“Miami-Dade power couple?” Wait, WHAT? (Updated)

RodeoClownsSpeaking of the rodeo, in an explosive article just published in the Miami Herald, Miami-Dade power couple lowers (their own) taxes, raises eyebrows, reporter Patricia Sagastume exhibited killer investigative skills not seen around these here parts since Nadege Green left NMB for greener pastures.

She had me at “Yeehaw!”

Even though I’m still shaking my head that Sagastume referred to Phyllis and Woody Smith as a “power couple,” her article was truly an eye opener.

The reporter observed, “With all those Montana license plates clustered in the driveway, you might reckon there is a cowboy convention at the home of North Miami Beach Councilwoman Phyllis Smith.  No, the rodeo has not rolled into town. Smith and her husband have simply hit on an obscure way to avoid paying the taxes that everyone else pays.”

Uh, oh!  Phyllis, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

The Montana Tax Loophole, while not yet illegal in Florida, has been targeted for closure by other states, such as California, Massachusetts and Nebraska.  Apparently, Montana is one of four states that have no sales tax whatsoever. Anyone who has ever purchased a new car in Miami-Dade County knows that a 7% sales tax on tens of thousands of dollars is hardly chump change.

In order to take advantage of this loophole, all one has to do is form a Montana Limited Liability Company.  Agencies such as CT Corporation, for example, provide services designed to help local companies form foreign (out-of-state) corporations, mainly for the purpose of interstate expansions.  While CT Corporation is a legitimate organization performing legitimate services, there are agencies that charge a fee to form “shell” companies in Montana for the sole purpose of taking advantage of its no-sales tax laws.  As the Herald noted, “The Montana plate tax avoidance formula is touted on the Internet at sites like rv-dreams.com and mtvehicles.com. They offer help with setting up the LLC and with obscuring the names associated with the company in public records.”

By purchasing her “two king-size Hummers” in the name of a Montana LLC, Phyllis has most likely avoided paying thousands of dollars in sales tax.  The price of a new (2010 – the last year they were made) Hummer H2, for example, sold for anywhere between $60,000.00 and $70,000.00.  The Florida sales tax bill on just one of her vehicles could have cost Phyllis as much as $4,900.00.  As the article states, she has four pricey cars.  The reporter also noted that by registering her cars in Montana, Phyllis also saved money by not paying Florida auto insurance rates, which are among the highest in the nation.

The article also mentioned that Phyllis didn’t know anything about her husband’s “businesses in three states,” and that the reporter should ask him herself.  However, as Patricia pointed out, “Her husband did not return calls seeking comment. The signs on the side of the Hummers advertise Smith’s business, Central Plumbing W.S. Company, which has a 305 area code. No hint of a branch in Montana.  Although Smith says she doesn’t own cars and often catches a ride to city hall with others, her biography does note that she is a member of the Hummer Club, a national organization devoted to the boxy, gas-gulping vehicles.”


Here’s the thing.  I’ve been extremely critical of Phyllis Smith in the past.  As I’ve also mentioned, my beef with her has always been about her annoying habit of constantly bloviating and hogging the spotlight.  I’ve also poked fun at her very special talent of making the most inappropriate comments at the worst possible time.

But, I have also noted that I’m usually in agreement with her voting record on most issues, and that I believed her heart was in the right place.  I have always felt that she truly wanted what’s best for the residents of North Miami Beach.

This latest exposé, however, reveals something that does not bode well for Phyllis, or any elected official for that matter.  While taking advantage of the Montana tax loophole might not be illegal in the state of Florida, it certainly blurs the ethical line of good governance we should expect – and demand – from someone who is supposed to be serving the public trust.

After all, one of the many duties of a politician is to legislate the tax rates that the rest of us pay.  How does Phyllis expect her constituents to feel about paying their taxes when their representative manages to avoid paying her own?

What’s even worse is Phyllis’ claim that she doesn’t drive and “catches a ride to city hall with others.”

OMG!  That is so bogus!

Everyone knows Phyllis is a real estate agent who is constantly seen driving around town in one of her screaming yellow vehicles.

In fact, last year she was gifted by one of NMB’s finest with a ticket for a moving violation right in Eastern Shores.

The term, “moving violation,” usually means that the person being cited is behind the wheel of a car that’s in motion.

Phyllis might have bad driving skills, but she’s even worse at lying.

Judging by the some of the comments made by her colleagues to the Herald, they’re not too happy with Phyllis right now.  I expect there will be some fireworks at the next council meeting.

Just saying.

The rodeo may not have come to North Miami Beach, but the circus is still in full swing at City Hall.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

Screenshot from today’s miamiherald.com‘s front page:

Miami Herald Screenshot


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  1. Yellow Is The New BROWN says:

    Someone who talks s%*t all the time is now in the s%*ter. It’s always refreshing to see a politician land themselves where they belong. Can’t we get decent people, with decent values and morals to run for office?


  2. NMBlive says:

    This is a legal loophole, but there is no loop hole for morals. You either have them or you don’t. Shame on Councilwoman Smith, shame, shame, shame.


  3. Barry S. says:

    Steph you hit it right on the head when you mention Phyllis’s constant blovilation. She can NEVER say she received a call from anybody, she always says she received DOZENS of calls from everyone. Another trademark of the Grand Blovilator is her constant name dropping of other politicians as if she has a connection to them. On the contrary, whenever Phyllis’s name is mentioned around the politicians she quotes, they get wide eyed at her quoting them as if they heard it for the first time.

    I hope her daughter reads this and informs her mother of the commentary because Phyllis is computer illiterate and will never see anything written online or in an email. She has the Council secretary read her all her emails because she can’t access them herself.


  4. Designer Renee says:

    Where does this woman get her “designer” wardrobe? Even Walmart doesn’t sell that many tacky, yellow clothes. As a clothes designer, I would recommend that she have horizontal black stripes attached to her yellow mu-mu’s.
    Add a couple of black antennas and she can make a real fashion statement.


  5. Law Reviewer says:

    Where is the Ethics Commission on this one?
    Someone charged with setting tax rates for others dodges them herself. I wish Let’em Go Joe would remove her from office so that the Council meetings will end a hour sooner. Her power couple husband must be deaf to that incessant, annoying chatter.


  6. Lila M. says:

    Like so many greedy people….for themselves, by themselves or should I say “buy” themselves. So tired of it. Keep up your brilliant writing, Stephanie.


  7. NMB Proud says:

    Since we are on the subject of bloviating, hypocritical and arrogant NMB Council Members, did anyone else get this over the top email yesterday from David Templer?

    It left me speechless. How clueless is this guy?

    Hello Friends and Neighbors

    Some of you may recall that I am “born and raised” here in NMB. I served on the NMB City Council from 2005 to 2007. I ran for re-election in 2007 and was defeated by current councilmember Frantz Pierre. The defeat was largely due to a vendetta and a counter campaign financed by Bill Borkan.

    Now that some other issues in my professional and personal life have been ironed smooth, I again have the time to devote to the betterment of the City of North Miami Beach. I intend to file as a candidate for the 2015 election in May. In that election there will be four (4) candidates running for reelection: Mayor George Vallejo, Councilwomen Phyllis Smith and Marlen Martell and Frantz Pierre. I do not plan to run for Mayor at this time.

    Accordingly, I am soliciting your opinion on whether you would like me to run and, if so, against whom…Phyllis Smith, Marlen Martell or Frantz Pierre.

    I will appreciate your response, which will be kept entirely confidential. Thanks in advance.



    1. Barbix says:

      Good luck david! Keep speaking truth and pay no mind to folks who confuse confidence with arrogance.


      1. Gotcha! says:

        Reader Alert ! Barbix is David’s mother.


        1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

          First of all, Barbix lives in North Miami and has mostly commented on NM blogs. Secondly, if you’re referring to David Templer, his mother passed away many years ago. You should check your facts before you say stupid shit.


    2. No Nothing says:

      Smith and Pierre are running for reelection so they can collect life-time health insurance from us taxpayers.

      If David Templer is the best we can do, we are in big trouble my friends. Another know-it-all lawyer. Can you imagine council meetings with Beth Spiegel and David Templer constantly reminding everyone how smart they are? Templer famously said voters should not be allowed to vote on certain issues because they aren’t smart enough.

      Templer lost because he has no real friends. No one really likes Spiegel either. But I will save that rant for another day.

      Smith, Pierre, Templer. It’s a sad day when those are the choices.


    3. NMB Ole Timer says:

      David you asked for it, so here it goes:

      You’re campaign slogan “Giving Back to NMB what NMB has Given to Me” was the height of hypocracy. In the two years you occupied the seat all you did was advocate for the police. You never tackled pension reform, excessive compensation and benefits, and other issues that the current City Council was left to deal with. Every property tax dollar collected in the entire City is allocated to pay for employee pensions, leaving little money left over for capital improvements.

      In your campaign run, you received over $50,000 in campaign donations from law firms all over the state and some out of state donations, yet not one campaign donation from any of the residents. Thay alone gtells us where you are coming from.

      Your ego is such that you act as if you are the savior of NMB residents yet you don’t sit on any boards or offer any community service to the City. You are all about getting elected for personal benefit, the wrong reason to run for office.

      I agree with “No Nothing” about having Spiegel and you on the same dais where it will be a battle of negative personalities to prove which one is “smarter” at the expense of tackling real legislation and city business. One arrogant lawyer is enough, two is overwhelming.


    4. Buzzy Bee says:

      Thank-You Soooo Much David for taking the focus off of me and putting it on you. I owe you big time and will be out there campaigning for you as long as you don’t run against me.
      And one more thing, I’ve received dozens of calls letting me know what a good job I am doing, so you might want to consider running against someone else. And one more thing, a shout out to Paulette for the wonderful job she is doing with our kids. Thank-You everybody, thank-you.

      (Written on my mom’s behalf)


    5. Special Master says:

      Ole Timer is correct David, you can’t be a spokesperson for the police union and also be a Councilman who is supposed to be representing the electorate in contract negotiations. This is a typical example of your tenure. Not only did it have the appearance of impropriety, it also looked as if you were feeding you law office with a ready-made team of referrals.

      It wasn’t a vendetta against you by Bill Borkin that took you out of office, as he is only one voter. It was the electorate who removed you as they felt you were not representing them. While Phyllis Smith has many self-serving interests like having the taxpayers pay for $800 eyeglasses and $14,000 in other out of pocket expenses, and now of course, her taxpayer funded lifetime health insurance is up for her to grab, however she isn’t smart enough to exploit her position beyond endless free lunches and dinners. You are. You being on the approval side of a police contract could cost the taxpayers millions in pension and benefit giveaways.

      I also agree with Ole Timer that your ego on the dais would clash with the other egotistical attorney in the battle over whom is smarter, something that would be a distraction at the expense of cohesive city business decisions.

      If you really care about NMB like you say you do, find a resident, besides yourself, who is qualified and competent to run against Smith, then you would be doing something good for NMB.


  8. David Templer says:

    I welcome anyone of the naysayers with strong negative opinions of me to do something seemingly positive. Run for elected office and at least try to do something good,, all while some ignorant few with skewed realities vomit all over you. And, please, its OKto use your names here. Nobody is going to come hunting for you.


    1. Larry S. says:

      David, running for office is not the only way you can serve the residents. In fact, it amy be one of the more selfish ways as Councilpeople receive mopre than adequate compensation for the hours they actually put in on behalf of the residents. While some Councilpeople may spend a lot of time at City Hall where they want to give the appearance of working for the City, a few are there just to check out where they can cut their next ribbon and get a free lunch in the process.

      I sit on one of the City’s Boards and I have the same opinion as “Ole Timer” and “No Nothing”. What have you done positive for the City and its residents since you quit receiving a paycheck from the City? What Board do you sit on? Maybe if I saw more civic pro-bono action on your part involving city business, I might change my opinion.

      But one thing that you apparently can’ change is the perception that you are the male version of Councilwoman Spiegel who just can’t help letting us know how smart she is all the time, and that she’s an attorney too. I agree one is enough.


  9. Helena Montana says:

    How did the commentary on the blog, Miami-Dade power couple?” Wait, WHAT? get to David Templer is running for office? Let’s either stick to the topic du jour, or wait until Stephanie writes a blog about the not so fast coming NMB election of NEXT YEAR.


    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      I was wondering the same thing. But then I thought … Whatever.


  10. […] since the very unflattering story about her Montana license plates was published in the Miami Herald, which outed her as a tax evader, Phyllis has not been a happy […]


  11. […] All but two of her cases were dismissed (she paid a $108.00 penalty in 2001 for speeding on a county road, and $169.00 for not moving over on Sunny Isles Beach Boulevard just last year. […]


  12. […] NMB, Councilwoman Phyllis Smith made the news when the story behind her Montana license plates finally came to light, which caused her to become even more unhinged than […]


  13. […] let’s not forget the thousands of dollars she’s ripped off from Florida taxpayers by fraudulently registering her vast fleet of monster vehicles in Montana instead of […]


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