Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, who has skipped (read: snubbed) several of the mayoral candidate forums or debates in recent weeks (maybe he's too busy being mayor of "the second largest city in the county" until the day before the election), finally made it to one Monday night.
But maybe he should have missed this one, too.
The perceived front-runner in the May 24 election took a beating from his biggest threat and nemesis, Carlos Gimenez, at the forum presented by the Kendall Federation of Homeowners Association, whose board met immediately afterward to vote on an endorsement. I called the political committee chair, but he said he wanted to put out a press release. Ladra suspects, however, that the nod will go to Gimenez. I mean, he would win it if it were a smack-down.
Robaina really brought it upon himself when he said, yet again, that he was always against the Marlins' stadium deal. So Gimenez reminded him and the 120 or so people there that Robaina appeared before the county commission in March of 2009 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR7tp6Ip9zQ&feature=related) to urge them to approve the stadium deal. "When I was railing against the deal, when I was saying it was a lousy deal when I was saying 'Let's open the books,' there were three mayors who came in support of the deal. One was Mayor Carlos Alvarez. The second was [Miami] Mayor Manny Diaz and the third was the mayor of Hialeah, Julio Robaina" Gimenez said. "It's unfortunate that I'm always the one who has to bring it up. It's unfortuante we have this [come up] over and over again. Just watch the tape and you'll see exactly what happens."
Robaina, of course, did not want to let that go and took the mic to dig himself even deeper into his hole. After saying that Gimenez has done nothing but attack him -- which is not what we have seen -- he said that "the record is clear. I supported major league baseball in this community. I still support major league baseball in this community. I do not support welfare for billionaire owners. That's why when I had the opportunity as the mayor, as the strong mayor, as the city manager of Hialeah, I did not make that deal," Robaina added, hinting the team only went to downtown Miami after the city of Hialeah turned them down. (Ladra tried all night to upload this video to no avail. Posted to youtube. Please note the faces on candidates Gabrielle Redfern and Marcelo Llorente. And also how Redfern scoots away a little. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIs1cDRjOXc)
"No one else at this table can say that," Robaina said.
Gimenez took the mic again to clear up that "clear record" of the March, 2009 meeting and reminded Robaina that he urged the commission to approve "the item," which was the financing agreement.
"The tape doesn't lie," Gimenez said. "The item was the deal. Mayor Robaina came in front of the county commission and said I am in support of this item... I don't believe they ever wanted to go to Hiealeah. They wanted to be in downtown Miami." (Really, this is the good video).
Then he responded to Robaina's attack claims. "The only one who is being attacked throughout this campaign, you're looking at him," he said, talking about the radio jingles and attack ads that have come out against him by a PAC funded by Robaina buddies. "And the only time I get up and say anything about this is when he stands up and says he didn't support the deal. It's on tape.
"It's on tape. You have it," he said, directly addressing his rival and becoming less vanilla and sexier by the second. "It was the deal, which was rotten to the core."
Now, this is Gimenez the candidate. Gimenez the mayor, dare I say.
Robaina took the mic again, because he has to: "This is why you came out here," he told the crowd, and then went after Gimenez again -- and got booed.
"If Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez would have been so worried about everything that's happening at the county, and as vice chair of the transportation committee, maybe we wouldn't be in the problem we are with the transit problem today."
The boos could be because that was an irrelevant low blow and obvious attempt to change the subject. But maybe also Gimenez has a point. Perhaps, Julio, you do need to take a look at the video from the March 2009 meeting again, where you do speak in support of "the item."
In fact, Ladra thinks there's really no confusing your position after you thank "both the Marlins and major league baseball for their upfront committment in making sure this community is number one in their eyes," whatever that means.
Oh, yeah, it means he supported the deal.