OPINION: LAGO MUST GO!

Maria C. Cruz

Longtime Coral Gables resident and activist. She has served as the Chair of the Anti-Crime Committee

On March 13, 2024, Mrs. Maria Cruz, Chair of the “End the Corruption, Political Committee,” filed to begin a recall petition to remove Mayor Vince Lago from office in Coral Gables. In the Committee’s webpage, lagomustgo.com, it outlines the various claims and basis for the recall effort and provides a link to request the recall petition via (305) 988-1317.

Upon inquiry to Mrs. Cruz, she provided the following message to this publication:

Soon the City of Coral Gables will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. For a very long time we thought that the scandals happened in other municipalities, certainly not in the Gables! Honesty, Civility, Trust and Respect were part of our fiber

I supported Vince Lago for every campaign except the last one. I trusted, admired and respected him. As a matter of fact I still love him and that is why it has been very difficult to make this decision. I thought very hard about it and didn’t find any other solution to the present situation. Vince is no longer the young man I knew, or thought I knew, he has changed drastically his behavior and his actions from saying that he didn’t conduct any business within the City to publicly negating that while mentioning how involved he is with his real estate and construction businesses, among others, in the City of Coral Gables 

Anyone following media coverage on Vince Lago cannot but wonder what is going on. He certainly is not a good example of the gentility of the City Beautiful.  

For everyone’s sake, and most importantly for our City’s sake, he needs to go.

The views expressed in opinion pieces are those of the opinion authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Gables Insider, its staff or its affiliates. If you would like to submit an opinion for publication, please email it along with a photo and a two sentence biography of yourself to [email protected].

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63 thoughts on “OPINION: LAGO MUST GO!

  1. Also recall “Smile” Rhonda Anderson, even though she rarely smiles. More important, as the Vice-Mayor, she rarely supports many residents.

  2. Your comment to Ms. DeTournay reads like something written by a permanent inmate at an insane asylum.

    In addition to “missing the train”, I hear rumors you are also known as “missing mentally”.

    Like “off the rails”, I too don’t want to waste my time writing more to you.

  3. Ms. De Tournay, do you actually attend Commission meetings? I haven’t noticed any CGNA members in attendance in quite a while. You are the Chair, aren’t you? Could it be that you know that you control the votes of the majority? If there is any train at the station it’s the CGNA Express. Yep, for some, the truth can be nasty. Please google Maria Cruz and Miami Beach High School for some “alleged” truth. It’s the first search result. There are a lot of us that are extremely informed, and gravy trainer off the rails, we aren’t going away either. There is a difference though, when we troll we troll with the truth and bring receipts. Where are yours?

  4. A big ‘WOW’ to all who posted comments, so many with spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors, without using your real names, e.g. ‘off the rails’, ‘missing the train’, ‘ML’ (sure one of those is Vince Lago), as it is hard to know if any of you actually attend City Commission meetings to truly see what is going on in The City Beautiful. Seems like many of you just prefer to post nasty comments rather than get physically involved.
    Also, stop trashing Maria Cruz for alleged past issues or for being an activist in trying to improve this city as I don’t see any of you getting involved like she has been.
    Finally, if you find this publication ‘trashy’ or ‘deplorable’, simply hit the ‘Unsubscribe’ button (but I bet you won’t). Like it or not, you can’t get better information on what’s going on than this!

  5. To Missing the train:

    The gravy train feeds corruption and greed. It’s understandable someone who is a regular, rider on the gravy train wants me to go away and to keep the gravy train rolling, the on and on.

    It’s interesting the regular riders on the gravy train have responded to me more than to comments from others. Nevertheless, the regular riders can send responses to me morning, noon, and night.

    Know this: I am not going away.

    Finally, I also will not waste my time, writing further to you.

  6. Geez, enough with the talking point gravy train mantra. It’s a tired old horse. Find anther more creative talking point that has factual basis, or show us proof that the gravy train exists and there are riders. This recall will not be resolved until after the next elections. It’s a thinly veiled distraction from the scandals that have plagued Menendez, Fernandez and Castro, who have cut backroom deals, run roughshod over sunshine and betrayed just about all of who voted for them. News flash, although it may be entertaining, it’s not working.

  7. Thanks for writing to me a second time. Much of what you say is a repeat of your first response. Your comment supporting Mayor Lago is new and interesting.

    It took you 2 days to respond. You must have taken a lot of time from your busy schedule to write such a thoughtful, level-headed, persuasive response.

    I hope the time you spent writing to me didn’t result in missing your regular ride on the gravy train.

    By the way, is Mayor Lago, whom you support, also a regular rider on the gravy train?

    Lastly, I have important things to do in my life. One of them is not spending any more time writing again to you.

  8. Mr Off the Rails or whoever you are. The point is that this publication besides being trashy as many have commented it is destructive to our City beautiful where I have lived 3 times already and very proud to live in C Gables now. But have never seen anything like this publication started by a blogger who was raised to Commissioner by his voters, the same way Vince Lago was voted as Commissioner and later Mayor plus a second time unopposed!!! Did you know that? Or you missed it. Please get a life instead of writing all the nonsense that you’ve written.

  9. To ML:

    So, why do you spend your valuable time, writing to a “trashy publication and their writers”?

    You are very angry. Lots of exclamation points !!!!!

    Are you angry because you have been exposed, embarrassed in a public publication?

    Did you respond and send your post to over-come your being embarrassed and to defend yourself?

    You have no defense. There can be no support for the regular riders on the gravy train that crawls well below the sewer line.

  10. Mr Off the Rails. The point is that this is a trashy publication for people who have a chip on their shoulder that will only criticize others and our City beautiful government. Get a Life! That’s what you all need! Shame on you!!! Trashy publication and their writers!!!

  11. The Gables Insider posted a resident’s request to recall Mayor Lago.

    The response should have been a “yes” or a “no”, with a sensible explanation.

    Instead, some residents attacked the person who requested the recall. Other residents attacked the Gables Insider for posting the request for a recall.

    All those residents are riding on the gravy train, destroying the City.

  12. The commissioners should worry less about the types of croissants and cakes that are being sold at Bonjour Café, and whether the patrons prefer ordering pie from the counter or a table and more about important issues. Moreover, the only intelligent analysis came from the vice mayor and the mayor, and they were the only two individuals that actually thanked the city staff After their presentations. No one is perfect, However, decency and respect instead of grilling the staff about whether the restaurant is selling sufficient cakes Should be noted. Vice mayor in particular, was decent and kind unlike several other members of the commission. It will be interesting to see whether the “morale committee “even receives any anonymous complaints… that may be simply a waste of the staffs’ time and forcing them to convene once a month may be a Waste of time. The mayor has certainly kept the city, beautiful throughout his tenure, and focusing on negative diatribe is simply distasteful, and everyone needs to move on from this rhetoric.

  13. THis is pure garbage snd and those who write in there have a very bad and destructive attitude such as Cruz, Baños and Ariel. Unfortunately there are still people who answer in positive ways (but not not for them) shame 9n you guys !!! Get a life !!’

  14. The corruption also exist in the way the top tier is structured below the city manager. Every department has side companies that are not the cities, but the head of the department and 2 other people that work in the City. These companies do services or inspections but they never come out they just charge the City. It’s illegal and corrupt. Please Banos show as the hierarchy from City Manager down.

  15. After reading All the Trash, Garbage, personal attacks, name calling and disrespect toward another person I have decided to Unsubscribed from this TRASHY Publication!!!!! Enough is enough!! This has No Place in our Community, one more proof that we are loosing our Humanity!!

  16. Rhonda doesn’t seem to have any stains on her business dealings. I think it was her mistake to align with Lago. Maria’s misdeeds seem to be related to messy and not the most competent bookkeeping. Her misappropriation wasn’t to a personal account. This can’t be compared with Lago’s intentional dealings with crooks to enrich himself with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  17. This obligation Gables Insider is just “destructive”. GOod for NOTHING I thought when Fernandez the blogger gave it up it would die but Not w it’s even worse. Destructive!!!!!

  18. The burner accounts really got put to good use last night. Banos writes more in the comments section than in the actual articles. Lol.

  19. No respect for Maria Cruz or her cronies! Don’t leave behind Menendez, Fernandez and Castro. They should all be recalled with their behind the scenes deals, giving themselves raises and car allowances without the knowledge of the citizens WHO PAY for their cars and raises. Choosing a City Manager without proper procedure or notice. Unprofessional the way they conduct themselves in meetings, specially Mr. Fernandez who now thinks he is the dictator of the City of Coral Gables. Such an embarrassment to the City. Hopefully, we can vote in better people next time!!!!!

  20. … those writing in disgust of this recall or attacking Maria Cruz ignore completely the damage Lago does to Coral Gables … why don’t you write about Lago’s donations to an indicted money launderer??? or the receipt of commissions+rent from a crooked developer??? or about how business people call him a lier to his face??? or how he intimidates city employees??? or how he pushes for city contracts to go his way??? commisioners may be uncivil sometimes, but Lago is a crooked bully all the time… maybe a few of these anti-recall comments come from people paid by his $600k pac… or from good citizens who simply have not been informed how Lago operates… if Rhonda is so honest, what does she say about these irregularities??? shame on her for not being a more vocal supported of ethics in city hall…

  21. Wow! L’Egos cronies are out in full force using multiple names, including attacking Mrs Cruz instead of dealing with her allegations. But then Mrs Cruz has done plenty of attacking in the past so she should expect it. Nonetheless it’s time for this vindictive man-child of a mayor to go. We need a leader that will follow our charter and not pretend to be a strong mayor. I’m thankful for fernandez, Castro and Menendez. Finally, someone is standing up to this bully, Vinnie.

  22. Vince Lago has done a great job all these years..And the fact that he has Rhonda Anderson as his Vice-president is a huge testament as to his direction and honesty…Quite frankly Rhonda is the most honest person i know..I have known her for years because I live a block away from her and see and talk to her all the time ..She walks her 2 adopted grey hounds every day and she’s the only person I know that can grow tulips and pineapples in south florida..She’s very down to earth and in my opinion totally uncorruptable..I think if George Merrick were alive today he would vote for Rhonda 100%..I think Rhonda and Vince have made a great team for the Gables…Probably the Best ever and I have lived here for 56 years..I still remember walking into the Woolsworth when it was on miracle mile…

  23. Granada Green, you proved my point exactly.

    “ Let’s hope the newly-hired city manager has some forensic accounting skills or connections in that area –”

    Well, you would have been able to do more than just HOPE, you would actually KNOW if we had listened to Anderson and implemented a national search and vetting process for the City Manager. Instead, you and the commissioners installed a person with unknown skill sets at a $300K / year job. Way to spend the taxpayers money! No private business would ever hire someone at that salary on a whim! Why would the City?

    BTW, whoever called out Manny Chorizo on the earlier comment, te lo comiste! Yum.

  24. Has Mayor Lago received money, gifts, and favors from any of the building projects he approved?

  25. Has Lago’s construction company received any money from the monster projects Lago approved as Mayor?

  26. Is Lago’s wife involved in procuring art? Is that why we have so much useless, expensive “art” dumped all over our City?

  27. A false claim was made that Maria Cruz was a crook when she was a schoolteacher.
    She was completely innocent and has documents to show she was completely exonerated. Look at the real facts.

    Her recent critic are regular riders on the gravy trail.
    They want to detract from her petition to recall Lago. Their “facts” are fiction. They think the residents are stupid, suckers.

    Her petition has merit and should proceed.
    Lago is finished, one way or the other.

  28. I am with Barbara Perez and her comments.

    Additionally, someone needs to explain why, with just a little over a year left in Lago’s and Anderson’s terms, we really need to go through the expense of a recall of Lago. Assuming Menendez, Fernandez and Castro hold together, Lago and Anderson have been neutered and can do no more damage. I don’t see the need for a recall.

    Lago has a lot of warts. No one is clean, including Menendez, Fernandez, Castro and Anderson. All have their issues. A recall is simply not warranted.

  29. Lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up! Anderson, too! The scumbags.

    Let’s hope the newly-hired city manager has some forensic accounting skills or connections in that area – Lago and Anderson must be getting nervous.

  30. Thanks Ms Cruz for enlightening us. A History Lesson: When you want a politician’s favor & his wife runs or owns an art gallery, simply pay thousands for an ugly modern painting & you’ll get the favor. Or if the Hialeah mayor owns a butcher shop, pay $500 for a piece of meat.

  31. I read most of these comments and laugh. No way. No way. Nooo way Lago has this many fans. Manny Chamizo/Papa Chulo, Cabrera son, Aesop Gables, Samuel Lawson and all included developers are working overtime writing comments… 😂

  32. Its ridiculus and shameful what Coral Gables has turned into!
    The 3 musketeers, Menendez and his sidekicks need to leave!

  33. Didn’t Maria misappropriate 60k from the school system. Who is she to attack anyone’s financials?

  34. I’ve lived n C Gables three times in my life snd we’ve never had these horrible accusations in the past. Shame on you Maria Cruz and those asking for the resignation of Vince Lago. He is an elected “by voters” official not a dictator. Shame on all of you!!!

  35. I’ve lived n C Gables three times in my life snd we’ve never had these horrible accusations in the past. Shame on you Maria Cruz and those asking for the resignation of Vince Lago. He is an elected “by voters” official not a dictator. Shame on all of you!!!

  36. María Cruz “misappropriated and mishandled school funds in her role as sponsor of the school booster club.” . She was issued a letter of reprimand, required to pay restitution and transferred to another school. She was in danger of losing her teaching certificate and agreed to be placed on probation. In conclusion this is a case of “The pot calling the kettle black”. She is now acting as accuser, judge, and jury of Mayor Lago.

  37. I am definitely no fan of Maria Cruz, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Mrs. Cruz finally hit the nail on the head. Lago must go! Please..someone tell me his Lago’s redeeming qualities? Seriously, what are they? He is as arrogant as they come. If that was just it then fine… But… He’s also vindictive, rude, dismissive, unhinged, and unethical… Definitely not a role model. Sometimes it’s better to just move on. The City Beautiful needs a face lift. We need a new mayor and a new police chief.

  38. Lago lost me when he did the Telemundo interview in which he accused “right wing Republicans” with voting in Castro & Fernandez. Then, he mansplained and intimidated Commissioner Melissa Castro in a public meeting. This guy is so full of himself, he reaps. We were all fooled by Vince Lago. We have opened our eyes and see him for who he truly is. He’s out to make a buck for himself and his developer pals and doesn’t care about CG residents. He has his developer friends out in full force now-a-days to rescue him. He needs to go! It’s cleaning house time!!

  39. Ms. Cruz, is a revoltosa she was a spanish teacher at Miami Beach Senior High in the mid 80s and she wasn’t easy.

  40. Our City Hall has become a cesspool since the new Commissioners took oath and allied themselves with Kirk Menéndez with the support of Baños. The personal attacks, the vendettas and lack of respect have no place in our Coral Gables. Through the years as Commisioner and lately Mayor Vince Lago has demonstrated his dedication to our City Beautifult’s and its residents wellbeing. I stand with Mayor Lago & Vice Mayor Rhonda Anderson as a 40+ years as home owner., resident & tax payer of Coral Gables.

  41. This is not news, as it is superficially shallow and void of facts. Rather, it is an opinion that presents a strong accusation of corruption with nothing to back it up. Tough to give it any level of credence as it comes from a source with a questionable past. We are living in an era where attempts to disparage, defame and discredit have become the norm, the latter being the cultish persecution mindset that is well and alive in our nation today and of course, has permeated into the City Beautiful. The referenced mindset is governed by, “If we do not agree with you, we will attack you, your family and anything that gets in our way, no matter whether it is true or not, as long as we benefit from it”. Very un-American, reminiscent of the third-world nations many of us have come from, eluding the same mindset we are practicing/witnessing. Some seem to relish that ugly past of theirs as if it is in their DNA. In my close to forty years in the city, I have never witnessed such low points. Independent of your position, this is outright plain disgraceful and disgusting, unbecoming of human decency and civility. The City Beautiful has become “La Ciudad de la Chismeria, Chusmeria y Cobardia ” (The City of Gossip, Trashy Behavior and Cowardice). Oops, it rhymes with Hialeah. We are no better. Shame on us.

  42. This is politics at its worse. A trusted newsletter for Coral Gables has turned into a nasty pamphlet, like the junk mail we receive during election season.

    Journalists give ALWAYS the people covered in an article, the opportunity to comment and to offer a personal perspective.

    Today the Gables Insider has turned into jury, judge and executioner. Truly deplorable.

  43. I received the email about the Lago Must Go petition. I sent a text message to the number shown on that website but have not received a reply. I also wrote to Gables Good Government and have also not received a reply. So I am posting my comments here.
    While I am not in agreement with some of Mr. Lago’s conduct and attitude during Commission meetings over the past year and change, I also take issue with the recent conduct of all of the commissioners especially since I supported and voted for all but one. First, all of their behavior on and off the dais is unprofessional to say the least with their constant accusatory looks, remarks, sarcasm and disrespect for each other, and toward all of us who are watching them make a mockery of our City government. Importantly, how can Mrs. Cruz and the resident activist groups not take issue with the sudden hiring of a retired US Marshall as our new City Manager? A person who no doubt is a very well qualified law enforcement official but who has no experience in any high level management and fiduciary role of a municipality or other government entity. There was no publication of the open position, interviews of potential qualified candidates, or any input from those with the most vested interests like the City employees and residents.
    I truly don’t understand how this End Corruption activist group can stand silently by and allow these backroom dealings to continue with the Commissioners that we supported and voted into office because they were going to allegedly stop these very types of shady dealings. 
    The entire City Commission should be reprimanded for their blatant disregard for professionalism and common courtesy and reminded of how they should conduct themselves in their roles as representatives of our City and their duties to the City’s residents and employees.

  44. Wow! The L’Ego bots out in full force.
    Choo, choo! L’Ego’s gravy train is leaving the station…for good.

  45. Alabaooooo!!!🤣🤣🤣🤣
    Wasn’t Lago who started this vendetta agains Ariel and Castro? Because his horses didn’t make it to the finish line? Now the bad ones are the two newbies?
    Pleeeaseeee!

  46. It is a shame that this publication, Ms Cruz, and Commissioner Fernandez have turned our local politics into a public disgrace in the same manner as our presidential politics have become. Please remove me from the email list I never subscribed to and stop polluting our community with constant fear mongering and baseless accusations.

  47. HAHA you can always tell when the ratio goes to crap Banos has to get the same 2 people keep commenting under diff names.

  48. Lago’s candidates did not win. From the get go Lago treated Fernandez and Castro in either a nasty or condescending manner. It was painful to watch the Commission meetings. He always had it in for them. With all his developer money he started his petitions to keep up the assaults on them. Now he’s getting it all back and it’s well deserved. You live by the sword, you die by the sword.

  49. Lago is a two-faced clown. Those who ignore Lago’s connection with Rishi Kapoor and act like it’s okay.. you are the problem.

    I wish all the people posting comments here at least acknowledge that although they might like him, he still is shady as they come. Then we could believe that the comments aren’t from his lackeys.

  50. Lago & Anderson both of whom we supported have now become a cancer in our city beautiful. the community will soon become aware of side bar shady business deals with developer folks. It’s time to rid ourselves of these corrupt politicians.
    Keep up the good work Mr Fernandez.

  51. Lago is crooked as a corkscrew. He is not linked to just one shifty character but many! Virtually everyone who supports him are developers or have businesses that stand to gain from those developers. I can’t believe the people responding to this article can’t see that, unless they are part of the Lago gravy train.

  52. Yes. Maria Cruz was caught stealing money from her school’s booster club.

    Most of you did not evens subscribe this crap site. Ariel Fernandez made a public records request for the city’s email subscriber list. That is how he instantly got 30,000 subscribers.

    “Respondent, Maria C. Cruz, holds Florida educator’s certificate no. 232656.
    Petitioner has filed an Administrative Complaint seeking suspension, revocation, permanent
    revocation or other disciplinary action against the certificate.”

    MATERIAL ALLEGATIONS
    3. From 1998 through 2001, Respondent misappropriated and mishandled school funds
    in her role as sponsor of the school booster club, in that she deposited money from other school
    clubs into the booster club account, failed to keep records of the account, failed to pay invoices as
    they became due, and altered checks and deposited them into the booster club account without
    authorization. Respondent’s actions resulted in approximately $69,000 flowing through the booster
    club account rather than the school internal account, with no proper accounting for the money. In
    August 200 I, the district issued Respondent a letter of reprimand, required that she pay restitution
    to a vendor, and transferred her to another school.

  53. Oye Milly, say what you want about Lago. But Anderson is an articulate person who truly loves our City, and works to make it better. You cannot say her idea of having a committee find a vet a new city manager was a bad one. Pushing through only one person for the city manager position without public input is exactly what the other commissioners say they are fighting against. Ponder that one before spewing drivel like ‘monied lobby’ and ‘hacks’ in your comments.

  54. Is this really the best way to spend 9 hours of a City commission meeting? Getting people removed and installing whoever some people think may be better? No one is going to always like or agree with everyone else, but this extraordinary effort and time to just get rid of people. Ugh, it feels like we have taken a page from the Federal government in trying to remove people from power. It never works and always backfires. Haven’t we seen the ultimate outcome already? Let’s redirect efforts to resolving things together. We will run out of time and everyone’s term will be up before any meaningful legislation can occur.

  55. This is just a continuation of Ariel’s Gables insider lobbying! Please take me off this publication. Was Maria Cruz really involved in a scandal as a teacher?

  56. I guess all the developers and the monied lobby who support corruption are flooding your publication with comments–obviously they do not want to lose bought and paid for hacks. Anyone who has read the Miami Herald other media outlets can clearly see the bought and paid for politicians on the Commission. We need more leaders like Fernandez and Castro –give the boot to LAGO AND ANDERSON.

  57. a recall coming from someone who was involved in a scandal when she was a teacher. Hmmm.

  58. Save us from this publication! Today is the day, I stop reading these ‘stories’. There is so much work to do, so many organizations that need support, and kindness to spread. Try it and see how it works.
    I am speechless. Your news are sickening.

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