Will the real Julio Robaina please stand up?

After months of avoiding our phone calls and interview requests, county mayoral candidate Julio Robaina finally agreed to meet with New Times to address questions about his candidacy and inquiries about his integrity and unscrupulous business dealings. When we finally laid eyes on Robaina, we immediately noticed something different about him. He wasn't sporting his slicked pompadour parted perfectly to the side. Instead, his hair was shaped into a low crewcut. He also looked like he had dropped a few pounds. Here is what he had to say:

New Times: Good afternoon, Mr. Robaina. You look different. Did you get a haircut? Lose some weight?

Julio Robaina: No, not all. I haven't had time for a haircut in weeks. But yes, I've slimmed down since my last campaign, which as you know was a very hard-fought slug fest.

Really? Well, you look smashing! Ready to reform our dysfunctional county and restore trust and accountability to the residents, huh?

Well, as you know, that is no easy task, but I think I have proven myself up to the challenge during my successful run as mayor of an "All America City" as designated by the National Civic League and one of the top ten places to live in the United States.

Really? Your city is in the top ten? Who knew?

Well, it was awhile back. But it was one of my finest achievements as mayor.

Indeed. So one of your opponents has proposed a tax on strippers to generate revenue for the county. What do you think about that?

Well, I believe taxing strippers is just going to create an additional burden on homeowners who want to repaint their residences. If you impose a tax on strippers, the cost of stripping paint is going to go up. The strippers are only going to pass down the tax to the consumer. I believe my track record defending homeowners and consumers has been phenomenal.

Speaking of special interests, you are allegedly under federal investigation for tax evasion and loan sharking. According to public records, you have loaned hundreds of thousands of dollars to private individuals living in Hialeah at exorbitant interest rates. Why did you get into the lending business when you are the highest-paid mayor in Miami-Dade?

Umm, I think you are confused. I am not a private lender, I haven't been mayor a long time, and I certainly wasn't the highest-paid.

Wait a minute. Are you saying you are not Julio Robaina, the mayor of Hialeah who has a personal net worth of $8 million and has not paid property taxes on your shopping center?

No, I am not that Julio Robaina. I am the former state representative who was the mayor of South Miami now running for Carlos Gimenez's vacated county commission seat. I have never been in the real estate or lending business. I retired from AT&T last year after 31 years as an employee. And my net worth is only $645,000.



Well then, good luck and all that. Sorry about the mixup.

Not to worry — it happens to me all the time.

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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.