My hometown of Miami Lakes is a quiet suburb of Miami in just about every way. Nestled between Hialeah and northwestern unincorporated Miami-Dade County, it’s almost an oasis in the congested metropolitan concrete desert that is South Florida. With its charming Main Street, canopied roads, and overall small-town feel, it’s hardly the place where one would expect to see the type of dirty, corrupt politics seen just over the canal in Hialeah.
But looks can be deceiving.
Incorporated in 2000, the young Town splits power evenly between the mayor and 6 council members. Except for chairing the meetings and cutting ribbons, the mayor is merely one more vote on the council.
The current mayor, Michael Pizzi, controls the council 4-3 (his vote plus three rubber stamps: Councilwoman Mary Collins, Councilman Nick Perdomo and Councilman Ceasar Mestre).
The loyal opposition consists of the remaining three Councilmen: Tim Daubert, Nelson Hernández, and Richard Pulido.
This year the mayor, two of his rubber stamps (Collins and Perdomo), and opposition member Richard Pulido are up for reelection. This poses a huge risk for the mayor and his majority, as the opposition needs to protect only one seat versus the three the mayor needs to keep. If the mayor loses just one of the three, it will tilt the balance of power on the council, and even if reelected, the mayor will become a lame duck.
This has had the notoriously high-strung mayor very worried for quite some time, and over the last week he went from worried to full-on nervous breakdown when viable candidates filed to run for the seats he controls. One of those seats is occupied by Councilwoman Mary Collins, his most loyal blind follower and dependable of rubber stamps.
Collins, 78, has been a councilwoman in Miami Lakes for 12 years. Her last election in 2008 was said to be her last, and although she even told many in the Town that she would not seek reelection this year, it is widely believed that Mayor Pizzi instructed her to run again in order to help him maintain his majority on the Council. Sources on the ground report rumors that she intends to run for reelection this year and if successful, she’ll then resign so Pizzi can appoint another rubber stamp replacement.
Regardless, first-time office seeker Manny Cid filed to run for the seat last week, which triggered the aforementioned nervous breakdown. Cid is a longtime Miami Lakes resident, conservative activist, and president of the local Republican club. Due to Cid’s position and local activism, he is well-known in the community and has remained politically involved in Miami Lakes for the past several years, making him a formidable candidate.
For purposes of Reaganista.com, I must also add that Cid is a small-government, solid bedrock conservative Republican whom we will likely endorse when the election draws closer.
According to reliable sources, ever since Cid filed to run against Collins, Pizzi has been absolutely obsessed with either forcing him out of the race or poisoning the well for him. Sources inside Town Hall say that he obsessively asks staff and others about Cid and any developments in the race.
So concerned are both Pizzi and his rubber stamp Collins about Cid’s chances in November, that they went ahead and hired Hialeah “Absentee Ballot Queen” Sasha Tirador to run her absentee ballot “chase” program against Cid.
This is not the first time a Pizzi-backed candidate has hired Tirador for her unique absentee ballot “services.” She also worked the campaign of another Pizzi rubber stamp on the council Ceasar Mestre during his 2010 race against then-Councilwoman Nancy Simon. In that race, Simon won a majority of early voting and election day votes, but was overwhelmingly defeated in absentee ballots, which tilted the election Mestre’s way. Ballots were even inspected after allegations of absentee voting irregularities in that race, but nothing was formally investigated (“MIAMI LAKES: Candidates investigate absentee ballots after Miami Lakes election,” Miami Herald 10/17/2010).
However, some may recall Sasha Tirador was investigated in 2008 for some absentee voter fraud allegations. She also ran the absentee ballot operations in 2011 for current Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, who happens to be a close friend of (Pizzi rubber stamp) Miami Lakes Councilman Ceasar Mestre (Hernandez and Mestre served on the Hialeah Police Department together years ago).
Word around Miami Lakes is that Hialeah’s Absentee Ballot Queen Sasha Tirador will work not only for Collins, but for the rest of the Pizzi slate as well, which is confirmed by Tirador herself every time she goes on Cuban radio to talk crap about the other candidates.
Qualifying for the Miami Lakes election ended at noon today, and here is the Pizzi/Tirador slate:
- Tony Lama – challenger of incumbent councilman and frequent Pizzi critic Richard Pulido;
- Nelson Rodriguez – City of Coral Gables firefighter recruited by Pizzi to run for the seat currently occupied by one of his rubber stamps Nick Perdomo who reportedly has been living in Sunny Isles Beach for several months and does not want to deal with challenger, longtime Miami Lakes activist and prominent dentist Dr. David Bennett calling him out for carpetbagging or this little gem;
- Mary Collins, who is running against conservative activist Manny Cid, as discussed above; and of course
- Michael Pizzi himself, who is being challenged by founding Miami Lakes mayor and all-around soft-spoken, decent guy Wayne Slaton. .
So as you can see, Pizzi is running scared, so he has decided to import and foist this type of rancid Hialeah “boletera” machine politics on the citizens of Miami Lakes.
We salute Manny Cid, Richard Pulido, Wayne Slaton and Dr. David Bennett for standing up and providing a better choice, and we urge all Miami Lakes voters to reject the sleaze that is attempting to influence their town’s politics.
The ink on qualifying papers wasn’t even dry yet and 12-year incumbent Councilwoman Mary Collins preemptively breaks her promise to run a clean race.
Why preemptively? Because at 9:42 p.m. yesterday (qualifying day) she sends an e-mail announcing her candidacy for reelection and in it she pledges to run a clean race, stating:
I have been told that this will be a nasty campaign, well, I don’t believe in that kind of campaigning, so it will not come from me. I shall just run on my unblemished record and I will win with your help.
But then hours earlier, this mail piece attacking her opponent Manny Cid hit mailboxes throughout Miami Lakes:
Well, I guess Councilwoman Collins is right. This will be a nasty campaign–but only because she made it so.