Revolutions sometimes start for reasons that are epic. But sometimes they begin over minor matters that get out of hand. Take the American Revolution. The British imposed a tax on tea and newspapers, and, for the colonists, that was the line in the sand they would not cross.
On December 16, 1773, a ragtag group of colonists, disguised as Native Americans, went aboard ships in the Boston harbor and dumped 342 chests into the water. That was the first sign that a revolution was brewing.
A spark of revolution was lit in the City of Miami and it may have the effect of undoing all of the elected officials.
The organizers of the recall effort against City of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo have done what many said could not be done. They claimed to have gathered enough signatures, if to go onto the second phase of the recall effort. Except that the signatures aren’t going to be forwarded to the County Elections Department.
City Clerk Todd Hannon notified the petition organizers that the deadline for the petitions fell on February 29th, a Saturday. In most cases under the law, when a deadline falls on a weekend or a holiday when the government is closed, the deadline scoots over to the next business day.
But not in this case. Here, Hannon said the petitions were due Saturday. The organizers sent him a copy of petitions they had scanned into a computer data base via email. They wanted to keep their hands on the originals until they could be conveyed to the Elections Department.
I suspect there was going to be a conga line of cars inching their way from Dinner Key to Doral, a parade of recall advocates and opponents, the City Clerk, and a police entourage. It was never going to happen.
Todd Hannon is a man who appears to be a man put in a terrible position by violently opposed forces. The City Attorney, Victoria Mendez, wants to make Joe Carollo, the subject of the recall happy. She’s like a dancer in the opening number of “A Chorus Line” who warbles that she needs this job. Oh, God. She needs this job.
No doubt that Mendez and Hannon are aware of what has happened to those who have crossed Revoltin’ Joe in the past. The City Attorney is so close to vesting she can almost taste it and it would only take a vote of three commissioners to oust Todd.
The recall organizers turned in the hard copies of the petitions on Monday and were preparing to make the trek to Doral. Apparently, Hannon thought they were headed that way, because he sent an email to the Elections Department saying that they were coming.
And then, they weren’t. Apparently, Hannon was told by someone that the petitions came in too late. The Clerk’s Office scanned the petitions into their computer and copies were shared with recall opponents. The odd thing, though, is that the petitions were given back to the attorney for the recall effort, J.C. Planas.
And the City came up with an additional excuse. They claim that the petitions had to be turned in by Joe Arriola, the chairman of the recall effort. Since he didn’t hand the box to Hannon, it didn’t count.
Once they got turned in, they became public records and the Clerk had a duty to convey them over to the Elections Department. If there were enough signatures to proceed to stage two, that’s when Joe Carollo should have objected. He could have gone to court to ask that the whole thing tossed out.
Instead, the City Attorney did Joe’s dirty work for him.
Now, it looks like J.C. Planas better burn some midnight oil and file for a declaratory judgment and an injunction. It’ll be up to a judge to decide who is right and who is wrong. My money is on the side of the revolutionaries.
The excuses the City cooked up are the same kind of mindless technicalities employed by tyrants who hide behind a façade of legalisms to protect themselves. The efforts deserve to fail. And, if the Circuit Court finds that the City was merely playing games, it needs to come down hard.
And both Mendez and Hannon need to go. They had an opportunity for a “oProfiles in Courage” moment to stand up for what is right rather than what was in their own interest. Both failed to realize that they may be appointed by the Commissioners, but they answer to the people in the end.
It may take months for a trial court and the appellate courts to sort this all out. But the time can be well spent. State law makes an officeholder safe from recall during the first one-fourth of their term. Ken Russell, Manolo Reyes, and Alex Diaz de la Portilla were all elected or reelected in 2019. Each of them are immune from a recall effort until they’ve been in office for one year.
However, how they handle themselves over the next few weeks and months will determine whether the citizens of Miami, already frustrated with Carollo, might line up a petition drive to unseat them all the day they become vulnerable to recall. Politicos are beginning to cast lean and hungry looks at these three members of the City of Miami government.
The accepted wisdom that “a recall can’t happen in the City of Miami” has been been shattered. The people are angry. And an angry mob doesn’t care who it goes after.
“You say you want a revolution?,” the Beatles asked in 1968.
“Yes, we do,” the voters in the City of Miami are starting to say in voice that grows louder every day. “Yes, we do.”