Founder & Editor
On January 5th, Coral Gables City Attorney Miriam Soler Ramos sent a letter to the Commission announcing her resignation as she is set to take on a new role at one of the City’s main outside counsel, Holland and Knight.
At the January 10th City Commission meeting, Soler Ramos’ resignation was announced to residents.
The Commission and staff had been working for days on her farewell, presenting a lengthy tribute video, a Key to the City, Proclamation and even an elaborate miniature replica of City Hall. The tributes went on for over an hour.
Residents Kept In The Dark
Residents, however, had been kept in the dark.
In fact, the item on her farewell and the appointment of her replacement was not on the printed copies of the agendas of those present at City Hall for the meeting. The item was not placed on the agenda until 8:53AM, 7 minutes prior to the meeting starting.
Mayor Vince Lago read into the record a memo he sent to fellow Commissioners on Monday on the issue. Lago’s memo promoted the appointment of Deputy City Attorney Cristina M. Suarez to the position.
The agenda item reflected the intent to appoint Suarez to the position without Commission discussion, “Farewell to City Attorney Miriam Soler Ramos and appointment of Deputy City Attorney Cristina M. Suarez to the post of City Attorney.”
The item was immediately voted on and no public comment was taken.
The question being asked by some is, if the Commission is the one who as-a-whole appoints the City Attorney, why would the Mayor have the authority to negotiate a contract with an individual without a Commission vote.
The Charter authorizes the Mayor in Sec. 2-28(b)(3) of the City Code, “To represent the city commission in negotiations, meetings, and functions.” However, does that mean negotiating a contract with an individual who has not been voted on by the Commission?
Unless, Lago already knew the vote would confirm her. Something which would be difficult to confirm with the restrictions placed on members of the Commission by the State of Florida’s Sunshine Law, which prohibits communication outside of properly noticed meetings.
Additionally, instead of listing the item as appointment of a new City Attorney, the item clearly implies the expectation that the rest of the Commission would vote for Suarez, based on Lago’s memo alone.
No Transparency Or Resident Participation
As for residents, no opportunity for public comment or input was allowed. Without notice, many never found out this vote on the legal future of the City would even be taking place.
Suarez may well earn the support of residents, but the item being placed on the agenda 7 minutes prior to the start of the meeting, without notice to residents, demonstrates a clear intent to prevent transparency by the Mayor.
The Un-Elected Commissioner Votes
In addition, at the December 13th Commission meeting, residents were assured by Commissioner Rhonda Anderson that Jim Cason would not be taking any important votes as there would not be enough time for major issues to come before the Commission.
Yet, at his first meeting, the appointment of one of three Charter Officers was Cason’s second vote. In this case, the un-elected Commissioner has now voted on the appointment of a new City Attorney which will be a long-term decision on behalf of residents who had advocated against Cason being appointed to begin with.
Soler Ramos Takes Jab At Residents
In her parting words, Soler Ramos seemingly took a jab at residents, urging staff to “drown out the external noise.” She also took time to praise the Commission, City Manager and staff for their work and support throughout her time in the City.
Soler Ramos’ last day is expected to be January 20th.
32 thoughts on “City Attorney Miriam Soler Ramos Resigns; Deputy Appointed To Replace Her Without Public Input Or Open Process”
Little lago has weaponized the local government against Jessica. Like all tiny tyrants,
little lago must go. Stay strong, Jessica.
Hey – now you know why people don’t use real names. I got a code enforcement violation today. Coincidence? Can’t criticize/expose government.
Is there somebody running for Mayor other than Lago?
yet again another example of shady behind the scenes decision making without transparency. I foolishly voted for Lago under his promise of transparency and accountability but clearly that was a lie. The commissioners appear to be even worse and frankly the whole Gables government reeks of corruption. I agree with one of the comments above, the only way we get rid of Lago and the commissioners is to have a well qualified candidate that can get the residents and campaign contributions behind them. Otherwise we will be stuck with the same results for years. I would say shame on Lago and the commissioners for their run of shady dealings including this one but I get the feeling they have zero shame in them.
One gone, one more to GO! Next! Please be more respectful & civilized of the public comments, nick names and insults to City Officials, not needed to make your point across.
Swamp boy Vince.
Ramos should have been fired after her high handed and illegal management of the Wawa site reassignment, should never have been allowed to resign gracefully.
You doing ok in your swamp there Vince?
Folks, this is a major scandal. The Mayor and Commissioners cannot conduct business in a private setting.
The apparent Sunshine Law violations, here’s a practical point: Are we to assume that of the hundreds of thousands of lawyers licensed to practice law in this State that the best qualified to serve as City Attorney is the one secretly selected?
And now we have a City Attorney uniquely indebted to the Mayor.
Dual loyalties anyone? How does the City Attorney now render legal advice unpleasing to the Mayor?
According to an email I received from Ramos on January 5th, “ ….the City’s Ethics Code which requires that ethics complaints filed against members of the city commission (and some others) be referred to the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission.”
There is absolutely nothing to be accomplished by complaining here if you don’t follow up with the Ethics Commission and/or AG like I am doing in regards to a matter I am following up on Lago. According to public records requests, he has not maintained text records from the time he was elected as a Commissioner in 2013 until one year ago. He also deleted at least one social media post from his official account.
If you believe there are violations, follow up on them!
The Sunshine Law is a very basic part of government. Yet, all the lawyers (Suarez, Anderson, Mena, and Menedez) did not know it or did not care to follow it. We have a bunch of dummies running the government.
I need to get the members of our board to attend these public meetings. Great job with these publications and keeping us informed.
This is pretty outrageous. Clearly the proper process was not followed. Which of the city attorneys provided an opinion that such an appointment could take place>
Very insightful and important news reporting.
This has importance for our City.
Residents voices should be heard.
We need a democracy, not a developer-ocracy.
If nobody runs against Lago for mayor, then nobody should criticize him. Put up or shut up.
Please note: Efforts are underway to void the hiring of the new city attorney because of a clear violation of the State’s Government in the Sunshine law.
Nice going, Mayor.
Christina Suarez should have known the procedure to give her the job was wrong. She showed bad judgment in accepting the job. How many other mistakes has she made at the taxpayers’ expense?
Who do we (the city residents) think we are that we should be advised or consulted in the trivial matter of naming a city attorney. What’s with this pesky sunshine law? The elected elite have issued their edict, and we must all happily accept their actions, meant to protect us from our ignorance and stupidity. God forbid we should question these paladins of justice and pillars of our community in their wisdom and benevolence. NOT.
Sadly, the only way to extricate Lago from Mayor is to “unelect” him. That means that in April 2023, there needs to be someone else for which to cast a vote. Who is running against Lago?
The monied folks/business want Lago to be Mayor. Such folks will pretty much dictate who holds that office unless/until there someone/group that steps up . . .
Until there is a well-coordinated and funded grassroots campaign promoting a well qualified candidate, we will get these self-serving, stepping stone seeking higher office candidates.
Is it impossible — no. There are only 50,000 residents in Coral Gables. Translation, an energized candidate can knock on every door in a well coordinated campaign flush with equally energized volunteers.
The sycophants that were elected to represent us are breaking their arms patting each other on the back. This is the new old boys club of Coral Gables.
We will need more than a Magic Erase to finish cleaning out all the scum in our city…..
Can we hire out the City Attorney’s job (and staff) to a private law firm? If so, would it make financial sense?
If the numbers are even close, I suggest to our commissioners and mayor that it’s time to seriously consider goin to outside counsel.
I make mine Ted Rickel’s words…the whole thing is illegal!
Mr. Burr, most respectfully, you seem to think once the local officials are elected, they are solely in charge of running the local government. But, when the local officials run the government off the road and into a deep ditch, the residents have a responsibility to speak up, to oppose it, to protect themselves.
The appointment of Cristina M. Suarez to the post of City Attorney is not legal per the Sunshine Law in Florida. If she was temporarily appointed to the position pending an “open” interview process including her and other candidates that is then legal per the Sunshine Law. The commission after due process can select a new City Attorney with the “open comment and input” of the residents. She needs to be placed in “temporary status” pending the above process. If after the correct process is started and completed and she is voted on to be the new City Attorney that is fine. If she does not survive the vote someone else will then become the City Attorney. A legal battle on her true status as the City Attorney will need to be done if she is not put into “temporary status” pending the outcome of the above legal process.
The four commissioners didn’t do their job and oppose Lago.
At the next election, the residents will do their job and not only oppose Lago but will throw him out.
The whole legal Dept needs to be eliminated. It hire outside lawyers at an exorbitant rate to handle city business there suppose to be doing, while taxpayer foots unnecessary bill.
Resident are not involved, except perhaps tangentially, in choosing a city manager, attorney or clerk. The commission decides in a manner that leads to the best conclusion and least amount of disturbance to the running of the city. Was it unusual to keep the plan under wraps until the last moment? Perhaps, yes. First and foremost, the commissioners must insure that the city operates efficiently without interruption. Asking everyone in Coral Gables who they might think would be a good replacement city attorney is completely out of the question.
Little lago does it again. Like the tiny tyrant, peter iglesias, little lago thinks the City is his and only his to do as he pleases. Little lago and only little lago decides who represents the City. Out with Ramos (the wawa attorney), who little lago totally supported. In with only little lago’s choice: Suarez. Is she in because she is another Ramos wawa type attorney, what little lago likes and supports?
…and the saga of the Lago mafia continues. We need to get rid of this guy.
Mayor Lago, Commissioners, City Manager, you are all history. You have shunned the residents, refused to listen to us, and blocked our input continually on City issues. You are a shameless lot of despicable leaders and have made our City an embarrassment. Good riddance Ms. Ramos.
“Drown out the external noise” … which I presume includes judges who strongly criticized her legal acumen and her questionable ethics.
One more “transparent” move at City!! LOL!!