The dismissal this week of City Manager Joe Carollo closes out months of tension on the dais in the city of Doral. And if Doral is going to fulfill its potential as a progressive, dynamic city, the regressive bickering and silliness must end.
Front and center was the bad blood among Mr. Carollo, Mayor Luigi Boria and some council members, who voted 3-2 to fire him Monday.
The biting clashes, which began in October during the first attempt to remove Mr. Carollo, made headlines and, unfortunately, have harmed the image of one of the county’s fastest growing cities.
Most everyone shares the blame.
Mr. Carollo has been accused of bullying tactics, while Mr. Boria has rankled many with his heavy-handed my-way-or-the-highway attitude at council meetings — especially Councilwoman Bettina Rodriguez-Aguilera. Monday, after being prevented from speaking on a technicality, she snapped at the mayor: “You think you’re in Venezuela — that’s the problem!” Ms. Rodriguez-Aguilera and Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez voted against firing Carollo.
Actually, there are several problems plaguing the city. Residents are showing signs of fatigue: “If we locked you all in a room for more than an hour, nobody would come out alive,” Richard Glukstad told the council.
To his credit, Mr. Carollo left the city coffers with reserves nearing $40 million. But on his way out the door, he launched a barrage of corruption charges against those who voted for his dismissal, alleging that the mayor has ties to the regime of Venezuela and Vice Mayor Christi Fraga offered to sell her vote in October to fire him.
Ms. Fraga denied the accusation. She called the special meeting to fire Mr. Carollo, saying she was concerned about the number of city officials who have quit in recent months.
All the drama must end for the sake of the 50,000 residents of what should be forward-looking city. It’s home to Carnival, Ryder, Univision and Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald.
The rebirth can begin on Thursday when a special meeting is convened to discuss the search for a new city manager. Doral leaders must embrace a new day and adopt a new focus, one centered on the needs of residents who are tired of watching their city leaders argue and the corporations that need to be assured that they are doing business in a well-run, stable municipality.
The council must select the right person with the right temperament and credentials for the job, which pays $140,000-plus annually. The city is poised to hit the big time. It’s crucial that it attain a sterling reputation.
Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz is right: The 11-year-old city has hit blanks in selecting a permanent city manager.
One manager, she said, didn’t even attend council meetings, and Mr. Carollo, a former Miami mayor who was hired on the heels of interim manager Merrett Stierheim, was “not properly vetted.”
Public works director Jose Olivo temporarily holds the city manager post. Names are already being bandied about: assistant city managers Albert Childress and Ronda Vangates; former planning and zoning director Nathan Kogon and Mr. Stierheim, a former county manager.
Now, residents of Doral need the mayor and commissioners to act with transparency and commitment to improving the city. Their first bonding project should be to find the right manager.