Saturday, October 8, 2011

Abuse of power & police in Hialeah

When we in South Florida read about a place where government officials use the armed forces to investigate and intimidate opposition leaders and independent journalists because they threaten their iron-fisted rule, we are usually reading about Havana or Caracas. Not Hialeah, U.S.A.

But Ladra's suspicions that the mayor and perhaps one or more council members are abusing their power seemed to gain traction Thursday night when former Mayor Raul Martinez whipped out a police report about himself -- the subject of surveillance by Internal Affiars -- on the Los Implicados magazine-type show on MegaTV. The story will likely travel at the speed of light now that it was confirmed by Enrique Flor of El Nuevo Herald, who talked to the chief and the mayor and posted the story Friday. (Hard copy is likely on Saturday and Ladra is going to buy 10. They make lovely gifts).

Alcaldito Carlos Hernandez himself, according to the police chief, called in the complaint after getting an "anonymous" tip that Martinez would be at a public housing building at 1360 Westr 26th Place (with 300 unites) at 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 22. Martinez was tailed by Internal Affairs Det. Hilda Reyes -- who made a detailed report of what she could see. "Former Mayor Raul Martinez was observed entering apartment 207C at the Affordable Housing facility... a neighbor on apartment 207C was seen getting chairs and placing them inside the apartment. Other neighbors were also seen brining in white boxes of what appeared to be pastries." That's right, ladies and gentlemen: smoking pastelitos. "The meeting was very private it lasted about an hour and there were approximate 10 neighbors inside the apartment. Once the meeting concluded, Mr. Martinez exited the apartment very quietly and waved at some neighbors that were outside of their apartments. Mr. Martinez was not observed giving any political speeches in public to the elderly community while he was there. He did not do any door-to-door solicitation of any kind and nor did he conduct any presentations in public. There were no political signs or advertisement posted or displayed at the elderly community complex while Mr. Martinez was present," reads the intricately-detailed report by Reyes, who also included parts of the policy on third party solicitation in city-owned residential properties (housing centers, aka voting hubs), since the complaint was about a violation of that policy which the mayor, a former police lieutenant, had coincidentally distributed a reminder of in the city five days earlier. "I did not find any evidence that Mr. Martinez was giving political speeches in residential properties for the elderly. I did not find any evidence that Mr. Martinez violated the listed policy," Reyes wrote.

Martinez told Ladra that it was a "meet and greet" by one of the residents, whose rights to invite political candidates into her home are not only protected by the constitution but also by the city policy on public housing, as stated in the internal email reminder of the policy on August 17. "This policy is not intended to curtail political speech. Political speech shall be permitted in City of Hialeah-owned residential properties for the elderly," the report says. After a second meet-and-greet, two employees who had never had a disciplinary issue were fired allegedly for not reporting that Martinez was there. A third "coffee chat" in a different housing building was cancelled after Martinez said he feared residents were being harassed. "This is an abuse," he said.

Reyes' official "inquiry" was written and turned in at 11 a.m. Aug. 23. But it wasn't approved by her supervisors until Sept. 20 and by Police Chief Mark Overton on Sept. 21. The paperwork says the preliminary complaint was made by Overton's office. But Overton told Flor he did it at the mayor's request after Hernandez got an anonymous call to the mayor's office by someone who wanted to alert the mayor to the actions of Martinez and "his group." Okay. Let's ask for a record of calls to the mayor's office on the day of that anonymous tip. Not because I don't want to let the person remain anonymous. Just because I don't believe him. Just like the "anonymous donor" who supposedly paid for the IHOP lunch does not appear to exist (more on that later).

So there you have it, folks. It can't get simpler than that. Su alcaldito is telling the police chief to follow his main challenger in the November election and report back with details on the where, what and who? Really? REALLY? Is anybody else getting chills. Su alcaldito told Flor that the days of having poice follow political candidates was from the Martinez era and Overton told Flor his officers do not follow anyone for political reasons. But that's a lie. Because I know for a fact that an officer followed me, likely at the chief's behest, likely at the request of the mayor, who I suspect likely used city police resources to have me investigated. And I'm not the only one. Other candidates, fire union President Mario Pico and even family members of employees that are critical have reported being followed.  Well, that's when police are not too busy driving by the homes of the mayor and the council members at least twice on each shift after they asked for a watch order. I think that some of the other non-incumbent candidates and some of the leaders in the firefighters union should also ask for a watch order. They are the ones who really need one.

Ladra is going to have to add this Martinez surveillance report to the two false police reports that Council President Isis "Gavelgirl" Garcia-Martinez filed on me -- fully realizing she was making a false report each time (this photo is right before she filed a trespass on me -- illegally, since I left the campaign office and was in the parking lot when I was trespassed). I filed an complaint at the police department and should be able to pick up an information report by Monday. And I will follow up with the Assistant State Attorney in the public corruption unit with whom I spoke last week about what is obviously abuse of power.

Can we all say o f f i c i a l   m i s c o n d u c t??.

Instead of tailing Martinez and investigating me, the Hialeah Police should do something about real crime. Like the vulgar, obscene phone threats received repeatedly at the Martinez campaign headquarters from Carlos A. Fernandez, who lives on West 22nd Street. Fernandez had left his caller ID on so that Angela Martinez knew who to call. Officers apparently took him to the station and had a talk with him and told the Martinez camp the guy was so scared he wouldn't try that again. "There is no probable cause for an arrest at this time," says a be-on-the-lookout that police did provide the Martinez camp with so they could recognize the guy if he suddenly came by. But Ladra wants to know who gets that kind of treatment. Can anyone who breaks the law go through the police station's "scared straight" program and avoid charges?

This is outrageous and the situation demands for an independent law enforcement authority to do its own inquiry ASAP. Today. Not tomorrow. Not after the election. Because abuse of power can get especially dangerous during election campaigns.

And because the police are supposed to be there to protect and serve the public, the people of Hialeah -- not the mayor of Hialeah.


  1. Wao! I'm 70 years old and have memories of Batista's G2 . Seems to me there are sectors, hopefully small, hopefully minute, of Hialeah's police that are following that formula. Scary thought. What I would like to see is an official investigation. And I know for a fact there are a lot of decent, dedicated police officers that will fully cooperate. This may reach national attention, it's like Chicago politics moved South. Keep up the good work Ladra. WOOOOOFF

  2. I'm 67 and Jewish and my parents told me about the Gestapo. This sounds familiar.

  3. so the mayor, council and police chief are spending taxpayer money to investigate and follow political candidates and those that question the methods of their governance. Wow, sure sounds like something along the lines of misconduct. Would like to post with a real name, but don't want the city to spend any additional monies investigating me.

  4. Why is this a surprise? This Robaina/ Hernandez administration has been doing this for a long time. Remember it all started with dirt:

    Whistleblower tells IA there was something fishy with the transfer of dirt. Chief Overton unsubstantiates the complaint although the evidence was overwhelming. Somehow the whistleblower gets transfered/ punished for it as well.

    Then there is union rep and firefighter Bob Alvarez. Lots of due process and timeliness issues in that investigation.

    And finally right in his police department two PBA reps were convieniently relieved of duty for months(4 1/2 months for one and 7 1/2 MONTHS FOR ME) while the city is preparing to impose a contract on the department.

    And in all these investigations the office of the chief is the complainant.

    You guys make the call!

  5. Lastra seems to believe their is only one political opponent to Hernandez and that is Martinez. It seems to me that the so called independent blogger is in the tank for Martinez a full blown crook that was convicted of several corruption charges

  6. Don't blame the Indians when the Chief is corrupt. Overton knows his day are numbered in Hialeah if ABC wins the mayoral race. He has already applied for positions with other departments. This surveillance of Martinez certainly was not one of the more egregious acts of a police chief without the cojones to stand up to a corrupt administration. One could argue that this surveillance was within the purview of the Internal Affairs Dept., assuring that there were no violations of City policy for solicitation in city-owned residential properties. Kudos to Detective Hilda Reyes for professionally reporting what she observed.
    Overton thumps a good bible; but his behavior is anything but Christian. Chief Overton, take your in house Prayer meetings and your theological references in every one of your communications, take them with you wherever you go, and please return the Honor that you have removed from the Office of the Police Chief of the City of Hialeah. Promoting unqualified friends of the two Mayors and ignoring crimes of the Mayors' friends and relatives, this makes you an accessory, a witness, and I don't mean a witness to the power of the Lord. When the books are opened, and the maquinitas are closed, may your name be listed among the defendants. Amen.

  7. The city of Hialeah is full of heroes. Not just the firefighters, but men like Sgt. Tony Luis and the poet are knights that keep growing in numbers and that will save the day. Just watch. Thank you for adding authority and credibility to the issue.

    And I don't know who Lastra is, but Ladra is happy there are, actually, two ABC candidates and finds that it would make for the ideal and likely runoff, too. I'm quite sure either one would rather face Hernandez, who would be way out in the second round. So? I don't care. As far as Ladra is concerned, there are, indeed, two candidates. ONLY two candidates. And Hernandez is not one of them. Any more confusion?

  8. What are the odds Hernandez actually opens the books for the firefighters to see? There's only a short time for him and his council, what's to stop him from delaying the publicity of the numbers?

  9. Nothing, I think. The memorandum of understanding that binds this agreement has, under number seven, that "the city agrees to expeditiously provide all financial data requested by the union not otherwise shielded by law from public disclosure." There is no definition of expeditiously. There is no explanation of what financial data could possibly be excluded from public disclosure.

    And, you are right, there is no hurry for the alcaldito. For negotiations, either. Because, under number eight, "the city and the union agree to expeditiously resume bargaining in good faith in order to reach a mutually acceptable collective bargaining agreement." And the mayor said in the Miami Herald article that he was going to sit down with the union on Friday to start dealing with a long term solution. Friday came and went with no follow up. There was no appointment. The alcaldito never called.

    Let's see what happens Monday, but Ladra is willing to bet a cortadito that there won't be any negotiations during the campaign.

  10. Carlos Hernandez will never open the books, all he did until November was slowing down his political suicide. Lets all be honest everyone should know right now that Carlos is being told what to do by Robaina, when he speaks it sounds just as scripted as when Rudy speaks in the debates. No matter what the budget still shows 105 firefighters without jobs, so whomever gets in (preferably Raul) a new budget will have to be made with real numbers.

  11. Expeditiously???? Really? I'm willing to bet a gallon of colladas that this doesn't happen before the elections. Remember, it took the city 30+ days to reinstate the illegally fired 16 firefighters and that ruling said "immediately". I wonder if they have even been paid the money they are owed for that time they were fired...illegally. This city will do nothing proper before the election...only other illegal acts.

  12. Elaine can you please investigate the fact that Carlos Hernandez says that he is the only candidate that has never been in investigated by the Federal Governemnt and in the early 90's he was investigated by the FCC while working as a police officer at the City.


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