Every time corrupt individuals in Miami are dragged kicking and screaming into the sunlight, citizens benefit.
When those same elected officials are left alone it generates skepticism in the community. When it seems obvious that politicians and the powerful are able to operate under a different set of rules, it undermines our institutions.
Miami is again at that crossroads with Joe Carollo, the corrupt crusader who was exposed as a repeated violator of the law. Carollo was found to have five violations at his Coconut Grove home for work done without permits over several years.
So, while he attacked small business owners, who he suspected of disagreeing with his brand of politics, for alleged violations at their properties and intimidated city employees into sending waves of inspectors to harass them, he was violating the very same laws.
It doesn’t appear as though Carollo had applied and received permits for pavers or a rooftop deck and who-knows-what-else over 20 years.
The Miami city manager and other elected officials of the Magic City are now at that crossroad. Will they hold their bully colleague accountable and assure the residents that the rules apply to all. Or will they find a way to let Carollo off the hook because he has power or intimidates them.
The appointed and elected leadership need to address the following questions to restore faith among the residents of Miami:
• City officials will tell you he has got 30 days to address the violations. So, the bell tolls for him next week— right?
• Or, are city officials protecting Joe Carollo, giving him more time than a typical resident to clean up his mess?
• Is he facing fines for illegally trimming a banyan ficus?
• Are inspectors being sent to the house day in and day out to make sure he is meeting city building codes?
•Is he using a licensed contractor to do the work?
• Has he submitted plans to the city?
• Why would he act any different with a city manager he loathes and wants to fire?
• And, how do we know the city manager is following up on the violations and making the process as transparent as possible? We don’t.
Residents are losing faith again in City of Miami officials to protect the interests of the public after they watched as Joe Carollo attack staffers and members of the public from the dais time and time again.
As Mayor Francis Suarez used to proclaim :“THE TIME IS NOW.” The time is now to hold Carollo accountable. The time is now to restore trust in our public institutions. The time is now to do what is right.