Tuesday, September 6, 2011

And then there was one...officially

The first endorsement is out in the Hialeah mayor's race -- which is becoming more contentious (read: interesting) by the day -- and the firefighter union's pick of former mayor Raul Martinez is both surprising and expected.

It may surprise those who remember Martinez's reign and hostile "If-you-don't-like-it-here-go work-at-the-city-of-Miami" rapport with the firefighters that the fire union would recommend their former foe. It is likely expected by some watching Hialeah politics more closely. Not only were Martinez and his slate mates allies during the hard-fought county mayoral campaign against former mayor Julio Robaina, where the firefighters used their flex to help Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the man who held the position for more than two decades is seen as a financial guru who can pull the city out of an alleged fiscal emergency that the current administration won't address or disclose.

In the end, union President Mario Pico -- who has been battling the city through tenuous negotiations without having a clear picture of the city's fiscal standing -- urged his membership to forget the history and concentrate on the future financial recovery of the city. "When it is all said and done if this city does not float we all drown," he said.

To be fair, the firefighters invited all four candidates to the screening by a political committee comprised of some of the executive board. But acting alcaldito Carlos Hernandez declined. Pico said Hernandez told him he had something else to do, more or less. My words. I think he told Pico something like, "If you haven't heard, I'm running a campaign." To which Ladra would have replied, "If you haven't heard, you are wasting your time and Jesus Navarro's money." But Pico is polite and diplomatic. Ladra is less so.

And then there were three. But George "Who?" Castro, who hasn't raised any money and doesn't stand a chance, was taken off the table of consideration quickly enough. He isn't, er, ready.

And then there were two. And then there were two for hours and hours. And then there were two for days. But, really, there were two from the very beginning. Firefighters were as ABC (read: Anyone But Carlos) as Ladra and were only going to consider Martinez and former State Sen. Rudy Garcia, who I hear impressed the screening committee with his speech. But grandeur thoughts of industrial trail lines across Hialeah and a planned hub of recycling industry businesses take years to materialize, let alone make an impact, said one firefighter. "We need someone to take care of what's going on right now." Garcia's words also seemed rehearsed and practiced next to the unpolished, less-stellar interview with Martinez, who said things that started with, "You might not like my answer," and "I'm not going to lie to you or mince words..." He came off as "rough around the edges," as one firefighter said, and rubbed some guys the wrong way when he defended his hardline past by justifying that while he never gave them raises, he also did not take their pay or benefits away. But one has to remember that the audience is a group of firefighter paramedics who have repeatedly won legal orders against the city for unfair labor practices and who are now threatened with up to 25 firings this October and more later this year. Union leaders say Martinez did not sound practiced. "I don't need a friend at City Hall," said union Vice President Eric Johnson, who is also founder and president of the Raul Martinez fan club at the union. "I need a financial manager to fix things so that I can take care of my wife and children and their future is secure."

To be sure, there were unpaid boosters lobbying on behalf of both candidates inside the union. And that is why the group deviated from its regular process to take two votes and make sure that the board's decision would represent the membership and could not be challenged as hurried or biased. The first vote of the screening committee (between 40 and 50 people) was reportedly so lopsided, that the union decided to take another vote at the general union membership meeting later that night. Again, it was reportedly overwhelmingly pro-Martinez. Pico went to further lengths, visiting stations over the weekend to make sure that the decision would represent a unified stand from the majority of the 271 firefighters. He announced the decision Tuesday.

"This is the most important city election that this union membership has ever voted on," Pico told Ladra. In his note to the members, he told them that Martinez edged out Garcia on his knowledge and experience with city finances. But he acknowledged it was a difficult decision. "He has the reputation of being a great financial administrator. He has guided the city through difficult financial times, not once but twice. He also has the reputation of being hard at negotiations," Pico wrote adding that the past "is not important right now. What matters now is the one constant focus Mayor Raul Martinez has always had, and that is the prosperity of the city." The email went out after Pico spoke personally with both candidates and delivered a letter and a check for $500 from the union PAC to Martinez.

But everybody already kinda knew. Like Ladra said, they got people on the inside. Garcia and his people had been downplaying the importance of the endorsement since Saturday. "It's sad that after what they heard from me and told me how great I did and what a great job I would do, that's the result they have," Garcia said, quickly cutting off as he walked and knocked on doors Tuesday evening. While Martinez said he "never expected anything" from the union, Ladra knows he was surprised the nod for him didn't come sooner. "I'm very appreciative of their confidence," he told me. But he will value their sweat even more as he expects the firefighters to help his campaign as they did on the successful county mayoral campaign for Gimenez.

"The firefighters have always been the toughest, hardest-working in any campaign for or against -- and I have been on both sides of that," Martinez told Ladra late Tuesday, completely aware that he was maybe a bitter pill to swallow.

"It's not about me," Martinez said. "It's about the future of the city of Hialeah."


  1. Residents and voters of Hialeah, Raul raised taxes to "save" the city and he will do it again. The firefighters only care about their pockets and the vast majority does not even live in the city. Rudy offers a clear vision for the future.

    The firefighters has become a mafia holding cities and residents hostage.


  2. "It's not about me"............. LOL I just peed myself.

    It has always been about you. What you want, what is in your best interest, you greed knows no end. You failed in business and your coming back to the well.

    I think the residents of hialeah are going to give you a wake up call. Hialeah is not your "finca" gordo. Doesn't belong to you or your family. Go do business in Cuba.

  3. This endorsement of the Fire Union and eventually that of the Herald will be of no surprise to anyone, maybe except for Rudy (who still believes he can win). 

    Eric, by all accounts you seem to be a well meaning and affable person. I can see why Elaine has taken a likening to you and why Raul has you on his side (I could write that he is using you, but time will show you that). By the way kudos Elaine for the disclosure of the Raul Martinez fan club president. Unfortunately, Eric you went way over the line on Robaina and for that you could never be a person taken seriously on the other side. Whenever you level false felonious accusations against someone and their family, you have crossed a big, perhaps irreversible, line. I really believe you have no idea who you have sold your soul too but once again only time and experience will show you that. Your ideas/points on your last post are worth investigating and in some cases implementing. Although, Eric you appear to be too bright to think that even the combined savings of those moves create even a percentage of the savings that a new fair contract for the Fire Union will produce. That doesn't mean that the Union cuts are all you go after but their does NEED to be cuts. I can understand your position, this is your pocketbook and life. Unfortunately, it is the same for all of us who own real property or businesses in the city. Eric, do you live in the city and/or were you raised in Hialeah? Answering no to any part of that question does not mean you don't have your best intentioned thoughts for the city or that you should not be so active or that you have no standing in this debate. What it does mean is that there are divergent interests at play and that residents and owners of any property in Hialeah, have a different agenda then a member of a public employee union. 

    I have been right thus far on Gimenez (hiring of highly paid employees, failure to compel the unions > giving them a faux deadline to make self cuts is not governing, moving of the UDB, etc.) and a small part of me will take satisfaction in writing to you later an "I told you so" email. Raul has no choice but to make similar cuts or raise taxes, although he may just do both (hence the divergent interests section above). 

    I will admit that I don't think Hernandez has handled the fire union well and that there should be open and honest dialogue and sharing of the numbers (which though are generally common sense). But you also cannot blame him for not attending a panel for an endorsement he knew he was truly never in consideration for... 

  4. Guys, do not spend anymore money on false polls, talk to the people of Hialeah, Raul is the next Mayor, the acting Mayor is naive, and by trying to protect Robaina, is not giving the Citizens one simple fact, the finances of the City, there is a big debt to the employees pension, Hialeah is on default, Rudy, a nice guy, who has not been able to run his private business properly, so who is the only choice???? but even then Raul has to be careful as to whom he chooses as his slate, Alex Morales is a good independent choice, yes, he has a big mouth, and yes, he likes to make trouble when he speaks his mind, totally independent, even if he is Raul's friend, but he has to watch for the back stabbers such as Julio Martinez, who are also in financial trouble, and need the City to subsist!!

  5. Anonymous, let me know where to go speak to those people (not counting Martinez headquarters). Most people I speak too have nothing but negative things to say about Raul. Elaine may write anyone but Carlos but most people I hear say anyone but Raul (even if they have to hold their nose to cast a vote). People, apparently yourself included, have no idea how hard Raul is going to get hit in this campaign. If you thought the smear campaign against Robaina was effective and omnipresent, wait until you see what is in store....

  6. Boy do people have their information wrong. The word on the street from viejitos to young people is " No Carlos" & "No Martinez". Everyone IS talking about Rudy for Mayor. Business owners are fed up to the hilt with all present office holders. The time is near and on Nov. 1st those who protect their votes will be electing a complete new Hilaeah.

  7. "Enemies forced by circumstances to work together; members of an unlikely alliance, often attacked as an 'unholy alliance.' 'True it is, that politics makes strange bedfellows.'

    Charles Dudley Warner, 1850,

    Ed.note: Warner, editor of the 'Hartford (Conn.) Courant,' was co-author with Mark Twain of 'The Gilded Age'

  8. Morales.....independant?.......LOL I just pissed myself......LOL

    That fat fuck can't get elected without Raul carrying him, problem is it will not work this time. In fact, this stunt of leaving his family to qualify for a political position.

    What a joke.

  9. To me Rudy Garcia will be the next Mayor of Hialeah in a close race. We need a new face in the City Hall. Candela dice

  10. I am a firefighter for the city and I am embarassed and ashamed of our department that we have voted to support Raul Martinez. I guess everyone forgot or were not here when he screwed us. I hope that if he gets elected that you Mr. Pico and Mr. Johnson have to get a job cutting grass or painting. You two are pathetic along with everyone that voted for this guy.

  11. Hey! Ballsy firefighter, why don’t you man up, grow some, and resign from the force. You sound like such a righteous man, full of principle and determination. I believe there are about 5 other fire departments in the county that can use such a man like you.


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