There is no institutional memory at The Miami Herald. Sunday's puff piece on Herman Echevarria is breathless and vapid as the reality TV show featuring his wife: both suffer from overdoses of self-aggrandizement and predict poorly for the future. Echevarria remade himself from Hialeah pol to advertisement guru. Really? Who are his clients and what has he done? What is known is that Echavarria's singular accomplishment helped wreck Miami-Dade: he was Svengali and major domo, as Armando Guttierez is today for a host of politicians, for Alex Penelas. Penelas, the former county commissioner and mayor, turned a promising political career into a national disgrace when he and Echevarria flew to Spain "on business" at the very moment the 2000 presidential election hinged on GOP operatives helicoptered in from DC Congressional offices to do in the recount in downtown Miami. In Spain, on business? Really, Mr. Echevarria. What kind of business was more important than being here where you and Penelas belonged? THAT is the story the Herald never wrote. Nor does today's report hint at the scandals that plagued Penelas' administration and the miserable politics that infected the county or Echevarria's role in the shadows. (One of the minor scandals, for example: the betrayal by Penelas of commitments made to the public for land use to benefit the public around the Heat/Arison Arena. Remember, that, Herald editors?)
What was Echevarria's achievement, other than to be the first among many lobbyists at a time when Miami Dade was carved up like portions of a roast pig to insiders? The most telling detail in the Herald story: Echevarria and his wife were married at the resort Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, "a playground for well-to-do Cuban exiles." Come on, Herald. You can do better than that! Casa de Campo is owned by the Fanjul sugar billionaires who polluted the Everglades and poisoned national politics. Was Echevarria's wedding a gift from the Fanjuls whose other routine investments in Miami-Dade politics and lobbyists continue to this day? (What about reporting THAT? In our search engine, type 'Sugar Babies'.) "What happens in Campo, stays in Campo." And what happens in the public rehabilitation of one closely connect with so much of what's wrong with Miami-Dade should be vetted by editors before being gilded in fool's gold.