Government, News, Politics

Sparks Fly Ahead of City Commission Meeting

 “Weaponizing city government” has become a trendy concept in Miami. Lately we’re getting more clarity about how that works.

Miami District 2 Commissioner Damian Pardo has doubled down on his feud with fellow Commissioner Joe Carollo ahead of this week’s City Commission meeting, accusing Carollo once again of “weaponizing” government to target political foes.
 
The increasingly pointed—and personal—exchanges between the two commissioners could spark more fireworks at Thursday’s meeting, although Pardo says he doesn’t intend to raise the issue. “I wouldn’t waste time in that way,” the commissioner said.

Last month, Pardo asked his fellow commissioners to censure Carollo after the District 3 commissioner publicly questioned whether the two loans Pardo made to his 2023 campaign—totaling $165,370—came from his own pocket, or from an unnamed source, in possible violation of campaign finance laws.  Pardo offered to provide Carollo with proof, in exchange for Carollo’s resignation. Carollo refused and Pardo withdrew the offer.
 
At the next meeting on April 11, Carollo hit Pardo with a public records request, seeking the documents that Pardo offered at the previous meeting. “I will take that under advisement,” Pardo said at the time.
 
A week later, on April 18, Pardo delivered the documents to the City Clerk’s office before releasing a broadside against Carollo that revisited the lawsuit that Carollo lost last year.
 
“Commissioner Carollo has been found guilty of weaponizing the government in a court of law. It seems that having cost the City of Miami $10 million in attorney fees to defend his wrongdoings served no lesson to the commissioner,” Pardo said in a statement.
 
“At the February 22 City Commission meeting, Commissioner Carollo introduced an ordinance, which he used to further false claims about my campaign with no evidence,” the statement reads. “Introducing narrow legislation at the taxpayer’s expense to promote false claims against a colleague speaks to the Commissioner’s continued weaponization of government on the backs of residents.” Read the complete statement here.
 
The documents Pardo filed with the Clerk’s office included a screenshot of Pardo’s campaign loans totaling $165,370, a copy of the Oath of Office he swore upon taking office, and an unsigned affidavit attesting that those loans were made from his personal savings.
 
“I have provided the contents of the folder as requested. And, as stated from the dais, I am prepared to document and/or attest as to the direct personal investment to my campaign in exchange for Commissioner Carollo’s resignation. Other than in exchange for his resignation, there would be no reason to provide this information to the Commissioner.  I do not answer to him.”
 
Carollo didn’t respond to a request for comment, but he’s previously made his position clear.  
 
“You can ask me as many times as you want to resign… it’s not going to happen,” Carollo told Pardo on April 11. “I am not a punching bag and I’ve been around too long to let someone like you think they are going to come in here and push me around.”
 
So, where is this headed? Pardo said he’s working with the mayor’s office to develop a code of conduct for commissioners to reign in bad behavior. “What I’m really try to do with this is create guardrails, so that the City of Miami doesn’t end up in the same position again,” Pardo said.
 
In other District 2 news, as first reported by the Miami Herald, Pardo’s chief of staff Anthony Balzebre is on record saying his previous boss—former District 2 Commissioner Sabina Covo—instructed him to secure a City of Miami consulting contract for rival candidate Eddy Leal at a time when Leal’s endorsement was in play. Balzebre sent an email message to the City Manager’s office on November 13 seeking approval for the hire.
 
Leal ran against Covo in the District 2 election on November 7 but failed to make the runoff. He later endorsed Covo in her runoff race against Pardo—a race that Pardo won on November 21.
 
Another candidate—James Torres—alleged at the time that Covo offered Leal a job in exchange for his endorsement. That allegation is now under investigation by the Broward State Attorney’s Office. Covo and Leal have previously denied the allegation.
 
Asked for comment this week, Covo’s attorney David Kubilian provided this response: “Ms. Covo denies Balzebre’s allegations and will defend herself against any unfounded accusations.”

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