Coral Gables Commission Expresses Solidarity with Israel, Addresses Community Concerns and Civility Codes Clash

Javier Baños

Baños is the Editor of Gables Insider

On October 24, 2023, the Coral Gables City Commission convened, inaugurating the session with a palpable show of unity with Israel. Representatives from the Coral Gables Jewish Community, inclusive of numerous religious leaders, graced City Hall, extending their gratitude for the Commission’s robust display of support. This support wasn’t merely symbolic; City Hall shimmered with the white and blue of the Israeli flag. The Coral Gables Police Department and Fire Department, spurred by antisemitic threats, maintained a significant presence at Jewish venues, schools, and temples. This proactive stance was further cemented by City Manager Iglesias and other officials attending temple services. A unanimous resolution, championed by Mayor Lago, reaffirmed the city’s allegiance to Zionist ideals and underscored an unwavering backing for Israel’s development and safeguarding.

Expressions of sorrow emanated from religious leaders concerning the loss of civilian lives in both Israel and Gaza, along with concerns for hostages in the region. The community voiced a unanimous resolve against the terrorist Hamas militants, and the resolution of this tragic moment for those involved with such great a struggle for their right to exist.

Following this, the Commission ploughed through a hefty 6.5-hour session. They discussed potential building height allowances in exchange for relatively small green space, resulting in a unanimous agreement that would morph these areas into city-owned parks. There was also collaborative modification of proposed public art, aiming to elevate its visual appeal. The agenda spanned topics such as legislative priorities to Tallahassee, the development of Ponce Circle Park, and repatriating historic streetlights from Broward County. Commissioner Fernandez urged an unanimously approved resolution for the State to preserve historical properties such as the Parker house that seem destined to demolition due to a Tallahassee endorsed law that prevents local action. In a lighter vein, the best pumpkin at a local patch was chosen. The discussions were civil, productive, and even humorous, with Commissioners working with staff for the improvement of their work product.

However, the final half-hour witnessed a shift in dynamics. The Commission turned its attention to competing resolutions on the City’s Civility Code. Commissioner Castro, advocating for a straightforward approach, proposed initial warnings followed by potential letters of reprimand for any breach of the Civility Code. More severe penalties would be deliberated upon repeated violations based on the collective determination of the Commission. Contrarily, Vice Mayor Anderson, wielding her legal expertise, proposed a more intricate, legalistic method, to what is typically a political expression of disapproval. During the deliberations, both Mayor Lago and Vice Mayor Anderson articulated their grievances concerning various communications they deemed inappropriate or misleading, allegedly originating from Commissioner Castro and Commissioner Fernandez.

The underlying sentiment was that Mayor Lago and Anderson felt unjustly targeted by a slew of criticisms from employee unions, this and other publications, and residents as proxy actions of both Castro and Fernandez. Their remarks hinted at a sentiment of being unduly besieged. Yet, critiques argue that Mayor Lago’s own actions may have catalyzed much of the contention he now decries. Lago’s personal confrontations seemed to overshadow the Commission’s collective efforts.

The meeting culminated with Castro’s resolution prevailing in a narrow 3-2 vote, while Anderson’s faced defeat by an identical margin. Mayor Lago took a moment to share a contemplative reflection, addressing the recent censure he encountered. Yet, his introspection seemed to fall short of self-accountability.

The concluding segment of the meeting might have served as a cathartic release. Candid expressions were shared, perhaps marking a turning point in moving past existing differences, as Commissioner Castro suggested to Mayor Lago. The Coral Gables community, along with its constituents, is undoubtedly hoping for a harmonious path forward.


14 thoughts on “Coral Gables Commission Expresses Solidarity with Israel, Addresses Community Concerns and Civility Codes Clash

  1. How’s that Burger Bob’s remodel and opening going?

    Is it ensnarled in the building of Trump’s border wall? Is that the problem?

  2. News Flash – WE the residents voted for Castro & Fernández FOR A REASON! What is clear is that it hasn’t registered yet for Mr. Lagos. We watch and wait. If Mr. Lago’s thinking doesn’t change, no worry, he will have competition come next election. By the way, his ridiculous interview, calling out “Republicans” was outrageous! He doesn’t realize A LOT of Republicans voted for him! Something tells me that will NOT be the case the next election.

  3. Why are people blaming Castro and Fernandez for standing up to a bully? Especially for Castro, she is a single woman with a PhD raising her family and running a business yet L’Ego says she is uneducated and never had to do payroll. Last time I heard he was an employee at a company that benefits from his political office. Time to recall him.

  4. Lago is the Developers’ candidate and Anderson is his minion. He wanted his developer backed candidates to get elected so they could rubber stamp Developers’ requests for higher buildings with more density, maybe with a little green space thrown in as a sop to residents. His candidates lost and so did his and the Developers’ mandate. Lago was hostile to the new candidates from the beginning. He and his backers will do everything to get rid of them, including this endless salary nonsense and the PAC funded letter being sent to residents. What are these small, reasonable salary increases against the bottomless well of developer dark money funding Lago. And let’s not forget the money he’s gotten from disgraced developer Kapoor.

  5. I bet I speak for the majority of residents when I say that I am sick and tired of all the petty bs and infighting between the Mayor and commissioners. These people ARE BEING PAID to manage the city’s business as a team instead of trying to undermine each other. There are no saints in that bunch…shame on all of us for not voting with our brains!

  6. Commission divided…All started when the 2 NEWLY elected commissioners came in, with total disrespect to the RESIDENTS of this City.
    Enriching themselves with a MAJOR salary increase and spending money, like if they were the MAYORrs themselves, (they forget what job they applied for).
    Never has this been seen in this City before, hiding from the agenda their salary increases. When they ran for office they all knew this is a part time job, they are acting as if it was a full time job. Where are they when not in City Hall, doing what for the City? They, including Commissioner Kirk Menendez are a disgrace to this City.
    * They opposed Mayor Lago and Vice Mayor Anderson for a lower millage rate, No salary increase without being put on the agenda..this should have been out for Residents to vote.
    * Actually they OPPOSE just about everything the Mayor and Vice Mayor put on the agenda.
    *** The gang of 3 are running the City, we Residents did NOT vote for this, these 3 have made a mockery of our CITY….
    They should learn respect for their seniors and learn from them, they have no clue as to what to discuss in front of commission verses what not to argue about…DO NOT put blame on the Mayor VInce Lago has done a lot of good for Our City as well as Vice Mayor Anderson.

    *Please Gang of 3, learn to behave and work with your seniors, try to work for the RESIDENTS, not just to benefit yourselves.
    The Mayor accepted their win, they just DID NOT accept the Mayor.
    * Stop twisting thing around.

    * Starting by wanting to get rid of the City Manager without even knowing him in a work environment.
    * What is happening now with Melissa Castro and her private business, conflict of interest, ethics board investigation….Of course she must have know all this before running for Commissioner…Oh so now you just find out..
    * Kirk Censure the Mayor, you have been watching Trumps trial where the judge censured Pres Trump, a few days later you copied tactic…you are soooo smart????
    * MAyor Lago was only informing the truth of the pay increases you all gave yourselves on taxpayer money on a hidden agenda, and that you all opposed bringing down millage rates for the City.
    ***No one will forget come election time.

  7. Let me try to point out how Maria C Cruz has not only contributed to the dysfunction, but actively aggravates it every chance she gets. Like long COVID, the symptoms of Maria Cruz just don’t seem to go away. Not once during her public comments has she had anything positive to say. She doesn’t offer productive contributions. Put simply, Maria Cruz finds pure joy from her undying determination to frame the Mayor and attack him any chance she gets. So if she really wants to “point out” how the Commission got to where it is, those of us who see through her own personal dysfunctions would be glad to hold her wholly accountable.

  8. Let me start by answering Maria C Cruz who wrote an excellent comment on the situation.

    She stated, ” Let’s start by the Mayor changing his behavior, stopping all the negative, dark mailings, and accepting the fact that they were duly elected.” Also, I AM SORRY, will never be uttered from Lugo’s lips.

    Solution: Vote him out along with Anderson. They have shown their true colors to the residents of Coral Gables.

  9. Vince lago provided a master class in deflection and denial. Castro showed a way of bringing accountability to commisioners because the mayor went on a shaming tour and was censured by decision of the commision. Instead, lago talk about something else entirely, how other people (not commisioners) have posted disparaging comments. Vince lago did not address why he broke multiple times the commision code of ethics. Instead he laughably acted like a victim.

  10. Let me try to point out how the Commission has gotten to where it is. Before the two new commissioners were elected the incumbents chose to support candidates running against Castro and Fernandez. As a matter of fact. Mayor Lago and others tried to convince the electorate to vote against them. To say that it was just a one sided ugly campaign would be ridiculous. The ugliest mailings. the bullying was incredible and if this wasn’t enough. then the comments challenging the validity of the election started as soon as the results came in!
    At Commission meetings the Mayor chose to sit with his back to one side of the dais and to make it difficult for the new elected members to speak. At public events he didn’t even recognize their presence and then published pictures where Castro and Fernandez were cropped out!.
    And then the barrage of Spanish media, both tv and radio began where he chose to describe them using all kinds of defamatory information. And now he is upset because they answered his comments? By the way, all could have been avoided had the Mayor accepted their win and moved on. How can it be fixed? Let’s start by the Mayor changing his behavior, stopping all the negative, dark mailings and accepting the fact that they were duly elected. Three words: I AM SORRY. could work the needed magic. Can Mayor Lago utter them?

  11. And let us not forget a pope based in South American Marxism hell bent on the very it’s destruction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *