up in Miami, as the county mayoral race looms


Looks like we can add Major League Soccer to the list of issues facing the 2016 mayoral race in Miami-Dade County. 

On Wednesday, David Beckham sent a letter to Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado asking to begin talks on building a pro-soccer stadium next to Marlins Park. The letter notes Beckham and partners would like to negotiate "in cooperation with Miami-Dade County." 

While the city would provide the land for Beckham's MLS franchise, Miami-Dade County may end up owning it in order for Beckham's team to avoid a property-tax bill.

The twist: Regalado's daughter, school board member Raquel Regalado, is running against Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. 

More here

Here's the Beckham letter: 

Miami Beckham United letter to Mayor Regalado

Tensions rise in Miami before Beckham stadium negotiations begin


Negotiations with David Beckham and his partners to build a soccer stadium next to Marlins Park haven't even begun yet, but already a key Miami city commissioner is frustrated with the process.

Commissioner Frank Carollo, whose district includes the city-owned land where Beckham's team is now looking to build a stadium for a Miami MLS franchise, says he's concerned that the project would also require purchasing a private apartment complex and displacing residents. More disconcerting, he says, is that those residents are now learning through the media that they might have to find a new home.

"I think it's unfair," said Carollo. "It's not the right way to start the conversation."

Carollo says he is also frustrated that he wasn't told about Beckham's interest in the site across from Marlins Stadium until after Mayor Tomás Regalado held a video conference Friday with Beckham partner, Marcelo Claure, and then called a news conference.

Carollo isn't against a Beckham stadium. A year ago, he proposed the vote in which the Miami Commission endorsed Beckham's efforts to build a stadium in Miami. But his frustrations -- while not terribly surprising -- inject tensions into a process that hasn't even begun yet.

City officials expect Beckham's team to hand-deliver a letter to City Hall Wednesday, stating their interest in the former Orange Bowl site in writing and kicking off formal negotiations. City Manager Daniel Alfonso stressed that negotiations haven't begun yet, but said his administration is sensitive to the impact the project would have on displaced residents.

"It’s not like we’re going to kick these people out to the curb," he said. "We know they’re renting. We’ll work to try and relocate them."

Miami commissioners are expected to take up the issue Thursday at Miami City Hall. Regalado could not be reached Wednesday morning, but said Tuesday that he and Alfonso didn't know what Claure wanted to speak about when he requested the video conference last week.

Regalado also said Tuesday that Beckham and his investors have been told by MLS that they 90 days to exercise their option to buy a franchise. If the deadline passes, he said, MLS will give the franchise to a team in Minnesota.