After city planners rejected an early version of the proposal, Related hired assistant city manager Alicia Cuervo away from the city to work on the project, Darmody said. The developers also hired as consultants two allies of Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones: Barbara Carey-Shuler and Barbara Hardemon. Spence-Jones ties to the consultants were the subject of a separate state attorneys office investigation, but prosecutors found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Darmody also told jurors about confidential agreements to pay the Bay Heights and Natoma Manors neighborhood associations for their support agreements that were never disclosed during the public hearings on the project.
Shubin said the residents of the nearby neighborhoods had long had a testy relationship with the hospital, and the neighbors supported the condo project because it would have meant the hospital was less likely to expand.
Not one penny went to anyones pocket, Shubin said. None of these agreements prevented anyone from coming out with the pitchforks and saying, Im against this project.
The city commission approved the condo project in April 2007 in a narrow 3-2 vote. One of the dissents came from commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who famously wrote a memo to himself about suspicions that Spence-Jones had voted for the project because of her ties to Carey-Shuler and Hardemon which in turn led to the criminal probe.
Meanwhile, The Vizcayans continued to fight the project, filing a court appeal and an administrative appeal, and winning both. A court later found that the citys approval process was flawed, in part because of discussions between then-Mayor Manny Diaz and the developer out of public view.
That win wasnt good enough for The Vizcayans, Shubin said in arguing against the legal fees.
The trial, before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Daryl Trawick, is expected to last through next week.