If any city in Miami-Dade has stood out more than others lately as a hive of rumor and gossip, it’s Doral.
Over the first 100 days of Mayor Luigi Boria’s term, there has been plenty to keep the rumor mill churning.
When former County Manager Merrett Stierheim came in as interim city manager, word on the street was that he took the position so he could bring in his friends from county government and control Doral’s inner workings.
That didn’t happen. When he resigned, he said he was “disappointed” that he wasn’t included in the search for a permanent manager.
When former Miami Mayor Joe Carollo took over as city manager, the same rumors emerged about him.
The latest talk involves Boria’s asking during a special City Council meeting March 6 for council member Sandra Ruiz to be removed as vice mayor.
By a 3-2 vote Monday, the council took away Ruiz’s additional title and gave it to council member Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, whom the mayor had nominated.
To add to the drama, a recall effort was launched against Rodriguez Aguilera.
Some say Ruiz is behind the recall effort as a way to challenge the mayor’s power, but there is no solid evidence of that.
Changing of guard
Candidates mounted heated campaigns for Doral’s general election in November.
Not only did a runoff follow, but the entire campaign season brought a slew of attack ads and controversy.
Ultimately, voters turfed out most of the City Council’s members, with Ana Maria Rodriguez being the only one to keep her seat.
One of Boria’s first moves after winning the Nov. 27 runoff was to nominate Ruiz as his vice mayor.
A hundred days later, things had changed.
Boria said Ruiz’s tendency to correct him on the dais and question the actions of the mayor and staff members could be “embarrassing.”
“If I nominate you as my partner, I expect you to be my partner. I have to trust you, and you, in a way, have to trust me,” Boria said. “I am not asking you to support me in everything; you have the ability to disagree on certain things — but all the time?”
On Monday, both Ruiz and Boria took public jabs at each other, and both said they refused to be intimidated by the other.
“I do find it inappropriate and improper public policy to, at a whim, actually reselect a vice mayor . . . simply because someone feels uncomfortable or indifferent with someone’s presence,” said Ruiz, who, along with council member Christi Fraga, voted against the removal. “My only agenda and goal has been to represent the people.”
She went on to say that she refused to be “muzzled.”
“No matter the wealth, no matter what the influence, this public servant is here to serve each and every one of you,” Ruiz said.
Her comments were met with applause.
Boria then made it a point to say that Ruiz had launched a campaign of “hostility and disrespect toward me.”
“I want to make it perfectly clear that I will not be intimidated, nor let myself be extorted,” Boria said. “When three city managers in a row have complained, with examples and facts, about how she has been attempting to interfere in the administration of our city, I will say, as it is said in baseball: ‘Strike three, you’re out.’ ”