Political Cortadito: Serving coffee and truth about Carollo Corruption!

Political Cortadito

Miami anti-recall ordinance — self-serving safety net or city attorney test?


The ordinance passed Monday by the Miami City Commission to limit recall efforts to once a year per elected is legally flawed and dishonestly presented. In passing it on first reading, the Three Amigos who voted in favor, said it was not about the recall of Joe Carollo and that it was only to stem abuse of the process and the chaos it causes and the “unfunded mandated” costs to the city
But there is no abuse. There hasn’t been a recall in the city’s history that Ladra knows of. This is the first.
There is no chaos — caused by the recall. The mayor just named a new manager. The garbage is getting picked up. Fire trucks are running and employees are being paid. Conversations are apparently, and unfortunately, moving along on the Miami Freedom Park real estate deal, er, soccer stadium application. Just let petition gatherers knock on doors and collect signatures. That won’t interfere with city business in any way. If there has been any chaos caused, it is by Carollo and his crisis management media tour calling the recall backers leftist commies.
And there are no costs to the city on a failed recall effort. The petitioners have to pay the county to verify the signatures for both round 1 and round 2 and only if the threshold is met is there an election set. And only if that is a special election, would there be an additional cost to the city. In the case of this recall, the timing of the process could arguably August, adding zero cost.

No, the ordinance sponsored by Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla is not about Carollo — its about all of them.
Commissioner Manolo Reyes made that clear when he sold the residents he claims to so care so dearly about and voted, instead, to restrict their ability to hold him or anyone else accountable. His double jeopardy argument rings hollow because there is no trial if there is no recall. Double jeopardy doesn’t apply to jury selection.
“Recalls protect the rights of citizens, but this protects the rights of elected officials. We have rights, too,” Reyes said.
The evening before the meeting, Reyes told Ladra that he thought the process made it to easy for someone to threaten sitting electeds “that if you don’t vote their way, a millionaire can put a lot of money behind a recall and take you out of office.”
That’s why it’s good to have a reason, but Reyes is obviously terrified of millionaire developer Jorge Mas, who wants to build the mega real estate empire where the Melreese Golf Course in Reyes’ district is — and Reyes has voted and said he is against it. And to protect himself, he sold out the residents. The irony is that Reyes was safe until he pulled this crap and his base and supporters started to raise their eyebrows. Ladra is sorely disappointed the he has turned out to be such a self-serving coward. He should change his twitter handle from @Manolo4Miami to @Manolo4Himself.
Activist Grace Solares, who ran against Commissioner Ken Russell and lost, was basically attacked by Diaz de la Portilla when she went to speak and asked him to speak more slowly so she could understand. He basically told her to eat him.
“I’m sorry but that’s the way I speak. Maybe it’s the coffee,” he said. Hmmm. Maybe?
Then he got ruder to her and kinder to Russell — who he’s beaten over the head repeatedly for supporting an opponent against him (“Elections have consequences,” he said in a meeting). “They didn’t choose you, they chose Commissioner Russell,” he told Solares, inferring that she would want to resort to a recall as a sore loser.
But Solares said she was just trying to warn them. “The way you are going about it is violating the charter,” she said, adding that they could float a charter amendment instead. “And let it go to voters,” she challenge them. (They know it would fail miserably.)
Attorney David Winker, who often fights City Hall for residents, agreed with her.
“The problem you guys are going t have is our charter provides the right to recall. If you take that away, it requires a charter amendment. Any judge will see the absurdity of you guys trying to immunize yourself,” Winker said, suggesting that all a commissioner has to do is start a recall, collect three signatures and be safe from any accountability for the next year.
Carollo tried to compare the ordinance to the county’s which also limits recall efforts to every two years. “Why haven’t these two fine citizens of Miami,” he said, very insincerely, “have the same fever for the county law?”
How ’bout because they haven’t had to try to recall one of them? How ’bout because nobody there is as crazy as you, and that’s really saying something.
“That law has never been challenged,” Winker said, because he is more polite than Ladra.

But Diaz de la Portilla’s anti recall ordinance doesn’t really even try to mirror the county’s law in other ways that would make it easier for Miami citizens to recall their electeds.
As it stands, Miami petitioners in the Take Back Our City recall against Carollo have 30 days from the day the first petition is signed to gather signatures from at least 5% of the 31,536 voters in District 3, or 1,577 signatures. They want to collect a couple hundred more to give them a cushion in case any are found invalid. If they pass that first round, Carollo has the opportunity to write a 200-word statement to say why he should not be recalled — added to the petition, which already has to state specific reasons for the recall — and the group would have to collect 15% or 4,730 signatures in another 60 days. Again, they’ll likely shoot for 5,000.
In Miami-Dade, voters don’t need a reason, for example. Petition gatherers in the county don’t have to be registered voters, like they do in Miami. The county also gives petitioners more time to collect signatures.
None of that is addressed in this ordinance. Solely the amount of times that citizens have access to this democratic tool in order to keep their electeds accountable. Imagine, for example, if this ordinance passes and Carollo or anyone else survives a failed recall attempt. Does that mean that they can do anything for that year — rob and steal openly, harass citizens, lie and throw teacups at passerby — and there would be no citizen recourse? Well, some of them do that now. Imagine if they get license to.
Perhaps the ordinance should read that the people cannot recall the same elected again if they are successful with their effort to get a special election and the elected somehow defeats the recall itself, not the recall process. Only then could one argue that the elected deserves to stay at least another year, safe from the “harassment” of someone trying again, as Reyes’ irrationally fears. That simple change would justify the abuse, chaos and cost arguments that just aren’t supported now.

There are two trains of thought among those watching. One is that The Dean is scared, too. That he feels threatened by emboldened District 2 residents who are complaining — loudly and on radio — about his takeover of their Omni Community Redevelopment Agency. These include Brickell ballot booster Chelin Duran, who was chummy with ADLP and used to whip vote s up for him in previous elections (he burns all his bridges).
The other option is that he’s testing City Attorney Victoria Mendez, who thought she was safe with three votes on her side until she vests in months, but could find herself on the chopping block. ADLP (not Carollo) already replaced the city manager with buddy Art Noriega. Of course he wants to choose his own city attorney, as well. Someone who will help him do whatever he wants. Maybe he’s thinking Renier? Nah. Nobody would swallow that. They’ll wait until Alex runs for something else to run the brother everyone calls Frodo — his alleged roommate (wink, wink) — in District 1.
Mendez says this is legal because the city has home rule and that there is no conflict because the state legislators chose not to address the issue of limitations and how many times it could be done. But she didn’t even sound like she convinced herself.
It’s hard for Ladra to believe that ADLP, who has written legislation in Tallahassee and knows about state pre-emption probably more than Mendez, wouldn’t present a better-written ordinance. Particularly since he has that other brother, former Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, who is a good attorney and former lawmaker. When Ladra first saw the item on the agenda last week, it looked like a place keeper — a tool often used in the state House and Senate to hold a space on the agenda — for something else. Something better. That he went ahead with this iffy version is just sloppy.
And Alex is not sloppy. He is meticulous. Even though, he is getting older. It’s been 10 years since he was in office. Maybe he’s getting rusty.
Some political observers, like Grant Miller of Community Newspapers, has suggested that ADLP get an opinion from the Attorney General. That’s not a bad idea. It would definitely let him know if he’s got a sufficiently legal ordinance or if Mendez is just a bad attorney who will tell him whatever she thinks he wants to hear instead of the truth in order to protect her job.
That would be the smart move, especially if what he really wants is political cover to get rid of Mendez.
But if what he wants, as Winker said, is to immunize or inoculate himself from real recall efforts by faking one, then Diaz de la Portilla will keep this faulty, sloppy version of the law — he knows he has three votes — and take his chances in court.
Right there’s your abuse, your chaos and your unfunded mandates.

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