Monday, June 27, 2011

Why are Mayoral candidate Julio Robaina's properties worth so little? Taking a closer look at Mr. Robaina's campaign qualifying documents...

I know the Miami Dade county mayoral race isn't our standard fare, bare with me though as I think what I've found may be of interest to our readers that are going to vote on Tuesday for former mayor Carlos Avarez's replacement.  I was bored the last couple of days so I decided to go through mayoral candidate Julio Robaina's qualifying documents.  Here they are in their entirety...

Julio Robaina Mayoral Candidate Qualifying Documents

At first glance there seems to be nothing out of the ordinary, that is until I came across the list of real property that Mr. Robaina owns, here it is appears on his financial disclosures, as always, click on the image to enlarge...

For the moment, let's take a look at the property identified by the first arrow which is located at 499 West 33rd street and the one just below it which is located at 455 West 33rd street.  These two addresses refer to the same shopping center, the same shopping center that our friend Frank Alvarado of the Miami New Times wrote about back in April (here's a link to that article).  From the article...
While Miami-Dade County residents paid higher property taxes last year, Hialeah Mayor and Miami-Dade County mayoral candidate Julio Robaina did not pay property taxes on a shopping center he owns in his city. In fact, it appears Robaina has avoided paying taxes on the building since 2006, when he and a business partner finished it.
Ok, so according to the article for some reason or another the Property Appraisers office only calculated the property taxes based on the land value and not the value of the complete shopping center.  Worse still, the property appraisers office takes the blame for the "miscalculation"...
" was the property appraiser's office's fault Robaina's building value was not recalculated."
Sounds like bullshit to me, but for the sake of our argument, let's accept that the property appraisers office screwed up and failed to collect tens of thousands of dollars from Mr. Robaina.  We've also learned from the New Times article that Mr. Robaina had borrowed in excess of one million three hundred thousand dollars against this property, with that in mind, how can you explain these numbers on his campaign qualifying documents...

According to Mr. Robaina, his shopping center is worth a total of  $75,325!  WTF?  I wonder what the bank who lent Mr. Robaina 1.3 million dollars would think of that?  Now I understand that the first screw up could have been blamed on the property appraiser not reevaluating the property after the shopping center after it was built (pffffft!) but how can we explain this miscalculation on his campaign qualifying documents?  Based on what's listed in the qualifying documents it looks like Mr. Robaina's wife prepared these documents, so is it possible she wasn't aware of what her husbands assets were worth?  

Let's move on to the property identified by the second arrow in the list of real properties owned by Mr. Robaina that we posted at the beginning of today's post, the property located at 5590 West 16th Avenue which appears to be a prosperous Chevron gas station.  From Google maps...

From the looks of it this Chevron has six gas pumps (two dispensers per pump) as well as a convenience store.  The station seems to be sitting on a prime corner and based on what a few of my friends who own gas stations have told me, the station, convenience store and business is worth upwards of 1.5 million dollars, the property alone has got to be worth in excess of a million dollars.  Based on the $610,000 mortgage Mr. Robaina obtained when he purchased the property back in 1995 the property had to be worth at least that much if not much more, so then why would he list it's value at $192,071 on his campaign qualifying documents?

I don't get it?  Once again from the campaign qualifying documents and the mortgage for the gas station, we learn that the tenant who occupies the station is a corporation that's also owned by Mr. Robaina...

Just the convenience store and it's lease for the gas station and store is worth more than what Mr. Robaina claims the whole station is worth!  What gives here folks? 

I wouldn't want to suggest some sort of impropriety on Mr. Robaina's part regarding the gross undervaluing of these two properties that we've discussed.  Maybe it's something that's easily explainable?  Perhaps an oversight by his wife who handles the day to day affairs while Mr. Robaina was busy governing Hialeah?  Really, why would anyone want to undervalue their assets in a financial disclosure anyway?

This brings us to this final detail regarding Mr. Robaina's campaign qualifying documents...

By signing these documents, Mr. Robaina swears "...that the information disclosed on this form and any attachments hereto is true, accurate and complete."  As we sit here on the eve of our mayoral election how are we to interpret the fact that Mr. Robaina swore that the facts regarding his own personal finances contained in his campaign qualifying documents are correct when it's blatantly obvious that they're not?  If Mr. Robaina isn't intimately familiar with his own finances then how can we expect him to handle the job of managing the multi billion dollar Miami Dade county government?


  1. Sadly Giminez hasn't even brought a hint of his corruption to light. While I'm no fan of negative campaigns, when your opponent is a blatant criminal and the local paper or news wont cover his crimes the candidate should step out and scream his opponents crimes from the roof tops. If he doesn't we end up with people like the criminal Rick Scott in office.

  2. Your post piqued my interest and I did some legwork of my own.

    This doesn't appear to be anything more than an arrangement to limit liability and there's nothing illegal or improper about that.

    The value that you cite in your post is one-half of the appraised value of the property according to hte Miami-Dade Property Appraiser, which would be accurate in light of the fact that he claims to own half of the company.

    Yes, it takes a little while to connect the dots and, to the untrained eye, this might seem like some nepharious plot, but there doesn't seem to be anything unusual about this.

    If you look at the value given to the shopping center as reflected in the report that you cite, it's likely that the value listed therein is Robaina's share of the property based on the assessed value listed by the Property Appraiser.

    Mortgages are NOT based on the property appraiser's values. A lender relies on a professional appraisl to value a loan. And the information listed on the Property Appraiser's website is NOT a professional appraisal.

    As someone who's been in the industry, you know all of this very well and you know that the situation that you describe, based on the documents that you cite, is perfectly legal.

  3. 12:01, I am not "in the industry" and dont agree with your assessment of the situation. Regardless, thanks for the comment.

  4. Look at the Campaign Expense reports. You will see that all the food supplies are purchased from a JC Food Store. Well, JC Food Store is Robaina's own gas station c-store. Look at the address on sunbiz.. Same address. And, if you look back into his campaign, and the campaigns of his allies on the Hialeah counsel, they have been able to cyphon campaign money back into Mr. Robaina's pocket. It is legal, but, it shouldn't be!!!

  5. Please, do you guys think everyone is stupid ? So we're to believe that Mr Robaina uses the appraised value of his real properties from the property appraisers office on his financial statements when he applies for multi million dollar loans? Puhleeze.

  6. The form seems to be asking for the value of the asset, not the assessed value, Since everyone agrees that the assessed value is in error, then it's curious that Mr Robaina chose to use that in his response. The value of his gas station isn't going to change any votes, so it's unlikely there is an effort to deceive. But it does suggest that someone not familiar with the property filled out the form, and that Mr Robaina didn't check it.