Two weeks after that infamous lunch with senior residents from public housing at IHOP -- you know, where Alcaldito Carlos Hernandez insulted balseros and divorced women and Council President Isis "Gavergirl" Garcia-Martinez had a hissy fit when we caught her in a blatant lie -- we still don't know what the real cost was and who paid for the city-promoted event, which was really a campaign stop for su alcaldito and his incumbent slate. Was it an "anonymous donor" who footed the bill, as was first claimed, or it was it on the taxpayers' tab? We still don't know. When we ask the actual alcaldito and the council members live and in person, their lips are sealed (unlike at IHOP). But the official story from their mouthpieces and go-betweens keeps changing, too.
So, who paid for lunch?
At first, the mayor's campaign director and absentee ballot queen Sasha Tirador said repeatedly that the lunch was paid for by an "anonymous" donation to the special events department for such events and that the donor did not want to be known for fear of retribution (an inadvertent admission that even their camp believes former Mayor Raul Martinez will return). I believe Council President Isis "Gavelgirl" Garcia-Martinez may have said so also. On the radio. An invoice from the restaurant is addressed to the city, but it does not indicate where the funds came from. The bill was $500 for 50 pancake combos including drinks at $10 per person (though I don't think there were 50 senior residents there. Let's count them in our popular video -- destined to be a greatest hits -- by my new best friend, cameraman Raul "El Toro" Torres: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1-A38ekCUk.). The bill from IHOP was sent to the city's communications and special events department and the check request is from Education and Community Services (the new umbrella for the special events department, which is code for political PR department). The event is called an "adult center program" and there is no reference to the alleged "anonymous" donor that supposedly did not want to be named. Ladra wants to know -- no, scratch that -- needs to know who the "anonymous donor" is (or, conversely, why anyone felt the need to lie about that). It could be relevant if it turns out to be one of the alcaldito's big financial supporters on his campaign like Robertico Blanco or Herman Echevarria or, even, Julio Robaina. Wouldn't that be relevant? The source of funding could further show -- not that there really needs to be any more nails in that coffin -- that the city-promoted, staff-supported event was a campaign stop in disguise. That's why I pressed Hernandez and the others about it. Now that the story has changed and it looks like the check came out of the general fund, then it is a taxpayer-funded, city-paid event for campaign purposes and su alcaldito and his incumbent-slate-minus-one used city resources to woo voters. City funds, city staff, city vehicles.
The event was supposed to be an unveiling of eight new circulator buses from the county. But two weeks later, those buses are not on Hialeah streets. They're parked in a fleet maintenance yard, out of service. Why would you unveil buses that won't be in use for five or six weeks? That's how long it will take, said City Attorney Bill "Go-Between" Grodnick, in a clumsy stab at an explanation about titles from the county and whether or not they were going to get the title or leave it with the county. Or something. I am not making this up. Look at the video by Raul Torres: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajMsx0InXt4
So, this hasn't been decided yet and you unveil the buses? Really? Really? It isn't because there wouldn't be a campaign opportunity when they are ready three or four weeks from now, is it? Because if he waited until the buses were actually ready, su alcaldito wouldn't be able to "maximize the exposure," (read: milk the spin) as Grodnick said -- finally, some truth -- when he answered for the mute mayorette for the I-don't-know-whath-time at Tuesday's council meeting (more on that later). But nobody, not even Grodnick, could answer the basic question that we still have after 14 days: Who paid for lunch?
Gavelgirl said everybody knew that and suggested I be more specific with my questions of the city clerk's office. (Read: "Next"). Okay, next it is. Because now I'm not satisfied with this one alleged anonymous pancake party patron, if indeed there ever was one. Now Ladra wants a list of all, anonymous or not anonymous, donations, gifts, grants or contributions of any kind to any department, division, office or officer or any part thereof in the city or any quasi-independent agency, such as Hialeah Housing by or from or through any person, group of persons, any corporation, any non-profit, or any entity of any kind since January 1 of this year. And where those monies were applied. I want to get information, which could be verbal if someone is allowed to speak with me, about the process by which donors contribute to these events and whether or not there is criteria. I also want to know what the city paid in gas, salary for the five or six or more employees that were there woofing down their own pancake combos at IHOP two weeks ago and any other costs associated with that particular roadtrip event. I'm making a public records request for the photographs and video that the city recorded of the event and will ask for those. To see if they match up with any campaign ads. Because the event was definitely a political campaign stop on what I now call (thanks, Bill) the "maximize the exposure" tour (more on that later).
My man 'El Toro' even has, on video, some campaign literature on a table that would have been taken out if we had not been there. A man entered the IHOP with a Hernandez for mayor t-shirt and was told to remove it. Then he became very aggressive with us both at IHOP and the next day at the Gus Machado Ford on West 49th Street when I went to speak on a live radio broadcast to counter su alcaldito's lies. This guy with the t-shirt incident said, and it was recorded by Telemundo 51, that "it was a political meeting."
Bingo. Told ya.
And if it is a political meeting being paid for with city funds and/or it is being attended by city staff on city time, it is not only a political meeting, but an illegal political meeting. Maybe Internal Affairs should investigate that.
Maybe then they can tell us who really paid for lunch: The taxpayers.