High school students are often given aptitude tests to see what careers might suit their interests and talents. My father once told me that when you are good at what you’re doing and enjoy it, the days fly by. Getting to do something you excel at and what you love will hardly seem like at work at all.
From the looks of things, the guidance counselor for Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez must have screwed up her aptitude test. She’s clearly not suited to be the chief legal officer of the area’s biggest municipality. She’s proven herself not worthy of belonging to the The Florida Bar.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Mendez’s dereliction of duty. Back on March 9, 2020, I published a column entitled “It’s Time to Kill Victoria Mendez’s Career As City Attorney”. That story revolved around Sticky Vicky and her role in trying to derail a citizen effort to recall Revoltin’ Joe Carollo. I not only called for her to recuse herself, I suggested that Miami Mayor Francis Suarez or some other city resident file a complaint with The Florida Bar. Sadly, neither Suarez nor a single resident bothered to petition the state agency that regulates lawyers.
And the residents of the City of Miami have paid for it, dearly. It is no secret that Joe Carollo holds a grudge. Like the proverbial elephant, Carollo never forgets, especially when it comes to those who have bumped up against his brittle, fragile ego. Such is the case with the owners of Ball & Chain, a famed saloon and live entertainment venue that Joe has had in his sights for a long time.
Back in 2017, Ball & Chain hosted an event for Carollo’s election opponent, Alfie Leon. True to his tin-horn dictator streak, Joe went on a tear to exact revenge. He stalked the establishment after he won. He threatened the valets. He called in numerous building code violations. He succeeded in bullying the City’s code compliance machinery to get them to shut down the restaurant. Knowing that the shutdown would only be temporary, he put forth a proposed ordinance that would require any business that butted up against houses to stop playing music not long after the sun goes down.
And here’s the part where Victoria Mendez once again failed in her duty to the residents of the City of Miami. Section A(3) of the Citizens’ Bill of Rights of the City Charter recognizes that city residents have the inherent right to speak and to the right to petition the government to address grievances. The County Charter prohibits a municipal official from lying on a public matter. The Charter specifically grants citizens the ability to bring legal actions to enforce both the City’s Citizens’ Bill of Rights, but the Bill of Rights to the County Charter. A willful violation of the Charters’ provision is the immediate removal from office.
The City of Miami set up a hotline where residents could call in and comment about the proposed music/noise ordinance. It set it up so that, given that we’re a COVID hotspot, citizens wouldn’t have to crowd into City Hall. Three hundred sixty messages were left with the overwhelming majority of them opposed to the ordinance.
Vicky said that the Commissioners didn’t have to sit and listen to them all. In fact, they didn’t have to listen to any of them. She said she was allowed to boil down almost nine hours of comments into a short summary. Who told her this? She said it was “somebody” in the office of the Florida Attorney General in Tallahassee. Mendez couldn’t disclose the name of the “somebody”. You’d think that even a first-year attorney would know enough to write down the name of someone you claim just gave you a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. But not our Vicky!
In all of the shenanigans that Vicky has pulled, this is perhaps the most deserving of both an ethics and Bar complaint.
Why is she doing this? Because it was Carollo’s idea to limit music and El Jefe didn’t want to hear from the unwashed masses, especially those who wanted to stand up for him. So, just like she tried to derail the recall effort, Mendez made sure that no dissent voices were heard.
But the thing about being a lawyer, a good lawyer, anyway, is that sometimes you have to be the bearer of bad news. You have to stand up and tell someone “no” when saying yes breaks the law.
City Attorney Victoria Mendez has shown that she has the backbone of a jellyfish when it comes to standing up to Joe Carollo. She’s chosen sides and the side she chose isn’t with the residents of the City of Miami. She’s chosen to not only carry the water for Revoltin’ Joe, but she’s determined to clean up after him, too.
That may have been the calling that her guidance counselor missed. Shoveling crap is what she’s good at. If she spent her days cleaning out the elephant dung at ZooMiami, her days would just fly by.