Hialeah political machine behind judicial hopeful
She threatened to get involved in the county’s judicial races and now Absentee Ballot Queen Sasha Tirador has made good on that.
But she is not the only piece of the Hialeah political machine driving the candidacy of former Hialeah cop John “Johnny” Rodriguez, who is Miami Lakes Vice Mayor Cesar Mestre‘s law partner. Standing with Tirador and Rodriguez at the county elections department Friday when he qualified was none other than Glenn “The Goon” Rice, who used to be the enforcer/bodyguard for Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, following Ladra around and taking photos of me with his camera phone. He still moonlights as such, especially at council meetings where he likes to intimidate su alcaldito’s critics in the audience (more on that later). But today he was carrying Rodriguez’s paperwork. Ladra thinks maybe he wants a position as a bailiff. But he is going to have to change his demeanor. Dicen las malas lenguas that he got into it with another campaign worker at the elections department and started throwing his weight.
Hernandez himself already hosted a fundraiser for Rodriguez, who is trying to unseat Miami-Dade County Judge Theresa Lundy Thomas, and gave $500 himself. I guess su alcladito (photographed here second from right with Rodriguez, far left), is sick and tired of appealing court losses to the employees — another of which the city lost this month and is appealing yet again — and wants to change the judicial system from the inside. He also seems to have convinced a bunch of his friends and allies to donate $500 to the campaign, including new bff Alex “Secret Agent” Perez — a convert after first supporting former State Sen. Rudy Garcia and then former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez in the mayoral race. Or, as secret agents do, maybe only appearing to support them. (Here he is photographed “lovin’ life in Hialeah” shortly after the election with Hernandez’s grossly overpaid secretary Lisette “La Chonga” Blanco, as he wrote in facebook, though his face look doesn’t exactly say “love”. What a difference a couple of months make, eh?). Former Hialeah Councilman and Hernandez homeboy Herman Echevarria (las malas lenguas say he’s the one running City Hall) gave $2,000 in four maximum $500 donations from himself and three of his companies.
Rice only gave $200 (guess the drunken bodyguard business is not booming) and his pal, former Hialeah cop Albert Nabut gave $300. A bunch of current and former cops also gave, including former Hialeah Officer Gerinerdo Navarro — who was administratively separated from the department in 1997 and then worked for the county police department for a month before going full time into the P.I. and sports business.
According to Rodriguez’s campaign report, Hialeah residents and businesses contributed almost $10,000 of the $35,000 he raised so far (because the other $100,000 he loaned himself out of his own pocket). Miami Lakes residents and businesses — increasingly tied to Hialeah politics — contributed another $5,000. That includes $500 contributions from Mestre and from Mayor Michael “Muscles” Pizzi (photographed here, second from left, with Rodriguez, far right) and $100 donations from Councilwoman Mary Collins and former Councilman Robert Meador.
Hialeah will also get some of the revenues generated by the campaign. Ladra is sure Tirador will be paid and Vital Graphics, which everybody knows is the printing business owned by Hialeah Council Vice President Luis Gonzalez but is registered under the name of one of Tirador’s boytoys, Juan “Papito” Afre, photographed here during early voting last November at JFK Library in Hialeah, already got $900 worth of printing business from the campaign.
Ladra is only interested in this race because of the heavy Hialeah handling. And because I’m curious to know why someone who aspires to be a judge would surround himself with such a bunch of questionable bullies, including a disgraced cop, a mayor or two who everyone knows abuse their power and a campaign operative who has been investigated for fraudulent practices. Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres. I would directly ask Rodriguez this, and, in fact, left a similar message on his voice mail. He answered the phone the first time I called and said he was busy and to call him back later. Hours later, I left a message after he did not pick up the phone. I never got a call back.
I don’t know Judge Thomas, who has collected $56,000 just since January, mostly from attorneys and law firms.
But I like her already.