Volsky on the “Slesnick-Mubarak Connection”

GEORGE VOLSKY

SLESNICK-MUBARAK CONNECTION

Don Slesnick, his friends say, is in a funk. For 18 days he had been rooting for Hosni Mubarak, equating the embattled Egyptian president’s political survival to his own. Why? According to the same sources, a prominent Puerto Rican “Santero” gave our mayor (through a relative) a Delphic warning: “Watch Egypt from sunrise to sunset.” And since the mayor is anything but superstitious, they added, last Friday after seeing on TV that Mubarak gave up his post and left Cairo Slesnick became more morose and depressed than ever.

For a long time people-in-the-know have been saying that Slesnick, assisted by the equally interested parties with excellent connections in the Middle East, has been trying to establish a city-to-city relationship with Alexandria. At first, the Egyptians were reportedly indignant at our mayor’s cultural chutzpah. Then they cooled down and sent Slesnick a couple of boxes of excellent (pitted) delta dates to sweeten up his disappointment.

Slesnick had hoped to be invited to Egypt – not unlike his visit to Taipei, an expensive junket paid for by the Taiwanese government. Now the Cairo trip is definitely off; if our mayor wants to see the pyramids he will have to pay for the pleasure himself. But that is very unlikely, because Slesnick has  become rather addicted to be  receiving  gratuities. He has never refused presents from lobbyists and acolytes, which the latter openly admit and official reports confirm. Whether he reports all gifts has been a question asked by many in City Hall. Insiders affirm that certain local hoteliers have lists of unreported “favors” whose disclosure could be embarrassing if not compromising.

(A few words about Slesnick’s foreign “sisterhoods.” In this context, some people compare Slesnick to an old Arab who, permitted by   Muslim rules to have four wives circumvents that “numerous clauses” and adds more  to his harem to brag about his virility.)

A wily schemer and vindictive manipulator like Mubarak,  Slesnick, of course, has not been for the past 10 years a Coral Gables dictator. Whether he would like to have been one is another matter altogether  better left to independent, “Santeria-trained” mind readers. Still, strange as it might seem – and it certainly could be a stretch – there are certain similarities between the two that at least should be briefly mentioned, to be commented by others.

History will regard both (regardless of the outcome of Coral Gables’ April 12 election in which Slesnick is seeking, many believe with diminishing chances, his last two-year mayoral term), as unfortunate accidents.  Proportionally, Slesnick tops Mubarak. Egypt has 7,000 years of history, Coral Gables not even 90. On the other hand, Slesnick, unlike Cleopatra who had wrapped two Roman generals, Julius Cesar and Anthony, around her golden fingers, is not known to have successfully pursued royalties during his brief military service. (To give him his aristocratic due, Slesnick, according to a close member of his family, is related to Charlemagne, the 8th century Emperor of the West.)

As for the similarities, after all is said and done Slesnick as mayor can basically, and honestly, take credit for a single fact – which he has repeatedly mentioned as his principal accomplishment – that sun shines on the City Beautiful – it does. This has been Mubarak’s spiel, too. Both leaders have also asserted that sunshine has brought stability to their respective domains, it did not.

Mubarak and Slesnick have long believed that nepotism is a virtue and have put that belief in practice, establishing the principle of cronyism as a rule rather than an exception. Both have commendably – why not? – implanted the premise of secrecy in government, rather than transparency. The  most recent example of Slesnick’s huggermuggery is the Biltmore case, which he is trying desperately to keep under wraps. He is absolutely right believing that to reveal all the details of the widely reported hotel’s dept of $4 million which  according to auditors the city is unlikely be ever repaid, is unnecessary; it would unnecessarily disclose his secret Biltmore-involving actions and inactions.

The authority of the Egyptian president and the Coral Gables mayor has been irreparably affected by scandals, those of the Selznick-David Brown rule and the enrichment of the Cairo elite, involved – like the same coterie here – in lucrative real estate deals. Both have given access to government largess to a small core of older supporters, in Cairo residents of walled-in restricted area, here centered reportedly among dinosaurs at the once racially-restricted golf club.

The downfall of Mubarak was due to a revolt, peaceful but vocal, of younger citizens. His older supporters – a “collection of the interested” – could not or did not want longer prop-up the 30-year-old regime.  The same is already taking place here with the decade-long Slesnick mayoralty, eight years of the toxic Slesnick-Brown administration. In both places the cry is the same: “Let’s get the rascals out, enough is enough. There is even a talk that a Coral Gables Wikileak is being put together, with titillating  secret documents to be released early in March.

The is certainly differences between Hosni Mubarak and Don Slesnick. The most important is that the first would never have allowed  slimy, cheap, plastic, hideous snails to deface his city’s core. Slesnick did – there goes the “City Beautiful.” Mubarak resigned the presidency under strong popular pressure. Slesnick, who repeatedly said he would no longer run for office, when push came to shove could not bring himself to retire.

Now that Mubarak is gone, what does Slesnick do? Like the deposed Egyptian dictator, as one resident presciently wrote to the Herald, “he gets all insecure and paranoid and starts reading all your text messages and e-mails.”

 

 

About Stephen E. McGaughey
International consultant in economic development programs and projects

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