Ladra is lending her space today to Hialeah Fire Union Vice President Eric "Slick" Johnson (aka "Braveheart") who lays out the truth in the firefighters' ongoing battle with the administration and the lies and lack of transparency they have been trying to fight:
I would love to use this forum to explain why we are in this predicament, but It would be hard to sum up three years in a short story. Basically, what is happening is clear cut political retribution. The retribution started with Former Mayor Julio Robaina and has now been passed along to Interim Mayor Carlos Hernandez. Nothing more and nothing less.
In a few years time Hialeah Collected over 93 Million dollars in excess revenue and spent EVERY PENNY carelessly. We as a fire department have asked, for three years, for transparency and honesty as we have prepared all along to make necessary concessions with the clear cut economic crunch facing society today. The same year the Housing Market was crashing the City actually offered us raises. We stated, at the table and on tape, during a negotiations session that we are not blind to what is going on with the economy. We told the city please review your numbers as were ready to do our share. As the belief was the City’s numbers were incorrect.
OOPS we were right it seems.
The then mayor (Julio Robaina) stated there would be no cuts and no raises as the city had spent years preparing for times like this. There would be absolutely NO LAYOFFS. In fact, he traveled department to department spreading this news. Amazingly enough, within two weeks time, we had an imaginary 5 million dollar deficit. That number changed to 13 million then again to 23 million. The numbers were way off on a daily basis and changed as often as we all change our socks.
That same year we asked the City Council to conduct a forensic audit, which the city REFUSED – which means they had something to hide. Instead they forcefully and illegally imposed a contract on the general employees resulting in some employees facing pay cuts of up to 30%. Yes, I said 30%. Please keep in mind Hialeah is the lowest paid municipality in Miami-Dade County. The general employees reacted by pleading their case to the state of Florida and won, but the City refused again to return any money and held a new hearing. The City then re-imposed another contract calling for 17% pay cuts across the board. Again, the employees took the City to court and again the City lost. To date, the City has the case tied up in the appeals process, as to stall the inevitable repayment.
On May 18, 2010 Former Mayor Julio Robaina SWORE UNDER OATH that he did not impose these draconian cuts upon the employees and that the City faced a 5.8 to 6 million dollar shortfall that year. Low and behold, the CAFR (Certified Annual Financial Report) was released just before the Miami-Dade County election and revealed there was a 19 Million Dollar surplus. YES SURPLUS!!!!
Let's face the facts here………… We waged “WAR” against our former Mayor Julio Robaina, who was running for county mayor, as we knew that if elected he’d destroy the Miami-Dade County as he did with the City of Hialeah. Besides the ongoing investigations against him for mortgage fraud, Federal Tax Evasion, high interest loans with a Ponzi Schemers, and his deals with illegal MAQUINITAS (coin machines used to gamble) operators his past would clearly predict his future. Our City Council were merely puppets in his Political show, as they just nodded their heads as bobble head dolls do. No matter what he asked for he received, due to his political power and the obvious fact that with his support he could ensure them to remain in office.
Robaina and the council decided to build an unnecessary 166 Million Dollar Reverse Osmosis Water plant in the height of a depression and among firing over 200 employees. This all the while he was forcefully imposing some of the largest pay cuts in the United States Of America. Funny though that the builders of that water plant were some of his largest campaign contributors. Since, it seems I am at the heart of the investigation from ROBA-I-NADA, Regalado and now Carlos Hernandez the retribution and threats have been more directed to me in the way of threats, intimidation and coercion. Boy did those fools pick the wrong man… So sorry Charlie…. Life is not worth living unless it is under the flag we fly inside a democratic society where we have rights and freedoms guaranteed by the blood of millions of American men and women.
We the employees have been accused of driving up pension costs, as we are grouped with places that have no comparison to us. It is true that our pensions costs have risen, but please allow me to tell you why. For three years in a row Former Mayor Julio Robaina went to our retirement board and asked to draw money by lowering his pension contributions. Not one year, not two years, but THREE YEARS IN A ROW. He was warned that if he did this it would drive his pension contributions up for almost 15 years. He knew full well and now we suffer the consequences of what politicians have done to create this imaginary problem… DID YOU READ THAT???? The MAYOR and the Council caused the pensions to go up.. NOT THE EMPLOYEES…. It seems allot easier to just blame the employees rather than gather the facts.
Now, during the last few months we have gone again from a deficit to a surplus – depending on what day you ask. We have no confidence in the numbers the city presents. We are ready and willing to make necessary concessions as long as it is with a clear view in site.
I almost forgot.. When we asked for the audit we asked the City to join us and we would pay for it to the best of our ability and asked for a contribution from the City so that we may work hand in hand with the independent outsider. What we received was a Nickel taped to a letter from a Council member saying consider this our contribution.
Now we are facing the largest FIREFIGHTER workforce reduction in American history, in a town that does not sleep. Services have already been reduced and due to Imposed Cuts lives will change further as time goes by. We can only help if we are here. And, for the ladies and gentleman that intimated that we asked to raise taxes you definitely have the wrong group of men and women. We have never asked for that as we also are tax payers. We just want to figure out what happened to the 93 million extra dollars we collected and where it went.
Is the truth to much to ask for???
Is transparency so out of reach????
WE HAVE NOW BECOME THE TARGET FOR POLITICIANS IN OUR CITY BECAUSE OF OUR QUEST FOR TRUTH!!!
The only way to change this City is to start changing is politics. WE ASK THAT YOU REACH OUT to everyone and anyone you know inside our City and ask them to Vote for change.
DO NOT VOTE FOR CARLOS HERENANDEZ!!!!