Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina's Discreet Spending

As Julio Robaina courts voters in his quest to become Miami-Dade County mayor, he's promising to do away with the county commission's discretionary funds: a chest of taxpayer money the 13 members may dole out to whomever and for whatever they want. How noble of Hialeah's mayor -- and hypocritical.

During his six years at the helm of Miami-Dade's most Cuban-American town, Robaina and the city council have enjoyed the luxury of $158,320 a year in taxpayer-funded expense accounts for which they don't have to submit receipts. In other words, the mayor (who earns a $155,243 annual salary) and his crew get to spend that stash on anything they want.

To be sure, the expense accounts existed under Robaina's predecessor, Raul Martinez. However, the current mayor has increased the amount by $15,000 since he was elected in 2005. This fiscal year, Robaina gets $116,000 (not including gas and oil maintenance for his car, which is paid through a separate city account). That breaks down to $2,242 per week before taxes.

So this makes the third time Robaina has been caught talking out of both sides of his mouth. He fought against slot machines in Miami-Dade County, but then championed an ordinance legalizing coin-operated gaming machines in his city. And last week, he was telling people he opposed the Marlins Stadium deal when video evidence clearly shows he was one of the team's biggest boosters.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.