But nothing beats Rivero's representation of Tomas Mestre, a South Dade-based waste industry tycoon who SLAPPed (as in Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) Redland homeowner Ellen Perez in 2001. Mestre claimed Perez "intentionally made false statements" against his company, Ouster, Inc., to put it out of business. Mestre eventually dropped the suit, but Perez paid the ultimate price: She was forced to sell her home to pay off legal and medical bills.
So whose interests will Rivero the Commish represent and protect? "People understand that lawyers are advocates," Rivero says. "Sometimes you have popular clients. Sometimes you have unpopular clients."
On August 11, 2004, the elitist Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidates' forum that excluded the only black candidate and the only disabled candidate in the race to be the next mayor of Miami-Dade County. The chamber invited the so-called leading contenders: Carlos Alvarez, José Cancela, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Maurice Ferré, Jay Love, and Jimmy Morales.
Yet the GMCC snubbed Deliverance Charles Blue and David Slater based on recent polls that show both men are well behind the presumed frontrunners, according to the chamber's executive vice president, Barry Johnson. "We are going to be pressed for time, so we decided to only invite the six leading candidates," Johnson told The Bitch a day before the forum. Shortly after speaking to Miami's favorite canine, Johnson invited Slater and his wife, as well as Blue, to attend the forum as lunch guests, but that the two contenders would not be allowed to join the other candidates at the podium.
Needless to say, the chamber's snub didn't sit well with Slater, an Army veteran and former television traffic reporter who has an artificial kneecap in his left leg. He claims the chamber's advocacy director, Alice Ancona, informed him that Miami Heraldexecutive editor Tom Fiedler did not want Blue or Slater to participate. Fiedler moderated the forum. "He doesn't want to believe Blue or myself are serious candidates," Slater fumed. "This is completely un-American, especially during such a wide-open local election."
Nevertheless Slater accepted the chamber's lunch invite. He was joined by campaign supporter Denny R. Wood, a paraplegic, who confronted Fiedler prior to the forum's start. Fiedler insisted he had nothing to do with the decision to exclude Blue and Slater. "The chamber established the criteria by which the candidates were invited," Fiedler said. "I'm sorry."