Commission Expected To Go Against Residents’ Will And Appoint James Cason To Fill Commission Vacancy

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
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The decision on who will fill the fifth seat and speak for the City’s 52,000 residents on the Coral Gables City Commission, will come down to a vote by the four remaining members of the City Commission.

Although Mayor Vince Lago had stated at the beginning of his term that all important votes would take place after 5:00PM to allow for increased public participation, this vote is being held at a time certain of 10:00AM at the Tuesday, December 13th Commission meeting.

Gables Insider has learned that Mayor Vince Lago has made it clear that his choice to fill the seat is James Cason.

Against The Will Of Residents

In a poll conducted by Gables Insider, Cason only received 4.6% of the 627 votes cast, placing Lago who is up for re-election in April, at odds with residents.

Several residents and staff members have shared with Gables Insider that Cason has for months been telling them that he will soon back on the dais, even though no Commission discussion has taken place as of yet on who will be appointed.

Cason, who has been absent from City events since leaving office in 2017, has been attending events with Lago in recent days. Most recently seen at the Merrick House Holiday Celebration, although only for a few minutes during the program.

A public records request of Cason’s communications with the City to confirm current activity only showed an email string where he is reporting a code violation on a neighbor’s sidewalk.

Questionable Judgement

Cason’s judgement has been questioned by residents in the past. In particular his vote at the April 8, 2014 City Commission meeting. At that meeting, former City Manager Pat Salerno resigned following an investigation that demonstrated his withholding of accident data from the Commission. The data was related to a landscaping decision he made on Ponce de Leon Boulevard, which led to several traffic accidents, some serious. Cason was the only vote against accepting Salerno’s resignation and he proceeded to praise Salerno.

Staff’s Choice

Not surprisingly, in last week’s story about the vacancy, two commenters who went to bat in support of Cason were former City staffers who were fired or forced to resign. They have taken to using Gables Insider‘s comments section to launch a smear campaign on Cason’s strongest opponent, longtime Coral Gables resident Maria Cruz. Notwithstanding the smear campaign, Cruz received 46.4% of resident votes in the poll.

Soft On Crime

Cason was also at the helm in 2014, when crime spiked in the north Gables and then Chief Dennis Weiner was accused of manipulating crime statistics. Cason’s lack of interest led one resident to set up a robocall to urge residents to pack City Hall to demand answers. Like Salerno, Weiner resigned, but Cason was against following resident’s requests to appoint Ed Hudak as his replacement.

“High-rise Jim”

When it comes to development, residents nicknamed Cason “High-rise Jim” as he did not vote against a single high-rise development project during his term.

At Lago’s election night party in April 2021, Cason began berating and cursing at Gables Insider‘s Ariel Fernandez over the subject of development stating that, “we need to get rid of the (expletive expletive) old fogies who keep wanting to slow our growth.”

The Vote

The Commission will be discussing the vacancy at 10:00AM on Tuesday, December 13th Commission Meeting at the City Commission Chambers. Residents can also participate via zoom by clicking here.


30 thoughts on “Commission Expected To Go Against Residents’ Will And Appoint James Cason To Fill Commission Vacancy

  1. At some point I will have to downsize as a practical issue.
    The reasons keeping me considering Coral Gables for a 3rd time is our first responders, police and fire/EMTs. There are no longer valid reasons to stay within the city boundaries… everything we bought into at first 35 years ago and then again 24 years ago has gone by the wayside.
    I like the area, it is convenient for the life I’ve created… so I will be looking outside the city limits. That’s really sad. I’ve always loved the Gables style, but the last 10-12 years are disappointing. HUGE monolithic, ugly buildings built right to the street with little more than a bit of sidewalk to invite pedestrians to enjoy walking (cars hitting flesh and pinning said flesh to a concrete wall doesn’t suit me as comfortable.). The mobility hub is a joke, love the design for Miami, Aventura even Dadeland area, however, one block off The Mile… insanity

  2. To those wanting to get rid of L’Ego, I agree. How are you going to do that though? There is not even a viable candidate and the election is in April. If you’re serious, you better start looking quickly and it better not be any crazy candidates that could never win an election. Tick tock.

  3. What makes people follow toxic leaders? Why do so many people seem to put up with the tyranny of a volatile and domineering person? How many of you have been guilty of any of below due to complacency?
    1. We value strong, confident leaders, but often confuse arrogance and narcissism for strength.
    2. We place great value on results, but often neglect to consider how those results were obtained.
    3. Followers enable and assist bad leaders – followers look to and support the leaders who will give them what they want, rather than what the community needs. And BAD followers are drawn to bad leaders because of the promise of sharing the power.
    4. We blindly place leaders on a pedestal and assume that they will do the right thing. We need to stand up to our leaders when they are on the wrong path, and support them when they are doing the right thing.

    Show up. Speak up.

  4. Is there something wrong with Lago? Clearly you turned into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. IF WE DID NOT WANT CASON BEFORE, AND VOTED HIM OUT BEFORE, THEN WHY IN GODS NAME WOULD YOU PUT HIM BACK? Guess this is one underhanded deal.

  5. Cason put the pick-up truck ordinance on the ballot of a federal election in November instead of the next Coral Gables election the following April. By doing so he knew it would gain the votes of those clueless residents who were ignorant of the Coral Gables rule of not allowing pick-up trucks parked outside overnight. The opinion of these voters was that the ordinance was a ridiculous, outdated non-inclusive, blah, blah, blah “class issue”.
    We now have pick-up trucks with company signs parked in our neighborhoods. This doesn’t affect any previous or current commission members since they live in areas of Coral Gables where it is not the style of their neighbors to drive pick-up trucks. Thanks, Jim! Looking forward to the next underhanded schemes and back door politics you’ll enact for our city.

  6. City Hall has again ignored many, active residents. Remember the Mobility Hub?

    But, don’t loose any sleep over it.

    In just a few months, an election.

    Our voices cannot be ignored then.

    On to victory!

    On to victory.

  7. Let the facts speak for themselves. Mayor Lago announced his support for the developer demon Cason long before the commission vote was taken. He even took the vote of his puppets at the commission meeting BEFORE all the candidates who submitted their credentials had an opportunity to speak. Cason did not even have the guts to be present at the meeting! No longer City Beautiful . It’s now City Ugly. I can hardly wait for the next election when we can throw out all these copycats and find some intelligent candidates who can treat Gables citizens with courtesy and respect instead of contempt and ignorance.

  8. you gotta be naive to believe anything this group on the money hungry self serving commission states they will lie, cheat & steal until their last day in office.

  9. The main point should be that Coral Gables residents should be allowed to have a vote in who takes a Commission position in our city government. Whether it should be Cason, Cruz or anyone else is besides the point. These are elected positions and there should be a formal process in place for people to run/nominate candidates and elect a replacement, even if it’s a temporary one. Our local officials should not be able to fast track their choice into the position. If turnout is low, then residents have no one to blame but themselves. But the fair opportunity to vote (i.e. not at 10am on a weekday with little to no public notice) should be given to all residents.

  10. Enrique Lopez, thanks for reminding us about the pickup trucks. I was robbed in the Gables in the middle of the night by two guys in a pickup truck. Ross on the Mile, with the shoppers it attracts, and the pickup trucks are visible signs of our community’s decay. There was a better mix of merchants on the Mile which has turned into a food court. Many of my longtime neighbors have moved to Coconut Grove, Pinecrest, & Key Biscayne. Why? Too much change in the wrong direction.

  11. You have to test the system’s integrity! I know how Ariel’s polls work. I confirmed what I suspected. Been down this road before.

  12. Bottom line for me — If the Commission’s position is familiarity with the issues and continuity, then Fors. If the Commission’s position is familiarity with the issues, drive to seek knowledge, community involvement, and resident’s wishes, then Cruz. Cason fits neither bill other than a political operative and connected with Lago – neither needed on the Commission.

    Residents voted OUT Cason. They would do so again today. If he is appointed, it’s a political favor doled out by Lago — what is he getting in return?

  13. Most ethical voters only vote once … but you correctly point out that all types of folks should be taken into account.

  14. I voted twice so it’s not representative at all if you can vote more than once. I voted for Sam in the poll by the way – both times.

  15. Mr. Lyons,

    In the last city run-off election, only 7,300 Gables residents voted, which represents 14% of all residents. In fact, one of the sitting commissioners was elected to a 4-year term with a paltry 3,700 votes. Therefore, if you recall your stats class, a poll with a 460-person sample size is pretty representative.

  16. I have to agree with Roy, how can this article say this is representative of the Coral Gables residents when only 1 % voted. 1% is not enough of a cross section through our community to have any validity of what the residents want. I hope the Commissioners see through this rouse.

  17. Doing some further research…Maria Cruz has been referred to as the “conscience of Coral Gables.” Again, if Maria is one and the same person in the Board of Education settlement easily found by Googling her name and Miami Beach High School, I cannot support her appointment. The “material allegations” outlined on page 8 involve $69,000; altering checks, and depositing funds from the school’s internal account to a booster club account; and failing to keep proper accounting, all while apparently involving a student in these actions. The “rule violations” cited on page 9 are eye opening. Have a look for yourselves:

    On page 11, the “letter of reprimand” does not portray this individual in a manner fit for public service with oversight of public funds. What a shame, if this document pertains to Maria. If this is Maria Cruz, “the conscience of Coral Gables,” the City Beautiful is in dire straights. There must be a better candidate to serve in this interim position.

  18. Mayor Lago & CG Commissioners. Very simple, I CAN NOT WAIT TO PUSH THE BUTTON TO REMOVE YOU ALL FROM OFFICE next election. We hired you and you have the audacity to not support what most residents want. You, the manager & City attorney can walk into the sunset forever. Mayor Lago, I believed in you and you turned out to be the biggest fraud yet.

  19. If you think for a minute that the commission and the mayor would choose Maria I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

  20. I read the Board of Education document after googling Maria Cruz and Miami Beach High. Pretty strong stuff. A commenter here, Jessica, has it right, is a smear based on something true a smear? If Maria Cruz is the person that is the subject of that document, people should know before they make up their minds. It appears to me, that the Gables Insider is the one that’s going to bat for a candidate putting their thumbs on the scale in favor of Ms. Cruz. Let’s let the truth decide today, not the Insider.

  21. I don’t believe your survey results are representative of the Coral Gables residents. 627 survey respondents is only 1 % of the 52000 person community. Another example of manipulating data.

  22. Anyone who has attended a commission meeting as an observer or participant knows Maria Cruz. She supports doing the right thing in Coral Gables and fights for the residents rights. She does her research and knows what she is supporting. Carson was indeed not the best for the Gables when he was in office.

  23. Fools are we who continuously talk about acting and never do. Our votes are worthless if we continue to allow the usual same suspects on City administration and commission get away with their highly dubious actions. Cason is responsible for the start of the city’s overall decay, yes, it has and continues to decay, during his tenure and his cadre of rubber stamp commissioners. The “Big Sellout” to developers is his tenure’s legacy, including pickup trucks, not to mention the fools who voted for him because of his so-called hardline against the Cuban regime, one which still stands long after Cason’s bark and no bite rhetoric. Our police department’s manpower during his tenure with partner-in-crime City Manager Salerno was knowlingly undermanned by at least 24 officers of the then 192 budgeted officers. Sorry, but this is more of the same; disgusting, despicable and dishonest. Toxic contamination and radioactive rot is well and alive in our city governance. Oh well!! Fools are we!!

  24. Welcome back high rise foul mouthed Jim Cason.
    Let’s keep building and cursing! The Commission never changes -let’s get Ariel and Maria on the Commission in the next election.

  25. If James Cason or anyone other than Maria Cruz is appointed, City Hall has again shown very clearly it is not the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

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