Hialeah's city council meetings are not only wonderful classes on city history and political plotting, they also provide us with little unexpected treats that may shed light on upcoming elections.
Imagine Ladra's delight surprise to find campaign consultant and absentee ballot queen extraordinaire Sasha Tirador -- who couldn't get former Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina the win at the county level despite the Tirador-typical AB turnout in Hialeah -- at the council meeting Tuesday. She didn't speak on any item or accompany any candidate. She was, Ladra believes, trolling for a job: Acting alcaldito Carlos Hernandez and council members Isis "Gavelgirl" Garcia-Martinez, Vivian ("I can notarize that") Casals-Muñoz, Paul Hernandez and Jose Caragol are all up for re-election. She was in a power suit, prowling up and down, at one point sitting in the front row with her legs crossed staring straight at them. Other times she sent text messages at lightning speed. We can't help but wonder if she was texting the council while they were in the meeting.
Sasha to Isis: "Hi there! That blouse does NOT favour you, m'hija."
Sasha to Carlos: "Carlitos, mi hermano. Raise more money. You want me to work for Rudy?"
Sasha to Vivian: "Oye, decide. Are you in or are you out?"
Sasha to Caragol: "No little rhymes this time, viejo verde."
Sasha to Paulito: "Hi, you don't know me yet. But I already talked to your boss, Felix Lasarte. Don't worry."
Isis to Sasha: "Ay, chica. I need to go shopping with you."
Carlos to Sasha: "Don't worry, mi reina. I'll be loaded after tomorrow." (More on that later).
Vivian to Sasha: "I'm in."
Caragol to Sasha: "Si no te gusta si--ar, para que me quieres hablar?"
Paulito to Sasha: "Um, ok, um... What did he say?"
Isis to Sasha: "Can Macy's be a campaign expense?"
Carlos to Sasha: "Really. Tons of money. Like I hit a jackpot o algo asi :)"
Vivian to Sasha: "No, wait, I'm out."
Caragol to Sasha: "Heh, heh, heh."
Paulito to Sasha: "Wait, do I need to call him now?"
Man, it would be great if those texts were on city-owned phones and Hialeah was a city that respected public record laws. I'm going to have to update my request for cell phone records (which reminds me to ask about those today).
In all fairness, I didn't readily recognize Tirador and had forgotten -- until she reminded me -- that we had met once before when I was interviewed for a job by a panel of political campaign operatives that included Steven Ferreiro on the Katie Edwards state house campaign, which she lost last year (but I'm not sayin' it's because they didn't hire me) to State Rep. Frank Artiles (REP District 119), who I hear he finally moved to a new home inside his district (Ladra may have to go for a walk). I'm disappointed in my own recall ability and thank goodness several other people did recognize her, including former mayor and current mayoral candidate Raul Martinez, who Tirador trounced in the Congressional race for District 21 where she worked for Lincoln Diaz Balart. She was investigated for absentee ballot fraud allegations (again) in that race. Last year, the state attorney's public corruption office closed the two-year investigation but the close-out memo -- which she reminded me that I had posted on the blog (maybe Carlitos turned her on to the Cortadito) -- doesn't completely exonorate her.
"While the circumstances provide ample basis for suspicion of illegal or improper activity in connection with the handling of absentee ballots by someone associated with the Diaz-Balart campaign, any chance of proving a crime is remote," wrote Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Joseph Centorino, who has reportedly delayed his move to the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics to tie up a few loose ends. Hopefully Robaina is among them, but Ladra keeps hearing that one case will be about U.S. Congressman David Rivera (Rep., District 25), who also happens to have worked with Tirador on his campaigns, which do very well with absentees.
Anyway, among the findings in the investigation closed last year were two ballots apparently tampered with that may have originally been marked for Martinez but changed for Diaz-Balart. That is just one of the reasons why I didn't believe Tirador when I asked if her presence meant she was working for Hernandez and she said she didn't know and could end up working for Martinez. Yeah, I did double take, too. Not only because Martinez is the type of heavy who would never forgive you for that kind of thing, but also because Ladra is certain he has his own AB plan. In fact, the heavy rumor is that he hired or is thinking of hiring former State Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, which could set up a wonderful rematch between the AB queen and king after the county mayoral race in which Diaz de la Portilla played a crucial role for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Yeah, I know Ladra has had some issues with the guy. He's unstable, careless, ethically-challenged and just plain mean. But he is also brilliant and charming when he wants to be and very entertaining and knowledgeable and funny and did I say brilliant? If former Hialeah councilman and current candidate Alex Morales is the professor, Alex DLP will have to be called the Dean of South Florida politics.
Martinez denies having the DLP on his team, which he did say included his old buddy Jeff Garcia, who ran his congressional campaign, and Jorge de Cardenas, who most recently won the Coral Gables mayoral election for James Cason. Fundraising consultant Irene Secada, who also worked on the Gimenez campaign, has been seen around Hialeah and Ladra knows she is dying to work for Martinez so we are going to go out on a limb to say she will help Mr. Mayor and his slate.
But of all of those people, Tirador is the one that Ladra most wants to interview and follow. I asked her if she would show me how she runs her absentee ballot campaign. She said for me to ask Martinez. "He's won every election in Hialeah with absentee ballots," she said, which also shows just how much she is really trying to work for him.
Martinez opened his eyes wide when Ladra told him that Tirador had said she might work for him. "Let's go talk to her," he said. He is as atrevido as Ladra, who followed.
"I can't afford you," Martinez told Tirador and both laughed.