It looks like when it comes to Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo, the posse doesn’t care.
Joe led a one-man vigilante effort to have the City of Miami close down Ball & Chain, the Calle Ocho nightspot owned by local entrepreneur Bill Fuller. Carollo commissioner sent code compliance officials to Ball & Chain and other properties with links to Fuller. Carollo has gone on Spanish radio to accuse Fuller of wanting to “de-latinize” Little Havana.
Fuller’s real crime was that he backed Carollo’s opponent, Aflonso “Alfie” Leon, in the last election. Opposition is the kind of thing that swaggering little dictators can’t abide. Carollo went so far as to try and intimidate the valets who park customers cars at the nightclub.
At a press conference in front of Miami City Hall, Fuller and his business partners provided public records of construction work and the violations that Carollo has at his Coconut Grove house. The pictures also indicate that Carollo cut down a protected tree without permission, which could generate tens of thousands of dollars in fines and require him to plant new trees.
Oddly, the house is no longer where he lives . He had to “move” to Little Havana to qualify for the single-member district seat he now represents.
The Code Compliance officers want to return to Joe’s “empty” house to inspect the backyard to see if there are more violations and evidence of further work done without permits.
Joe says “No”! He also says: “Nada”, “Non”, and “Nyet”!
He refuses to let inspectors into his backyard. Of course, he lamely claimed that he made the repairs and upgrades by following a state set of standards that didn’t require him to pull City permits. Perhaps now he’ll cite the Napoleonic Code to justify keeping inspectors out.
If this were you or me, the City wouldn’t hesitate to do the inspection. At the very least, City Attorney Victoria Méndez would be earning her quarter of a million-dollar salary by hauling the scofflaw into court to get a judge to order the inspection. Faced with a mandatory injunction, a recalcitrant homeowner would risk contempt and jail time by failing to allow the inspection to go forward.
For some reason, they’re treating Joe like a desperado holed up in the box canyon of his backyard. On this, Joe has no special privileges. He is not above the law. The law is above him.
City Manager Emilio T. Gonzalez doesn’t have to get special dispensation from the City Commission to move into action. He can direct the officers under his control to do what is needed. If Carollo won’t comply like any ordinary citizen, Méndez needs to dust off her legal pad and file suit.
We either have one rule, one law, one standard for everyone or we let little desperados have their way.