Hialeah: Campaign $ before safety
Hialeah’s alcaldito Carlos Hernandez and his yes council would have people believe that they have to fire almost half the city’s firefighter paramedics to balance the budget without raising taxes. But a closer look at the city’s checkbook may indicate that what they really want is to take money from the fire department budget so they can keep on doling out millions in no-bid contracts and purchase order increases for their friends and campaign contributors.
On the agenda for tonight’s meeting, two days before they consider firing 40 percent of the 270 firefighters that currently serve more than 220,000 residents, there are several items that are worth questioning. They include more than a dozen requests to waive the competitive bidding process — which guarantees fair, not inflated prices, and an open, level playing field — for a total of more than $800,000, which includes one for Maguire Group for inspections that have already been done on the water pump that cost the city double because it wasn’t done right the first time. Maguire Group, its officers and their other companies contributed at least $4,300 to the failed Julio Robaina county mayoral campaign — and, Ladra is willing to wager, we’ll see some contributions to the current candidates on the dais (which is the long podium they sit at for meetings, for that person who did not recognize the word).
Additionally, there is a “change order” for contracts with two other companies (probably no bid contracts, also) that contributed to the Robaina campaign: Acosta Tractors ($175,000) and Overland Carriers (doesn’t say how much the change is, but the contract total is $2.1 million so I bet it’s at least a six-figure figure). Acosta Tractors and its related officers and companies donated $2,000 in four bundled maximum $500 contributions. Overland just $1,000 that I could find so far, but its harder than it looks to trace these contributions back and connect them to bundles. And I haven’t even started to look at the seven or eight PACs that supported Robaina that might have also benefited from these benevolent city vendors.
This is how the city administration misspends your hard-earned taxes, Hialeah. Watch them as they raise no questions and rubber-stamp every no-bid contract and every change order. Council President Isis “Guttergirl” Garcia-Martinez might even give her nod with her signature enthusiastic “Absolutely!” — just in case there is any question of how she really feels.
Then Thursday, do not let the council blame the city’s hard-working employees for their own financial mismanagement and cut half of the city’s firefighters and paramedics so that they can keep on doling out funds to their campaign contributors.
That’s pathetic. And it should be criminal.