Tuesday's episode of As Hialeah Churns was [almost] a real sleeper.
There was (of course) no restraining order awaiting Ladra at City Hall when she went -- without incident -- to the city council meeting. There was no verbal sparring between the Dark Prince and the man who thinks he's king. There was no sea of red shirts and far fewer TV cameras than in recent days, too, so there was less self-promotional grandstanding.
There was, however, still lots of disrespect and disdain for the public and critical employees like supervisor Jose "Pepper" Azze, who refuses to back down when su alcaldito Carlos Hernandez won't answer a simple question. And they stuck to using City Attorney Bill Go-Between Grodnick to answer for them in his desperate "because I say so" tone. But more on that later.
And there were still, of course, a bunch of no-bid contracts -- nine for a little more than $500,000. Though some of the requests to waive the competitive process were for sole source vendors (their italics, not mine) -- and it's always "advantageous for the city" -- there were some expenditures on that consent agenda that may be questionable in these hard economic times. This includes $30,000 worth of Papa John's Pizza, the exclusive pizza provider for city events. Ladra can't help but wonder how many city events one has to have with pizza to go through $2,500 a month in Papa John's. That's a lot of pepperoncinis in these austere economic times. There were other requests to increase purchase orders and/or "amend the contract" and Ladra can't help but wonder what the cumulative impact of all this willy-nilly spending is. Oh, wait, I know. It's cutting employees' pay by 30 percent and firing 40 percent of your fire rescue personnel so you can keep handing out juicy deals and contracts to your friends and political backers. More than half of that half-million in handouts went to extend the contract, without going to bid, for janitorial services by Silva Management of Miami -- who contributed at least $750 to the failed county mayoral campaign by former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, who Ladra smells behind the strings on su alcaldito at City Hall. The same amount was donated to the Robaina campaign by MacMillan Oil Company, which had a huge night at the dais. First, the council waived going to bid and use a previous 2008 bid to pay for $42,000 in diesel for generators at the future Reverse Osmosis water treatment plant. Then, the company owned by Amancio and Daniel Alonso got a $465,000 increase in another purchase order for diesel fuel. But that wasn't enough. MacMillan also got a $1.4 purchase order tacked onto their 3-year old bid. More water treatment plant business also went to SRS Engineering, which got a $30,000 purchase order to design some wells and piping. They had invested $1,700 in Robaina's campaign.
We will know later this week if any of these companies have given to any of the current incumbents campaign accounts.