Not everyone was so surprised to hear about Hialeah alcaldito Carlos Hernandez's loansharking business. What surprised some people was that it took so long to come out again. But we can probably thank el alcaldito himself for that -- and the campaign. And TV news host Oscar Haza, perhaps. And former Mayor and front-running candidate Raul Martinez, maybe.
It was during Haza's mayoral debate last month that Hernandez was first publicly asked about his role in the "shadow banking" business dealings of former Mayor Julio Robaina, who lost his bid for the county mayoral seat, which were exposed when a Ponzi schemer spilled the beans. Martinez had supplied Haza (and, later, other reporters) with checks made out to Hernandez y Perez. What las malas lenguas tell Ladra is that apparently, Luis Felipe Perez or his mother (more likely, since he is already in the pen) saw the debate where Hernandez calls himself a victim of Felipito's fraud and says he was robbed and that Perez still owes him money. "That's what that mal agradecido says about you after everything you did or didn't do for him, mi gordito," I can imagine her saying. "I told you he's no Julio." So after holding back some, Felipito apparently sang like a pajaro lindo zunzun. We don't know if anyone is investigating su alcaldito for, among other things, usury after charging 36 percent interest, but surely this story should get the state attorney a head start. Because even though Hernandez says he is not under investigation, that doesn't mean he's not. Remember, he is a liar.
Hernandez has gone back and forth on so many issues so many times one might get dizzy trying to keep up. First there's a $19 million surplus in the city accounts. Then there's an $8 million deficit. Then there is no deficit. Then there is a $13 million shortfall. All of it recorded in one way or another. First, he says he has no knowledge of a fundraiser for his campaign by illegal gaming interests. Then -- after he is confronted with the invitation that has his paid political ad disclaimer on it and told that if someone used it without his consent it could be a problem -- he admits that his friend, maquinita kingpin Jesus Navarro, threw the fundraising event. First, he says the bus ride for seniors and the now-famous IHOP brunch to "maximize the exposure" for his campaign was paid for by an anonymous donor from the community who did not want to be identified. On video. Then, it was paid out of the city's general fund. First, he says the checks paid to Felipito Perez were never cashed. On a TV debate. Then, he says they were payment for interest on two loans totaling $180,000 and that he was still owed the principal. On tape. Then, he says it was for the principal, which was paid first, contrary to all common lending business practices. On video. Then he says there was no written agreement. Yeah, riiiiight. I bet notary to the sharks Councilwoman Vivian Casals-Muñoz can tell us. According to people who know, "she has her fingerprints on everything," meaning she notarized the paperwork for all the First Hialeah Bank of Julito preferred customers, including Perez. Casals-Muñoz, who has distanced herself from su alcaldito, told Ladra last month that she had spoken to investigators in the grand jury case and had provided them with copies of her documents.
Hernandez lies about everything. He lies about the bogus budget filled with discrepancies and errors and, perhaps, intentional nooks an crannies. He lies about city employees. He lies about the negotiations with the fire union. He lies about his abuse of the police department. He lies about not knowing Tony "Phony" Vega. He lies about the people who supposedly called and asked him for the backwards efficiency law. He lies about his critics. So of course he's going to lie about his own, shady business dealings. And that's why people, finally, don't believe him anymore. And we don't mean just the press -- although Ladra and the Miami Herald (denounced after its story on su alcaldito's freelance loan consulting business) may soon be joined by other reporters from TV and radio. Journalists like Pedro Sevcec, who guest hosted A Mano Limpia last week in what is one of the most breathtakingly wonderful pieces of TV magazine journalism I have ever seen. " Oh, look! What a coincidence," Sevcec exaggeratedly and sarcastically exclaims about the 37 checks made out to Hernandez from Perez, all for exactly $3,000 or $2,400 -- the exact amount if it were for interest, not principal as he claims. Sevcec did all but wink, wink at the audience. Even more importantly, though, voters are starting to see through their alcaldito's lies.
According to tracking reported by one of the other campaigns, Hernandez's numbers have gone down dramatically from about a 28 on Monday to a 20 or 21 Friday, after the story came out. I guess voters are finally getting the idea that their alcaldito is not all he says he is (read: he is lying). The wildest thing about that is that Hernandez himself hurried the story, which was reportedly scheduled to go into the big, highly distributed Sunday paper -- giving him two or three more days of absentee voting before the negative headlines. But by scheduling a press conference for Thursday and announcing it Wednesday, Hernandez played the Herald's hand and pushed the story up to Thursday. Who's giving this guy media advice? Is it that other liar, absentee ballot queen Sasha Tirador? No wonder.
Ladra would be very surprised if one of them or both, more likely, don't lie about something again today.