Manny Diaz, Miami's Former "Green Mayor," Is Now Representing Walmart Midtown

Categories: Politicks

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Former city mayor Manny Diaz
Manny Diaz's legacy seemed set in stone on October 22, 2009. That's when city commissioners voted 4-1 to approve Miami 21: the new-urbanism-inspired, pedestrian-friendly zoning code that then-mayor Diaz had spent eight years championing.

Miami 21 put the city on track to rival great metropolises like New York and Chicago, Diaz boasted. "I'm going to tell you that history will judge us right."

Five years later, the jury is still out on Miami 21. But history finds Diaz on the other side of the courtroom: Miami's "green mayor" is now representing Walmart in its efforts to build in midtown.

See also: Walmart Officially Closes on Midtown Property

Diaz served as city mayor from 2001 until shortly after his Miami 21 triumph in 2009. During his tenure, he gained national attention for pushing a city of steel-and-concrete skyscrapers to become more pedestrian- and environment-friendly.

He promoted biking and famously used public transportation. In 2004, the Manhattan Institute named him its "Urban Innovator of the Year." Diaz served on selection committees for urban excellence awards, became buds with NYC enviro-crat Michael Bloomberg, and was named president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2008.

In 2012, Diaz unveiled his own tribute to himself: a book he wrote during a fellowship at Harvard titled Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a Time.

See also: Ex-Mayor Manny Diaz's New Book Is Full of Lies

The book played up Diaz's achievements and sugarcoated his administration's controversies, including city manager Joe Arriola's resignation, police chief John Timoney's international jaunts, and Diaz's biggest disaster: his fervent support for Marlins Park.

But not even that revision hinted at Diaz's ultimate urbanism U-turn.

On January 22, the ex-mayor and four other attorneys from his law firm, Lydecker Diaz, filed papers to represent Walmart in its battle to build in midtown.

In other words, the man who once stood for mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, car-free, local development is now pushing to bring a big-box store and massive parking garage to the neighborhood.

Diaz did not respond to a phone message or email requesting comment.

Local residents and business owners have appealed the city's decision to award Walmart a building permit, but it's an uphill battle. The world's largest retailer officially closed on the 4.6-acre site last month.

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36 comments
Marc305
Marc305

People who oppose this project are fighting a lost war. They can appeal all they want but here are the facts.
1 - Wal-Mart had their zoning approved last year
2 - The Miami Commission approved the project in November
3 - Wal-Mart bought the property in midtown early this year
4 - And now they have Mr. Diaz fighting for them
I am not a fan of the family that owns Wal-Mart, but I am less of a fan of empty parking lots! There is already a Target, a Ross, and a Marshalls there. Wal-Mart will be built and it will be packed with people and it will be profitable. And everyone who is belly aching now will disappear and go bitch about the next Wal-Mart project. David and Goliath is a fairy tale, in real life Goliath usually wins!

KuvinLaw
KuvinLaw

Grant,


I'd like to get involved. I am currently working on the Coral Gables/West Grove Trolley issue so I have a good understanding of the "selective enforcement" of the Miami 21 code you are talking about. Contact me at work. It shouldn't be hard  to find me.


Lowell

grantstern
grantstern topcommenter

To clarify: 


I not condemn Mr. Diaz in any legal capacity for accepting Walmart's blood money to betray the citizens of Miami. He is under no legal obligation to deny a job from Walmart (that we're aware of) and his accepting the funds is 100% legitimate from a legal/technical/law ethics point of view. 


However, Mr. Diaz spent a decade professing to be a New Urbanist Mayor. Now, he's opposing "his community" to place a Walmart into Midtown that does not fit those principles. 


I do condemn Mr. Diaz for his accepting money to blight "his community" and betrayal of those principals he (supposedly) endorsed to gain national notoriety.


This is the day Manny Diaz stopped being a member of the Miami community, period.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

........................in olde roma this emperor would have been knifed dead for screwing his people for greed

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

.......................what turnaround ? PEREZ is selling luxury high-rise condos to drug kingpins sight unseen at over $700 per square foot paid all cash from wired funds from off-shore LLCs while the general population of MIAMI gets poorer and its infastructure including sewer is near failing and traffic continues to choke-off progress while this buffoon wanted a new $562,ooo,ooo baseball stadium which ruined an entire neighborhood

i guess if CUBANs want CUBANs to rule over them some will prosper but most will lose their struggle

and to a GRINGO like me its seems to be the same as fidel castro selecting who will be chosen and who will remain in a sub-standard existence

such a wide divide bewteen a few uber-rich billionaire developers who are blowing up big time from geo-narco drug money while the masses remain uneducated and crowed into slums with no upward mobility nor access to power seems very similar to dictatorial cuban politics and faux socialism today

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

The illogical ideals of the left has no limits.


They want central planning and a centralized district so the poor and middle class won't have to use energy to travel for what they need and then turn around and demonize Wal-Mart.


Wal-Mart is exactly what you want.  A central location where you can purchase almost everything you could possible "need" at low prices.



Chgo Dave
Chgo Dave

that's not true in the City of Chicago you're not allowed to have a Walmart.you know how liberals are?

Oscar Diaz
Oscar Diaz

When I was a waiter, I served him one day. Him and his family were very rude.

Louis Wing
Louis Wing

He was only GREEN for the money.

Michael Cimino
Michael Cimino

don't trust anyone in miami! survival of the biggest ego. he should be invited (or forced) to live in a penthouse apartment across the street from the completed walmart and see how he likes it!

Emil Pagoaga
Emil Pagoaga

Lol, in any other city this would be shameful but in Miami it is praise!!!

Amaning Benjamin
Amaning Benjamin

welcome mr. Or whatever you are called DIAZ to the hamble abode of Walmat midtown,but on one conditiom make sure you throw away the dark side of your life before .......to......

Taylor Cox
Taylor Cox

Well as much as Walmart blows this would actually make perfect sense for his whole urban accessibility philosophy....not sure why you're surprised except for a chance to turn into controversy & make a news story out of it...

Darcy Shepard
Darcy Shepard

Every man has his price, and he has demonstrated his....

Cary Gonzalez
Cary Gonzalez

Why is anyone surprised at this? Every day I find a new reason to be thankful I no longer live in Miami. The beginning of the end for Midtown...sell those apartments before the Walmart crowd descends, folks! You're going to lose your collective asses if you don't!

grantstern
grantstern topcommenter

@Anthonyvop1  Walmart has a right to build a location there if they so choose, but they don't have a right to withhold traffic study information, obtain selective enforcement of zoning rules (which they freely admit on the record that their plan contains) and for that reason, we oppose their development.  


That said, most of us in the community to not want Walmart here because they are a bad neighbor, abusive employer and sending America's jobs to China and their profits to Arkansas.  


Even still, I would stand up for their right to build had they done it by the book.  


Sadly, given the chance, Wamart was not interested in doing right by this city.

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

You lost already, go screw.

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

Yeah because they are so much different from the Target crowd.

Yawn

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

@grantsternDo not attempt to imply that you are for free trade and private property rights then turn around and state the need for ridiculous regulation.  You cannot be for Wal-Mart's rights to build and be in favor of Zoning laws.  Zoning laws are a violation of property rights.

As for Wal-Mart being a bad neighbor....Really?  They employ 100's of thousands of America's unskilled labor and provide quality products at affordable prices.  

Now if you don't like Wal-Mart because it upsets you elitist sensibilities then just come out and say so.

grantstern
grantstern topcommenter

@miamitrev2 nothing is yet lost.  If you'd like to be informed, here's a copy of the court appeal: 


www.scribd.com/doc/204851133/NoWalmartinMidtown-Circuit-Court-Appeal-Brief


What is your opinion of our arguments?

grantstern
grantstern topcommenter

@miamitrev2  Our nowalmartinmidtown.com effort has nothing to do with crowd and everything to do with applying the law fairly for all parties.  


The city gave them administrative approval of a variance.  In layman's terms - the city allowed Walmart to skip presenting a traffic study of what their proposed location's impact would be on the community.  


This is wrong and must be stopped.  Had Walmart presented their traffic study and gone through the normal public hearing process in the first place, in all likelihood, they'd have already built today - but with a much smaller location that complies with 100% of the Midtown Master Plan.

KuvinLaw
KuvinLaw

@grantstern @Anthonyvop1  Grant, I'd like to get involved. I am currently working on the West Grove Trolley issue which is very similar to the WalMart issue; selective enforcement of Miami 21. 

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

@grantstern   I agree with you about the Tax incentives.  I am 100% all forms of Tax breaks or subsidies for all private entities.  

But

Just because there are zoning laws doesn't mean that they aren't a violation of rights.  There have been and currently are many laws that violate the rights of the individual.  

You even admit that zoning laws are RESTRICTIONS on property rights. 

grantstern
grantstern topcommenter

@Anthonyvop1 Free trade? I'm against corporate welfare.  That site is laden with tax incentives, federal state and local.  If Walmart want free trade, why don't they direct those funds to charity?  


Private property rights?  There are numerous restrictions on private property rights, starting with zoning.  The zoning on their property is a restriction on property rights, one they want to end run.  


Don't throw buzz words out without understanding what private property rights mean.

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