Game over for maquinita ban before it begins
Maybe Hialeah Mayor Carlos “Castro” Hernandez knew something Ladra didn’t.
These maquinitas are now safe in Hialeah -- and everywhere else in the county as well.
There was no showdown at County Hall this morning over the proposed maquinita ban that went pop, bing, fizz without any discussion whatsoever in a 4 to 7 vote.
Hernandez — whose city is a safe haven for maquinitas, the owners of which donate tens of thousands of dollars to Hialeah’s political campaigns — didn’t show up. Maybe he knew he didn’t have to.
Among those voting against it, besides the obvious Commissioner Esteban “El Bobo” Bovo, were Commissioners Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Xavier Suarez, Audrey Edmonson — who changed her original yes vote after it seemed doomed — and Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa and Vice Chairwoman Lynda Bell.
Here was a chance for our elected leaders to take a stance on a scourge on our community – one that is becoming more and more entrenched through political alliances and allocations, one that has been linked to crime and drug use and depression.
Hialeah Councilman Luis Gonzalez, who is also president of the Miami-Dade League of Cities, was at the meeting to talk about another item where the county wants to retain control of restrictive covenants on annexed or incorporated areas, but he stood ready to speak against the maquinita ban if he needed to.
“In the League, we believe cities have a right to govern themselves,” Gonzalez told me when he stepped outside to take a phone call (read: Castro saying “whew.”).
“If the county wants to ban maquinitas in unincorporated areas, fine. But don’t force the cities. Let the cities decide for themselves,” said Gonzalez, who, like Hernandez, is up for re-election this year and needs the donations from Jesus Navarro and the other maquinita kings.
“It’s not about the maquinitas,” he said. “If it was anything else, I’d say the same thing.”
Well, it is about maquinitas, not anything else. And I think there might be support for a referendum item to bring the issue to voters on a ballot. Maybe we should talk to the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes for funding. The owners of the Hialeah and Calder race tracks.
I see a movement forming.
More on that later.