Miami Beach City Attorney Jose Smith resigned last week after 8 years of service.
|Miami Beach City Manager|
In his letter dated March 26, Smith chastised Morales for sending a letter in January to strip club owner Leroy Griffith, threatening to close his club over his failure to pay resort taxes.
"Our office did not review or have prior knowledge of your letter to Club Madonna," Smith told Morales in his letter.
Only businesses regulated by Florida's Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco or the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, "are liable for the city resort tax. Club Madonna is regulated by neither," the Miami Herald's Christina Veiga reported.
Club owner Griffith celebrated his latest victory over the city by issuing a press release that blasted Morales and other "top leaders" at City Hall.
“It is disturbing that top leaders at City Hall were not on the same page with one another, and were jumping to unfounded conclusions, with some not knowing what others were saying, doing, implementing or authorizing – or whether any of it was even factual or legal. Alarmingly, this is a case of the right hand not aware of what the left was doing.
"We hope that Mayor Levine and city commissioners will take note of the reckless and rash words, orders, and threats that have emanated from some departments at City Hall in recent months, and take corrective measures, up to and including replacing top officials. We expect our city leaders to apply the law equally, fairly, and correctly, and not abuse the power of their offices by issuing arbitrary closings and unjustified threats that hinder businesses and residents alike."
Griffith also used his press release to remind City Hall that his club "continue[s] to be a powerful generator of economic prosperity and stability to neighboring businesses on Washington Avenue," adding, "We also proudly possess one of the lowest incident rates of any nightclub or entertainment business in South Beach. It's an indisputable fact: City and police crime stats bear this out year after year."
It was that last line that caught my eye.
Does Club Madonna really possess such a record?
I decided to check Griffith's claim by pulling Miami Beach Police Department incident reports for 2013 for Club Madonna and two other Washington Avenue nightspots. (I've embedded the incident reports associated with all three clubs below.)
Griffith, it turns out, is telling the truth.
In 2013, the Miami Beach Police Department received and logged just 36 calls regarding various incidents at 1527 Washington Ave., the address for Club Madonna.
Compare that with the 132 calls MBPD received in 2013 regarding incidents at Cameo at 1445 Washington.
But both Cameo and Club Madonna pale in comparison to Washington Avenue's Mansion nightclub.
In 2013, Beach police logged a mind-boggling 344 calls from Mansion at 1235 Washington.
That's a total of 476 calls received from just two Miami Beach businesses in 2013. That's not a very comforting thought if you happen to be a Miami Beach resident and taxpayer.
July 13, 2013: Miami Beach Police responded to the city's two towing companies more than 750 times in 2012.
Both Cameo and Mansion, by the way, are owned by Opium Group.
Note to Jimmy Morales: If you want to clean up Washington Ave., it might be a good idea to go after the real culprits...you know, the ones who are causing the problems.