This isn't the first time the development corporation has viciously attacked its opposition; earlier this year, the
RG bought a property adjacent to the landmark property, surprising everyone in Broward County; the board of the Stranahan House and the City of Fort Lauderdale had tried to acquire the property, but were rebuffed by the owners. As soon as RG announced its plans for the site, the citizens of Fort Lauderdale voted in support of plan to purchase the parcel from RG and either create a public park, or add it to the Stranahan House parcel.
Related Group, in its typically greedy disregard for the will of the people, pushed ahead with its unwanted project, refusing to negotiate with the city. And then, because simply telling the people of Fort Lauderdale to fuck off wasn't enough, they sued Stranahan House - and a protest organizer - for "loss of income."
As you can see, RG's glass and steel monstrosity dwarfs the Stranahan House. Much in the way Vizcay has complained that RG's new project would dwarf the historic mansion.
Now, I guess because Related Group's CEO Jorge Perez hasn't disenchanted enough taxpaying citizens, he's suing City Commisioner Marc Sarnoff.
Related Group accuses Sarnoff of "writing a memo that's defamatory and reflects a ``reckless disregard for the truth.'' They seek a copy of the memo, and $15,000 in damages for the defamation. ''I have a good-faith reason to believe that the contents of this document are extremely, extremely defamatory with respect to the corporate reputation of Related,'' claims their
They haven't explained how this is remotely possible. After all, according to Sarnoff's attorney Alan Wachs, ''To my knowledge, only three people have ever seen this document.'' Presumably, Sarnoff and Wachs are two of the three.
Wachs goes on to say that he personally told Related's
It's apparent even to small children that this lawsuit is intended to defame Commissioner Sarnoff. As Wachs put it: "They're trying to put a muzzle on Marc."
But Related group didn't stop there: as in Fort Lauderdale, they are suing the historic landmark that has been vigorously opposing the condo project.
From the Herald article: "...The Related Group...accused The Vizcayans...'of secretly engaging in ''a campaign of rumor and innuendo'' aimed at injuring the developer's corporate reputation."
Hmm. Maybe The Related Group should try suing themselves. No one has damaged their reputation as much as they themselves have. Suing not one but TWO charitable organizations? Suing a lawmaker to get a memo that they could already request via a subpoena? Hardly the action of a company concerned with its public image.
Let's face facts: Related Group itself is responsible for the bad press these projects have generated. No one forced Related Group to pick the hospital grounds for their project. Their project isn't appropriate for the zoning of the parcel. The Zoning Department reviewed the project and rejected the request for a variance. The Zoning Department also recommended to the City Commission that the zoning change should be rejected. The neighbors - which include Vizcaya - do not want the zoning changed.
In the United States, citizens have a right to speak out against changes in their community. They have a right to lobby their government to reject projects or changes in law. Related Group's actions are a blatant attempt to silence the citizens of Fort Lauderdale and Miami. After all, The Relate Group is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, has access to entire law firms, and can write the costs off their taxes as a business expense. Private citizens and charitable organizations such as the Stranahan House and Vizcaya do not have the financial resources to fight a protracted, if frivolous, lawsuit. And that's why Related Group filed the suits.
Of course, there is an ongoing investigation to rumors that Related Group bribed a city commissioner to change the zoning for the parcel involved: currently, that parcel is zoned for use as a hospital or related supporting structures. The City's own Zoning Department has repeatedly rejected the zoning change. The Commission is ignoring its own rules and its own plans, with no explanation as to why they are disregarding them.
Hmm, zoning board rejected the plan, the parcel is set aside for a specific use, a neighboring national landmark warned it would detract the historic site, and still some commissioners voted for this loser. Damned RIGHT there's a criminal investigation!
And then there's this story: "the Third District Court of Appeal concluded that Miami officials flouted the city's development rules by permitting the $162 million Coastal on the River project, a 633-unit, twin-tower high-rise on the south flank of the river."
This is the SECOND TIME THIS MONTH that the court has overturned a decision by the City Commission to approve land-use changes against its own standing zoning and land use policies.
It seems that the courts aren't as easily
By approving this project, the Commission has acted against the best interests of the citizens of Miami, and has violated its own policies in the process.
The Old Grover weighs in.