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Group of Miami-Dade politicians holds private political huddle, raise Sunshine Law questions

By the standards of Northwest Miami-Dade, it amounted to a political summit.

State lawmakers, a county commissioner, and current and former mayors and city council members of Hialeah, Miami Lakes and Hialeah Gardens gathered on a Saturday morning over coffee at a La Carreta restaurant in Hialeah.

Everybody was there — except the public.

The only way to know what the power brokers discussed is to take them at their word: They talked politics in an effort to turn vast Northwest Dade into a regional force.

“In unity, there are certain powers,” said Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, who called for the powwow.

But the hush-hush deal didn’t last. Unity crumbled. Someone blabbed.

Now, some question whether the meeting broke Florida law, which requires that public business be discussed “in the sunshine” — in advertised, public meetings. But Hernandez said the meeting was about politics only, not city policy.

Secret political huddles are nothing new in Hialeah, which has long run groups of candidates for office. Two weeks ago, the mayor and all but one council member backed the reelection bid Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

“If we didn’t have those conversations, you would never have slates,” said state Sen. Rene Garcia, a Republican and former city council member who attended the meeting.

But this one, held in a side dining room at La Carreta, was more ambitious. More here.

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