Everybody's got it wrong. We gotta give Luther Campbell a medal.
His endorsement of former Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina for the Miami-Dade mayoral post was not a sell-out, flip-flop documented example of hypocrisy. It was brilliant! Uncle Luke got Robaina to promise a taxpayer-paid position when elected for a political favor, a big no-no according to state law, and now the authorities have something else to act on, but this time they can do so immediately.
You all be the judge: Watch the six-part video interview taken by Campbell's brilliant co-conspirators, New Times Editor Chuck Strouse and reporter/blogger extraordinaire Francisco Alvarado, and let your state prosecutors know what you think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIiytEZiNSo&feature=player_embedded
But here are my favorite parts:
"I need my guy in there," Campbell says he told both mayoral candidates in multiple pre-endorsement interviews last week. "Extensive conversations," he calls them. "I mean, two o'clock in the morning conversations." (Those must have been with Robaina because it's past former county commissioner Carlos Gimenez's bedtime).
Uncle Luke, who placed fourth with 11 percent of the vote in the May 24 primary, says (in Part III, but Ladra recommends watching the series in order) that he made the decision to back Robaina (after he had apparently already told the Gimenez camp that he would side with him) after Robaina promised a job, not for him, but for his buddy, Miami-Dade School Board Operations Director Pierre Rutledge, a former Miami city commission candidate and longtime black community activist who worked on Campbell's campaign. He said it would be like Hillary Clinton working on Obama's cabinet.
"That was my idea," Campbell says in the video. "I said, 'Hey look, I got guys that were part of my campaign -- qualified guys, this ain't no nepotism deal going on -- qualified guys that we need to have in there that would make me feel better. That would make me feel better. You say you are going to do all these things from urban development to affordable housing, the arts, which is important to me, us playing a major role in the arts, and creating jobs, and moving this number from zero percent up to five or 10 percent minority contracts, I need my guy in there to make sure."
Campbell said he told both men they had to have a conversation with Rutledge.
"Gimenez was a little wavery," he said. "Robaina [was], 'Okay, Pierre. How you doing? What's happening? Okay this is the role you'll play in my administration and Luke this is the role you are playing in my administration. You will be a guy that is in there. He is going to answer to me. He is not going to answer to nobody else. And he is going to be involved in urban development."
Brilliant, I tell ya. Because if this was not the plan all along, to catch Robaina in one of those quid pro quo deals that he is allegedly very good at, then Campbell is either really naive or was smoking something really good when he gave his endorsement and, maybe, this interview.
"I told them both, 'Look, personally, I feel like I am the best guy for the job. But it is not about me. It is about the people. It is about us getting something done. And this is the only way I'm going to feel good to stand on the podium and feel like I'm going, we are taking this and getting it done," he says, yet again restating how the offer was made. "One, I felt he was a little hesitant," Campbell said, referring to Gimenez, who, as we all know by now, will not make promises he cannot keep and is way too nerdy to agree to something like that. "The other one was 'Hey, this is where he'll work and this is what he'll do,'" he added, referring to Robaina and indicating a level of detail in the candidate's promise that should make it easy to prosecute.
Campbell shoots off about other stuff. He says Gimenez is not liked in the West Grove part of his old district and that Thelma Gibson, a Coconut Grove activist and Goombay Festival board member, was not a fan. "He's never done anything for us," he quoted Gibson as saying. "If you're not loved in your district, that's a problem. They should be rolling out the red carpet."
The interview gives voters a very unique look into the inside conversations between candidates when they are lobbying for another candidate's endorsement. Campbell said the Robaina side told him that Gimenez was a racist. "I don't think he's a racist." He also said the Gimenez side told him that Robaina was a crook. "I don't think so," he said, and then later added. "He's been accused of things he's done outside of government." Well, maybe that is why Uncle Luke didn't do better and place third as expected; because he is blind to the obvious. He's also a little politically naive. Robaina impressed him by whispering that they "had to do something" about the Memorial Day weekend events that could become a "black eye" and he said it shows Robaina is tapped into the community. Uncle Luke, you need to smoke less. All it shows is Robaina knows exactly what to say to you to get you to think he's tapped into the community. (And mostly his people prepped him on the way to see you).
He complains about the press release written and emailed to him for approval on the 7th, the day before the announcement that he was to endorse Gimenez was to be made on the 8th, which he was surprised had his comments on there (that's how it's done Luke. Isn't that what they did on your campaign?). He says he immediately told them not to hold off on everything because "I am not in agreeance with this because there is the detail of Pierre Rutledge that needs to be worked out."
Apparently, he worked it out with Robaina, even though he thinks Gimenez is a "great guy."
"I think he' a very, very, very honest guy," Campbell said, and maybe he was impressed that Gimenez would not promise a job to get his coveted endorsement. (Ladra is neither impressed nor surprised, though I have an odd sense of what feels like pride. Go figure.) "But right now we need somebody like Bill Clinton. We need somebody a little jazzy that got their hand more on the pulse of everything," Campbell said.
No. Ladra disagrees. Right now we need a guy who is very, very, very honest.
Strouse reminded Campbell that just a few months ago he wrote "Julio Robaina will say just about anything to get elected," and asked the columnist and blogger how he would explain to his fans and supporters that he did not sell out.
"They don't know that I have a Pierre Rutledge in place," he said, yet again confirming the quid pro quo deal he made with Robaina. "My voters should feel at peace."
Well, I know Ladra feels more at peace today than on May 25. I can go to bed and sleep deep with the comforting knowledge that tomorrow, Robaina will either be arrested or forced to resign from this race.
And that the community will owe a big thanks to Uncle Luke who is brilliant, I tell ya. Brilliant.