Last Friday, December 14th at about 5:00 PM an article appeared at herald.com. It was mysteriously pulled less than an hour later.
The article (reprinted at Herald Watch) was about former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez’ potential run for congress. It turns out that Hialeah’s housing authority chief, Alex Morales (a Martinez appointee) was at the supervisor of elections office on Monday December 3rd making a public records request for voter data about the 21st district. The article’s authors, Laura Figueroa and Beth Reinhard raised the question as to whether this was evidence of Martinez’ intentions to run.
The article was unceremoniously pulled from the Herald’s web site, leaving observers wondering what was so objectionable about it. Buried in the story is the implication that Morales may have been doing Martinez’ bidding on the city’s time. Morales denies the time theft by saying he had taken the day off and that he is simply interested in political “stuff”.
Whatever the truth, one has to wonder if someone from the Martinez camp objected to the article and on what grounds. Why was the article pulled and why did it never run in print? An email to the Herald’s executive editor has not yet been answered. Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE: The Herald ran the story today, 4 days later. The comparison of the two documents is below. The headline is much less assertive today than Friday. In the body of the article, besides some accents and minor changes in syntax, the big difference is that today’s piece makes no mention of Martinez trip to the Dominican Republic last week and attributes a new quote to him in which he calls political consultant Carlos Curbelo a “hack”. Classy guy, that Martinez. Also Martinez says in today’s piece that Morales request had “nothing to do with me.”
UPDATE: In an email, the Herald’s State Editor, Jay Ducassi, explains the situation:
The short answer is we posted the story Friday before it was ready to run. When I edited it for the print version, I saw that we had not asked Raul Martinez, who was being accused of doing something somewhat underhanded, for his response. (The Neighbors reporter working the story had reached Martinez, who was out of the country, for a few seconds and was unable to tell him what we were writing about because he was in the middle of some meeting. He spouted off something about not yet having made a decision to run and had to hang up.)
I pulled the story off the website and asked the reporter to get Martinez’s response. She finally got it yesterday. The story went online yesterday evening and is in the paper this morning.
There’s something missing here. The only thing that would seem unsavory or “underhanded” as Ducassi calls it is if Morales was indeed using the City of Hialeah’s time to obtain public records for Martinez, a private citizen. Otherwise, as the article states, the act of obtaining those records is a very common practice among political campaigns. And Morales denied that he had done it on the city’s time. Martinez’ new quote doesn’t substantially change the story. Weird.