Volsky on “Alvarez ‘Bleak’ Numbers Bad News for Slesnick”



At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, a friend who is very knowledgably about the intricacies of Coral Gables politics, woke me up. Without apologizing for that early (for Sunday) telephone call, he said: “ Get up and tell me how do you think Slesnick felt when he saw the  front page of today’s Herald?” Still half asleep I asked what he was talking about. “Have a look; I’ll wait.” After reading the “Bleak poll numbers for Alvarez” headline, and reluctant to overstate, I said: “I presume Don wasn’t very happy about it.” My friend snubbed me into silence: “You are kidding me, Slesnick must have had a fit, and that’s because he knows that he’ll get another, even worse headline very soon.” Asked to explain cryptic statement, my friend refused. “You will see in a day or two and it will hit a person close to his re-election strategy. Go to sleep.”

I didn’t. After I read the whole Herald article about the March 15 election to recall Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Natasha Seijas, I thought I understood my friend’s interpretation of Slesnick’s mood this morning. (Presumably he at least glanced at the Herald’s page 1. On Monday, the Herald front-paged results of another poll according to which Miami-Dade voters, irrespective of their social background and political orientation, strongly disapprove of all county elective official,  a negative attitude that could not be much different in most local municipalities.)

It turns out that according to two prestigious polls, 67 percent of the county’s voters (which obviously include those of our city) want Alvarez removed from his post. (For Seijas, the number is 60 percent.) According to Fernand Amandi, managing partner of the prestigious Coral Gables polling firm Bendixen & Amandi, those politically highly adverse numbers prove that the Alvarez and Seijas “face a perfect storm of voter unhappiness, anger and frustration.” (In Monday’s Herald, Amandi is quoted to say that “The sense of voters is there is something rotten in County Hall.”

It would be denying reality to say that Coral Gables voters are not unhappy, angry and frustrated by the ten-year-long Slesnick mayoralty, of which during more than eight years the mayor run the city in tandem with the disgraced city manager David Brown.

Specifically, the principal reasons why county voters want Alvarez out, cited by the Herald,  fit Slesnick’s negatives like a well-fitted pigskin glove: A)  47% because he “raised the property tax base.” Under Slesnick, our taxes were raised at least three times, in addition to the increases in the cost of services and permits. B) 15% because he “has been generally ineffective as mayor.”  Only Slesnick acolytes say, with their fingers crossed, that he has been an effective mayor. C) Other anti-Alvarez recall reasons include “improper use of taxpayers money” – Slesnick-Brown lavish, city-paid meals in which (as the Bard would say) “a few small gins cours’d one another down his innocent throat in piteous chase;” and “ethical lapses” – one of many examples are our mayor’s less-than-truthful statements to the city commission about the purchase of the JCI building.

The negatives of Natasha Seijas are similar to those of Alvarez, except an additional complaint about her rudeness. That characteristic dovetails Slesnick’s behavior judging by statement by many residents-recipients of highly discourteous letters from the mayor, and his treatment of critics during commission meetings.

Later in the day, when I mentioning my friend’s puzzling statement about Slesnick’s campaign to another well-informed local political observer, his comment was that it could refer to City Hall rumors that it was Slesnick who had found and prompted an unknown Hispanic candidate to jump into the race for Chip Withers’ commission seat, which that man did practically within minutes from the qualifying deadline. According to rumors, the observer said, the mayor wants to draw the votes from two Latin contenders already in the race, Gonzalo Sanabria and Frank Quesada.

“This is an obviously ploy to help Brad Rosenblatt,” the observer continued, ”because it is a known fact that Brad and Don work together.  Brad is an active member of community groups that are either directly or indirectly controlled by the mayor,  like Don’s PAC, Gables Good Government,   the Coral Gables Community and the Coral Gables Museum Corp.”

He  recalled that something similar happened in 2001 when Slesnick run against   Mayor Raul Valdez-Fauli. “At the last moment an unknown Latin candidate appeared on the ballot, ‘magically’ in no time collected a campaign chest of more than  $100,000 and unsettled the election.”

About Stephen E. McGaughey
Resident of the City of Coral Gables

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