While Doral Mayor Luigi Boria and the four female council members were appealing to Santa to help them light up the Christmas tree, a group of entrepreneurs pondered presenting the mayor a New Year gift: a recall referendum next year.
Two Venezuelan investors living in Doral told El Nuevo Herald that a group of businessmen had been meeting for more than a month now to think through a campaign to dismiss Boria for doing what they consider a bad job leading the city government.
“The mayor’s performance has been disastrous for the city’s image,” said Henry D. Contreras, co-owner of the Aloft hotel in Doral. “His performance has been so bad that now Venezuelans and Cubans are fighting each other [...] something we are not willing to tolerate.”
Boria insisted that he respects the democratic process, but defended his performance, saying that last year has been Doral’s best year. He also said that, if necessary, he will use his own money to defend himself.
“I will invest $1 million out of my own pocket,” Boria said. “My pulse is not shaking. I have been an entrepreneur for 30 years, I am a man of principle and as such I will defend this city’s values [...] We’re not going to allow phony politics to try to undermine the good intentions of all of us who are fighting for the good of our community.”
The mayor confirmed that a group of Doral citizens has created a PAC (Political Action Committee) to raise funds for his defense campaign. Lydia Pérez, a person close to the mayor, is the chairwoman of PAC Doral United/Unidos por Doral, which was registered on Oct. 11.
Pérez did not respond several calls from El Nuevo Herald for comments.
“This group has been created to defend the mayor and his office,” Boria said. “It has nothing to do with running dirty campaigns.”
The group of entrepreneurs is not the only one that has publicly expressed concerns about the political crisis undermining the City of Doral.
In the final days of October, Doral Community Coalition, a neighborhood group of the city’s founding activists close to former mayor Juan Carlos Bermúdez, asked Gov. Rick Scott to name a special inspector to look into allegations of presumed fraudulent activities by the current city government.
“There were accusations made public in a city session. They must be investigated,” said Jesse Jones, chairman of the Doral Community Coalition. “If they are true, the community must know it.”
The businessmen commissioned a preliminary poll in which 70 percent of likely voters were in favor of dismissing Boria, Contreras said. The group will commission a more elaborate poll in January, and if it shows a high opposition to Boria’s performance, they will launch the recall effort, he said.
“It actually depends on the poll,” said Contreras, who insisted that he personally appreciates the mayor. “If the disapproval rate is high, we will move forward.”
Another entrepreneur behind the recall project is Tomás Romero, whose Miami-based company, World Atlantic Airlines, provided transportation for the massive move of voters to New Orleans to vote in the Venezuelan presidential election in April.
“I am upset and disappointed with the work the mayor has done,” said Romero, who supported Boria in his election for a seat in the city council in 2010 and for mayor in 2012. “What is happening pains me.”
Not everyone agrees with the recall talk.
Former council member Pete Cabrera considers the recall movement a “political play” seeking to sabotage Boria.
“I don’t agree with a recall because it’s a sabotage against the mayor,” Cabrera said. “I believe Luigi has done things, a lot of things, that have been wrong, but I also believe that he should have the opportunity to do things right.”
Part of the responsibility for Doral’s recent political scandals should be placed on city manager Joe Carollo and council members Bettina Rodríguez-Aguilera and Ana María Rodríguez, Cabrera said.
Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz also said she did not support a recall effort against the mayor.
“A recall only opens the doors for placing the city government’s future at risk,” said Ruiz, who was dismissed as deputy mayor last March after Boria accused her of political extortion. She said she respects the group’s efforts, but “I am not a part of it and I wouldn’t support it.”