Wanted: Surrogate reporter to attend the next Hialeah Council meeting or two since Ladra may be ordered to stay 500 feet away. Duties include listening to the back-patting council rubber stamp everything before them. Pay is in shots of Cuban coffee.
It was not enough for Council President Isis "Gavelgirl" Garcia-Martinez to have me ejected by police from the council chambers -- and the public City Hall building -- not once, but twice, she has now filed a false police report to have me technically ejected until after Election Day. No, dear readers, you have not read this wrong. There has been a police report written up on me for allegedly harassing Gavelgirl Thursday outside a political lunch that was paid for with city funds and announced in a press release. The sole purpose of this police report is so that Gavelgirl can get a restraining order on Ladra to keep her away for about a month or so, until a judge throws it out because it has no merits. But by then, the election will likely be over. And she will have accomplished what she wants -- to neutralize my coverage of her race until after Nov. 1. Pity that Hialeah Police Chief Mark Overton signed off on the information report written by Officer Madelyn Webb, who las malas lenguas say was transferred to the chief's office as an additional PIO from the midnight shift for some questionable reason (more on that later) without even consulting me. Because I could have provided him with a copy of the video recording where she threatens an intimidates me. Or tries to anyway. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSSNJPT4nxo
The report reads: "On the above date and time, Council President Isis Garcia-Martinez was participating in a City of Hialeah organized event. The event included treansporting several elderly Hialeah residents to IHOP restaurant for lunch in newly unveiled Hialeah Transit buses. Complainant Isis Garcia-Martinez states that while at the IHOP restaurant, Mrs. De Valle harassed her and several of the elderly guests. Mrs. Garcia-Martinez explained that she felt harassed because Mrs. De Valle was invading her personal space by placing a microphone and camera in her face and persistenly asking Mrs. Garcia-Martinez seeral questions. Mrs. Garcia-Martinez says she repeated asked Mrs. De Valle to stop questioing her and to leave her alone. Mrs. Garcia-Martinez further stated that she felt several elderly guests were also being harassed because of Mrs. De Valle's aggressive questioning and filming tactics. Mrs. Garcia-Martinez states taht this is an ongoing problem whereas Mrs. De Valle has harassed her in similar ways on other occasions."
Um, I don't think so.
It's all on video, folks. I did not invade her personal space. She invaded mine. I was always a respectable distance, even as she got up in my personal space and wagged her finger to me and called me ignorant (on the El Nuevo video: http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2011/09/30/1035461/concejal-de-hialeah-pide-orden.html). Sure, I followed her and continued to ask her the same questions. Why did she skirt out of the Herald screening/debate? It was the third debate with Miel that she cancels or is a no-show to, by the way, so it is further relevant. And who paid for lunch? I won't stop asking that. Because it's what I do. I did not harass the guests, as anyone can plainly see on the video where they are happy to be on camera. I do agressively question the council president. It's what I do.
And it's Ms., by the way. Not "Mrs." Even the mayor knows that, as he so sarcastically told me when he was evading answering the question about who paid for the lunchy. "You were married to some balsero right? A dancer? And he dumped you?" (More on that later). Yeah, some police work.
For those of you who have not watched Spanish-language news or read the newspaper (and why isn't this English-language news? I am going to have to talk to some people), Ladra was trashed and disparaged by both Garcia-Martinez and Hernandez at a city-event to unveil eight new transit buses and promote the Incumbent Minus One ticket for the Nov. 1 election. The event at the IHOP at Westfield/Westland Mall on 49th Street was announced in an email to me from Lisa Setrini-Espinosa in the Communications and Special Events department. I get all the press releases because, despite what Garcia-Martinez and Hernandez say, bloggers are members of the press.
"Mayor Carlos Hernandez, the esteemed city council and the city of Hialeah invite our friends from the media to join us for a press conference announcing the addition of 8 new uses to the Hialeah Transit System Fleet," it said, adding that the press conference would be in the garden at the 300 unit housing complex on West 26th Place, the public housing facility (read: voter hub). "Following the press conference, a very special group of seniors will have the chance to ride one of the new buses with Mayor Hernandez to the IHOP in Hialeah, where the seniors will be treated to lunch."
Ladra's ears went up. This sounds like it could be a campaigning event with city resources. I called my new best friend and documentary cameraman Raul Torres, who is going to keep me vindicated, to see if he could meet me there. And he could. Our presence as they arrived seemed to surprise Hernandez and his Seguro Que Yes crew minus two. Absent: Councilwomen Katherine Cue-Fuentes and Vivian Casals-Muñoz, no big surprise since her split with Hernandez et al has been pretty obvious. If there is any doubt left, see this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NM7zX5cg7U. I do not think he was happy to see us and there will be more footage to post over the weekend of the 30-minutes that were recorded for dear readers to judge for themselves. In the meantime, there is this short piece that starts when Gavelgirl lied to me about the meeting for the editorial board at the Miami Herald, which is where she could have been instead of riding around the bus with potential voters. But Gavelgirl had called in sick the day before, the day she presided over a budget hearing that cut 105 firefighters while it hid money all over the place. While I do not know she was not sick, I do know that she was supposed to go on Thursday. And maybe she attacked me and swore to get a restraining order against me because I embarrassed her with the gotcha after she said "I wasn't scheduled for today." But Gavelgirl was scheduled for Group IV on the Hialeah Council around 11:30 or noon Thursday with Myriam Marques and Juan Vasquez.
That is why I said she was a liar. Not because I didn't believe she was sick. But I don't believe she was sick. Not in the "call-in sick" way. She didn't seem sick Wednesday night when she presided over the budget hearing and had several people escorted out of council chambers after they objected to the firing of the 105 firefighters in a bogus budget where funds were tucked into unnecessary crevices. She didn't seem sick when she scarfed down her lunch at IHOP Thursday and put up her fists in fighting stance, inciting a busload of viejitos to shout "fuera, fuera, fuera," to me and Raul as he stood just inside the bus to take footage of the new taxpayer-paid transit vehicles. We offered to pay the fare of the public bus so we could ride along. We were not allowed. "This is a private event," one city employe said. Um, no, I don't think so. The El Nuevo arrived in one of the buses with the mayor, which parked in the fire lane for more than an hour in front of the restaurant while the viejitos ate. The next day, Gavelgirl went on WQBA 1140 AM and cried on Bernadette Pardo's show telling listeners that I offended her as a cancer survivor and that she was going to get a restraining order against me. You know, because most people who get restraining orders for legitimate reasons announce it on the radio. But I did not know she was a cancer survivor and would never ridicule that. My aunt died of cancer after it was misdiagnosed. That was something I did not know -- but that really did not have anything to do with why she didn't go to the debate with Miel at the Herald. She told Enrique Flor of El Nuevo Herald that she had to give a urine sample that morning and swung by the event only by chance and "hopped" on the bus. But, if you watch Raul's video, she doesn't looked like she's dressed to drop off a cup of pee. She looks like she is dressed for a publicity event 31 days before what promises to be a contentious election. Ladra went, in part, to find out who paid for the event -- el alcaldito or the city. Turns out it's neither. It's an "anonymous" sponsor that provided the funds to the city's special events department. But the identity of the "sponsor" is a public record and, yes, it is important to know. What if it is Jesus Navarro, Hialeah's maquinita king? Or Roberto Blanco, his loan operation partner? Both are raising money for his campaign and either would be a further sign that this event was a political event for the alcaldito's race. The supposed "sponsor" wants to stay anonymous for fear that there will be repercussions when former Mayor Raul Martinez, who wants his old job back, comes back to his throne. That's what Hernandez and Gavelgirl's campaign chief Sasha Tirador, the absentee ballot queen of Hialeah, said on A Mano Limpia when she was on with me Friday night to try to do some damage control. See? Even she thinks the Dark Prince has got the race sewn up. Tirador -- who stood in for Hernandez and Garcia-Martinez after they declined (read: ran like mad) to sit and debate me on what really happened -- admitted that, now that I asked, "unfortunately" the city would have to provide that name or those names. As of Friday afternoon, they still had not (read: they were still looking for a sponsor to take credit for it after the fact. Helllooo??)
This is exactly why Ladra exists. Because what if the event was paid for out of the general fund with taxpayer monies the day after el alcaldito and his Seguro Que Yeses pass a bogus budget that calls for the firing of 105 firefighters? Because what if it was paid by one or more sponsors who are also backing Hernandez with campaign contributions? Isn't that a relevant fact that voters (and maybe authorities) ought to know. Because it was a political event, as someone named El Gallego -- who went with a t-shirt for the Hernandez campaign but took it off after lo regañaron -- said on Channel 51. Jose Caragol and Pablito "Huh" Hernandez came in on their own (no bus ride for them) to campaign and "Daring" Daisy Castellanos was already waiting inside with her husband to take advantage of the campaign event. There were even campaign fans and literature in a folder on one table. How much do you want to bet they would not be in a folder if Ladra wasn't there with her trusted cameraman? How much do you want to bet that the mayor would not have paid the bill himself for the politicians and employees there if Ladra had not decided to drop by?
It is one thing to have me thrown out of chambers because I interject out of turn when one of the disrespectful electeds violates someone's rights or one of el alcaldito's yesmen (read: Councilman Luis Gonzalez) on the council is about to throw el alcaldito a juicy, free TV soundbite and I stop him. It is entirely another to make up charges against me simply to silence me and keep me from reporting the truths I've uncovered so far and asking the questions I am asking.
Boy, is this gonna backfire on both Gavelgirl and the alcaldito. Ladra, like most dogs, does not get embarrassed. Really. And now I have decided to start writing the blog posts in Spanish -- starting with this one -- and printing them to distribute wherever I can and reach the real voters of Hialeah that I am likely not reaching. The ones you corralled into a bus and bought lunch for Thursday.
You turn it up a notch. Ladra turns it up a notch.
But that is not harassment either. It's my job.