2016 Ballot Recommendations – County Races

We have two county-wide races: The Mayor and the County Clerk.  There are also School Board elections in Districts 1 and 6 (I’m in 6).

Miami-Dade Mayor: Raquel Regalado

Another pair of uninspiring choices in incumbent Carlos Gimenez and challenger Raquel Regalado. Here’s what I said about the primary before Regalado forced a runoff:

The Mayor’s race presents a stark choice between an incumbent who does not deserve re-election and a challenger who hasn’t made the case that she would be a good steward (if anything, rather more the opposite).

I really don’t want to vote for Mayor Gimenez to be re-elected. I’m not against measured development, but he’s for anything glitzy-sounding, be it an oversized mega-mall in the north end of the county, or selling a county golf course to Donald Trump.

I wasn’t a fan of the Pets Trust, but the voters voted for it, and Gimenez undermined their decision.

Also, I haven’t forgotten Gimenez’s war on the library system, which I think of as one of the few jewels in Miami-Dade’s civic crown. He lost that one, so no lasting harm was done, but it shows a very poor disposition.

Gimenez shafted county workers, and it took a costly court battle to set him straight.

And his son is a county lobbyist, with the wrong sort of clients.

The problem is, I’m not at all sure about the challenger, Raquel Regalado. Here’s what I said about her in 2010 when she ran for school board:

Raquel Regalado, 36, is a trademark and patents attorney with a law degree from St. Thomas in 2001. While I do think legal training is a good background for the school board, and it would be nice to have a younger member of the Board, it’s hard to think of many legal specialties less relevant to the job. (Now, a real estate attorney or CPA….) Indeed, the candidate’s resume generally seems rather light on relevant experience. The Herald endorsed Regalado as did the United Teachers of Dade, the teachers’ union. (I would expect better from the Herald. Sadly, I don’t expect better from the UTD.) The elephant in the room, however, is the identity of Regalado’s father, a subject explored in the Miami New Times’s With No Experience and Lots of Cash, Miami Mayor’s Daughter Raquel Regalado Runs For School Board.

Opinions differ about her tenure on the School Board. Her now-former colleagues (Regalado resigned to run for Mayor) say nice things. Her opponents cite her alleged absenteeism or lateness to meetings, which looks high on paper, but her defenders say looks less bad when one considers that (1) she had a live radio show to do (people have to eat); (2) the portions of the meetings she missed were overwhelmingly ceremonial; and (3) in all or most cases the important substantive votes she missed were not close votes where he presence would have made a difference.

No, the real rap on Regalado has two parts: lack of competence (not numerate, not detail-oriented) and likely to sweep in her father’s cronies. Dad is the Mayor of the City of Miami and he, and especially the cronies, are said to meet or exceed Miami’s ordinary quota of corruption.

To quoute the Shark Tank:

Raquel Regalado, who is the daughter of current City of Miami Mayor, Tomas Regalado, has a history of being involved in questionable financial dealings, some of which occurred during the time she was campaign treasurer for her father’s Mayoral race in 2009.

In 2011, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) launched an investigation into Tomas Regalado’s mayoral campaign, where Raquel Regalado served as treasurer, for potentially illegal contributions made in 2009. Raquel Regalado told El Nuevo Herald, that the apparently illegal campaign contributions coming from the Dominican Republic were a simple “oversight” and minimized the illegality of these transactions by claiming the campaign received hundreds of checks for smaller amounts

There was another investigation on the same campaign for campaign-reporting irregularities on a $40,000 increase in total contributions reported on an amended treasurer’s report filed after the campaign. In response to the investigation, Raquel Regalado told The Miami Herald that she believed “the discrepancy could be due to bookkeeping or accounting errors.”

Both Tomas Regalado (recently appeared on the HBO Show “Ballers”) and Raquel Regalado, agreed to pay fines and penalties of $5,000 each for their part in the bookkeeping.

To make things worse, in September 2011, law enforcement officials investigated campaign finance violations by both City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and campaign treasurer Raquel Regalado, revealing that criminal campaign violations that included forging campaign financial reports, were made. A forensic auditor ultimately outlined six violations of Chapter 106 of the Florida Statutes dealing with Campaign Financing, involving the Regalados.

But if things couldn’t get any worse for Regalado.

The Miami Herald reported that back in August 2011, Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado was nine months late in filing her final campaign finance report, leading to a $3,526 fine being accessed against her.

That’s the incompetence angle. Add in the kerfuffle over Regalado’s improper claim for a homested exemption. Her campaign spokesperson calls it just an excusable screwup:

Yes, she moved out of her house and into a rented home. She was in the midst of a contentious divorce and her ex-husband had a claim on the house they had once shared. Meanwhile, the bank was foreclosing because she could not afford, as a newly-single mother, both the mortgage payments and her daughter’s autism therapy. It was not a difficult decision for her to make and any parent can understand. She abandoned the house so that her ex-husband would take up residence and possession of the home he had some rights to, as per the divorce settlement. He had every intention of moving into the home. When he didn’t, the foreclosure moved forward.

She never rented the house to anybody, as is the case with real Homestead exemption fraud cases. Nor did she claim another Homestead exemption on the new home, as other people committing fraud do. She didn’t stay and live in the house for free during the foreclosure. And, in fact, since she wasn’t paying the mortgage, she didn’t continue to pay the taxes on it. Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia said the property taxes for both years that Regalado didn’t live in the house were paid for by the mortgage company that took possession of the home. Foreclosure proceedings take time. Her name was still listed on the property but the home was no longer Raquel’s. The bills were paid by the bank.

So the oversight isn’t even hers! The mortgage company got the tax bill and paid it, failing to make the changes to indicate there was nobody living in the home anymore and that it was in the process of foreclosure.

So, more incompetence, not malice.

Even if that’s right, and who knows, what a great choice to have to make.

It looks as if the developer-financed Mayor is going to win this one, so maybe I’ll just vote Regalado as a protest. But if it looked as it was going to be close it would be a tough one.

I did vote for Regaldo, and I don’t regret it. Being forced into the runoff is a great comeuppance for the incumbent.

But now we really have to pick one. And the choice today still looks lousy.

On the one hand we have Gimenez, a fairly competent guy by Miami standards, who broke promises and is wrong on many issues notably supporting the American Dream (cough) mega-mall (but right on supporting funding Tri-Rail), who is in bed with developers and other less savory folk, and has some ethical issues.

On the other hand we have the challenger, who is likely less competent, can’t keep her own financial house in order, and is likely to staff her administration with her dad’s cronies who are not better–and arguably worse–than the incumbent’s crew. On the gripping hand, she’s right on several issues notably opposing the mega-mall, opposing public money for SkyRise Miami, that white elephant erection planned for downtown Miami. She’s for closing the establishment slush fund known as the Beacon Council (but she’s wrong on Tri-Rail). And in part she looks good because she hasn’t had a chance to break promises yet.

Regalado has run a bad campaign, throwing stuff around in the hope it would stick. Not much of it did. That made her look shallow and desperate. (One’s tempted to add, ‘which would be because…’)

I’m going to vote for her anyway, as much for her opposition to the giveaways to influential developers as anything. Plus Gimenez’s war on the libraries really sticks in the craw. 1 I fear I may regret this vote. But then I’d probably regret the other vote too.

County Clerk.

Harvey Rubin is running unopposed again. It’s starting to feel a little Soviet. Then again, at least he seems to be doing a good job. And he’s a UM J.D.!

School Board: Modesto “Mo” Abety

Modesto “Mo” Abety  The former CEO of the Children’s Trust is endorsed by all the good government groups seems like a great choice. His main opponent, Maria Rojas is very well-financed for a political neophyte.  Coincidentally, she is the sister-in-law of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.  I have yet to read anything else about her that explains why so many people want to vote for her.

  1. It’s a sign of how bad the Herald is on local politics that their editorial gives the reopening of libraries as a reason to vote for Gimenez; yet he created the crisis, and only backed down in the face of vociferous public opposition.  Does the Herald think we’re so stupid we forgot this?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps, worse, they have forgotten it?[]
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