Monday, July 11, 2011

Gimenez starts to solidify his staff

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's former campaign manager, local GOP wunderboy Jose Mallea, may have joined the Carlos Gimenez For Mayor team late in the game, but his plays were apparently pivotal in the win.

Mallea, 34, was introduced Monday to department directors at the 3 p.m. meeting as the new mayor's new chief of staff. Wonder how that makes former Gov. Jeb Bush, who stumped for former Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina in the close mayoral race, feel. After all, Mallea -- who at one point, records show, lived in a West Hialeah townhouse where his mother is still listed -- worked for dad George Bush's team once, as associate director for the White House Liaison at State Department. Public records show a 2004 lien on him and three other residents of his Courthouse High Rise condo in Arlington, Va.

But he has local roots, too: The former chief of staff for ex Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is also facing a foreclosure lawsuit on a little 2-bedroom, 1-bath home on 13th street in the Shenandoah neighborhood of Miami that he bought for $290,000 with someone named Helena Poleo in 2008. It was filed in April of 2010. (The home's assessed and market value has dropped from $244,000 in 2009 to $160,000 last year).

Ladra could not reach Mallea late Monday when she got the word that he had joined the mayor's office. We sent him a message of congratulations on facebook and asked him to call so we could get a little more background and info, but we will try again tomorrow. What we have reported so far was gleaned from public records, like the property info and the lawsuit, and from recollection of previously published accounts.

In fact, when we call tomorrow, we'll get a list of all the Gimenez staffers so far, which from what we hear also includes his former district 7 commission aides Frank Balzebre and Insom Kim. There also may be a place somewhere for Gimenez' old colleague, former Miami City Manager Edward Marquez, who specializes in airport, transportation, and general government financings and most recently worked as lead project manager for First Southwest Company, for clients such as the Miami International Airport; Miami-Dade Expressway Authority; Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency; the counties of Broward and Palm Beach, the City of Naples and the Village of Key Biscayne. Before going to the city of Miami, Marquez worked for 20 years in different capacities at the county, leaving when he was the finance director. And in 2003 and 2004, Marquez took a one-year leave of absence from First Southwest to serve as Miami-Dade Schools CFO, pinch hitting, if you will, with its financial challenges.

Also joining the Gimenez team, we hear, is Les Pantin, son of Leslie and Martha Pantin, a 25-year-old recent college grad that has reportedly impressed some county staffers with his eager attitude and fast learning. Pantin, whose father is a longtime political operative who has worked with Julio Gonzalez Rebull among others (JGR worked on the rival Robaina campaign), earned $750 for consulting in June on the Gimenez campaign, according to the financial report. He may be the lowest paid of the multiple consultants, so maybe the job is his reward. But I don't know if the county has done his background check yet and if the mayor is going to let a little pot smoking change his mind when they do. Because, according to public records through the county clerk's website, Les Pantin was arrested for misdemeanor cannibus possession in 2009, though it seems it was never prosecuted. And Ladra -- who admits freely to inhaling as long as we are not deciding public policy right after -- is not judging anyone here by any means. She can't. But she don't work for the mayor either. Don't kill the messenger, people. It's not like nobody else was going to find this out. And maybe we can be transparent enough and not so hypocritical that this kind of thing won't matter. As long as he doesn't get everyone on the 29th floor buzzed at budget crunch time.

While we applaud Gimenez's "lead by example" move to slash his own $300,000+ salary in half, the standing ovation will have to wait until we find out how much standing room is left in his office and how much his expanding staff will cost in pay and benefits. Ladra is pretty sure it won't be what many saw as outrageous salaries and raises given by former mayor Carlos Alvarez to his inner circle, one of the main reasons behind his recall in March. But we -- and our new mayor, who is way smarter than I in these things -- would be foolish not to be paying attention.

Public records requests will be filed in the morning to add it all up and find out who else is waiting in the wings. Let's see how much the new mayor likes Ladra now.


  1. Wow. You really have the latest info. This is amazing. Pantin also looks like a good guy to party with.

  2. don't see why the need to trash a kid like Pantin. YOu already are making him the butt of jokes. So he made a mistake several years ago when he was a student (Or so it seems). Cheap shot and very beneath you Elaine. He is an employee. He did not run for office, I don't see the reason to trash him over somehting that happened in the past and that has no bearing whatsoever on his capacity to do his job. It only served to embarrass him.

  3. It's a public record about something that happened two years ago (case was resolved in 2010) and was going to come out sooner or later. Ladra put it in the right context, which is that it does not have to make an impact in his job, and added that he has already impressed some hard asses at county hall. Sorry if you saw it as a cheap shot. What Ladra hopes is that it would become ho hum.

  4. Good work, Ladra. For your information, Helena Poleo worked for Mayor Manny Diaz and now works for the City of Doral in their Communications Department.

  5. Hiring Mallea was a shrewed move. Not only does Gimenez get a guy with chief of staff experience, he gets a guy who will look at things through the eyes of successful campaign manager. Because Gimenez is up for re-election in 15 months, he is smart to set the foundation now for victory later.

  6. He is not a kid. He is an adult taking on an adult job. Ladra did not blow the incident out of proportion. Lesson to all young and all old...actions have consequences, which may involve people commenting or criticizing you.
    The fact it does not go unnoticed may help him stay on the straight and narrow, if he has government ambitions.

    Any insight on who will head Police and Fire?
    How about County Manager?

  7. Wow. Good hire on Mallea. Smart guy and very very capable. Wonder if he knows enough about the County structure. Maybe not knowing is an asset so he does not know who the sacred cows are.

    On Pantin, I agree with the commenter above. That was more Alvarado than DelValle, but I see your point as well.

  8. Father, forgive me, for I have sinned...err..well, I'm about to.

    The better part of valor is
    discretion, in the which better part I have sav'd my life.
    (Henry The Fourth, Part 1 Act 5, scene 4, 115–121)
    I have often been accused of valor; being brave or courageous in prose and poetry; but rarely am I ever accused of discretion. Growing up in South Florida shortly after the Cuban American diaspora; I thought that my name in Spanish was translated as "Sin Verguenza", for I was so often called by this moniker. So with all these disclaimers now put in place, I offer my comment to this very wonderfully informative blog post.

    "Let's see how much the new mayor likes Ladra now." Let's see how much Ladra likes lickerpoet now. That Pantin's only vice is to inhale the burnt offerings of Nature's benevolent God is quite admirable these days. He hasn't molested any children under his tutelage, hasn't suborned crime or perjury, hasn't misappropriated municipal funds, hasn't turned a willfully blind eye to an ongoing criminal maquinita enterprise, hasn't beaten or cheated on his wife, or chloroformed his kids. So the man smoked some herb...big deal. Better discussed and dismissed, as Ladra has so elegantly done here.
    That Pantin inhaled marijuana, that Ladra may have inhaled , does not concern me. What concerns me is not if she inhales....but if she swallows.

    "Oh, no, he really went there." Now let's see how much Ladra likes Lickerpoet now.

    Forgive me, Ladra, for I have sinned.

  9. Did the mayor's new employees go through the same drug testing and criminal background check that every other county employee has gone through?

  10. Why is everyone so overly agitated about the weed? Maybe they need a toke. This is Miami. He is 25. And, yes, anybody who knows Ladra knows she likes nature as much as the next Deadhead. But it's going to come up, which is why I brought it up. It's not a big deal (again, unless we see clouds of smoke coming out of a 29th floor office). And what Ladra meant, my darling poet, about the mayor liking me now was about the scrutiny on his staff and their costs, not the minor Maryjane misdemeanor. (Though I am sure Mr. Mondo Nerd winced when he read that).

    I am not concerned so much with who inhales what as with who wants to chew off a bite. Mr. Mallea, who called a bit ago, says is only working as INTERIM chief of staff until the mayor gets his office in order and -- get this -- as a volunteer. Now who in their right mind would volunteer for that job without some kind of reward, at least in the future, in mind? Not even Ladra, who is not getting paid for this but hopes one day to turn it into a lucrative website for ad sales, can swallow THAT.

  11. Pantin should of thought of the consequences before hand -
    What ever Happened to because It Will Go On Your Permanent Record????
    Now How much more Funds will he have to buy illegal Drugs??
    It is still against the Law and the Insurance coverage???
    What is he willing to do to get more expensive Quality SH T for FREE??
    Tap Phone Messages???


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