On his first day as a city of Miami commissioner, a middle-aged Spanish-language radio host with dark, gray-streaked hair was called into an impromptu meeting in the mayor’s second floor office to meet “some people” who wanted to speak to him.
The unexpected guests were FBI agents. Their message: Indictments were about to rock City Hall.
“I thought to myself, ‘What the hell? I just got sworn in,’” remembers Tomás Regalado — who promptly shared “rumors” of looming arrests that afternoon with his WCMQ audience.
And so, on Sept. 4, 1996, began the political career of a former journalist who rose to the height of power in Miami by intertwining populist politics and an intimate knowledge of the influence of mass media.
Since that day 20 years ago, Regalado has avoided the pitfalls of public life by taking calculated positions, dodging scandals and thriving on controversy. While a slew of seemingly slicker politicians have flamed out, he has endured thanks in part to thick skin and a lust for campaigning — a talent that sometimes outshines his knack for governance.
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