One of the people with eyes on the dais at Hialeah City Hall is a former veteran water department employee who has been campaigning and had a pretty big, volunteer t-shirted team and a banner at the city's Fourth of July celebration earlier this month.
But how did Daisy Castellanos pay for those yellow shirts and full-color banner shown in her facebook photo here? Because Ladra will bet her kibble that she had not yet opened a campaign bank account before the Independence Day celebration at Milander Park.
"Why would you want to know? It's public record. You can get it from the city clerk," she told me tonight on the telephone in a short and terse interview.
So it's going to be like that, eh? Apparently, Castellanos went to the Julio Robaina/Carlos Hernandez School of Public Misadminstration. Oh, goody. Ladra was a little bored.
What Castellanos didn't know was that City Clerk David Concepcion and his friendly, dog-loving staff, too, are bored -- of seeing Ladra every day for several days over a three week period throughout the month. I had asked for the documents filed by all candidates several times since July 4 and hers was not among them. Not one single time. I was last there only once this past week and still there were no documents given to me from her campaign. In fact, Concepcion gave me a sheet with all the candidates's group choices and, next to her name in Group 6, the position now held by Hernandez replacement Pablito Hernandez, he has N/A for campaign account documents filed. (Castellanos, who submitted her resume for the position, was reportedly upset that she was passed up for the kid, by the way). And, most importantly, Concepcion confirmed last week, much after the July 4 celebration, that Castellanos still had not sought the required city-stamped forms to take to the bank in order to open a campaign account. That would have turned up in the documents I had requested over and over again.
"So she can't be spending money?"
"She can't be spending campaign money," Concepcion said, because he knows state campaign law (or maybe Alex Morales told him).
Castellanos, a longtime city activist who worked for 20+ years in customer service at the Hialeah Water Department and served on the city's planning and zoning board, told Ladra Friday that she opened her account after the June 30 cut-off date for the last reporting period and did not have to report it in campaign reports due the first week of July. But she would not tell Ladra what date she opened the account and she would not say where, despite that the information would be a public record available Monday at the city clerk's office, which, remember, is where she told me to go. And, as I said, I have been to the city clerk's office and back Even after Castellanos was explained that she can easily show she complied with the law and prove Concepcion mistaken or had another memory lapse (it's happened before) by showing the campaign account form that Ladra will get Monday anyway. She wouldn't. Okay, then, just tell me. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. When did you open the account? She wouldn't give a ballpark date, which is always a bad sign. And, again, Ladra will bet it's because it was after July 4.
In fact, based on her facebook fundraising event invitations, the kick-off being July 21, and paypal account set up that same week, let's put $100 on Wednesday, July 20. Anybody in?
Oh, wait. I should first, in all fairness, disclose that shortly after our quick and terse chat, someone deleted the 4th of July photograph I had asked her about from the Daisy Castellanos for Hialeah City Council page -- which she better not be paying to administer because I bet it was created before she opened her bank account. That's another bad sign. Good thing I had already downloaded it.
Castellanos would not return follow up phone calls and an email. But Ladra will try to get up early enough to ask her in person tomorrow at the Hialeah Pan American Lions Club's back-to-school drive at Wal-Mart, 5851 N.W. 177 St., in Miami Lakes. Oh, who am I kidding? Someone ask her for me. She posted on facebook that she would be at the event, which is 7 to 11 a.m. and that they could use volunteers. Ironic that she wouldn't volunteer the public information about her run for public office that I am going to get on Monday anyway. Double goody.
"Was it July 3rd? Was it July 20th? Was it yesterday?" I should have knocked on her damn door.
"No, it wasn't yesterday," she said. More training from the JRCH academy and another telltale sign of something's up.
Ladra explained a third or fourth time that it had to be prior to the 4th to even smell legal.
"What difference does it make to you? I don't have to answer your questions," she said, making me really wish I had knocked on her door instead of called. "You can think whatever you want. I'll give you a call tomorrow when I check my calendar. I don't know who you are. After I verify who you are, I will call you tomorrow."
Of course, she wasn't staying on the phone after that to answer who she was gonna check me out with. So that's now the first question the next time Ex-Candidate Castellanos and I chat.
'Cause Ladra already checked her calendar.