Political Cortadito: Miami’s Joe Carollo tries to recall the recall

Political Cortadito:
Miami’s Joe Carollo tries to recall the recall by getting petitioners to recant

Some of the Miami voters who signed the petition to recall Commissioner Joe Carollo have reported getting visits in the last week or so from young women who ask them to sign another form that, while it’s not clear right away, would recant their earlier pledge, according to several sources.

That means that, even as Carollo continues to fight the recall in court, he knows his chances are next to nil after a series of losses on the city’s dime already, so he’s taking a different tack. If he can get a dozen or so of the voters who signed to say they were conned or that they changed their minds, he can further muck up the legal arguments and delay, delay, delay.

“It now appears as if Carollo’s lawsuit was nothing more than a delay tactic to stall the verification of the petitions,” reads an emergency renewed motion to dismiss filed by the recall attorneys JC Planas and David Winker on Wednesday. This was 24 hours after Carollo’s attorney Ben Keuhne missed a deadline — that had already been extended by a day — to respond. “Carollo has now started sending workers to the homes of those who signed petitions and asked them to retract their signatures on the recall petitions.”

Read related: Joe Carollo recall moves on as lawyer, Miami city attorneys lose last appeal

The motion comes complete with Exhibit A — this photo of a Carollo canvasser trying to get a recall the recall signature.

Imagine what a media win it would be for Carollo to get just a few people to say that the political action committee Take Back Our City fooled voters or somehow misrepresented themselves to get the 1,900+ signatures collected in the first round and turned into the city in March.

“He’s hoping some people don’t remember signing a petition six months ago before a national pandemic took over our lives and he can say they were made up or forced,” said Juan Cuba, one of the organizers who began the recall effort in January, whose friend in Little Havana got the visit.

One longtime resident who signed the petition told Ladra Wednesday that a young woman came by his home Monday afternoon and asked if he had signed it. Speaking in Spanish, she didn’t exactly use the word recall.

“She asked if I had signed the petition to kick Carollo out of office. But she already knew I had. She only came to the houses of the people who signed,” the man said, asking that his name not be used — and what? get an impromptu visit from code enforcement — but recalling the awkward conversation as best he could.

“Yes, but who are you,” he asked.

“I’m also collecting signatures,” she told him, covering the form with her arm so he couldn’t read it.

“But, wait, signatures for what?”

“Um, to reinstate him.”

“What do you mean reinstate him? He is still in office.” This voter is no fool. “I watch the news,” he told Ladra, before going back to the earlier conversation.

“But are you for or against kicking him out of office,” the woman asked him again.

“For,” said the voter, who admitted he voted for Carollo in the 2017 election. “But he lied to the community. He betrayed us. He only cares about District 1,” the man said, complaining about his neighborhood’s dirty streets and crime. He said a relative and a neighbor had also gotten a visit from two young women (one typically stays in the car) who have a Colombian or Venezuelan accent — hmmmmm, just like the WhatsApp Girls that worked on the county commission campaign of Alex Diaz de la Portilla in 2018 and shared texts about stealing and destroying absentee ballots.

And now Ladra can’t help but wonder if ADLP is paying these canvassers through his brother’s county commission campaign, which is in an overlapping district (c’mon, admit it — you went there, too).

Read related: Joe Carollo recall heads to court after city takes all day to copy, reject petitions

Take Back Our City recall organizers and sugar daddy Joe Arriola said they had heard other residents tell the same story as Mr. Longtime District 3 Resident and his sister and Cuba’s friend. In one incident  repeated by a couple of City Hall insiders, two “canvassers” took food that look like they came direct from a food bank distribution as a quid pro quo for a new signature retracting the old one.

Your signature for a sack of produce? It’s not like Carollo hasn’t traded food for votes before. Remember PaellaGate?

What we do know is that Carollo has had the names and addresses of the voters who signed petitions — indeed, actual copies of the petitions — since City Clerk Todd Hannon had them copied and scanned when they were turned in. Only after seven hours and all that copying did Hannon tell the PAC that the petitions were late.

The City Hall insiders said Carollo has shaved the 1,900 petitions to three or four dozen names of people he or ADLP know — and who know them. Let’s call this shortlist the low hanging fruit. Remember, they only need a dozen or so people to sign and they can cast doubt on all the petitions.

Cuba has made a public records request for any communication between the city clerk’s office and Carollo’s. “And also if they have compiled names of petitioners in any way,” he said. Hannon was not supposed to copy the petitions since they had no intention of turning them over to the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections — as the law requires and as three or four judges have already told them to do — as evidenced by the chain of “recall cheat sheet” emails from City Attorney Victoria Mendez and her staff conspiring to find a way to stop, delay or challenge the recall petitions.

Read related: Miami city attorneys conspired, created ‘cheat sheet’ to stop Joe Carollo recall

“The city clerk never intended to submit them, and they’ve now given these names over to Carollo and they’re intimidating people,” Cuba told Ladra.David Winker, one of the recall attorneys, said it wasn’t entirely a surprise. “We knew it was only a matter of time before Carollo started a campaign of intimidation.

“He is not getting the relief he wants from the courts, so he is going back to the tried and true Carollo playbook — intimidate and bully his political opponents. This has been his favorite play for 30 years, and now he is turning his wrath on his constituents that signed the recall petitions,” Winker said, adding that he can’t blame residents who get a knock on their door and sign “whatever is put in front of them.” He should know why. He’s already had code enforcement come to his house for a bogus “anonymous” complaint.

“It should not be lost on anyone that this abusive use of his elected office is exactly what inspired the effort to recall Joe Carollo in the first place,” Winker said.

“This is like a third world country, where dictators steal food from the food banks,” Arriola said.

“These guys are tracking people, breaking the law, using the power of City Hall,” he said, adding that he is not backing down. “They have to know this is going to blow up in their face. They might even go to jail for this.”

Well, maybe if we had a different state attorney (more on that later).

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