Last Friday, just before leaving town for Spring Break, I had a phone conversation with Brad Rosenblatt, supplemented with his written statement yesterday, as quoted below.
Mr. Rosenblatt offers himself as someone who supports local business in everyone’s interest. “What I bring that is a bit different is that I have been active downtown since 2003.” It’s important, he argued, to “make sure downtown doesn’t underperform” because downtown’s performance affects everyone in the city. “It has a very clear link to the financial success of the whole city since they pay over 50%” of local taxes. “This affects the taxes that residents pay: when the downtown performs, it keeps resident taxes low, and services high.” Specifically, the city needs to maintain the garage, the elevators, the greenery, the sidewalks. “If people go elsewhere, it impacts everyone in Coral Gables.”
I asked if he had an endorsement in the Mayor’s race. “I know who I’m voting for. I’ll tell you April 12. I’m voting for someone has good experience to lead our city for the next two years.”
I asked Mr. Rosenblatt to reply to the allegations about him in the push-poll. He talked faster than I can type, so he kindly emailed emailed me a statement.
Recall that the push poll said something to the effect of
- He has a history of financial problems including an IRS lien for payroll taxes and filed for bankruptcy
- He was arrested for embezzlement and grand larceny and pleaded no contest
Here’s the formal reply:
A decade ago I helped my father with some financial obligations. Shortly thereafter he became ill and his ability to keep up with his obligations was affected. I did my best to take care of him but the burden became too great. At the advice of my attorney, I filed for bankruptcy. In the midst of this, I chose poor business partners who in retaliation for a hostile breakup, made false accusations against me. I have NEVER been guilty of anything. We settled the dispute and I was able to clear my good name and preserve my reputation. Since that time I have built a successful international business and have served my community. It is shameful that some of my campaign opponents choose to distort my record to win an election. I’m confident the voters will support me because of my qualifications and desire to be a public servant for our city.
During our talk, I asked about the Channel 10 article. Did Mr. Rosenblatt really think this wouldn’t come out in a campaign? That quote, he said, is accurate, but is ripped from context. He was 25 at the time. (Rosenblatt is 35 now.) He relied on his friend and business partner’s father, who was also an investor in the project and the project’s attorney. He “represented his son and me”. Then it started to go wrong. “I sued them. They made false accusation against me.” What Channel 10 left out, Mr. Rosenblatt said, is that the main witness against him ten years ago, the office manager, has since recanted. “They pressured her to sign a statement. … She provided a sworn affidavit ten years later that she was pressured … and I never did anything wrong.”
Mr. Rosenblatt says there’s a second witness too: “There was an operations manager at the time…he also has gone on the record…all monies were accounted for…there was backup for everything…there was no wrongdoing on anyone’s part.
“Coral Gables voters will be disgusted that someone will try to use something [like this]…they don’t have a tolerance for dirty politics, for slander.”
I asked if Mr. Rosenblatt had any idea who paid for the survey, but he said he did not, other than it had to be one of the well-financed candidates.
I hope to speak to the other candidates after I get back next week. Then I may offer some thoughts of my own about the race.