Hialeah voters should tune into Actualidad radio tomorrow (1040 AM) and hear acting alcaldito Carlos Hernandez defend his flip flops on financial information and lack of transparency and his false accusation that I am a paid staffer of the Raul Martinez mayoral campaign.
He told me that to my face at Tuesday's meeting after he refused to answer some legitimate questions about finances and policy and campaign fundraising. "I am not going to talk to you because you work for Raul Martinez," he told me and moved quickly away. At one point, Hernandez did turn around at me and said "Don't touch me." But I was standing several feet away and had no intention, naturally, to lay a hand on him. I am not stupid. Ladra knows Police Chief Mark Overton would have her in a muzzle in a Milander minute. Everything he did makes me feel like Ladra is on to something. And it seems that Hernandez is campaigning against everybody: Martinez, former State Sen. Rudy Garcia, another mayoral candidate, former councilman and council candidate Alex Morales and, now, yours truly, Ladra. Today, Felix Guillermo was kind enough to have me on the morning show to talk about working as a political blogger and what it is like, in the wake of the city of Miami's decision to ban Al Crespo's blog from its computers and block him from a public building . I added how difficult it is to get public records from cities like Miami Lakes and Hialeah and how Hernandez never responds to my inquiries or calls. And I mentioned the incident at Hialeah City Hall -- which my colleague Rene Pedrosa immediately denounced and said that it was Hernandez who, perhaps, was not a real mayor because he had not been elected as such. Thanks, Rene. After El Nuevo Herald reporter Enrique Flor called in and confirmed what happened (thanks, Enrique), Felix said he would invite us back with Hernandez to debate what we called a lack of direct answers or transparency. But when he called Hernandez, the interim alcaldito (I nickname everybody and maybe that is not one of my best but it is because he is a junior mayor, having been appointed and not elected) said he would go on with Flor but not with me because I was not a journalist. He said I was a "publicist" and that I "represented" a candidate. "He did not say which candidate," Felix told me, adding that he, too, protested and said that he knew about my track record and history and that he respected me. Thanks, Felix. I told him that Hernandez had accused me of working for Martinez and that he was a liar and that he knew that I was not getting paid by anyone. I further explained that everybody has access to me and that I call Hernandez almost daily but never get a call back. I said he is making these false allegations to deflect from the questions I am asking, which he has simply decided not to answer. I told him that the alcaldito's mentor, former city mayor Julio Robaina, and his campaign people had accused me of working for Carlos Gimenez on the countywide mayoral campaign. It's an easy out for them, I guess. But it's made up and the worst part is that they know it.
I called Hernandez three times after the show. He finally called back but clearly did not know who it was, again, until I introduced myself. He was getting ready to hang up when I became adamant that he hear me out. I told him that he knew I was not working for anyone, that I pay my expenses and that this blog costs me money. I called him a liar. He actually tried to deflect responsibility with me, saying that he heard that Danny Bolanos was telling people that I was on the payroll. Yeah, I laughed out loud, too. Not only is that ridiculous, because Bolanos would never do anything like that -- not because he likes me but because Raul would be very unhappy about it, especially if it were true but even now when it's not -- but it shows how stupid the mayor is and how desperate he has become to hang on to that $190,000 job. Either that, or you are being lied to, Carlitos. I told him I did not believe him. That his lies just multiply. And I am documenting it here so that everyone knows exactly how stupid he really is. Now we can all call him on this lame excuse: That he heard it from someone who heard it from a candidate in the slate against him. Yeah, right. How convenient. I guess he's decided to campaign against Danny, too. Maybe that is their strategy, since the rest of the incumbents are far more vulnerable. But I won't know for sure. He won't tell me.
"It does not say in the city charter anywhere that I have to give answers," Hernandez told me after we finally spoke for three minutes on the phone. "What?!?!" I may have yelled. "Not to you," he finished. (Thus I am providing my questions to all the journalists I know). But not only do I not receive any compensation from Martinez or any candidate in any election, nor any representative thereof, as I responded to Responder -- a former Robaina staffer now working for Garcia -- I also have not yet decided whether I will support anyone in the mayoral race. I have simply reported that Martinez leads the polls so far, because he does. The Dark Prince -- a name I did not invent (this time) but use despite the fact that he doesn't like it, by the way -- is leading in two polls, neither one done by him. He is the front runner. I am simply reporting it as such. Do I think he will win? Right now, I do. But not because I want him to win. Well, okay, the telenovela writer in me thinks As Hialeah Churns would only benefit from that plot twist. But I am not ready to write Garcia off the show just yet. Especially since Ladra has become ABC: Anyone But Carlos.
Today, after interviewing Martinez about his role in the water plant -- which I will write on when it is fully reported -- Ladra took a walk to the campaign headquarters of the only other candidate as far as I'm concerned, former State Sen. Rudy Garcia. We spoke about a number of things. I'm still on the fence about him, too. He's been less chummy and natural with me than Martinez, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. And I think he's warming up to me. Most normal people with nothing to hide do. But he's guarded. With good reason: He's dead last in the polls and I am not saying that because I support anybody. I say that because it's true. And Ladra likes polls. Even flawed polls.
Martinez seems less guarded with me, and I am completely aware that he is not telling me everything, either, but more like what he wants me to know. "Nothing is off the record," he scoffs in a sarcastic manner, not admiringly. And I can get more elsewhere. If people saw Martinez and I when I question him without having to give other journalists my story (read: outside of city hall), they would know instantly that I couldn't possibly work for him. I'd be fired in a hot Okeechobee second. I have challenged him and my voice has escalated (read: I may have yelled) about some things. I called him and his cohorts "just another gang" when he used that term to describe Robaina and his bandidos. I believe he has called me, and I quote, "a pain in the ass" (which I take no offense at). He has told me, but only once, that the subject I was writing about was irrelevant and I laughed in his face and told him not to tell me how to do my job. I think that may have been one of the "escalating voices" episodes. Let's put it this way: Other people nearby inched their chairs backward. He has called me "that f*&$ing woman" to a third person at a table -- while I sat across two feet away -- because I don't just swallow whatever he tells me and, probably, tells his inside circle when I'm not around that he has me exactly where he wants me. I'm not stupid. But he called me "that effing woman" (which I took no offense at) as he went through his phone looking for a text message to prove his point and a phone number to give me. And I am absolutely going to take advantage of the fact that he is open and honest and transparent and accessible and answers questions -- even narrowing his eyes when he doesn't like them -- and provides me with independent confirmation leads that I then independently reconfirm. He treats me with respect.
Yet, I cannot say that I support or endorse him in this race.
But perhaps what Hernandez and his drones see is that Ladra is pretty much ABC: Anyone But Carlos. While I am not ready to decide whether I will support either of the other two mayoral candidates, it has become increasingly apparent that I cannot support el alcaldito. Sure, there is still a tiny little chance that he suddenly come to his senses and apologize for making those defamatory remarks and invite me into his office to go over the budget, explain away the concerns, provide public records that document his arguments and obtain information on what he doesn't know. He would also, however, have to stop speaking in that condescending manner like the attempted intimidation of a frustrated former cop.
And he would have to answer the following questions:
How much money is in the bank and how much of that is in unencumbered funds that are NOT earmarked for particular expenses but can be used in the general operating fund?
How much does the city owe its vendors in outstanding bills? And why?
Why does the city keep going to the water department to get funding to shore up its budget?
How is the efficiency law that he introduced to the council not a violation of the South Florida Building Code?
What are the private companies that donated funds to the city so that the parks could open and how much did each of them give?
How much money did Jesus Navarro and the other maquinita interests in the city raise for his campaign at the fundraiser two weeks ago?
Have the 16 illegally firefighters been made whole, as legally ordered, and why has he threatened to lay off more firefighters. Isn't the city in danger of losing millions of dollars that they would have to reimburse from federal homeland security grants if the staffing is decreased?
Oh, and have you yet provided testimony in the grand jury case against Robaina and your role in the shadow banking operation written about in the Miami Herald, which noted a bankruptcy document that listed a $50,000 loan from you to a Recaredo Gutierrez, the developer who also borrowed from Robaina and former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas?
So, yeah, fat chance he'll answer and, therefore, why Ladra is ABC. Oh, and also because of all the flip flops and the lies and the double talk and because he does not respect anyone at all who does not agree with him. Which leads me back to the radio show.
Ladra won't be on the air this morning, despite Felix's original invitation. Hernandez is afraid of me and wouldn't share the time, so in the best interest of the truth and the debate, I am fine with that. I will tune in and, I hope, Enrique and Felix will ask Hernandez to either back up his claims or apologize for his baseless accusations. Then they should ask him some of the questions above.
Maybe he will answer them. Anybody wanna make a bet he doesn't?