An Open Letter To My Gables Insider Family: Grateful, Humbled And Ready To Make Residents First

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
[email protected]

At noon today, I will be taking my oath to become your voice on the Coral Gables City Commission.

It will be a moment filled with many emotions and one that is humbling with the great responsibility you have all entrusted me with.

My swearing-in will also be a moment of transition, as I will cease to be your Gables Insider and become your Commission Insider.

Being the Editor of this publication has been a labor of love. A true mission to ensure you were informed and prepared when making decisions. We have uncovered a lot together and worked to make our City a better place.

Since our founding, our mission has always been to keep this publication free from political influence and focused on factual reporting of the actions taken by our government. To be faithful to this mission, today, I am stepping down as Editor of Gables Insider and ceasing all reporting.

You have entrusted me with a responsibility to make Residents First, and I intend to do just that.

You can always count on my resolve and determination to ensure that the tenants we have always advocated for on Gables Insider will now be advocated for on the City Commission.

In the coming days, I will be initiating my official newsletter as your Commissioner. It will be called Commission Insider.

I am forever grateful for the support you have shown me over the last four years, and am ready to continue our work as your Commission Insider.


47 thoughts on “An Open Letter To My Gables Insider Family: Grateful, Humbled And Ready To Make Residents First

  1. The job of the commissioner is to follow the will of the residents. The residents want Iglesias out.
    The three commissioners— Lago, Anderson, and Menendez—- did not follow the will of the residents.
    Those three kept Iglesias.
    Those three violated their oath of office. Those three must be recalled (kicked out of office), starting with Menendez.

  2. The residents were weak. Except for Ariel, none of the most vocal critics of Lago ran for office against him. Melissa won on Ariel’s coat-tails.

    The residents paid a price for their weakness. Ariel and Melissa are now out-numbered. Lago with Anderson and Menendez control the City. Iglesias has full power and stays in office.

    Do not be dismayed. Redemption exists. Again, the residents must be strong and united as they were in the electing Ariel and Melissa. To take control of the City, the residents must recall Lago, Anderson, and Menendez. Start with the most vulnerable, Menendez. Again, stand up. Show weakness is gone. Continue to make our City, the City Beautiful.

  3. The commission meeting today (May 8,2023) showed Menendez must be recalled. It also showed Melissa Castro is in a fog, because she did not vote “no” about confidence in Iglesias.
    Ariel stood alone, bravely for the residents.

  4. Congratulations to Ariel and Melissa. Their campaigns will hopefully serve as a model for future elections as well as an example of how campaigning on issues with a platform can carry the day.

    Let’s give the other Commissioners the benefit of the doubt that they will now have the lattitude to support a platform/agenda rather than pick battles now that the winds of change have blown in. The daes is no longer dominated. This should allow for true debate and compromise — that’s government. Let’s also hope that there is more sunshine and depth to the debate.

    Hope to see everyone at the Town Hall on May 8th (hosted by Castro and Fernandez). Here’s a link to the Capital Improvement Plan that may be interesting for some of us.

  5. Congratulations to you and Melissa,
    My request besides those already mentioned above is to have FPL place their “huge” box for the underground electrical lines on the side or the back of the houses NOT in front. This is turning the City Beautiful to the City Ugly.

    Thank you.

  6. Congratulations Ariel! Please help add that much needed sidewalk at Venetia TR. Jack Thompson is right about the motels. If you’re a horny local you can pay more and get a room at the Hyatt, Colonnade, St Michel or Biltmore. If you don’t have that much money for said hotels, there are so many motel options on Okeechobee RD in Hialeah and even nearby Miami Springs. Please get rid of that darned Mediterranean Bonus benefiting greedy developers. We don’t need it anymore. Please urge the Police to stop speeders and maybe add red light, traffic cameras on Granada intersections. Many have died or made lame in the vicinity of the Granada golf course. Best wishes!

  7. I would subscribe to the Gables Insider. It is more entertaining than Netflex. My wife would donate to the Gables Insider, because it is more informative than PBS.

  8. I do not want the Gables Insider to stop. It is a very easy way to express opinions about
    important news. The opinions can guide Ariel, Melissa, and any other commissioner who wants to open his/her eyes to the new political landscape in Coral Gables.

    Other ways of communicating are not as easy. A newsletter is only one-sided. It says what is happening. It does not allow a response to the writer or to comments from other readers..

    A town hall does allow a such a response, but unlike an iphone or computer, you need to be at the meeting and wait your turn to speak. It is awkward and less convenient..

    So, the Gables Insider is the best way to communicate. It is also a very good tool for a democracy. Look at the result from the recent election.

    I don’t understand why Ariel can’t still do the Gables Insider. The editor of a newspaper is not prohibited from becoming an elected official. An elected official is not prohibited from having a blog, to communicate with the residents and the residents to respond to each other. Ariel is the Gables Insider. He is the one and only.

    So, continue the Gables Insider. It’s too good to end.

  9. Congratulations!! I have never met you, but have been impressed with Gables Insider and your commitment to Coral Gables. I only have two requests. Let “doing the right thing for all of us” guide you, and please shrink government. The founders wanted AND the people want government to be as unobtrusive as possible. Good luck and make us proud!

  10. Congrats Commissioner Fernandez & Commissioner Castro, all of our efforts to get you both elected to our City Beautiful’s Commission have come to fruition
    and we’re about to embark on a new beginning to take back OUR CITY finally.
    It was time for US to show them that $$ money $$ will not BUY you a seat in our New Commission, but righteousness and good faith will get you elected!!
    My most sincere best wishes for you both to realize all the right things that we both wish for our great City! We will be closely watching you succeed and there for you in whatever capacity we may assist you

  11. ELATED! But more importantly, you brought transparency and engaged the community. So glad more of us headed to the polls. Our Duty! Now, we will be watching. 😉

  12. Congratulations to both! Some wish list items: Whenever you conduct surveys and propose projects to residents, insert right next to it in large letters the cost associated with the project.
    Reduce our taxes, reduce government spending, stop corruption, stop unnecessary additional art in a city that was beautiful as is, stop over development. Stop the proliferation of the LED lights without covers that hurt our eyes and potentially our circadian rhythms. Whoever approved the stick lights in Miracle Mile must not have thought it through. Stop creating projects just because you see some money in the city’s bank account. That is our (residents) money. If it is not absolutely needed, give it back to us. Be humble and kind to residents. Enforce the noise ordinance and speeding traffic ordinance to address loud trucks and motorcycles on Bird and Red Road, that goes on even at very late hours and past midnight. The mobility hub is a terrible idea. What a waste of money that would be. Before adopting any technology in the name of innovation consider its repercussions. Will it have detrimental effects from electro-magnetic emissions that affect our health? Stop enticing business to our city. We already have enough business in our city. I don’t want our city to turn into Brickell or Downtown. Keep it a simple small town. No need to waste my money to buy land to create parks with stuff on them that are for the most part empty. Consider that some roadway defects, absent a giant pothole, may not be bad because they curb speeding traffic.

    The City Beautiful was formally incorporated on April 29, 1925. The planned Mediterranean-Revival community was founded by George E. Merrick. The new Commission will lead the city in its upcoming 100th anniversary of its founding.

  14. Ariel, I hope you get to read my message.

    As a very long Gables homeowner, I am happy that you an Ms. Castro delivered our wishes.

    I wrote you on this before. Is there anything you now can do to remove the monstrosity installed in the round-about of Biltmore way, as well as the one on Coral Way?

    They are a disgrace to the famous “City Beautiful.”

    Good luck!

  15. Congratulations Ariel and Melissa!
    My family and I are very happy that both of you were elected.
    Among the issues I believe you should bear in mind, one of which Melissa mentioned in one of her communications but I never heard off from her again, is to get rid of septic tanks.
    Another project would be to move the electrical lines underground.
    Lastly, I will miss your newsletter, which I always read from top to bottom; however, I look forward to start reading your new Commissioners’ Newsletter.
    We wish the best to both of you.

  16. CONGRATULATIONS on races run well.
    I look forward to seeing you both in action.
    I am sorry that the publication ceases but understand.
    Perhaps someone else will take on the need for explaining how our City progresses with your new input.

  17. Congratulations and good luck! Will miss Gables Insider but looking forward to Commissioner Insider. Keep the good work!

  18. Congratulations to you both. I will be sorry to see GablesInsider go away. I really hope that you are able to make the changes necessary or at the very least not be the rubber stamp that has resulted in overdevelopment and under funding of critical city services which have been disguised by current city management through flowery press releases and events, the proverbial – “don’t look there, look here!”. Hopefully you both will call out these distraction techniques and attempts- Kirk and Rhonda need to be paying attention too. Please get the Fire Department the funding for new mechanics (at a wage greater than Jiffy Lube – where many of the former mechanics went due to higher pay) so we can have more than one fully operational fire truck. And please promote an assessment of the equipment currently in use to insure it meets the needs of the recent high-rise over development! Previous to this election the council mouthed the “Residents First” but in fact it has been “Developers and Special Interest First”, I really hope you can effect change or at the very least shine a bright light on the activities that are contrary to “Residents First. I also hope that you can instill a sense among all city employees that the taxpayers pay their salaries and they need to be courteous and friendly to all residents and taxpayers and remember with every interaction who pays them…..

  19. Ariel and Melissa have a tough job ahead of them. I am sure they will do their best and will succeed.
    They have overwhelming support from the community (as proven by the election results)
    Those who, as I did, voted for both of them will be watching how the rest of the commission will behave. Will they get the message, or will they team up to thwart the new commissioner’s efforts to abide by the mandate they have been given?
    We will be watching.

  20. Hi Ariel,
    As one of the ‘founders’ of the Ponce de Leon Neighbors Association and a one-time member of the CGNA, I’m especially proud of the efforts of both of these resident-based groups that physically campaigned for both you and Melissa. The efforts provided by volunteers from both groups, as well as mailings from the Gables Neighbors United, demonstrated what a true “Grassroots” campaign looks like; an organically driven campaign on very small budgets of money compared to the oppositions’ enormous bankrolls from developers, special interests, and City Leaders (past and present) which I found a bit disturbing, to be candid.
    I have always enjoyed reading the Gables Insider and I’m so happy that you will transition over to a “Commission Insider” viewpoint for the residents; that’s a brilliant idea and most appreciated.
    Best of luck to you and Melissa and thank you for all of the excellent coverage you provided from The Gables Insider. We can’t wait to see you in action now, as a Commissioner. Onward and Upward!

  21. This day, I believe, is a turning point in the long history of Coral Gables. It is a turn for the better.

    I believe the incumbents on the Commission realize it is not business as usual anymore. Comm. Menendez’ attendance at the Castro victory party is compelling proof that even the incumbents know the political ground has shifted beneath them. No longer do the developers own and thus run the show.

    My personal focus will be to assist our City to shut down and CONFISCATE the brothels running on both sides of SW 8 Street. State and local law enable that shutdown which is causing a crime wave in North Gables. Jack Thompson, 42 year Gables resident

  22. Congratulations Arial and Melissa you exemplify the best in the people of Coral Gables. Now Iglesia’s has to go! he is a cancer within City hall.
    The people have spoken now it’s time for a change No more CORRUPT personally motivated government… we the people are behind you.

  23. Congratulations to you and Melissa! The fact that two anti-establishment, under-funded, constantly attacked candidates won by a landslide is telling. Residents are fed up, especially with overdevelopment and developers who buy lower zoned property and then try to change the zoning status to obtain maximum profit. This is encroaching more and more on single family homes that suffer the consequences of increased noise, light pollution, litter, crime, and traffic. It is great that the residents have spoken and elected you. You have a mandate and must be more than a “no” vote for upzoning and overdevelopment. You need to pursue changes to our city code that will tamp down this over-development insanity. Two solutions come to mind. Amend the city code to require a 5-0 commission vote on commercial zoning changes. Even better yet, amend the code to require voter approval of such changes. Only then will Coral Gables residents be on equal footing with the developers and special interests that overfunded your opponents and PAC’s that tried to crush your election with vitriol and extremely negative campaigning tactics. Take up the mantle on one of these changes(preferably voter approval) and give the residents a real say in the future of Coral Gables. Electing “residents first” commissioners is a good start but not enough. We need permanent changes now!

  24. Congratulations, let’s us know if we can help you in any way in putting residents first and not developers; we want our city beatiful back, and we are willing to lend a hand to make it happen!

  25. Congratulations—you were the only candidate who came to my home and asked what you could do as a commissioner to make Coral Gables better! I said SIDEWALKS! Hope we see some action!

  26. Congratulations to both !!!! Congratulations 🍾🎈🎊🎉
    We are behind you all the way!

  27. Congratulations! I know you will serve with honesty and diligence, always putting the residents first. We are truly Blessed to live in the Gables. Lets keep our community OF/BY/For the People. Lets keep our Gables GREEN. Lets add more Art and Culture! Count on me to contribute or help in any way I can.

  28. Good Morning,
    I have relied on Gables Insiders as my source for trusted news and information about the City I have called home for over 30 years. With pride, hope and a sense of duty, I casted my votes for you and Ms. Castro, and celebrated in the privacy of my home your respective victories. As I extend my congratulations to both of you, I look forward to receiving your “Commission Insider” newsletter and the return to a City of Coral Gables government that reflects the vision and values upon which it was founded, and that has the interests and welfare of its citizens as its guiding principle. Lets reclaim the City Beautiful that we chose to make it our home and that we love. Congratulations, and let’s get to work!

  29. Congrats Ariel, hopefully you & Melissa are truly pro citizen & we’re not just saying what voters wanted to hear in order to get elected as many politicians do. This past tuesday night my wife & i we’re walking on Ponce directly in front of Cheesecake Factory she stepped against 1 of many raised sidewalk trip hazards in CG stumbled & fell onto the hard concrete chin first getting a bruised knee as well & could not get up for a while. Road Potholes & septic tank conversions need immediate attention as well.

    Right now on the 300 block of Malaga & Catalonia crossing Salzedo the Alexan Crafts development removed all street lights, @ night is very dangerous walking as vehicles crossing West to Lejeune do not see you I have addressed to P-W Dept several months ago & nothing done. Need your assistance.

  30. Cannot say enough times Congratulations to you and Ms. Castro. We trust you will walk the talk and keep Coral Gables what is supposed to be and be the hawk against personal agendas, wasteful spending, and the many other things that you have campaigned on.

    The safety of the neighborhoods starts with responsive and strong public safety and maintaining our police and fire depts, funded.

    Staying away from Woke policies which have been crippling the country and staying focused on the Prize, which is the City Beautiful.

    I know that I can speak for many if not all here, but we are your soldiers to assist in making the dream happen.

    Thank you and once again, congratulations

  31. Congratulations Ariel
    Let’s get busy and down to work will look forward to your commissioner newsletters. I hope this overdevelopment is a real concern the infrastructure of the Water Tower on Alhambra needs major attention it’s deteriorating rapidly. The artwork in the Gables is ridiculous. I’m an Andy Warhol pop art person but a Buddha in front of the museum really! Good luck for you and Melissa

  32. Dear Ariel,
    Like no other and nowhere else, you were able to inform residents of how our City Beautiful is run and who is actually running it through your thorough investigative reporting. The quality, content, context and consistency of your independent journalism has been unmatched by any news organization in South Florida and brought great awareness to residents who have been left in the dark prior to you and the Gables Insider. This is a bittersweet moment for us, the residents and resident-advocates, who will miss your revelations but will enjoy watching you change city hall and the political establishment that has hijacked our City Beautiful and the unique quality we live here for.
    Congratulations, stay strong and clear-headed, always fight for the residents, and let’s take back our City!
    Thank you Ariel.

  33. Thank you Ariel for your inside reporting on the issues that matter most to the residents of CG. No doubt you shone an uncomfortable light on the ongoing shenanigans of the corrupt politicians in our city and you allowed us to see the truth. Now the real work fornyou and Melissa starts, and I truly hope you keep your word. It is impressive tonsee you both won without taking a cent from developers and special interest groups unlike the rest of the commissioners and Prince Lago. That gives me hope you will truly have the residents interests first. You will continue to have my full support and little by little we will get of the crooked others like Menendez, Iglesias and Lago so that the city can really represent the residents wishes. Congratulations and good luck!

  34. Congrats to Ariel & Melissa! You are our voices! I only hope your colleagues NOW realize the power of the residents and how we need to be respected. The era of Developer control is over!

  35. I can’t think of anything more important than a commissioner insider magazine. It has been long overdue.
    Congratulations to you both!

  36. Félicitations, gentilhomme d’Orleans!
    Thank you for so many years of incisive, impartial reporting.
    For the sake of the commonwealth, pls consider dismissing the City Manager and the City Attorney.
    It’s critical towards eradicating corruption at City Hall. And eliminate the subsidy for (City of) Coral Gables Magazine!

  37. Thank you, Ariel. I look forward to your new newsletter Commission Insider. I am grateful for all your hard work with Gables Insider and am confident that your work now in the Commission will be even more productive for our city. I know that between you and Melissa we will have an effective oversight that has not existed in years. Thank you both and congratulations!

  38. I found it interesting that the citizens of Coral Gables did not vote for the candidates who raised the most money or received the most endorsements from our political past.We just voted for the most devoted to the citizens of Coral Gables!
    Congratulations to Ariel and Melissa.

  39. Congratulations on winning the election. I am happy you will be representing the residents. I will miss this publication, a trusted source.. Your reporting was so informative and educational. I will tune into your new publication.

  40. Arial and Melissa exemplify the best of the City. They are courageous. They ran for office against a local government, heavily financed politically, that had turned its back on its people and looked after only themselves. The residents understood. They put Arial and Melissa in office.

    Although the election is over, more work remains. Corruption exist in City Hall. The corruption must be cleaned. The cleaning starts with Peter Iglesias, the City manager. He has made himself a bad ruler of the City. Remember the Mobility Hub, his legacy to himself? More than 1,500 residents signed petitions against it. It costs over $150 million. As the bad ruler of the City, he forced us to pay for his legacy.

    Remember Burger Bob’s. The residents in that part of our community loved it. Iglesias didn’t like it. As the bad ruler of the City, Iglesias destroyed Burger Bob’s.

    Iglesias controls the City’s bank account. The bank account is our taxes. It is not Iglesias’ personal piggy bank.

    Iglesias somehow can’t find $10,000 in our bank account to support a long standing and well liked farmer’s market in our community. But, he somehow can find in our bank account thousands of dollars to buy “art” as part of his legacy: a fake watermellon for $100,000; a fake rainbow for $750,000 ( I can see God’s rainbow for free); and lately over $1 million for paintings from New York.

    Iglesias pays himself from our bank account an exorbitant salary, more than the Governor’s salary. To make sure his personal plans go smoothly, Iglesias pays from our bank account the incompetent City Attorney a salary larger than the Attorney General of the USA..

    Of course, Lago supports Iglesias 100%.

    One big reason to elect Ariel and Melissa was to return accountability to local government. Now is the time to put it to the test. Now is the time to do it. Iglesias must go. If not, the election was a waste of your and my time and effort, another betrayal of the residents.

  41. Commissioner Fernandez, thank you for your heartfelt “goodbye” to the Gables Insider; it was a great online magazine. There could be no better segway to introduce us to the “Commission Insider”. What better way to insure us that your efforts on the City Commission will continue to include a wide-angle, objective and ACCURATE view into our City Commission with this actual PROMISE that you present in this piece? Our misplaced TRUST in the last ‘round’ of City Commissioners disappeared a while ago when “Two-face Menendez” and Anderson turned their backs on citizens, so they could benefit from developer enticements. Do recall that they too, had made similar promises to us voters, at first. Somehow, I think that your tenure, along with Melissa’s support, will be different. Just maybe, we finally have two Commissioners that won’t morph into something different than the “Resident’s candidate”,- that you both campaigned on. Maybe this time, we’ll have two new Commissioners who will encourage their colleagues on the dais to reign in the City Staff and overspending while taking into account public opinion. There’s no sense in only “listening” (i.e. Lago’s “Listening Tour”) if all you do is listen, but you don’t pay any attention to what the residents want (i.e they clearly wanted NO eyesore Mobility Hub),- and worse, fail to ACT on behalf of what residents are asking for: LISTENING WITHOUT FOLLOW-UP ACTIONS is USELESS and a complete waste of time.
    Good luck to you both. We’re watching, and we’ll be reading too, with hope and expectations of a “new day” in Coral Gables. Just maybe this time…..!!!!!

  42. Congratulations!! Unlike promises made and broken by your colleagues who you will sit with on the Commission to put residents first, not developers, we have the utmost confidence that you will keep your word. We also have high hopes that Melissa will do so as well. It appears that Menendez has seen the light as well as he was so desperate to be photographed with you.So pathetic. In 2 years if Anderson and Menendez do not follow your lead- out they go!!!

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