Elaine de Valle: Hialeah hero
Elaine de Valle of Political Cortadito.
Blog: Political Cortadito
Primary specialty: Stalking politicians and their cronies at local restaurants, senior citizen centers, and their homes
Secondary specialty: Flash-mob dancing with her daughter
Last job: Miami Herald reporter
Net worth: "I have not had a regular income for so long." De Valle doesn't own any property. After accepting a buyout from the Herald in 2009, she burned through her savings and moved in with her parents last year. This past November, she found an apartment with a friend.
Criminal record: None
Blog history: De Valle launched Political Cortadito July 8, 2010, but didn't ruffle feathers until eight months later, when she busted Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles for living outside his district. When she knocked on the front door of a five-bedroom house in Palmetto Bay late in the evening on April 18 of last year, Artiles answered wearing only gym pants and socks. He had been elected to represent a district in Sweetwater that was 14 miles away. Four days later, Artiles admitted his violation to the Miami Herald. Normally, legislators who don't move into their districts within six months after Election Day receive a hefty fine. So far, Artiles hasn't been sanctioned, but he moved out of Palmetto Bay.
De Valle has also attacked Sasha Tirador, the campaign manager for Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, and Vanessa Brito, chairwoman of a political action committee that led the recall against former county commissioner Natacha Seijas. "All Elaine does is attack people," Brito says. "I don't think blogs should exist to simply attack or destroy someone's reputation." Still, de Valle's blogging earned her a freelance producer gig on an Emmy Award-winning Univision news segment about absentee ballot brokering.
Why she's No. 5: Anyone with the cojones to stake out Hialeah's top elected official as he munches on ribs at the local Flanigan's while being protected by three brawny cops deserves much respect. Using her tenacity and journalistic chops, de Valle has wreaked havoc on the political structure of America's most Cuban city.
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