The married mayor is having an affair with the also-married mayor of a neighboring village. One councilman wears women's panties and dabs on make-up at home. Another was caught committing acts of sodomy in the bathrooms of the local high school. A third is a Mafia thief. One of the councilwomen is a homewrecker, another is conducting an affair with the city's police chief.
You couldn't catch this novela on any Spanish-language television station. Instead, you'd have to go to Hialeah, if you believe whoever has been deluging politicos in Dade's second-largest city with letters addressed to the city council and Gov. Lawton Chiles. In the warped world of this scribe or scribes, nearly every pol in the City of Progress is embroiled in a homosexual or extramarital affair, including Acting Hialeah Mayor Julio Martinez, who's said to be doing the horizontal bop with Hialeah Gardens Mayor Gilda Oliveros. This last outrageous assertion prompted someone - anonymously, natch - to have a queen-size mattress delivered to Martinez's fourth-floor office. Someone else (the same person, perhaps?) deposited pantyhose in the council chambers.
"These are obviously sick individuals spreading these ridiculous rumors," says Councilwoman Carmen Caldwell. "Because they are such failures in life, they have nothing better to do. It's their only way of getting attention, whoever they are." (Then again, who would take the word of a brazen hussy who's boffing Police Chief Rolando Bolanos and goes "under the sheets" to keep morale high among the force's officers?)
The most recent story line in Hialeah's randy miniseries opened April 4, when a letter, written in English and alleging an affair between mayors Martinez and Oliveros, began circulating at city hall. It seemed Martinez was "spending our tax dollars dining and romancing" Oliveros, and the mayors spent Dade Day February 13 in Tallahassee "romancing" rather than dealing with city business. Moreover, visits by Martinez to Oliveros's office at Hialeah Gardens City Hall two and three times per week had become a "religious ritual," with Oliveros instructing her secretary not to interrupt, "no matter what!!"
The seven-member Hialeah City Council, the letter writer demanded, should of course investigate these matters immediately. At the bottom, the unsigned document carried the typed name of Bertha Pardillo, who resigned in February as assistant to Oliveros.
The mayors won't comment on the allegations. As for Pardillo, she says she was shocked when told about the letter, adding that she immediately fired off a signed response in Spanish to both mayors, disclaiming any responsibility for the "atrocities" and "monstrosities" contained in the correspondence. "I couldn't believe someone would do this," Pardillo says now. "I immediately called both of them and explained that I had nothing to do with it. I really don't know why someone would use my name to play this dirty trick." Pardillo, who now works as food and beverage controller at Crown Sterling Suites, effuses praise for both mayors, whom she calls long-time friends of hers. Both officials, she asserts, have always behaved honorably and honestly in their professional and personal lives and have earned her admiration and respect. "I would never do something like this," she insists. "This is just someone trying to use me to get at them." (Sounds believable enough; and at least Pardillo's credibility doesn't bear the taint of any smutty allegations.)
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The next installment involved the mattress, delivered to the mayor's office about three weeks ago. Then, on April 14, janitors discovered pantyhose in the hallways and in the Hialeah City Hall council chambers. And the denouement was broadcast two days later, by way of a letter addressed to the governor. The letter alleges (in Spanish) that most of the officials running Hialeah are a "total embarrassment" to the city's citizens: Councilwoman Caldwell sleeps with police officers, and her affair with the police chief is "the joke of the department," especially when the two lock themselves in the chief's office and Caldwell's "moans can be heard through the door." Councilman Alex Morales was "caught unawares several times in degenerate acts of homosexuality and sodomy in the bathrooms at Hialeah High School." (At least, the writer noted, the now-married Morales only did the nasty while still a bachelor.)
Further, Councilman Herman Echevarria is romancing a male producer at a local television station, and Councilwoman Natacha Millan is dating a "well-known lesbian who works for the county." It didn't stop there. Before his downfall, suspended Mayor Raul Martinez took time out of his busy schedule to have an affair with the head of a Santeria church now at the center of a state Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of a Hialeah ordinance banning animal sacrifice. To round out the roster of deviants, Councilman Paulino Nunez has the panties fetish, Councilwoman Isis Garcia-Martinez a lust for other women's husbands, Council President Salvatore D'Angelo is the Mafioso, and County Commissioner Alex Penelas, a former Hialeah city councilman, is the "husband" of Evelio Medina, another former city councilman. "These are things we think should be investigated by your office as soon as possible," the letter writer admonishes Chiles. "Hialeah needs decent people who will govern morally." (The governor's office says it has received no such correspondence.)
The letter bears the signature of former Councilman Bob Ruiz.
"This is all news to me," laughs Ruiz. "I certainly didn't send it. Sounds like someone is pulling a prank. This kind of stuff happens up here all the time."