In ugly scene, Miami's film director bellows 'cut'
By Jacquelyn Weiner
Rob Feldman's words about his new position as City of Miami film industry liaison in July turned out to be quite ominous.
"People say to me "Are you crazy? Do you know what you're walking into?'" he told Miami Today in July. "I figure if I can get things done in Russia," where he worked producing television and films, "I can get it done here."
Yet just two months after joining the city, politics prompted him to quit.
Mr. Feldman submitted his letter of resignation — effective immediately — on Monday.
"I believe the blatant attempts to politicize my job have created a hostile work environment for me," Mr. Feldman wrote in his resignation. "I also believe that the circumstances surrounding my hiring were riddled with misrepresentations, a lack of transparency and forthrightness, and bad faith negotiations."
The main issue: Mr. Feldman said he was told he would be fired if he didn't sign an employment agreement with the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency.
A major agency project in development is the Miami Entertainment Complex, a $10.6 million film-production facility planned on a 2.78-acre Overtown property the Community Redevelopment Agency purchased in February.
The agency hopes the facility will spur development of an area film-industry hub.
Mr. Feldman wrote in his letter that he had been meeting with the agency weekly to discuss the Miami Entertainment Complex and "conducted hours of research on its behalf."
However, Mr. Feldman felt that "working for the CRA and having them pay half my salary is an inherent conflict of interest," he wrote, "forcing me to promote one area of the city over another, and city-owned studios over private sector studios."
He added that the document he "was pressured to sign" specified what he would say about the project, "Yet I was never given any reasonable opportunity to conduct even the most basic due diligence in order to assess the viability of the [Miami Entertainment Complex.]"
Community Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Pieter Bockweg said Tuesday that Mr. Feldman never had an employment contract with his agency.
"Rob Feldman is a City of Miami employee, not a CRA employee," he said. "Period."
Mr. Bockweg said he had only met with Mr. Feldman two or three times and that "he hadn't advised us on anything."
As for compensation, Mr. Bockweg said there was no formal agreement for the Community Redevelopment Agency to pay half Mr. Feldman's salary.
The plan was for the agency to reimburse the city "for services rendered," he said. "That's it."
City Manager Johnny Martinez confirmed in an interview Tuesday that Mr. Feldman would receive some money from the agency and that he was to complete work for it.
"He was going to do some of the work for the CRA and some of the work for us," Mr. Martinez said.
Mr. Martinez said he may keep the film industry liaison position vacant, given the city's tight financial situation.
Mr. Feldman was appointed film industry liaison after the City of Miami conducted a nationwide, six-month search.
More than 200 applied.
Before joining the city, Mr. Feldman was president of entertainment-consulting firm The Europa Group, according to his profile on professional social networking website LinkedIn.
Before that, he was vice president, international production six years with Sony Pictures Television International, according to his profile.
Mr. Feldman's predecessor Harry Emilio Gottlieb was ousted in January.
And the city film head before him, Robert Parente, was let go in after Mayor Tomás Regalado took office after the November 2009 election.
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