Former State Sen. Rudy Garcia -- the third place finisher in the first mayoral race round who later endorsed the man he had heavily maligned for months -- waved to the crowd as if from a parade in a valiant effort to stay relevant (more on that later). Also in the audience were Miami-Dade Commissioners Jose "Pepe" Diaz and Rebeca Sosa -- whose proposed absentee ballot fraud prevention amendment last month suddenly looks like an opportunistic move for political appearances, since she posed for pics with the guilty parties. She has to know there are concerns about that process in the City of Progress. But, heck, who is she to stand in the way of a good party? Other political hangers on in attendance included Miami Lakes Mayor Michael "Muscles" Pizzi and Councilman Cesar Mestre, Hialeah Gardens Mayor Yosiel de la Cruz and Medley Mayor Ramon Rodriguez, Hialeah Chamber of Commerce Chair Mandy Llanes, Hialeah Housing Authority Director (and AB pirate extraordinaire) Julio Ponce, Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia, Miami-Dade School Board Member Perla Tabares Hantman (District 4), State Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R, District 113) and representatives from the offices of State Reps. Jose Oliva (R, District 110) and Eddy Gonzalez (R, District 102) and State Sen. Rene Garcia (R, District 40), Alina Garcia from the office of U.S. Rep. David Rivera's office, and a letter of congratulations with a pledge of support for Hernandez from U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R, District 21), who had endorsed su alcaldito some days earlier despite Hernandez backing former Mayor Raul Martinez, who he beat last Tuesday, in the 2008 race for the seat against brother Lincoln Diaz-Balart (who resigned shortly after for "personal" reasons).
It should have been a smorgasbord for a political junkie like Ladra. But I was disgusted by what seemed, instead, like a trough of slop for the political piggies.
Speaking of swine, the most exciting cameo appearance for the pro-alcaldito crowd was former mayor Julio Robaina, who came in through the city clerk's office and shook a host of hands before he took a lonely spot on the platform next to the dais. "Julio, Julio, Julio," the crowd chanted, encouraging his run for county mayor in 2012 -- as if he needs encouragement.
But the circus clearly defined su alcaldito as the new ringleader, or king of the Hialeah political hierchy, who just happened to be embracing Robaina as the Mariachis played "El Rey." While Robaina may have caused a bigger stir, su alcaldito was absolutely cast as the new leading man in the telenovela, As Hialeah Churns. Robaina stood back against the dais, pretty much alone. Police Chief Abuser Mark Overton stood close by. Councilwoman Vivian Casals-Muñoz -- who surprisingly cheek-kissed and hugged archrival Council President Isis "Gavelgirl" Garcia-Martinez, despite some deep mutual disrespect -- sat in her regained chair behind Robaina, but wasn't very chatty with her one-time brother-in-law and political mentor/master. In fact, the words she had for the audience that also seemed directed sort of to him and to su alcaldito -- una galleta sin mano, or a slap in the face without using hands -- was, again (like she is trying to convince herself), about running her own campaign, independent of any mayoral candidate.
"And I want to thank former Mayor Julio Robaina and Mayor Carlos Hernandez for respecting my decision," she said, also thanking the council members for accepting her choice "without thinking my decision was against anyone." But now that she is the odd woman out -- the only candidate not on su alcaldito's Seguro Que Yes slate, and possibly rendered ineffective -- maybe that was more damage control than declaration. "It was a personal decision. I never made negative comments about anyone here," she said, sort of begging to be let into the cool group. But give that woman an Academy Award for what was perhaps the best performance of the afternoon show as she individually congratulated each of the council members who won, in effusive enthusiasm. "Congratulations first to Carlos Hernandez, for such an excellent victory," she said, before going down the list. She also thanked Council Vice President Luis Gonzalez and Councilwoman Katherine Cue for their support. Gotta hit them all if you want to start building your faction.
Gavelgirl -- who kept her gavel and her title at the last council meeting after she was re-elected -- also strutted her stuff, but went in a completely different direction and her act was harder to swallow. "Thanks to all who supported me," Gavelgirl said. "It was a very difficult election and it wouldn't be possible without the friends and supporters. The best thing about this campaign is that they did it from the heart." Well, we know that some of them got paid up to $100 a day. She thanked her family and -- after the crowd sang Happy Birthday to her mom -- she did some ring-kissing of her own. "I have had the opportunity to work with many leaders in this community," Gavelgirl said, naming former Senators Rudy and Rene Garcia, Commissioner Bovo and State Rep. Eddy Gonzalez. "But there is one person who showed me what higher office is, and that is Mr. and Mayor Julio Robaina. It's important to recognize his work here. We must recognize the pride we have in the work of Julio Robaina," she said taking the alcaldito's favorite word for her own.
Alas, while the ring is kissed on King Alcaldito's finger, he got busy kissing someone else's you-know-what. Before he thanked Robaina and before he thanked Roberto Cayon -- a main contributor to his campaign -- and before he thanked Rudy Garcia or Robaina or Mestre, Hernandez made a point of kissing up to AB Fraud Queen Sasha Tirador. She was the very first person he thanked. And rightfully so, since he likely owes his re-election to her questionable AB and get-out-the-vote tactics. He introduced her as "a grand part of the reason I am here today," in an uncharacteristic moment of honesty. "I respect and love her so much. My friend, Sasha Tirador." But he didn't break into tears (that came when he began to mention Cayon and Councilman Cesar Mestre, a fellow former Hialeah cop). But while she may not get tears, Tirador got VIP treatment. Ladra hadn't realized until then, when she rose halfway to the audience applause, that the AB fraud specialist was sitting on the platform, behind the council's dais, as if she owns the place. Well, maybe she does. She's put everyone in office there. Again and again. Back there, alongside Tirador -- which can be translated into the "thrower" as in throwing a race -- were Alex Martinez, Gavelgirl's poor wife, and Felix Lasarte, the city's main lobbyist and boss to Councilman Paul "Huh?" Hernandez, who has to recuse himself from multiple important votes because LaSarte's firm has one or another thing to do with it.
The three of them seemed to have supporting roles that are much more important than the other council members who were sworn in at the grande finale of this dramatic electoral farse. But the telenovela plays on -- and Ladra can't wait for the next episode.