Mr. former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina:
With little more than a week to go before Election Day, I write this open letter so that you know that I am still very much interested in an opportunity to hear personally from you on any issues or concerns you have about this race and coverage of both campaigns.
Of course, I'd bring along a few questions and some documents I want to show you. That's okay, right?
I only ask because you have repeatedly dodged me at public events (practically ran away from me at one forum, and that is why I wear sneakers, by the way) and have refused to return my calls from the very beginning of the campaign. I did stop calling you directly and now try to go through your campaign spokeswoman, Ana Carbonell, but she only returns one out of three calls. And never really answers my questions. Always says she will get back to me. I'm still waiting to hear details about the telephone town meeting you had weeks ago.
Please know that I understand your trepidation, given the nature of the discrepancies and hypocracies I have written about so far. I understand your discomfort with my inquiries. But that is no excuse for a community leader -- a man who wants to be the mayor for all, no less -- to simply ignore legitimate questions. And they are legitimate questions, whether you want to recognize them as such or not. And I am not the only one asking. Sometimes, they aren't even my own questions. At the Miami Foundation forum at UM, I was asking questions for Univision 23 (they had no reporter there and I was just going to hold the mic, not be on air) that were about the seeming collegiality between you and Gimenez, like everybody else asked, and the $19 million surplus that was in the paper that morning, like everybody else asked, and on his thoughts or concerns about complaints that there had been irregularities with absentee ballots, like some others had. Instead of just having the respect to answer me, you ran off and allowed (or maybe instructed) your large bodyguard and attorney and consultant Hugo Arza to grab me by my camera hand and push me back toward the chairs. That is no excuse for you to allow Carbonell to call me names in public and try to discredit or embarass me. I don't get embarassed. And I can't be discredited by anyone but myself so don't bother trying. But as someone who wants to be the future mayor for all, you should have called them off. Instead you turned your face and ran.
Despite your calling me "biased and unethical" at that forum at UM, I am still willing to sit down and hear you out, objectively and openly. I don't take it personally. And not because I claim to be unbiased. Of course I am biased. But I wasn't always and I am not biased because of any hidden agenda or conflict of interest. I have become biased through the consideration of facts, perceptions (real and perceived), connections, contributions and the lack of answers and transparency in your campaign. Not because I have any financial or adminstrative interest in the other candidate. And everyone is biased. If you think Michael Putney and Matt Haggman do not know who they are voting for and why, you are not as bright as you make yourself out to be. Everyone is biased. When they hide it is when you have to be careful. I am transparent about it. So you know where I stand all the time. But that doesn't mean I am planted there.
And it certainly does not mean I am unethical. Are Roberto Rodriguez-Tejera and Nelson Horta of Nelson Horta Reporta blog unethical because they are biased in your favor? Well, yes, they are. Because you may be paying them and because they will not budge from those paid positions.
But I'm also open-minded to the extreme (my friends say wishy washy) and give people the maximum benefit of the doubt. I have changed my mind before, on candidates and policy issues. There is no reason to think that I cannot be convinced that you are the best man for the mayor's job. Maybe you are offended that you have to convince me, but come on! Look at all the strange questionable things, including investigations and other alleged investigations, you don't want to talk about at all. When someone doesn't want to talk openly about things like that, it is usually because talking openly is not going to make them look better. It's usually because talking about it can make it worse. Usually. Not always. So that's why I still give you the benefit of the doubt. Because, really, someone with nothing to hide should be an open book, like I am.
The offer is still there. And anybody that knows me knows I fully intend to give you every opportunity to convince me that everything I have heard and discovered is BS and that you are just the victim of a vicious conspiracy to paint you as corrupt. I mean, why wouldn't I want that? It makes for a better blog post. So show me how the documents I have that say you got 20 percent interest on a loan made to an accused felon by one of your friends are bogus. Tell me how other loans to people who have maquinita interests in Hialeah is not a quid pro quo, but just a business transaction. Explain to me how you, a real estate developer, couldn't tell you were paying less taxes for years on a vacant property when there was a building on the land and you should have been paying more. Tell me why your Kendall Commons project -- the 160-acres you and your partners planned to develop into homes and commercial centers -- is in foreclosure and tell me how many foreclosures your business partners and you have gone through in recent years and why that should not be questioned as anything but a result of the bad econom. Talk to me again about the need for a reverse osmosis water plant and let's go through the property records around that site so you can address the parcels are owned by your business partners and tell me why that should not be perceived as a quid pro quo or inside backroomd deal. Help me with the math and show me how your firing of 17 firefighters last year right before the union voted on your contract was supposed to save the city money, since an arbitrator made the city rehire them after you resigned and pay them retroactively. Tell me how much that cost the city. Yes, I got a number from another source. But I want to get it from you. Tell me how it is not extortion when you tell fire union leaders, caught on video, that the veteran firefighters will be rehired if they sign the contract. Explain why you need no less than six different PACs to raise $2.5 million for this race. Convince me that your partners, who between the PACs and your campaign coffers have contributed hundreds of thousands to get you this job, are not buying access or favors or preference. Please give me some shred of evidence that disproves the video-taped admissions by Luther Cambell's about his endorsement coming after you promised his friend a job. Show me the reciepts for the Don Shula dinner that might indicate it was just you and Uncle Luke. You can't just say that's preposterous. It's not. It's been done before. And, certainly, you can't be surprised that someone might suspect it of someone like you or with your reputation. That would be like me saying it's slander for someone to call me a sarcastic bitch. It's not. It's been done before.
I really can be convinced. But you have to try. You can't deflect by saying you ran the second largest city in the county and give me buzwords and polished soundites disguised as answers because they are not really answers. And my saying so and pointing out discrepancies or hypocracies in those non-answers does not make me biased. It makes me fairly observant. And consistent.
But I am biased, as I admitted. And toward your opponent, Carlos Gimenez. But it is ridiculous and shameful, really, for your people to say I am a paid campaign staffer. Because since you all know that is not true, then we know you are lying on purpose to discredit me (again, an exercise in futility) and maybe get some to question my credibility and ethics. But that won't work with many and it won't last long when it does. Because it is pretty obvious that nobody is paying me to do this. And because Gimenez and his people do not love me unconditionally. I'm sure they enjoy some of my entries, of course. But I'm an equal opportunity inquirer and ask everyone uncomfortable questions. Gimenez nearly bit my head off when I privately asked a question after one of the debates about one of his kids, his baby girl. He took off his sportscoat slowly, as if he was getting ready to rumble. I had never seen him so angry. But the question was relevant. It ended up going nowhere. Still, I had to ask. His demeanor with me changed from that day forward, not that it changes mine. And I still have to ask more questions he won't like. That's probably not good enough for you, but I can't just make stuff up like your people do. Carbonell was angry at me early on because I didn't write about the "four pensions" -- a lie your own campaign has backed off on, now talking about his one city of Miami pension as if he wasnot entitled to one after working and contributing to it for more than 25 years. I can't just make stuff up. When I get a tip about you, you can bet I confirm it before I write anything. I'd have to confirm any tips your team gives me, too. (Yeah, I know. What a drag.)
By the way, I have asked your campaign people to tell Ladra where she can dig for dirt on Gimenez. (See? He's not going to like that either. Not my problem.) It is my job to look everywhere, even at a candidate Ladra likes. And either the former commissioner really is a squeaky clean nerd or your staff is not very good at the "opposition research" part of campaign work (I would have thought you'd get the best). Because I did give Carbonell several opportunities to provide me with leads I could investigate. "Why don't you write about all his pensions," she retorted, which we already went over. Comparing him to the recalled mayor because they have the same name and their last name ends with "ez" is good for the mailers and such, but not something I can just repeat because you want me to. The two have nothing in common. And it's a little offensive, as a granddaughter of an Alvarez myself. Also, that car thing is way old, and you yourself gave a $900 car allowance to your housing authority director so he can drive around in a BMW with a Miami Dolphin vanity plate. So why is it okay in one case but an example of wasteful spending in another?
Wait, is that question too hard?
Hey, to show there are no hard feelings, as a good faith effort so you give me an interview, I will give you some free media advice: Stop bringing up the car allowance. It only raises uncomfortable questions about your hypocracy.
In fact, may I suggest that, if we do have a face-to-face, you leave your second one at home. Or I'll have to point out the double-talk and discrepancies and you'll go right back to the silent treatment.