Monday, July 4, 2011

The tiny margin that mattered

The high-priced consultants and image brokers, communicators and veteran political advisers to our new mayor Carlos Gimenez certainly helped him win that narrow victory last week against the one-time front runner with three times the bankroll. But, in the end, despite what some 1A stories may say, the win came down to Hialeah's own team of rabid Robaina refugees who hammered away day in and day out at the discrepancies and dishonesty of their homegrown candidate.

In an election won by fewer than 4,200 votes, they became the tiny margin that mattered. And Ladra takes her hat off to these very real and modern Independence Day heroes.

Using social media on steroids and hounding traditional news outlets with information they often researched on their own, they turned traditional word-of-[bad]mouth into an art as they pressed their point that the city's former mayor, Julio Robaina, was not someone who could be trusted with the county government (neither its public money nor its public workforce), which became the biggest distinction when the candidates started sounding the same on policy issues like taxes and budget cuts and reform.

This tiny margin that mattered is an unlikely cast of characters that includes retired Police Chief Rolando Bolaños, who discovered facebook and used it as "my own newspaper" to post history lessons about Robaina's connections and conflicts of interest; Eric Johnson, a mad-as-Hell firefighter who made it his personal mission to burn down Robaina's political aspirations, one public record at a time; former Councilman (and current council candidate) Alex Morales, who took the time after he was fired by Robaina as director of the Hialeah Housing Authority to put together a dossier on his questionable activities for authorities, reporters, anyone who wanted a good read; the most popular politician ever from Hialeah, former Mayor (and current shoe-in mayoral candidate) Raul Martinez, who came out of hiding and went on Cuban AM radio to try to try to balance out the pro-Robaina slant on most stations; the fearless woman in white, union president Barbara Hernandez, speaking on behalf of scared-stiff city employees who Robaina always sacrificed -- cutting pay and benefits instead of raising taxes -- because they could not vote for him before, but who are county residents who remembered to not vote for him when they got the chance in a county race; the cops who broke rank with the administration that, at least publicly, supported Robaina; Fire Union Prez Mario Pico, who became the Gimenez campaign point man for anyone who wanted to help in Hialeah and who motivated his troops and recruited his own army of a family for a volunteer door-to-door educational campaign to try to stop absentee ballot fraud by assuring elderly voters of their rights; even the impostor "Claudia Fernandez" posing as Robaina's first wife on facebook, and posting a hilarious photographic Who's Who of the former mayor's inner circle that really ought to be published as a coffee table book.

Gimenez himself said his "Hialeah support team" was "obviously" crucial to his campaign.

"They helped me a lot with manpower, with signs," Gimenez told Ladra between photo ops at the victory party Tuesday night. "They had some information about my opponent that obviously helped paint a better picture of who he is because they knew him better than I did," Gimenez said. "He did some things over there that I wouldn't have done."

Moments earlier, the former city of Miami firefighter and chief had locked in a grateful and emotional embrace with Hialeah Fire's VP Johnson, the ATV-riding redneck who breathed, ate and slept his obsession to obliterate Robaina's lead and, really, candidacy for anything ever again. For Johnson, it was the end of a more than yearlong effort that was as much about keeping Robaina out of the county coffers as it was payback. Not for him -- he'll tell you a million times because he forgot if you are one of the people he's told this a million times to -- but for the single mothers who lost their homes and the babies who slept in cars because of deep salary cuts imposed unfairly on the lowest paid workers by his former boss. He says this with such conviction each time and fast blinks back tears in his macho man eyes that you know he's not only reliving the truth, but has given these colleagues whatever help he can. For his crusade, he has cashed in every single favor he's ever had. But his role, from Ladra's viewpoint, was pivotal. In addition to being one of Ladra's alleged "handlers," Johnson must have had his hands all over Jim Defede and Enrique Flor and Jay Weaver and Laura Isensee and Frank Alvarado and every other reporter and blogger that he hounded with information and documents he went to the trouble of getting and copying himself. You know, reporters are thinned out these days. He can take credit for most if not all of the "negative" (read: the ugly truth) stories that came out about Robaina's misdeeds in the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and all the television channels. But he doesn't ever. He told Ladra recently that he never wanted credit, just success. Which he got.

"They say democracy dies in the shadow of darkness and we just turned the lights on," Johnson said, though I am sure he ended it with "baby" or "boo-yah" or something cocky like that as redneck firefighters who feel vindicated might say.

More than simply turning on that light switch, however, these Hialeah heroes followed Robaina's campaign with a magnified spotlight, spreading questions and concerns like wildfire over dry Everglades in a controlled blaze.

Robaina knows that these thorns in his side could very well account for every single one of the 4,108 votes he was defeated by last week, only months after he was elected with a five point lead. If he had lost by those same five points, or 10 points as polls suggested, it might not have hurt as much as it likely still stings today that his machinery couldn't beat the tiny margin that mattered.

I know one former police chief, one pissed-off firefighter, one lady in white and a couple of others who might smile when they read that.

35 comments:

  1. Please don't forget the previously uncourted/uncounted Asian American. Mr. Gimenez made an effort and I am sure he got their votes! That was the 4,000 that previously never took voting seriously.

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  2. Kudos to FF Johnson and the rest of the Hialeah team who sacrificed their family time, countless hours of sick, vacation, and comp banks for others in need. This shows the selfless acts these firefighters perform when provoked by a menace such as Robaina. The Firefighters used to support Robaina and Robaina turned his back on them and the AFSCME employees. Karma is a bitch and Robaina should of known you could only push people so far before they react and cause harm to those poking them. Mr. Robaina, you had a chance to help the employees in Hialeah who do more with less everyday but you chose not to. Now you will reap what you sew! Good riddens, the witch is politically dead!

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  3. I am one of the team that posted and reposted all the articles agaisnt Robaina...I told everyone I met or spoke to of ROB-aina...Even knowing that he would do everything in his power not to rehire me ..I spoke out as much as any other employee knowing that it would affect my job...Cause yes I was one of the employees that was illegally laid off...But always believed in KARMA.And now he can take a little taste of being unemployed...but there is a difference HE GOT MONEY to back his unemployment where as I do not...but I am still rich because he was no elected....

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  4. Carlos Gimenez was a fire union member and then
    Fire Chief. The City of Miami is losing over $1 million per week because it's firefighters are the best paid firemen in the world. Gimenez is responsible.

    Now we need Giminez to turn around and reduce pay and benefits to fire unions at the County and the City. Of course, the fire unions will want raises. They think they own Gimenez.

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  5. A tiny margin, indeed; a tiny, tenuous margin that could have easily been dissolved by heavier rain showers in South Dade on election day. Often there are legitimate differences in opinion, perspective or philosophy on various political issues; economics, the size and role of government, the rights of property owners to develop their own land versus the common good of the people, et al. This electoral battle was not such a simple conflict between two positions on a political spectrum. This truly was a battle between good and evil. Thanks to the Miami Herald for finally pointing a microscope onto the many nefarious endeavors of Julio Robaina, and to the many heroes that Ladra has mentioned above. But to be honest, I am disgusted, yes, disgusted, that this community let Julio Robaina get so close to even more power. I am grateful that justice triumphed, this time; and that Julio Robaina will never again be addressed as Mr Mayor. But I will not celebrate yet, not until the day that Julio Robaina is addressed as "the Defendant."

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  6. Robaina has lost
    But win will us all
    When Julito hears
    A judge's gavel fall

    Okay. So sarcastic exposes are more my thing. Your turn. ;P

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  7. The Judge's Gavel
    or the Executioner's Ax?
    Off with his head, and
    then I'll relax.

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  8. Madame Ladra, still very ugly for the last 3 months,now we need all work togheter for a new Miami Dade County and help the new Mayor. Candela said

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  9. Very good journalism Elaine !!! I am truly sorry the wife of your editor at the herald caught you in a affair the last week before you were FIRED!!! That is the truth!!! No speculation!!!! The truth

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  10. Wow, Will , who cares, men have been having affairs for ever and do they get fired? Let it go buddy, Julio Robaina lost. Get over it!! Unless, you want to share something with the rest of us. It seems you are a little bitter about the affair.

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  11. It is incredible, here we have a man so corrupt and there are still people defending him. Be careful Will, resorting to irrelevant attacks won't get you anywhere and you may end up behind bars with your buddy!!!

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  12. -> Will...Luke 6:42 How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
    A debate can never be won against the likes of Will, for a hypocrite has not the virtues or values they professs to have, he claims the ground that he does not stand on.
    To segue to my next point I borrow my favorite saying of Oscar Wilde , “A man who moralizes is usually a hypocrite, and a woman who moralizes is invariably plain” If Will were not complaining that a vibrant young woman shared life and love and journalistic skills with another person, then he would probably be decrying her as frigid. Who's business is it if an individual shares intimacy with another? This is a mere speck in the universe of life. But when a politician, a married politician, hires his mistress, (how does Santa say it...ho, ho, ho?) to a high paid city position, and then gets her daughter, who doesn't even live in the city, placed on the city council, and then gets the daughter's new husband undeservedly promoted to the rank of Police Commander....this is a plank, nay, this is a tree in the eye, not a speck of sawdust.
    But when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. John 8:7
    Sorry, Will, no stones from me...cause I am a sinner, and proud of it. May Good Bless you always, hypocrite or not.

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  13. You forgot to mention, none of these people got paid one red cent for all their work nor were any of their expenses reimbursed.

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  14. Lickerprick , you are the problem we have today in our country when earlier you write the you won't be happy until Robaina head rolls with a ax than you write a verse from the bible. Amazing!!!!
    This whole Robaina IRS bullshit start with complete bull shit for a police chief who son is in jail for bank robbery and a fire prick who upset that didn't get his way. What a pussy! And a old mayor that is upset that he didnt get a contract he lobbied for that would have paid him millions.
    On Elaine she has listen to all lies and for that she is being investigated bye the public committee . Yes is guilty of having a affair and than being fired . In other words she was trying to fuck her way up the latter. How about that Elaine , that is the truth. More to come.......
    Start writing on the truth not people creating these assumption or we will continue writing using our freedom of speech. What a country.
    Lickerprick go continue selling alcohol which if you don't know is a devils tool that people die daily with alcohol abuse prick.
    Never have I seen such a 2 face prick. Asshole

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  15. Johnson stop your drug use because Raul will have you fired. You know you have a major with drugs.

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  16. Use of profanity merely shows a lack of creativity. Surely you can debate in public without wallowing in the gutter of needless profanity. Have you ever heard of poetic license? I was in no way intimating that Robaina's head should be cleaved from his shoulders. I was merely juxtaposing the fall of a gavel, from the fall of an ax, both instruments of justice of a sort. And alcohol is a devil's tool? Wow, thanx for the info. As the Devil is merely an anthropromorphic representation of portions of man's psyche, not a real entity, I have no fear of the devil or his tools, rather only of fools, like yourself.

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  17. Elaine, are you still even pretending to not be on the Martinez team? This article was painful to read, but until November, I can expect nothing less. "Shoe in" Martinez may have no choice but to stomach a very tough loss in November to Robaina. If Robaina is not indicted by November will you cease defaming and slandering him?

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  18. Funny stuff that I slept with my editor and am working for Martinez. I sleep with whoever I want and, while I missed that particular opportunity, it would have resulted in a promotion, not getting fired. The Herald is full of sluts that never get fired. I also work for whoever I want and that won't be Martinez or Rudy Garcia or anyone in that race. It's too good for me as a blogger to mess THAT up. And he is a shoe-in because he is a shoe-in. Punto y aparte. Right now, it's the Rudy and Raul show, I don't care what anyone says. Carlitos might take 10 percent. MIGHT. But Martinez will win it hands down, by at least 10 points, unless he really messes it up somehow or I catch him doing something nasty with AB ballots. But he's a careful one so that may be difficult. In any case, my saying he is the front-runner certainly does not make me part of his team. And Robaina? Don't make me laugh. Julio Robaina will never be elected to anything again. Except maybe cellblock captain.

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  19. Elaine, you really believe Raul would beat Julio? Bearing in mind that using the last elections as a guide: Julio winning Hialeah by 75%+ and Raul losing Hialeah (of course with different opponents, but using it as a marker). Raul polls at 35% favorable in Hialeah and 35% negative. Good luck with that, no other candidate even approaches 15% negative opinion. I agree with you on Carlos. It's definitely Raul and Rudy until Julio announces.

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  20. Responder,
    Good evening. Are you insinuating that Julio will make a run for Hialeah once again? Someone might want to review the City of Hialeah Charter. Article II section 2.01 subsection (D) Term Limitations; effective date. No person shall be ELECTED to serve as mayor for more than 2 consecutive terms on or after November 13, 1997. While some may say this is arguable it is quite the opposite. That pretty much spells out two ELECTIONS which have taken place already. Subsection (1) addresses vacancies due to resignation. And clearly it states there that the Council President shall exercise all authority of teh office of mayor and shall perform the duties and assume the responsibilities of that office and shall become mayor and serve out only that portion of the former mayor's term that precedes the next regularly scheduled municipal election. I wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors but I can assure you they WILL NOT BE IN HIALEAH without a huge legal challenge.

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  21. Eric, it's not 100% yet that he has decided to run but legally he can run. If elected, he could only serve out the remainder of his term because, as you correctly referenced, he cannot serve more than two terms.

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  22. Claudia FernandezJuly 5, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    I apologize but with so many interesting things going on, I could not keep up with the miniseries of All of Julito’s Men. Well here we go again. Today’s subject is Arnie Alonso. Arnie used to work for Miriam Alonso (indicted) and now he works for Juilto (soon to be indicted). Like Schleprock from The Flinstones, Arnie always seems... to have a black cloud hanging over his head. Negative and nasty, he can’t get a girl and hates having to complete with Jonathan to be Julito’s number one brown noser.
    Originally, Arnie worked in the parks department. There he had an issue involving the baseball league and cash payments. Julito had Internal Affairs cover up the incident and rewarded Arnie for his dishonesty by transferring him to the newly created, $1 million, publicly funded, Mayor’s Adhoc Media Advertising Division Associates (MAMADA) officially called Communications and Special Events.

    At MAMADA, his supervisor was Carmen Cue (more later), a woman said to be extremely talented at oral communication. Carmen, the mother of appointed City Councilwoman Katharyn Cue (more later) is said to be very gooooooood friends with Julito. Arnie could not get along with Carmen (surprise!) and Julito transferred Arnie from MAMADA to the Mayor’s Office. There his main functions were the following:

    1. Baby sit Julito’s children
    2. Brown nose.
    3. Post in the blogs (his are the really unfunny, offensive, and nasty comments).
    4. Drive Julito to political events (As Julito’s driver he drove drunk for Julito so that Julito wouldn’t have to do it himself.)

    Perpetually broke, he is always looking for a new scam to compensate for his uncontrollable spending (sounds like his boss, huh?).
    There you have him, Arnie “Schleprock” Alonso, another fine example of Julito’s cronyism and corruption at work.

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  23. Claudia, I'm not sure if you posted that to me or just for the blog as a whole, but regardless I am sorry to disappoint you. I have already addressed the fact that I'm not Arnie Alonso. I don't know or care to ever know you, so good luck in your endeavors.

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  24. To put two of these posts together and in context: None of the Robaina refugees who campaigned against him were compensated financially in any way. You are right, anonymous. But some of the employees who supported Robaina and campaigned for him did get some compensation. Arnie Alonso, cited above, got $1,100 in "reimbursements" paid every couple of weeks. I believe he was on leave. City Clerk David Concepcion stayed on the job so maybe that is why his "reimbursements" add up to only $832.11. Jonathan Martinez, on the other hand, as also on leave and apparently was more important to the campaign. He got $1,411, including $500 for car repairs. I heard he put a lot of miles on his own car (I was hoping it was a city car but was told it was not) taking Emelina Llanes around to pick up absentee ballots for Robaina (she only got paid, by the books, $200 for "cleaning services" one April day before a Boone, NC, company got paid $1,000 for the same thing). There is still at least one campaign report due and I bet that is the interesting one. More on all this later.

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  25. Responder: The last election did not pit Martinez against Robaina. Do you really think Raul would not do better in Hialeah than Carlos Gimenez? Still, it would be closer for sure, and this is one showdown I would love to see (you could not make Ladra happier). So I hope it happens. But, alas, I have a feeling Julito is gonna be busy getting to know new neighbors in minimum security.

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  26. Mami Ladra, you also overlooked the fact that Robaina thought having black pastors on a poster captured the black vote monolithically. It was lazy. Every community is diverse as the other. Big mistake and patronizing. This mattered as well.

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  27. Elaine keep up the good and hard work. You have many readers and I continue to spread the word about the blog. In time all things will be proven or not, the important thing is that you continue to write. Those that continue to bash you can go read somewhere else. This is my go to site for the inside on local politics. Oh and by the way I could care less what happened at the Herald, what matters is what happens in HIALEAH.

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  28. Elaine, there is no doubt that Raul would do far better than Gimenez but, in my opinion, would lose by 8-10% to JR. Raul vs Rudy will be very tight for sure. I sincerely hope they face off against each other but if Robaina chooses not to run it will not be because he is afraid of an indictment. A small part of me thinks he may run just to beat Raul for the nastiness he has practiced lately. We'll see but my main concern will be that people state the facts on both sides.

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  29. Johnson good to see your scared of Robaina but with Raul you ass is in trouble. Stop doing drugs and sober your ass up.
    Lickerprick if you don't believe in the devil than I know you are not a christian so please stop reading the bible because you will burn in hell. Hypocrite
    Elaine I like how your old female workers at the herald PUTAS. I hope they know how you feel about them because soon they will. You know the affair is true and that is why you were fired. You couldn't fuck you way in because you are right you are nasty.

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  30. Will, you are so ridiculous with your bad grammar and bad spelling and bad reading that maybe that is why you don't have a job. I never said "female workers" because I mean everybody. Are you insinuating that the only ones who can be sluts (who are not putas, by the way) are us women. Why, no... some of the men are bigger sluts. And everybody knows what I mean. There was no affair and YOU know it. But you have nothing else to say. And you know what, nobody cares anyway. So sorry if I hurt you when we "were together" but you need to get over that [lie] too.

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  31. Hey even with all the sleeping that went on in Hialeah unfortunately some of those women and men that brown-nosed and fornicated with Julito el Mentiroso, Mayor of an upcoming Correctional Instutite cell#25 didn't get promoted and are now trying to wipe the brown spots from their nose and bed sheets. They are doing what Judas did to Christ they are denying him.

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  32. Does anyone have a box of tissue for Will and imodium but most of all give us your address so we can send you a dictonary. People like you helped also to show what type of scumbags Julio the liar hung out with. Did your mother not teach you manners and respect towards a lady or maybe your just mad at women because you feel oppressed because all along you wanted to be one.

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  33. ->Claudia. I hate to correct someone who has been such a fountain of invaluable information; but I believe that Miriam Alonso was actually convicted, not merely indicted. She pled guilty to stealing $100,00 from her campaign funds. Is Arnie related to Miriam? If you could please direct me to the MAMADA office, I would be most appreciative. I would like to receive an oral presentation of their services.

    And Will, what is this "public committee" that is investigating Elaine. This sure smells of the neighborhood watchdog system, where neighbors spy on neighbors, that has been so effectively employed in Cuba and Venezuela. I think you may have let you undercover Communist plant status slip. But who believes anything you text anyway, your input always seems contrary to reality. So for this distinction, I am going to change your name, since you so freely adulterate mine. Instead of Will, I dub thee "Won't". You did discover my secret though, Won't. I am not a Christian. But one does not need to be a Christian to appreciate the posthumous redaction of the oral history of
    the mimesized philosophy of the Rabbi Yoshua ben Yosef (JEEZUS); that which you call the Christian Canon, the New Testament. I appreciate your disinvitation to reading the bible; but biblical exegesis is my hobby. This political repartee that I am now indulging in is merely my civic responsiblity, not the joyous hobby that biblical exegesis can be, explaining to bible thumpers that they have no idea of the true meaning of the books they hold to their breast as the gospel. And once again, Won't, Hell doesn't really exist. It was merely an artificial construction of the Church, like the Devil, to keep the ignorant masses (that would be you) under their oppressive thumb. But if there really were a Hell, certainly an integral part of the damnation and suffering would be forcing the inhabitants thereof, to read your texts...for your grammar, your spelling, your reasoning, is certainly Hellish. Still, Won't, May Good Bless you always.

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  34. Will - I think you must be a misogynist of the first order. Ladra, I would have deleted half of these posts and not given these morons the benefit of your blog-space. Lickerpoet - love you buddy.

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  35. Write a article on mcm construction. Airport contract? Gimenez kids?

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I have decided to moderate comments for a while as there are some that are simply off-subject and have become personal and offensive in nature, attacking not just me but others through this venue.

Comments that add substance and context to the news and issues in the blog will be posted. Comments that use profanity and abuse this open space to attack others will be saved and, when called for, sent to the appropriate authorities.