June 19, 2018

Miami, Miami Gardens mayors heading to Texas border to protest 'tent city' with other U.S. mayors



Amid growing backlash against President Donald Trump's policy to separate immigrant children from their parents — including uproar over an immigrant children center in their own backyard — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert are joining a group of other U.S. mayors on a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border to protest at shelters housing unaccompanied migrant children.

The nonpartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors is paying to fly the mayors out to Tornillo, Texas, to join Stephen K. Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, to tour the tent city that has been erected to house children of immigrants.

Benjamin is president of the national mayor's group, which passed a resolution condemning the policy. The mayors of Los Angeles; Augusta, Georgia; Gary, Indiana and Rochester Hills, Michigan, are among the other municipal leaders who will attend.

Suarez said Benjamin called him Tuesday to ask him to join him and other U.S. mayors on the trip.

"Hopefully, they will give us access," Suarez said Tuesday evening. "The images we are seeing are very troublesome and appalling."

Suarez, a Republican, echoed bipartisan calls to end the separation of children from their parents. 

"It's contrary to our core values as a country," he said.

As Suarez prepared for the trip, controversy continued to swell in his own county Tuesday as U.S Sen. Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz were blocked from entering a Homestead shelter housing as many as 1,000 immigrant children.

The mayor, who will return to Miami late Thursday, said he attempted to arrange a visit to the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children but was told he wouldn't be allowed.

June 05, 2018

Miami mayor has a new job, but he won't say where it is



UPDATED: After the Miami Herald published this article Tuesday afternoon, Greenspoon Marder announced they had hired Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. Read more.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is joining a new law firm after leaving Carlton Fields last week, but he won’t say where he’s headed.

In his seventh month as mayor, Suarez has left Carlton Fields — a firm he joined two months before being elected. One reason for his departure: A conflict of interest stemming from the fact that an attorney for Carlton Fields represents a company suing city hall.


May 11, 2018

Joe Carollo likens Ken Russell's appearance to Kim Jong-un after haircut, sparking racism debate



A joke likening a Japanese-American a commissioner's appearance to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sparked anger and accusations of racism in the halls of power in Miami, a town where politicians love to heave comparisons to foreign dictators at rivals like spears.

Commissioner Joe Carollo made the joke about Commissioner Ken Russell's recent haircut at the end of an 11-hour commission meeting late Thursday night.

"I've been meaning to say this, but I wanted to wait til the end. Through the day, the more I look at you, I'm becoming fond of the 'Kim Jong-un,'" Carollo said, referencing Russell's haircut. "I was just wondering if that's in favor of the nuclear negotiations with Trump or showing your protest against Trump and his negotiations with Kim."

Russell later decried the joke as racist on Twitter, which Carollo denied Friday morning in an interview with the Miami Herald.

"If it was racist, I don't think anybody there would have been laughing," he said.

Read more.



April 19, 2018

Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo compares Mayor Francis Suarez to Maduro over strong mayor initiative



Recently-elected Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has long wanted to see his position turned into the city's chief administrator. He's launched an ballot petition effort to convince voters to change the city charter so he could run the city's day-to-day operations, as opposed to a mayor-appointed city manager.

But right on cue, recently-returned Commissioner Joe Carollo has issued his sharpest criticism yet of the young mayor. He compared Suarez's effort to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's consolidation of power through a pro-government assembly he created last year that effectively supersedes the opposition-led congress.

Carollo's barbs in a Miami Herald interview Tuesday underscored what onlookers expect from the relationship between the longtime Miami politician and the new mayor — friction.

"You look at what Maduro did with the Constituyente," Carollo said. "This is the Miami version."

Suarez believes the change will bring more transparency, efficiency and accountability to a municipal government with a reputation for dysfunction. He tried twice before to get a strong mayor question on the ballot through the commission, both times finding little support on the dais. Now he's going to the ballot petition route. 

Read more.

April 16, 2018

A second Republican emerges in the race to replace Ros-Lehtinen



Miami broadcast journalist Maria Elvira Salazar looks like she could force a competitive Republican primary in the race to replacing retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Former Miami-Dade commissioner Bruno Barreiro was largely running a one-man money race among Republicans since he entered the primary shortly after Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement, but Salazar bested his fundraising numbers in her first fundraising quarter since she officially jumped into the race in March. 

Salazar raised $303,115 from January 1 to March 31 and she has $287,612 left to spend, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Barreiro raised $264,778, his best haul since entering the race shortly after Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement last year. He maintains a cash on hand advantage over his new rival, with $420,978 left to spend. 

The pair have separated themselves from the rest of the Republican pack, though newcomers Stephen Marks and Michael Ohevzion have six figures left to spend. Marks loaned himself $200,000 while Ohevzion loaned himself $100,000 and directly contributed $35,000 to his own campaign. Angie Chirino, the daughter of Miami singer and songwriter Willy Chirino, hasn't had her fundraising totals processed yet by the FEC. 

Republicans are not favored to keep Ros-Lehtinen's seat in 2018, as the district voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by more than 19 percentage points. Multiple election prognosticators rate Ros-Lehtinen's district as "lean Democratic" and former University of Miami president Donna Shalala headlines a Democratic field that narrowed in the past week after two contenders dropped out after choosing to keep their current elected offices over making a run for Congress.

State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez's departure leaves Democrats without a Hispanic candidate in a majority Hispanic district. State Rep. David Richardson, former Knight Foundation director Matt Haggman, former circuit court judge Mary Barzee Flores and Miami Beach commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez are among the remaining Democrats seeking Ros-Lehtinen's seat. 


April 11, 2018

Miami Beach commissioner decides against run for county commission


@joeflech and @doug_hanks

Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora will not run for the open seat on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners.

The District 5 seat, left open after Bruno Barreiro resigned March 31 to run for Congress, is up for grabs after the Miami-Dade commission decided to call a special election for May 22 to replace Barreiro. Barreiro, a Republican, is running for the the District 27 seat in Congress, the seat Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is leaving when she retires this year.

Góngora flirted with a run for the Miami-Dade commission, and he had until the end of Saturday to file to run, but he made the call Wednesday.

"I'm staying put," he told the Miami Herald.

He had been waiting on the results of some polling to gauge his chances. He said on Wednesday he hasn't received results, but he made his decision after hearing from voters who ushered him onto the Miami Beach City Commission in November.

"I did some soul searching, and I decided to stay here and finish the job I was elected to do," he said. "The county seat wasn’t in my plans for 2018, and I decided not let someone else’s decision impact my decision and life. And my voters and supporters have reached out in the dozens asking me to stay."

Three candidates have entered the sprint for the county commission post.

Zoraida Barreiro, wife of the former commissioner, has filed to run. So have Eileen Higgins, president of Miami's Downtown Dems, and Carlos Martinez Garin, who lists income as an Uber driver and art and acting teacher.

Former state senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla said he was interested, but has not filed.

Because of a recently-enacted resign-to-run law, Barreiro was forced to step down in order to campaign for the Congressional seat. But even though the law was crafted in a way that would've allowed Barreiro to make delay his effective date through the fall, the commissioner stepped down early. He denied resigning early in order to give his wife an advantage amid a tight timeline in the run up to a May special election, saying his Congressional campaign has to be a priority as he eyes the Republican nomination ahead of the August primary.

April 05, 2018

Nineteen months before election, open Miami City Commission seat attracts candidate



Well before voters in Miami's District 1 select a new representative, an active civic figure has announced his intention to run for City Commission.

Horacio S. Aguirre, chairman of the Miami River Commission and member of the Civilian Investigative Panel, announced on Thursday he will run for District 1 seat on the Miami City Commission.

The election isn't until November 2019, but Aguirre is already jumping in. The current District 1 representative, Commissioner Wilfredo "Willy" Gort, is term-limited next year.  

Aguirre, son of the founder of Spanish-language newspaper Diario de las Américas, told the Miami Herald he wants to use the experience from serving on municipal boards to service on the commission.

"I think I can translate all of that into something tangible for District 1," he said. 

District 1 includes Allapattah, Grapeland Heights, parts of Little Havana and the area around Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Another district 1 candidate has already begun fundraising. Miguel Angel Cabela, who has twice lost to Gort, opened his campaign account in February and has raised about $4,600. 

March 06, 2018

After dramatic rejection of New York job, Carvalho gets the royal treatment in Miami



At his first major public appearance since turning down a job as head of New York City schools, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho got the royal treatment — literally.

“So Alberto, Mister Superintendent, Your Highness,” joked moderator Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at Large for The Atlantic. “I know the top three or four reasons why I would choose Miami over New York, but what were yours?”

Clemons’ reference to last week’s dramatic school board meeting in which children and adults begged Carvalho not to leave Miami-Dade was met with laughter from the audience at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium. But it also elicited a new explanation from the superintendent, and one that was decidedly less kingly than the reasons he gave for his decision last week.

“I am a true believer that if you want me to land the championship ring, if you want to win the Super Bowl, but I have a field that I’m not going to be able to necessarily pick my quarterback … that the plays will be called, co-consulted, then that may be a deal breaker for me,” Carvalho said.

The superintendent also repeated his earlier explanations that he was dedicated to Miami-Dade and that he had been moved by the response from local teachers, parents and students to his appointment as New York City schools chancellor. The football metaphor, however, appears to confirm a Politico report that Mayor Bill de Blasio wasn’t going to let Carvalho pick his own chief of staff or human resources director and that retiring Chancellor Carmen Fariña would have had a continuing influence on the school district. Read more here.

February 12, 2018

Miami-Dade Commission chair meets with Trump ahead of latest infrastructure plan

Steve bovo


President Donald Trump is going to unveil his latest $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan on Monday and Miami-Dade County Commission chair Esteban “Steve” Bovo will be on hand. 

Bovo, head of the county's transit committee, was part of about two dozen governors, state legislators, mayors and local officials from around the country invited to the White House. 

"In DC today for meetings with before the roll out of trillion dollar infrastructure bill. Funding for transportation and transit is critical to the ," Bovo tweeted. 

Miami-Dade will need federal funds to move forward with the SMART transit plan which aims to reduce traffic along six major travel routes in and out of downtown Miami. The White House plan calls for $200 billion in direct federal funding with the bulk of the $1.5 trillion to come from state and local governments along with private firms.  

November 30, 2017

The walls of this Miami politician’s new City Hall office hid a surprise from 1989



Manolo Reyes was apparently the ultimate Miami City Hall insider. It just took him 28 years to find out.

Reyes, an economist and Westland Hialeah Senior High teacher, tried six times to win an election to the city commission before breaking through this month at age 73. He was sworn in as Miami’s District 4 commissioner two weeks ago, finally ticking off one of the items on his personal bucket list.

But now that Reyes has won his way to public office, he’ll have to wait until he can actually occupy his public office.

Since Nov. 16, Reyes’ office has been undergoing renovations that according to Miami’s city manager have been planned for months in order to gut and clean the mold-ridden space, which was also damaged by Hurricane Irma. It’s not clear how much the work will cost, but City Manager Daniel Alfonso wrote a memo to Reyes noting that the city had budgeted $50,000 for standard renovations before finding unexpected water damage.

The construction has been a major inconvenience for Reyes and his staff, who represent Flagami and several other neighborhoods. But Reyes says it also revealed something unexpected: a June 1989 copy of Spanish-language periodico Combate that featured a picture of Satanic graffiti on the cover.

That was alarming, to be sure. Even more jarring, the journal also carried a photo inside of Reyes’ campaign kickoff that year.

Manolo Reyes says he and his staff found a June 1989 copy of Combate inside the wall of the District 4 office at Miami City Hall that included a photo of Reyes’ failed 1989 campaign launch. Reyes’ office is undergoing renovations and mold remediation.
“The workers found this old newspaper behind the Sheetrock,” said Reyes. “It was crazy.”

Read more here.