August 31, 2007

Related Group; Corporate Thugs Still Up to Dirty Tricks

Once again, The Related Group has decided to sue someone for exercising their constitutional right of free speech.

This isn't the first time the development corporation has viciously attacked its opposition; earlier this year, the repugnant company filed suit against the Stranahan House, a museum and historic landmark in Fort Lauderdale.

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.

Jorge Perez
Now, I guess because Related Group's CEO Jorge Perez hasn't disenchanted enough taxpaying citizens, he's suing City Commisioner Marc Sarnoff.
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 shyster lawyer, John Shubin.

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 shyster counsel to simply subpoena the document as part of the pending court action.

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 bought swayed as the City Commission is. And that's probably why Related Group is using sleaze-ball tactics to scare its opponents; they are desperate to knock out the opposition and get this unwanted turkey started before the law catches up with them. In slapping their vocal opponents with these frivolous lawsuits, Related Group is blatantly trying to distract everyone from something most of the community already knows:

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.


  1. Fight them Sarnoff. I have a request help spread the word about fighting the new property tax assessments in Miami and the rest of Florida.

    Please give voice to the evil of the crazy property tax assessments going on right now. If the assessments are unchallenged then lives will be destroyed in Miami under property taxes in the next couple of years, guaranteed.

    Majority of people who are upset about their new assessment are unaware that they can challenge their new assessments by September 14th. This would cost next to nothing, you can challenge it your self, also most Property Tax Attorneys get their commission as a percentage out of taxes that are saved. Challenge the ridiculous assessment increases. You can make the tax authorities back down.

    Better yet vote for those who advocate abolishing taxes on personal real property.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Anonymous 2-
    I deleted your comment because it was flat-out libel. It's obvious that I don't like Related Group either, but there has to be more than name calling and innuendo, otherwise we become as bad as they are.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Celia, for shame: spamming a blog? Not MY blog.

  6. This is typical of the thug mentality of property developers in SoFla. Unfortunately, public officials permit these people to operate with impunity. Is it any wonder that they feel they can sue anyone that disagrees with them? I am sure with the building slowdown (crash?), the markets will impart some long due humility upon them.