As our great Banana Republic of Miami-Dade County prepares for this fall's elections, Riptide scoured campaign financial reports. After all, nothing is more patriotic than greasing the wheels of politics.
Take, for instance, Magnum Construction Management Corp., a construction firm owned by a family of builders that has given thousands of dollars to Mayor Carlos Alvarez and county commissioners. According to state incorporation records, MCM's officers are Jorge, Juan, Raul, and Pedro Munilla, who along with relatives Fernando, Jacquelyn, Laura, Madeline, Norka, and Pedro Jr. each gave the $500 maximum to Commissioner Joe Martinez's campaign. That's $5,000. Entities listing the same address as MCM headquarters at 6201 SW 70th St. gave him a combined $2,500. And that's just one commish.
The Munillas showered a grand total of $34,000 to re-elect Alvarez, Carlos Gimenez, Bruno Barreiro, Audrey Edmonson, Natacha Seijas, and Barbara Jordan. Why? Well, MCM Corp. competes for county contracts. This past February, the county commission rejected the lowest bidder and awarded MCM a $125 million contract to improve Miami International Airport's north terminal. And after garnering a $25 million contract to build the Metrorail extension from Okeechobee Road to the Palmetto Expressway, MCM charged Miami-Dade Transit an additional $3 million to finish the job.
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Or consider Metro-Dade Firefighters Local 1403, which contributed $500 each to the re-election campaigns of Barreiro, Edmonson, Gimenez, Jordan, Martinez, and Seijas.
That should come as no surprise considering the fire union exerts strong political influence at county hall. Just this past July 18, Local 1403 mobilized hundreds of members to show up at the Stephen P. Clark Center for the county commission's special meeting. On the agenda was an item calling for a referendum to ask voters in the November elections to make Miami-Dade Fire Rescue the only fire department countywide. The measure would have, in effect, eliminated the city departments in Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, and Hialeah.
Dressed in red T-shirts supporting the measure, county union firefighters easily outnumbered their municipal counterparts. Fortunately, pressure from city elected officials and a media barrage forced county commissioners to delay their decision. But you can bet Local 1403 will use this election season to get the referendum one way or another.
Finally comes North Miami Beach-based über-lobbyist Ron Book, who lobbies state legislators on behalf of 38 cities and counties, including Aventura, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Palm Bay, and Miami-Dade County. He doesn't come cheap. For example, Miami-Dade pays Book an annual $650,000. When you add it all up, the Book clan gave $13,000 to Edmonson, Gimenez, Seijas, and Gwen Margolis, who's running for county property appraiser.