Conflicts of Interest Could Ruin Pork 'n' Beans Revitalization Plan

Miami-Dade commissioners will decide soon whether to hire condo king the Related Group to redevelop the county's oldest public housing project, Liberty Square. But one county commish, Audrey Edmonson, is going to bat for Atlantic Pacific Communities, the firm that ended up in second place. Last week, Edmonson claimed she thought her community was "disrespected."

"The community is feeling as if they did not have a say-so, that it was all a sham," she said. "The feeling is that this whole, entire Liberty Square Rising was initiated for one particular developer."

Of course, Edmonson doesn't mention her close ties with the company that sold off its affordable-housing business to Atlantic Pacific. After being elected to the county commission in 2005, the former El Portal mayor counted on campaign donations from the Carlisle Group, its executives, and related entities. In 2012, for instance, 30 corporations controlled by Carlisle's bosses gave a combined $15,000 to her reelection campaign.

Three years later, Carlisle CEO Matthew Greer pleaded guilty to defrauding the county and the federal government of $30 million by inflating the cost of construction for low-income developments. Lloyd Boggio, another ex-Carlisle head honcho, awaits trial on similar charges.

Between being investigated by the FBI and doing the perp walk, Greer and Boggio sold off most of Carlisle's assets, including the company's interest in several county affordable-housing projects, to Atlantic Pacific. Also, some of Carlisle's un-indicted executives went to work for Atlantic Pacific, which employs Roosevelt Bradley, a former Miami-Dade Transit director who has assisted Edmonson's campaigns, as a lobbyist. Bradley, a Liberty City native, denies that his representation of Atlantic influences Edmonson's decisions.

"It has nothing to do with me being a lobbyist," he says. "It has to do with the needs of the community and about having transparency in the process." A spokesperson for Atlantic Pacific declined to comment.

Strangely, Atlantic Pacific's affordable-housing division is still doing business with the county. Now Edmonson is trying to derail the revitalization project. If their sabotage succeeds, Liberty City will not make any progress.

When you look at both deals objectively, there's no comparison. Related is promising much more for residents and the community. My only beef is Related teaming up with Miami Heat executive and former center Alonzo Mourning on the youth center. Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who grew up in Pork 'n' Beans and is a modern-day Muhammad Ali, is a far better choice.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.

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