Miami Beach's Parking Imbroglio

For nine years, Frank Pintado, as the operations manager of Standard Parking's Miami Beach operations, lorded over the city's public garages and several lots. The deal was worth $3 million a year to the publicly traded company. But that all came to an end last year when the city commission voted to give Standard's contract to rival firm, Impark.

In the incestous world of Miami Beach politics, Pintado has been a fixture for a long time, helping candidates raise money and recruiting volunteers. But in 2007, Pintado and Standard fell out of favor when only one of  the candidates they supported won.

That hasn't kept the scrappy, Cuban-born parking mogul from trying to reclaim the top spot. Impark lobbyist Michael Hernandez even claims his rivals have violated  the city's lobbying rules.

Last month, during a contentious city commission meeting, Commissioner Jerry Libbin, whom Pintado supports, attempted to convince his colleagues to dump Impark. He cited a city-generated report that found several problems with the current garage operator: 1) two missing bags of cash collected at city lots, 2) rude parking attendants, and 3) poor management.

The debate deteriorated when Libbin exchanged insults with commissioners Jonah Wolfson and Saul Gross, who accused their colleague of politicizing a city contract. The meeting ended without a decision. But the fallout continues.

This is where the possibly lobbying violation arises. Impark representative Hernandez provided Banana Republican with an email Pintado sent to Libbin on March 18, before the commission meeting. In it the former parking maven provided rebuttal to defenses that he expected from Impark. During the city commission meeting, Libbin often referred to the document to drive home his point.

If he indeed sent Libbin the email, Pintado was potentially acting as a lobbyist and therefore should have registered as a lobbyist with the city.

Pintado scoffs at the accusation. He insists all he did was forward Libbin information that was compiled by the author of local blog, CityDebate.com, who uses the nomme de plume J.P. Morgan. "That's not lobbying," Pintado adds.

UPDATE: Morgan contacted Banana Republican to tell us that he indeed is a real person and to verify Pintado's account. Morgan explained that he produced the document and sent it to Pintado, who then passed it along to Libbin.

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