Time has not been kind to City of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo. When he first got his start in local politics, those who spoke out against him were alleged to members of a secret Communist cabal working to overthrow local government and its greatest hero: Joe Carollo.
It was enough to get got him onto the City Commission and eventually into the Mayor’s office. Carollo eventually left Miami politics and wound up as the City Manager of the City of Doral. Like a bad penny, he turned up back in Miami, winning election from District 3.
Since then he’s conducted a serious campaign of revenge against anyone who opposed him. He has stalked Ball & Chain, a Little Havana tavern, directing the City’s Code Enforcement department to bury the bar in flurry of tickets. He was even reported to have shouted, “I am the law” to the pub’s valet parking attendant.
It was also alleged that he told his minions to lie to the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust about his run-ins with Ball & Chain. Carollo has even been accused of instructing code enforcement officers directly which businesses to to cite. All of those actions, in normal place, would have resulted in Carollo getting kicked from office, hitting him with massive fines and jailing him for a couple of months for each violation.
Miami, however, is not a normal place. In the last few years the State Attorney’s office has yet to see a corruption case that they are willing to prosecute and the Ethics Commission is less powerful than a middle school student council.
So, what can the citizens of the City of Miami do?
They can recall Joe Carollo.
Miami-Dade County has a recall provision in its Charter that allows the recall of officials without the need to say why. It was used to recall Mayor Carlos Alvarez.
Municipal officials, like Revoltin’ Joe, are covered by a Florida law. Tucked into the State Election Code is the provision for recalling city commissioners.
The law first requires that those looking to recall officials set forth at least one of seven recognized reasons on the recall petition: malfeasance; misfeasance; neglect of duty; drunkenness; incompetence; permanent inability to perform official duties; or conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude. Carollo’s alleged instructions to his underlings to lie to the Ethics Commission would seem to qualify as malfeasance.
Carollo’s District 3 has, at last count, 31,596 registered voters. As a first step, the Recall Committee would have to gather the signatures of five percent of the registered voters of District 3 in a 30-day period. Those petitions are submitted to the City Clerk, who forwards them onto the Supervisor of Elections for verification.
If there are the number of required signatures, the Clerk would notify Carollo that he has 5 days to submit a defense, which will be included on a new petition with the old language prepared by the City Clerk.
The new petition is then circulated and must obtain 15 percent of the district’s registered voters, or 4,738 signatures within 60 days. The Supervisor would have 30 days to determine whether there were enough valid signatures. If so, Carollo would be notified and would have five days to decide whether to resign or to take the matter to an election to be held between 30 and 60 days. If the matter went to a recall election just in his district and Carollo was put out of office, a new election would be held within 30 to 60 days from the recall election.
As you can see, a recall is long and tedious. However, the benefit of it is that the reason given in the petition cannot be questioned for the truth of the matter, only if the described action falls within one of the seven categories.
Carollo, for instance, couldn’t sue to stop the recall because he claims that he did not try to induce his supporters to lie to the Ethics Commission or that he gave instructions to city code compliance officers to go after Joe’s enemies. What Carollo, or more likely his coven of attorneys, will be limited to is arguing whether obstruction or interference with the City administration fits within the definition of misfeasance or malfeasance.
Theoretically, a petition could be put forth alleging that Joe’s erratic behavior was the result of his public drunkenness during meetings and while he was performing his public duties. Carollo couldn’t stop that petition. His only recourse would be to submit a defense in 200 words or less and would be circulated with the second petition. Perhaps something along the lines of “I don’t drink that much.”
Carollo is more than embarrassment to the people of the City of Miami. He is a metastasizing tumor that needs to excised from office. A recall committee needs to be formed to take on this responsibility.