Is City Manager Peter Iglesias the 6th Commissioner?

Javier Baños

Baños is the Editor of Gables Insider

In a recent Coral Gables Commission meeting held on January 23, 2024, a passionate debate erupted, bringing to light simmering tensions between Commissioner Fernandez, City Manager Peter Iglesias, and Mayor Lago. The focal point of contention was the fate of the lease for the popular Fritz & Franz establishment. Mr. Iglesias, openly expressing his dissatisfaction with Commissioner Fernandez, firmly asserted that unless instructed otherwise by a majority of the Commission, he would not permit Fritz & Franz to continue its lease at its current location. This incident has sparked a broader question, one that transcends this single debate: What is Mr. Iglesias’ true role in our city government?

On paper, Mr. Iglesias is ostensibly a public servant working at the pleasure of the Commission. However, his lengthy and extensive career within the City Beautiful, marked by a multitude of positions held over the years, prompts us to ponder whether our city is truly guided by the Commission or by its Manager. It is not in dispute that Mr. Iglesias is capable and qualified for his role, but the larger question looms – has his many years of service, culminating in his position as Chief Executive Officer, transformed him into not just a servant of the Commissioners but a pivotal influence, akin to a de facto sixth member?

One could argue that his demeanor, as evidenced during the January 23rd meeting, appeared overtly insubordinate towards at least two of his fellow Commissioners. However, it is essential to consider the circumstances from his perspective. The current Commission-Manager relationship highlights the challenge of balancing the expertise of a seasoned civil service with the perspectives of elected, often less experienced politicians. This situation reflects a longstanding dynamic in American governance, where the elected and unelected must collaborate, despite differing views and experiences.

Nevertheless, despite the citizen-lead nature of this governance approach, it has served our nation well over the past 248 years. In our representative democracy, the people, whatever their flaws, are the ultimate arbiters and directors of our nation’s course. This brings us back to the role of Mr. Iglesias in his capacity as City Manager. Recent events, including disputes over leases with establishments such as Burger Bobs, Liberty Café, Le Parc Café, and most recently, Fritz & Franz, have revealed a divergence of goals between the public and city management.

To the casual observer, it may appear that Mr. Iglesias perceives these vendors and lessees as mere cogs in his governmental machine, susceptible to his directives. Such an approach might be forgiven given his limited work exposure to the private sector running a restaurants or event hall. However, when these various businesses failed to align with his expectations, Mr. Iglesias promptly tasked his staff with uncovering any possible issues or problems that the City had encountered with these vendors throughout their lease history, regardless of their current relevance or significance. He presented these “facts” as an advocate would, rather than as an impartial public servant, consistently arguing for his preferred course of action. Some of these decisions by Iglesias have resulted in significant costs to the taxpayer, as in the case of the reconstruction of Buyer Bobs and the Country Club.

While this approach may be reasonable in certain scenarios, it becomes problematic when it clashes with clear and unequivocal opposition from the public, as evidenced in each of the lease disputes mentioned above. Fritz & Franz is the latest example, where despite various matters being debated, including a 13-year-old rent dispute, the Manager steadfastly opposed lease renewal. However, when tenants, employees, residents, and members of the public passionately voiced their support for Fritz & Franz and the impact it had on their daily lives, the Commission could no longer focus on lease technicalities. The public’s heartfelt endorsement of this cherished establishment carried the day, resulting in the unanimous decision to negotiate new terms for the next three weeks.

Commissioner Fernandez may have emerged victorious on that day, but Mr. Iglesias’ vocal opposition raises concerns about the ultimate outcome for Fritz & Franz. This situation speaks volumes about our current government dynamics, transcending the specific lease issue itself. Mr. Iglesias, an unelected chief executive of the City, could potentially thwart the deal under some forthcoming rational basis, despite public opposition and Commission directives to facilitate the process. While he may believe he knows better, even if he is demonstrably right does not necessarily mean he is morally right in the eyes of the public.

Many supporters of Mayor Lago and Manager Iglesias have lamented the election of Commissioners Castro and Fernandez as a reactionary response by a faction of the electorate that they perceive as having won due to low voter turnout. However, this interpretation overlooks a critical point. The real question should be why Commissioner Fernandez’s message resonated so strongly with 50% of the electorate. What is happening within City Hall that has allowed such divergent views to coalesce and lead to a clear victory for those whom the Mayor and Manager vehemently oppose? The answer may lie closer to home than they think.

Mayor Lago and Manager Iglesias have voiced their belief that Fritz & Franz does not align with their vision for Coral Gables, especially in light of the upcoming hosting of the FIFA World Cup. Never mind that both Mayor Suarez and Mayor Levine Cava awaited and celebrated the good news of the 2026 FIFA World Cup selection of Miami at Fritz & Franz. It seems from their comments that it is their view that if an establishment does not conform to their concept of Coral Gables, it will not find favor with Mr. Iglesias or Mayor Lago. If they continue down this path, they may be in for another electoral surprise in the future, mirroring the outcome of the 2023 election.

The debate surrounding the Fritz & Franz lease issue has unveiled deeper questions about the role and influence of City Manager Peter Iglesias within Coral Gables’ government. It also underscores the need for dialogue and understanding between elected officials, city management, and the public to ensure that the city’s direction aligns with the will of its citizens.


23 thoughts on “Is City Manager Peter Iglesias the 6th Commissioner?

  1. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Iglesias will continue to keep his job until a minimum of 3 commissioners decide otherwise. The rest is irrelevant. If Fernandez and Castro are currently outnumbered, Iglesias keeps his job. If they can convince one other commissioner (this includes the Mayor), then Iglesias is out… period… full stop. It’s all politics and it’s that simple. Like any other body politic, CG has its own swamp. And it takes the will of the people to drain it. But bear in mind that while change is good and often necessary, sometimes it’s the worst of all options.

  2. ..these comments. simple count is 2 in favor (1 of whom is a coward who won’t even use his real name); the rest opposed, Peter. that ain’t good. your arrogance is catching up. writing’s in the wall, dude. Vinnie will protect you only until his own skin’s in danger. then, every man on his own.

  3. I’m certain that if Mr. Baños were given the opportunity, he’d love nothing more than to be the “6th” commissioner himself. And that would be an even bigger mistake than electing Ariel or Melissa. Don’t believe me? This is the exact same thing that Ariel Fernandez did with Gables Insider. And look where that’s left our community. What are you trying to do here, Mr. Baños? Enough with your deceptions and narratives. It’s getting really old.

    For those who did not watch the commission meeting in reference here and are simply relying upon the twisted account provided by Baños, I highly encourage you to do so. You will see firsthand the embarrassment that is Ariel Fernandez. Ariel Fernandez has absolutely no respect for the City Manager and will do everything in his power to embarrass an honorable and honest gentleman. And for those of you complaining about a lack of collegiality and respect among the commissioners… “Your commissioner” Ariel Fernandez is to blame. It starts and ends with him and his two lackeys.

  4. Mr. Iglesias is doing a superb job managing the City of Coral Gables day to day affairs, despite the dysfunctional group of Commissioners, and the local activists more concerned about their high moral values than effective government for the residents.

    We have commissioners who took the first opportunity to pass a salary increase 10 time more than the inflation rate. Paid by us, the residents.

    The activists are happy to point fingers, to detect irregularities, to find offense; but they are short of effective proposals ( except of course, spending more money, and giving more subsidies to their acquaintances)

    In this context, we need to commend Mr. Iglesias in putting up with this charade.

  5. It seems everyone is forgetting that the Mayor, Commissioners and City Manager works for us ( in theory). We the majority have been pushing for Iglesias removal for sometime. I guess that is not happening while he is in the pocket of Lago. Anderson is another that needs to be removed. This will have an ugly and embarrassing ending.

  6. Mr Iglesias is a cancer in the city beautiful, he spreads the disease throughout the commission. It’s time for the cancer to be removed.

  7. Hear, hear @Tom Wells. Indeed it does seem that Mayor Lago and City Manager Iglesias serve only the almighty dollar, and not the electorate.

    The Mayor is a lame duck with a credible corruption investigation looming over his head like the sword of Damocles. His time with us seems limited. It’d be nice to be rid of him tomorrow though. The investigation doesn’t seem to have stopped lining things up for his brother and his cronies. But what of the City Manager? How do we replace him with someone who prioritizes the community over profits when Vice-Mayor Anderson and Commissioner Menendez seem to also be aligned with Lago’s Commercial Real Estate masters?

    I think our next action as an electorate is obvious – Anderson must be replaced by a citizen minded individual at the next opportunity (2025?). She came in talking about accountability and dog runs at the parks. Over time we saw she was more closely aligned with Commercial Real Estate interests all along. The time has come to find another. She must be replaced.

  8. Ha! Sounds like Russia, Putin brings enemies to court on tax evasion charges to get rid of them!

  9. No he is the City Manager in a City with a manager form of government – no strong Mayor and 3 Commissioners needed to force any actions!
    He is experienced and works hard to do what is best for City but he has 5 persons who do not always agree on what is best for City??
    Can he please all 5 Commissioners, all of the time? NO!
    But if he keeps 3 Commissioners reasonably happy, he will continue to have his job!!
    Those that are unhappy and want changes need to concentrate on electing one more Commissioner that think differently than current threesome that keep current management team!!
    For those of you that are entrepreneurs or business people, managing a City is MUCH more difficult that managing a City form of government!!

  10. Coral Gables had a wonderful, attractive jazz club downtown where renown and talented musicians performed every Monday night. Sadly it disappeared and moved to a venue outside the Gables. I recently learned the reason it left was because the City refused to renew its lease. Yet the City spends millions of dollars annually on unnecessary, unattractive “public art” that is selected by unelected bureaucrats.

  11. Mr. Iglesias does not know what he is doing as the CEO of Coral Gables. He repeatedly states that “he is acting as a fiduciary for the City.” See 6:17:30 of the 1/23/2024 Commission meeting. He is a fiduciary to the community – not the City. His fiduciary duty includes maintaining public trust by promoting the community’s common welfare – he is not doing that. Mr. Iglesias has confused his role in leasing City-owned property with actions taken by a private landlord. Mr. Iglesias should not be looking for the highest possible rent. The concessionaire agreement with Le Parc Cafe in which the City charged a 25% gross revenue fee from an operator with a menu with pricing that it approved and took all of the revenue from the operator only to return it in the following month caused the operator to charge food prices that were not competitive leading to the closure of the operator. These high food prices are tantamount to a tax that Mr. Iglesias has chosen to impose on North Gables residents who eat at Le Parc. He should be looking to charge a fair rent that will allow the community to enjoy fairly-priced food and services of Le Parc and avoid churning City-owned leased space. To be fair, Mr. Iglesias does not have a degree in Public Administration like other City Managers (e.g., Miami Lakes and Miami Gardens). He has an engineering degree and was the former director of Building, Planning and Zoning for the City of Miami. And being the highest paid Coral Gables employee, you would think that Mr. Iglesias would act like a fiduciary to the community.

  12. If Coral Gables is to be considered a “world-class city”,
    home to multinational corporations, a host of foreign consulates, and infinite fine-dining restaurants,
    it should not be run like a banana republic.

  13. Iglesias has always been a bully. Worse so when he was in charge of permits. Gables needs management that is customer friendly to the residents

  14. I have heard many people say that we have lost the “institutional history of our City”. I would like to point out what I think is very relevant to what is going on with the City Manager. Years ago, but not so long ago that it should be completely forgotten by our residents, we had a City Manager that only shared information with the elected that supported him, that disrespected the residents and his “not favorite commissioners”, that catered to the majority that supported him, and LiED. Then Commissioner Lago was severely affected by the CM who also thought that he was the King of Coral Gables. Lago let the charge to get him fired, the CM resigned at the very last minute, right before he was to be let go. Then we had another City Manager who didn’t learn from her predecessor and did the same, or almost the same to then Commissioner Lago and also made the choice to resign before she could get fired.
    What’s the difference now? Then Commissioner Lago, now Mayor Lago is the one getting preferential treatment and those who do not agree with him are kept out of the loop and shunned by the City Manager. The transparency and collegiality that he demanded as Commissioner from the City Manager, is not important any more!!!!
    History is repeated, but now the “victim” is on the other side and he supports the City Manager. How much longer are the residents going to allow it?

  15. This situation is much worse at the federal level. We have unelected bureaucrats making thousands of new rules that affect all parts of our lives. They are unaccountable. It takes expensive lawsuits to reverse their decisions over years. By the time the decision is reversed, damage has been done. And, most of them are wonks with no business experience. They do not know what it takes to make payroll. Others are part of a revolving door between big business like Pharma, where under one administration they are in government, and the next they go back to their corporate jobs. And it feeds upon itself. Guess who pays the bills. Taxpayers. We can get rid of half of the agencies and cabinet positions and no one will notice.

  16. There was 1 unsuccessful attempt by the commission to remove Iglesias early on in the new administration. I’ve known Iglesias since he was City Engineer but can’t recall any experiences with him at that time however more recently about 3 yrs ago their was a meeting of neighbors at the youth center led by Iglesias for the 3 block Crafts section to discuss paver & landscaping of sidewalks & asphalt roads that never happened & not so coincidentally couple months before Alexan Crafts started to develop. He had to have known what was coming down the pike w Alexan crafts so why intentionally mislead the citizens into thinking pavers & landscaping will be installed? There is total chaos with this huge 10 story construction project right smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood cement trucks daily blocking street, noise, 2 entire West & East bound barricaded lanes unusable with potholes, no parking on street, dangerous massive cranes swinging over home roofs when not in use with no $$ compensation to homeowners for violated air rights, massive rollers creating earthquake like movement inside homes from raising the buildable land with limerick fill. I can go on but won’t.

  17. It’s a process to get rid of all the stink left over from the pile of excrement that our previous administration represented. Once Lago (the sewer lake) and Peter (the peter meter) are gone, we will go back to being a reasonable city. Patience my fellow neighbors, we will get them out. The insider deals and the bro-mance will come to an end.

  18. The City Beautiful is rotten to the core. Coral Gables should consider changing its name to a more progressive terms as Corrupt Gables. Yes the City Manager should’ve been fired long ago. Strong arm tactics need not apply here. When a City Government goes after a long established family run business by a foreigner, that typically smells like discrimination for starters Real cities relish having long establishments like Fritz and Franz as institutions! Not Corrupt Gables, here it’s under the table deals done in secrecy. Let’s bring these people to light and expose them for the frauds they truly are once and for all. I stand with Fritz!

  19. I remember when Peter Iglesias was the chief engineer for the coral gables bldg dept…He was the most difficult person to deal with…He acted like he was the emperor of coral gables..I remember once I called him to get together with him about some plans he had rejected for my house and he said he wouldn’t meet with me unless I was a certified engineer…Ridiculous..It was only after I complained to the city manager that his majesty Iglesias would see me..By the way Iglesias is a guy that has been riding the public piggy bank for a while..Once he left coral gables years ago he bounced around the county working at city of miami,city of key biscayne,and other places..Every where he went he butted heads with everyone..God forbid he would go into private practice..He’s a very difficult person to deal with…Public servants shouldn’t behave like this…But he;s the type of guy that winces when you call him a public servant…He should never have been city manager…Hes not a people person

  20. Yglesias is entrenched, and arrogant. I struggle to see what part of the City’s administration he handles that I can honestly say is handled with excellence. certainly not Permitting. certainly not Parks & Rec. Certainly not IT or Public Works. By & large, in all my interactiuons with CG Staff I’ve encountered arrogance and outright incompetence. Their Attitude is “we’re doing you a favor” not one of public service.
    his supporter Lago is making a critical mistake, confusing sunning unopposed with being Elected unopposed. those are not the same thing. in the last cycle, Lago wasnot elected unopposed. he ran unopposed. same outcome, nutnot the same thing. Elected unopposee requires active support from the population/voters; running opposed is a totally passive thing: no implication of suppport.

  21. The tax payers that fund the choices made should have the strongest voice over the process, especially if the past choices of public servants have been costly and against the will of the majority of tax paying Coral Gables residences and business owners.

  22. I have stated many times, and I hope at some point there is a vote by the commissioners to fire Mr. Iglesias as city manager. There are not only the latest but have been many other times where his complete disregard for the residents and voters of Coral Gables, gives his way to do what he wants, including given special privileges to business such as free street parking, etc.

    The business of government is difficult, no doubt, and he might bring many years of experience, but at the same time, he forgets his place more often than not.

    Fire him. That would solve many of the problems the city faces, and with his firing Lago would now have one less scorpion on his side

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