Mayor’s Attempt To Reprimand Vice Mayor For Taking Action On Biscayne Bay Backfires

At the Tuesday, August 25th City Commission meeting, Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli, attempted to shame Vice Mayor Vince Lago for his recent letter with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to Governor Ron DeSantis, asking for his intervention on the current issues affecting Biscayne Bay.

“We cannot write private letters, regardless of the subject, using City stationery, and this has happened, and I am not going to say who, but this has happened and we absolutely cannot use official Coral Gables stationery without the consent having been approved, regardless of the, and how good it could be, without being approved by the City Commission.”

Commissioner Michael Mena immediately responded, “Is that a new rule?”

City Attorney Miriam Ramos countered the Mayor’s interpretation, stating that, “the use of the city seal, itself, is reserved for things having to do with the city. The city seal is reproduced on city letterhead. It came to my attention that city letterhead that we give to each of the commissioners says from the Office of Commission and has the city seal on it…if you read the charter provision about the city seal, its all about use by another entity and it gives the privilege to the manager. Letterhead is a little bit different. While our seal is reproduced on our letterhead…the general gist of the opinion is that you can use letterhead whenever you are conducting city business.”

She goes on to explain that “Yes, it can be used, as long as it is for city business.”

Vice Mayor Lago stepped in “I find this interesting because I find that we are a very collegial commission. I am the person who wrote the letter. I coauthored a letter with Mayor Suarez after being reached out to by three different environmental organizations, and they asked me to address issues of water contamination, issues of bay health, and we wrote a letter to Mr. Ron DeSantis, our governor,…and the letter is very clear. It talks about requesting the governor to provide the necessary assistance to ensure the viability of Biscayne Bay. And it talks about the economic impact, which is over $7 billion a year, that the Bay has to the business community here in South Florida. And all that the letter asked for was that the governor focus on fertilizer prevention, which Commissioner Keon has advocated on behalf of and the whole commission has. It talks about reduction of septic tanks,…dealing with the issues of overflow, which we are seeing what is happening right now in Biscayne Bay…and also cleaning up Lake Okeechobee…the letter was asking for the governor to address these critical issues affecting South Florida.”

The Mayor interrupted the Vice Mayor and launched a personal attack on the Vice Mayor and once again reiterated his point, which had been refuted by the City Attorney.

The Vice Mayor went on to explain and show that he had an interpretation provided to him by the City Attorney.

“This entire commission has been leading in regards to the environment and sustainability, so how does this letter differentiate from our stances in the past?…In fact, I want to make a motion to adopt the points in that letter as a resolution asking that the governor adopt and take action in regards to fertilizer, septic tanks, overflow into the Bay and cleaning up Lake Okeechobee,” Lago added.

“My issue is not what is in the letter, my issue is it coming on behalf of the City, which it wasn’t,” said the Mayor.

Commissioner Mena voiced his concern over the Mayor’s stance and if a member of the Commission who dissented on a vote was unable to communicate that dissent. “Whether or not I agree with your opinion, you have the right and the duty as an elected official to voice that opinion on whatever the matter is…Mayor, with all due respect, when we had that emergency meeting, we had a discussion for example about taking a more tactful approach with the county in approving the emergency ordinance we passed, and you went to the press conference and you insulted his son on our behalf. That was just as bad!”

Mena was referring to our previously reported comments by Valdes-Fauli at a press conference with Mayor Francis Suarez, denouncing County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the County for their appropriation of CARES funds. At that press conference Valdes-Fauli, speaking on behalf of the City of Coral Gables said that “maybe we should hire the mayor’s son to be our lobbyist to distribute the money.” At the same press conference, Valdes-Fauli said we should “we should amend the Florida constitution to abolish the county.”

“I did not insult his son on our behalf. I expressed our opinion,” Valdes-Fauli added at the meeting.

“That wasn’t my opinion. That was the opposite of the opinion I expressed that morning,” interjected Mena.

A visibly irate Valdes-Fauli then stated, in defense of his comments, that he “opposed the diplomatic road” and proceeded to try to get the commission back to the Lago letter and asks that he wants to “end this meeting please.”

“I recently wrote a letter on the exact same authority that Vice Mayor Lago did…it was a matter of public concern like this one was….if there is a problem with the letterhead, then you need to propose a different one. But I am going to continue using that letterhead as long as that’s the only one we have.” said Commissioner Jorge L. Fors, Jr.

Seeing the lost cause, Valdes-Fauli dropped the issue and adjourned the meeting.

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20 thoughts on “Mayor’s Attempt To Reprimand Vice Mayor For Taking Action On Biscayne Bay Backfires

  1. Valdes Faulli ignores the fact that many Coral Gables residents live on Biscayne Bay. Gables by the Sea, Cutler Bay, and Gables Estates, among others, are affected by the horrors afflicting the Bay recently. And those residents pay HUGE amounts of taxes to CG. So yes, we do have an interest in what happens to the Bay- directly. All others in CG also have an interest in keeping our Bay healthy. We need a real leader like Vince Lago.

  2. As is often the case, the City Attorney is in error. The Mayor is right about this issue, which is an important one, and Vice Mayor Lago is wrong.

    Florida’s Attorney General, from time to time, is asked to provide advisory opinions on legal issues brought to that office by public officials who seeks guidance. The Opinions are not binding, but they are probative, and persuasive.

    It turns out that Florida’s Attorney General has rendered an opinion, available at her website, on the question of whether a public official of a Florida municipality can send out a letter on official stationery that features the municipality’s official seal, when that letter is not sent for an official, specifically approved purpose.

    THE ANSWER IS NO.

    Lago’s letter was not sent on behalf of the Commission. It was sent on his own behalf for his own personal purpose without any authorization by the Commission whatsoever.

    As I posted earlier, the fact that Lago, after the fact, sought that authorization is proof that he did not have it.

    This freelancing by one Commissioner as if he were a Commission of One has to stop. Can you imagine how bad this unauthorized freelancing will get if he becomes Mayor?

    Here is the Attorney General’s Opinion. Mr. Lago, knock it off:

    http://www.myfloridalegal.com/ago.nsf/Opinions/E967F075568C89158525692D00525071

  3. It would certainly appear that our mayor should recognize he is once again on the wrong side of the issue. He should apologize to the Vice Mayor, the Commission and the City Attorney, not to mention the citizenry who have had to put up with his outdated visions of leadership. Know your facts and know the law before you venture into the court of public opinion. Otherwise you will lose the confidence of those who elected you and that you so desperately need to lead during the sunset of your political career.

  4. I’m with Vince Lago. And I will be voting for him as our next mayor. As for Valdes-Fauli, I did not vote for him and I am being validated.

  5. Excellent reporting on City Hall.

    I AM SO GRATEFUL YOU FACILITATE PEOPLE WATCHING THE CITY COMMISSION MEETINGS ONZOOM APP, and participating if they wish.

    Gables Insider is becoming an equal to Political Cortadito, in helping people cope with City Government.

    Sincere THANK YOU,

    Jackson Rip Holmes

  6. Didn’t vote for the Mayor and do not like him. He should work better with others. We all need to work together to support Miami-Dade County in their environmental quest to ensure this is a wonderful City to live in. Quit picking straws and let all the Cities work for a better future.

  7. I wish all these politicians would stick to the reasons we elected them – to serve CORAL GABLES! That’s it. I don’t vote for a Coral Gables politician to spew on about the County Mayor’s son nor Biscayne Bay. If you’re interested in doing that, running for a County Commissioner position.

  8. If Commissioner Lago is going to insist upon using City stationery to promote his EXTREME tree-hugging agenda , then he must state on the face of any such letter that he is speaking for himself individually. Otherwise he gives the impression that he is writing on behalf of the City.

    One proof that Lago was out of bounds was his motion to make his position the City’s position as noted in the article. No need to do that if Lago were legitimately speaking for the City, right Vince?

    The Mayor is absolutely correct in this regard. This needs to stop or we will have Lago as Mayor hijacking the Commission with similar self-promotional stunts.

  9. I echo my support of all the comments here. The behaviour from the mayor was out of line, and it’s long past time for him to be holding that seat. By only a slim margin of a 100 or so votes, he’d not be there. This should be a wake up call to all Coral Gables voters because he will probably try to run again. Kick him out.

  10. Commissioners Lago and Fors, and most of the time Mena, actually work in the citizens’ best interests. Valdes- Fauli gives the environment the obligatory “green” lip service, but the real effort to get shade and trees, stop the concrete monsters and other environmentally friendly things, has been lead by Lago. That idiotic lawsuit to ban styrofoam, spearheaded by Valde-Fauli, cost the taxpayers a fortune, and any lawyer worth a darn knew that it was a losing battle before it started. The city could have bought biodegradable take out containers for all restaurants in CG for the next ten years for what it cost the taxpayers in legal fees. Wonder which firm benefited from that boondogle?

  11. I totally support Vice Mayor Lago and he has time and time again always demonstrated he cares about our community and especially the Environment. Unbelievable that the Mayor would waste the meeting’s time on this issue which the way it was handled was the correct and right thing to do… Kudos to Commissioner Mena as well

    We all need to do our part to protect the Environment…

  12. There are two principles here:

    1. Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available.
    2. The Peter Principle: People rise until they reach their level of incompetence.

    I can’t believe an entire city commission wasted all this time and energy in discussing some benign, motherhood and apple pie letter! I would get rid of all of them. And Valdez Fauli has reached his Peter Principle 20 years ago.

  13. I fully support Vice Mayor Vince Lago, thank you for watching out for our environment and asking Governor DeSantis to adopt and take action in regards to fertilizer, septic tanks, overflow into the Bay and cleaning up Lake Okeechobee.

  14. Stick to your guns, Lago, Mena and Fors! Stand up to petty tyranny. Keon awol?
    Substantively, I again suggest you ask Mayor Gelber, of Miami Beach, to stop running his pumps spewing pollution into the Bay.

  15. It is obvious that Mayor Valdes-Fauli has issues with everyone including the Coral Gables community. Perhaps we should consider recalling him and putting someone else in the position as it seems all that comes from him are confrontations with everyone he should be trying to work with on issues.

    No one ever agrees with everything, but there is always a common ground. Maybe he should also stop helping his influential friends and concentrate on what is best for the City.

    To date, he has done nothing for the city, other than cause problems for others.

    Time to retire.

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