The verdict means Miami voters are paying millions for the stupidity of electing Carollo. Again


With its verdict, a federal jury in South Florida on Thursday delivered Miami voters a healthy dose of what should be a telling truth: Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo is a bully who violated First Amendment rights. of two Little Havana businessmen when he tried to shut them down. using city resources to harass and damage them.

The rogue and corrupt behavior of a powerful elected official costs the taxpayers a pretty penny while Carollo – the culprit without the ability to pay huge sums – may not endure much more than a bruised ego and acid indigestion.

But it’s still a victory.

Despite a multi-lawyer defense team, which included former city commissioner Marc Sarnoff and which has already cost the city more than $1.9 million, Carollo’s actions against political opponents were indefensible and he lost. the case. After a protracted trial that exposed the city’s underside, the six-person Fort Lauderdale-based jury awarded its victims $63.5 million.

But the voters who allowed the former mayor to return to municipal politics are another culprit. There is a lesson in all of this for you:

Believe politicians when they show you who they are in the first round.

Mistakes in the voting booth are expensive.

READ MORE: Joe Carollo loses. Jury orders he pays $63.5 million to Little Havana business owners

Targeted businessmen

Testimony about how Carollo went after businessmen Bill Fuller and Martin Pinilla, owners of the Ball & Chain restaurant and bar – dragging down code enforcement and the police in his political vendetta, night and day – is popular fiction.

Another city and its leaders might have found Carollo’s well-known abuses unacceptable and tried to stop them before his excesses got this far and expensive – but no chance in the city of Miami.

Carollo & Suarez

Most likely, no one has lifted a finger to stop Carollo, as he’s not the only one spilling allegations of outrageous and corrupt behavior on the town.

Recent Miami Herald investigations have called into question the workings of Mayor Francis Suarez in light of the collision between his private consulting firm working on behalf of a developer and his power to grant favors to City Hall. . And, between his expensive social lifestyle with people who have business before the town and his inability to divulge freebies and VIP access to coveted sporting events.

The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust has opened an investigation, but what trust can the public have in an organization whose actions are a slap in the face, if anything at all?

Commission investigators had the opportunity and did nothing but question Carollo, who simply lied to them even when confronted with video evidence of his nighttime harassment.

As Carollo’s actions in Little Havana did in their day, Suarez’s failure to disclose his business dealings to the public deserves closer scrutiny and by law enforcement with subpoena powers.

Miami’s Francis Suarez thinks he’s above ethical laws. Pay or Disclose, Mayor | Notice

These are not small potatoes.

Carollo and Suarez, once bitter political enemies, are Miami’s most powerful politicians.

For the past two years, they’ve acted as if they’ve divided up the territory and come to an agreement: you leave me to my problem and I to yours.

And city officials, as the Ball & Chain lawsuit showed, do what they want without questioning whether what they’re being told to do violates the law.

Which could explain why Suarez – who in a power move brought famed police chief Art Acevedo to Miami – dumped him in the hands of Carollo six months later and was fired. After Acevedo made it clear that he would not accept Carollo’s harassment of Little Havana businessmen, Acevedo testified at trial, his days in Miami were numbered.

Now chief of the Aurora Police Department in Colorado, Acevedo did not respond to a request for comment on the verdict.

READ MORE: Winners and losers – including you, Mayor – abound in ousting of Miami police chief | Notice

And now?

Going forward, a bigger question needs to be asked: who in law enforcement is manning the rowdy house at Miami City Hall?

Because even when the behavior borders on criminal, legal watchdogs are hard to find. It’s as if the Public Corruption Unit of the State’s Attorney’s Office exists only on paper.

Fuller and Pinilla had the courage, the resources and the documentation of wrongs to file a civil lawsuit — and their attorneys made the right decision in asking that he be transferred to a jurisdiction outside the realm of Miami politics.

This lack of confidence that our local justice system could provide impartiality, is, in itself, an indictment of the city’s shortcomings.

How does a trial that offers enough evidence that Carollo armed code enforcement to retaliate against people deserve a massive multi-million dollar verdict, but not a criminal indictment?

There is an important form of justice served in a civil rights violation verdict like this. The victims of a political executioner have been heard and won compensatory and punitive damages, although it is unclear how they will collect. Carollo doesn’t have the money, and although the city is paying his huge legal fees — and there will be more if the case goes to appeal as expected — the city isn’t named as a defendant.

For true deterrence to occur, a wrongdoing politician must pay the highest price of prison.

After all, Miami voters can’t be trusted to fire him. They have shown that even when there is a strong opponent, they choose the caricature politician.

For the people of Miami, the verdict against Carollo confirms our worst fears: your taxes and votes fund his abuse of political power, and only two men cared enough to speak out.



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