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I KNOW JOE CAROLLO. I CONSIDERED JOE CAROLLO A FRIEND. BUT THE JOE CAROLLO THAT I KNOW, AND THE JOE CAROLLO WHO NEEDLESSLY ATTACKED A CITY EMPLOYEE AT THE LAST COMMISSION MEETING IS NOT THE JOE CAROLLO THAT I HAD HOPED WOULD BECOME A CITY COMMISSIONER
NUMBER 23 - APRIL 27, 2018
In the 8 years that I've known Joe Carollo, I've appreciated his courage and willingness to stand up and say things that weren't politically correct.
I thought it was great when he went to the State Attorney to file a complaint against Tomas and Raquel Regalado for their antics with Tomas' campaign reports - antics that should have gotten both of them removed from public office - and I thought he did a stand up thing when he drove an FDLE Agent around Willie Gort's District pointing out all of the illegal campaign signs that the Fuel Outdoor Advertising Company put up for him.
It was another outrageous example of public corruption that should have gotten Willie removed from the City Commission, but like Tomas and Raquel Regalado, it turned out to be just another example of how the Family and Friends Plan works under the corrupt State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle.
When Joe ran for office last year I defended him on Twitter against people who kept calling him a "wife beater," and sundry other names, and I went so far to write a detailed story about what I thought about the bogus lawsuit that JC Planas filed on behalf of Alfie Leon, who Joe beat in the election.
At the same time, I've never been blind to Joe's mercurial and occasional volatile nature, but I had hopes that if he got elected he might become a constructive Bull In A China Shop, which was in need of a whole herd of bulls running through the shop.
At the last Commission meeting, Joe managed to do something that really, really pissed me off, and in the hours since that meeting, I've learned that what he did also pissed off hundreds if not thousands of city employees and others in the community.
Whether Joe did it because of a momentary lapse of good judgement and common sense, or whether he did it because, as some city employees believe, he fell into the pocket of Shawn Moy, the President of the AFSCME union, the fact of the matter is that his actions created both alarm among employees, and worse, fed into the narrative that Joe is both Batshit Crazy and just as corrupt as the people he rails about.
What happened at the Commission meeting centered around the efforts between the City and the AFSCME to remove a couple dozen employees, who in 2016 has been added to the list of Classified Employees, qualifying them for union membership and civil service protection, while adding others.
You seldom, if ever hear of a union willingly agreeing to remove potential dues paying members from its ranks, but that's essentially was one of the issues agreed to by the City and AFCEME's leadership in 2017, and what was coming up at the Commission meeting was the vote to approve the deal
Oh yeah, there was THIS ONE other small thing.
Part of the deal also allowed the 2nd in Command of the Code Enforcement Department, a job known as The Chief of Code, which until now had always been an Executive Position, to become a Classified position, allowing the person in that job to be a union member.
For months I had been hearing both on the record, and off, that this was all part of an insider deal predicated on allowing the city and the union to play around with some of these jobs.
Part of the rationale was that Classified jobs are harder to use to use to create patronage jobs, something politicians always want to have plenty of, and for the union leadership, it would be a swap replacing some of those lost jobs with others and in the process allow them to remove several individuals who they perceived as potential threats to their holding on to their cushy union jobs.
The Quid Pro Quo, which was talked about openly, and FOR MONTHS, was that for giving the city what they wanted, Shawn Moy, the President of AFSCME 1907, whose job before he became the president of the union was that of a Code Enforcement Officer, would be promoted to the executive position of Chief of Code Enforcement - the 2nd ranking position in the department while being able to remain as the president of the union.
This was not idle talk, and because of that I had challenged the Mayor and the City Commission about this two days before the Commission meeting in an email.
The principal guy that the union leadership seemed to be afraid of was named Jose Espinoza, who worked in the Risk Management Department.
In fact, he was considered such a threat, that on Wednesday, the day before the Commission meeting, the following flyer was circulated illegally throughout the city's MRC building attacking him.
I don't really know Espinoza, other than on rare occasions when I've visited the MRC Building I've seen and said hello to him getting on or off an elevator, as I do with lots of employees, but this flyer not only shows signs of desperation on the part of the people who put it together and had it circulated, but raises some very interesting questions, the first being that I'd like to know why he got a 10% merit based raise?
Was he an ass kisser, or had he actually done something of merit that benefited the city and the employees? Given that it the current union leadership that's not had the best reputation since they got in office, and would have ample reason to fear a challenge, I'd bet a dollar to a donut that Espinoza might have actually done something good, and that scared these people.
The second question of interest is, that as part of the 2016 agreement that had been signed by the city and the union, Espinoza and the others who they now wanted to remove from Classified status, had been given that staus in 2016 whether they wanted it or not, so the bullshit question about "When is enough, enough?," doesn't make logical sense and is one that maybe the members of AFSCME should be asking their leadership.
In any event, Espinoza showed up at the Commission meeting to speak about his personal concerns regarding this change of status, and I think it's best if you look at the video and watch what he said, followed by what Joe Carollo said afterwards.
Espinoza was not the only city employee who showed up to express concern, and question the legality of the agreement that the Commission was being asked to approve.
Shortly after the Public Comments ended the Commission passed these changes with nary a word about the issues raised, and by a unanimous vote.
It took me that long to race thru traffic to get to City Hall, and to ask Commission Chairman Hardemon for an indulgence to speak to what had occurred between Joe Carollo and Jose Espinoza.
Here is what happened.
I have no problem with Carollo's claims about not wanting lying city employees around, but he picked a hell of a time to decide to say and do something about that.
Joe Carollo didn't have any problems with the lying thug and former President of the FOP Police union Javier Ortiz.
Under oath, Ortiz was not only caught out lying in a deposition, but his actions in writing a largely untruthful Use Of Force Incident Report resulted in a $400,000 settlement in the ULTRTA Music incident where he and current FOP President Edward Lugo, and two other thug cops - both of whom were subsequently convicted of criminal activities in another cases - should have been brought up on charges for the beating they gave the concert goer and for the perjury they committed in their depositions, but weren't.
How many times has Javier Ortiz stood up before the City Commission while Joe has been a Commissioner, and not once has he ever said anything about what a liar and disgrace to the police department he is?
Of course, that might be because Javier Ortiz and the FOP gave Joe money, just like AFSCME gave him money, from the national, to the state, to the local union offices.
The notion however, that someone(s) came to Carollo office just before the beginning of the Commission meeting and gave him derogatory information on Jose Espinoza, and that he decided that the best way to handle this information was to bring it with him to the dais and have it ready and at hand to whip out if Espinoza showed up to speak, while claiming that he didn't really know what was in the documents or whether the information was true, is just out and out bullshit!
Who were those myserteous people who did this? Was it the Easter Bunny, or was it the leaders of the local AFSCME union? I have seen, and folks who work in City Hall have confirmed that those guys - and woman - spend a lot of time in Joe's office.
It was a setup, pure and simple, and a nasty one at that.
A responsible public official would not do that. A responsible public official would have given the information to the City Manager and asked him to look into it, and get back to him, and definitely not do some slanderous dog and pony show about "I have information that I'm not sure whether it's true or not."
And what was in those documents that Carollo waved around?
Jose Espinoza, sometime in his past had been busted and plead to a DUI, and when he applied for a job in the city, he answered NO to the question of whether he had ever been "convicted (found guilty) of a crime."
I only found out this information after I had spoken at the Commission meeting, and I'm still unclear on the specifics of any of what actually happened in the case.
Even had I known before hand, I still would have been just as pissed and said the same things because the real issue, as I said, is about the right of citizens - including city employees - to come before a public body and not be attacked for offering opinions that might differ with the opinons held by a public official.
This does NOT in any way mean that I am overlooking or excusing the failure of Espinoza to put a YES to the question of had he ever been "convicted (found guilty) of a crime."
DUI's can, and do kill people.
However, as I've been advised in the last few hours by folks knowledgable about personnel issues, a lot of folks who are arrested for DUI's don't think that that falls into the category of "crime," but more of a traffic violation. I don't agree, but that's not my call.
Secondly, the issue of whether he lied, misspoke, was confused, or any other reason he might offer for why he wrote NO, the fact of the matter is that whether the answer to a question on a job application is wrong, illegal or dumb is a Human Resources issue, and not an issue to be raised in the manner that it was during a City Commission meeting.
After the Commission adjourned, I had further discussions about all of this with several people including Joe and Victoria Mendez, the City Attorney, who tried to defend him by telling me that what Joe did was legitimate because it raised the issue of credibility.
I would agree, if in fact Espinoza had been sitting in a witness chair, under oath being questioned about issues that he claimed to have personal knowledge of, and on whose word, someone could go to jail.
In fact, there are any number of situations where someone's past might become an issue of credibility, but not when a city employee stands up before the City Commission to express his opinion on an issue of public policy. The only credibility issue there would be if the person started spouting off with wrong statistics, or facts, or making bogis claims.
55 years of my life have been impacted as a result of my own criminal past. In my case, I've never made a secret of it, but at the same time, I have paid the price in too many ways to count for the crimes I committed that went way beyond the time that I spent in prison.
I've never lied about my past on job applications because I was fortunate to fall into the film industry where job applications aren't how one gets work, but I know that there are many men and women who've come out of prison, and to survive, lied on a job application to get a job.
It's not right, and I'm not saying that this is what happened here, but I am saying that for a guy like Joe Carollo, who has had his own past with the law, to do what he did was absolutely unacceptable, and makes me question whether Joe should take himself up on his question of not knowing why he even ran for office, and quit!
As for Shawn Moy, the big question is whether he ends up, even after all of this, in the job of Chief of Code? If he does, then I suspect that more than one city employee will be calling the FBI and the National Relations Board.
And if they don't, I will!
It's Miami, Bitches!