Caught on Tape

Every once in a great while we get to peek behind the curtain and see how this town really works. As you might guess, it's not very pretty.

Just so you understand why our interest -- I mean, why there is news value in this tape for us. Because you are talking about hiring an elected official, a public official, and we have been covering Arza for quite a while --

Price: But, but Frank, there is nothing wrong with that.

Right, but I mean --

Price: There is nothing illegal about it. There are many state legislators who serve as lobbyists who advocate.

Well, we haven't said you've done anything illegal. Again, we are just interested in the context of this tape and, you know, the fact you guys were interested in hiring a public official. You also mentioned that you have used Ralph before. Can you tell me exactly what kind of role --Price: No, I can't because I have attorney-client privilege with other clients. But once again, I've used Ralph, uh, in the city on legislative matters. I have -- 90 percent of the time I use myself. I don't need him, uh, to do that. But, uh, at the end of the day Masoud either felt his fees were too expensive or that, at the end of the day, we don't really need him. I don't think we need him. I don't think we need anybody because I think the plan is something that they are really looking forward to, this mixed-use concept.

Well, what happened between the time you thought you would need him and when you realized you weren't going to need him?

Price: Because number one, I think it was a combination of what Ralph thought he could do for Masoud. I wasn't present at that meeting. And number two, I felt, after a short period of time, that this is exactly the plan the city wanted for this property, so there was no need to hire a lobbyist to, uh, to do this.

Um, on the tape you mention once "the zoning is delivered to us." What do you mean by that?

Price: I meant the master-plan amendment.

Right, but what does deliver mean? How is Arza going to deliver the zoning?

Price: It means we win the case. We win the case.

But how does Arza win the case for you?

Price: Arza, Arza doesn't win anything. Arza, Arza is just there to lobby on our behalf through the legislative process.

And why the reference to 2000-pound gorilla?

Price: Because I feel that of all people in that area, he is the -- the guy. Just like when I go down to Dade County there are a couple of 2000-pound gorillas here.

And who are those guys, if you don't mind me asking?

Price: Well, Rodney Barreto. Chris Korge at one time. What's his name, the former state legislator, uh, used to be an attorney at Greenberg. He was a state legislator: Miguel de Grandy. You have a couple of people who fit in that category.

What did you mean when you said Arza was hungry?

Price: I think I meant that he, that he is looking for clients.

I'm just asking you because this tape is going to come out in print and we have to explain what this terminology means.

Price: Okay. I will tell you, I am going to consult an attorney about suing your paper because I, I, I find this to be offensive. Would you, would you like your phone tapped, Frank?

No.

Price: Would, would you like all your phone conversations tapped?

No. I'm sorry, you know. I'm just here to do my job.

Price: I understand that, I understand that. But I think there has to be a certain degree of privacy that is intended for people who get on a phone call. I'd like to know why someone's phone is being tapped. And who's tapping the phones?

I wish I could answer that question for you, but I can't because I don't know.

Brian Adler [indicating tape recorder]: Is that on?

Yes. You want me to stop?

Adler: Yes. Stanley, I think you shouldn't answer any more questions.

[Remainder of transcription based on handwritten notes]Price: It's very obvious what you guys are trying to do.

I am asking you questions so we can understand exactly what the context is.

Price: And I am giving you the best answers I can. The best answer is that on legislative matters it is acceptable practice in this state to hire lobbyists, whether they're state legislators or President of the United States or whoever. There is no prohibition against doing that. I can tape any conversation and take it out of context to fit a story I want to make.

I'm not trying to fit it in any story. I'm just trying to understand why you guys considered hiring Ralph Arza.

Price: And I'm telling you that when you hire a lobbyist, you hire the guy who gives you the most bang for your buck. Ralph is well connected in Doral.

But as far as the fee arrangement is concerned, can we discuss that?

Adler: Until we can discuss the legality of the tape and figure out where that tape came from, I don't think you should take this any further. I don't think there is any good that comes of this by continuing.

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