This LowTGimenez video never made the light of day...

Miami Herald:

Weeks before Genting’s monorail bid, Miami-Dade mayor and wife filmed promo for train


  • LowT Gimenez was in a Genting promo video before Genting bid... sketchy...
  • The Video never made the light of day...
  • The proposal states Genting and partners are free to charge what they want for monorail rides, but that holders of monthly county passes could use the trains “at no additional cost.”
  • Weeks before Miami-Dade received a confidential bid by Genting to spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars on a monorail linking Miami with Miami Beach, the county’s mayor and his wife filmed a promotional video for the proposed train, according to interviews and an ethics report.
  • The Miami Herald was unable to obtain or see the video, and got no response to requests to Edmonson and Gimenez to ask Garcia-Toledo to release the footage. Garcia-Toledo showed the video to Gimenez, according to Marquez, his spokeswoman.
  • "Genting consortium’s proposed payments and specifics of the land swap were redacted."



Weeks before Miami-Dade received a confidential bid by Genting to spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars on a monorail linking Miami with Miami Beach, the county’s mayor and his wife filmed a promotional video for the proposed train, according to interviews and an ethics report. 

Audrey Edmonson, the chairwoman of the Miami-Dade commission, said she joined Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Lourdes Gimenez in February for the filming in a local studio used to create a digital version of the trio traveling on the would-be monorail. She and others who saw the final version describe a computerized monorail gliding by the Miami skyline.

Real-life versions of the Gimenezes and Edmonson board the digitized train and happily peer out the superimposed windows at local sites — a virtual ride produced for a transit venture now at the center of a county bidding contest to develop one of the busiest commuting corridors in Miami-Dade. 


“This was a promotional video the mayor and Audrey were in,” said Ralph Garcia-Toledo, a lobbyist and partner in Genting’s monorail proposal who also served as fundraising chairman for Gimenez’s 2016 reelection bid. “The mayor looking at the skyline, getting on the train — everything is virtual — and showing sites of downtown Miami, Miami Beach, stuff like that.” 

Filming occurred Feb. 8, according to Edmonson’s calendar. That’s about three months before Genting and partners submitted the proposal — which is still confidential — to Gimenez on May 1 to use its planned casino site in downtown Miami as a station for a privately run monorail subsidized with county dollars. 

The proposal, legally considered “unsolicited,” led to Gimenez and the County Commission in September launching a formal bidding process for Genting and competitors to compete for the “Beach Corridor” transit route. The county could have rejected the proposal, but opted to begin soliciting bids for the corridor even as consultants were still conducting a $10 million study to recommend the best transit mode for the route as part of Miami-Dade’s SMART Plan review. 

That study is expected to be released in the coming weeks, and the county is inviting bidders to propose any of the transit options under review, including adding rapid-transit buses and extending the existing Metromover system to the beach. 
Edmonson and a Gimenez spokeswoman both said participating in the monorail video won’t call into question the officeholders’ objectivity when it comes to future votes affecting Genting’s bid. But the concerns were there before the cameras started rolling, according to Edmonson’s account.

“I kept repeating to them that this does not mean I am in support” of the project, Edmonson said of her conversation with Garcia-Toledo before the filming. “I am just helping you put some financing together. ... Then you can compete with others.” 
Edmonson said she pressed Garcia-Toledo on whether her participation would run afoul of county rules. “He said, ‘It’s legal. The mayor is going to do it,’” she said.

Myriam Marquez, Gimenez’s communications director, said the mayor agreed to be in the video after Garcia-Toledo and fellow monorail partner Jesse Manzano-Plaza, Gimenez’s 2016 campaign manager, requested help securing Genting’s final backing of the Miami-Dade project. 

“Ralph and Jesse came to them and said: ‘We want Genting — Genting is interested in having a transit station... and being part of that Beach link. We want to show them county officials’ interest in having this project done,’” Marquez said. 

She equated the video to other promotional appearances the mayor has made, such as in a clip driving a driverless car Ford is testing in the Miami area. “Had he been asked by any other company to be part of a video about something that’s important for the community, he’d do it,” Marquez said. 

Existence of the video was revealed in a case file made public Friday by Miami-Dade’s Ethics Commission. The agency had been reviewing Garcia-Toledo’s lobbying work, and discovered he had not registered with the county in 2019 while meeting with Edmonson on the monorail venture. He agreed to settle the case by paying $500 to cover investigative costs. 

In a phone call with an investigator, Edmonson recalled meeting with Garcia-Toledo and Gimenez at Genting’s Miami office in the fall of 2018. Some time after that meeting, she said Garcia-Toledo asked her to participate in the promotional video in order to drum up interest in the venture. 

“The mayor and I did a little video where we imagined we were on a train as part of Ralph and those folks getting financing,” the summary memo by Susannah Nesmith quoted Edmonson as saying. 

On Friday, Edmonson confirmed the account, and said she didn’t know who the video’s intended audience was. She said Garcia-Toledo was there for the taping, and that producers directed her and the Gimenezes to act as if they were taking a train trip that day at the M3 studios off Northwest 36th Avenue in Brownsville.

“They had markings on the floor, and you just walked over to the markings,” she said. “One shot was supposed to be us getting on the train. One shot was supposed to be us getting off.” 

Garcia-Toledo said he also made a cameo in the video. He said his partners would not release the video, which he said was only shown to senior Genting executives. Edmonson and Gimenez both said they’ve seen the finished product but did not have copies.

The video has not been released 

The Miami Herald was unable to obtain or see the video, and got no response to requests to Edmonson and Gimenez to ask Garcia-Toledo to release the footage. Garcia-Toledo showed the video to Gimenez, according to Marquez, his spokeswoman. 

Genting’s interest in building a transit line to Miami Beach became public nearly a year before Edmonson and the Gimenezes agreed to the promotional video. 

The mayor and Edmonson both talked about Genting investing in a Beach corridor transit project with company Chairman Lim Kok Thay at a party Genting threw on a Hong Kong cruise ship during a March 2018 county trade mission to China and Japan. Garcia-Toledo and Manzano-Plaza joined the trip, as did other lobbyists, and Edmonson said Garcia-Toledo arranged the private meeting with the Genting chairman on the ship. 

Though the project hinged on Genting’s land and the company was in talks with Gimenez about the transit line last year, Garcia-Toledo said Friday that the company still had not agreed to full financial participation when he tapped the Gimenezes and Edmonson to be in the video.

“They needed to agree to certain parameters,” Garcia-Toledo said. “In reality all those parameters were being worked out to the bitter last moment before we submitted the unsolicited” proposal. 

Bids for the Beach corridor are due in March. A screening committee makes a recommendation to Gimenez, who then would send his recommended proposal to Edmonson and other commissioners for the final decision. With the bidding process underway, the monorail group must submit a new proposal and is not bound by the terms offered in the original plan.

A heavily redacted version of the original proposal shows Genting had proposed swapping waterfront land it owns at the former Miami Herald site for nearby county land. The county land is where the Malaysian-based company already has a deal to upgrade a bus terminal at its expense as part of a development agreement for a hotel on the site.

That upgraded bus depot would move to the monorail station, which would also incorporate a platform for the county’s existing Metromover tracks. 

A for-profit monorail built with a mix of private and public dollars

Genting and partners would contribute an unknown portion of the construction costs for a monorail project valued in the range of $400 million, with the county paying $100 million, Miami and Miami Beach paying $20 million each and Florida paying $100 million as well, according to a summary provided by Gimenez and the redacted proposal. 

When the county commission first considered the proposal in July, Gimenez said Genting and partners “would contribute over $150 million to the cost of this project.” When Miami-Dade released a copy of the proposal to the Herald in September through a public-records request, the portions detailing the Genting consortium’s proposed payments and specifics of the land swap were redacted. 

Miami-Dade would also make a still-confidential yearly payment to Genting for operation of the four-mile, for-profit monorail. The proposal states Genting and partners are free to charge what they want for monorail rides, but that holders of monthly county passes could use the trains “at no additional cost.”

While Genting in May proposed using monorail trains made by Chinese company BYD, the video shows a generic monorail, Garcia-Toledo said. He said when the Gimenezes and Edmonson were filmed, the venture still had not settled on a train maker for the project. 

After some county commissioners objected, joined by Florida’s two senators, the final request for bids approved by county commissioners included a provision proposed by Gimenez essentially banning Chinese train makers from participating. 

Marquez, the Gimenez spokeswoman, noted the county was not asking for any bids when Gimenez agreed to the video and that the mayor was unaware Garcia-Toledo planned to join Genting for an unsolicited train proposal three months later. 

“The mayor knew that Genting was interested in the beach corridor and his focus was on attracting private financing to alleviate the public taxpayers’ burden,” she said.

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