In response to two complaints brought against him at his last regular Town Council meeting, outgoing Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall apologized for calling a resident a “crybaby” but vowed to fight the other allegation.
One of the complaints involved email correspondence between MacDougall and a resident, and the other involved a letter MacDougall sent out endorsing candidate Art Nanni to succeed him.
The latter complaint, brought by Town Council candidate Ed Wolmers and sponsored by council member and mayoral candidate Peggy Bell, alleged that a letter sent by the mayor to the town’s residents on Sept. 25 violated a town charter rule against officials “intentionally misusing his position to threaten, harass or otherwise attempt to intimidate any other person including but not limited to any citizen, employee or colleague.”
The complaint alleged that the letter appeared to be official, and that it criticized Bell and others.
“The question at hand is, is this an official communication from the town to the residents or is this just a personal opinion from the mayor,” Wolmers said in his complaint at the meeting. “The issues that I raise are a misuse of power and a misuse of office. While the mayor is entitled to his opinions … the message clearly is intended to send a message of distortion and rhetoric.”
Wolmers is running against incumbent Seat 1 council member Mary Ann Mixon. In his letter, MacDougall speaks of lobbyist Jose L. Castillo, the campaign manager for Bell and Wolmers. In his complaint, Wolmers writes that MacDougall used “rhetoric created with the sole purpose of accusing Peggy Bell and Ed Wolmers of association with a ‘corrupt’ lobbyist.”
“I think because I’m named in the violation, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on it,” Bell said. “I just think they brought it forward because I didn’t think it was likely anyone else would be able to do it.”
MacDougall said he “demanded a public hearing” regarding his letter endorsing Nanni. The public hearing will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at Town Hall.
In the other complaint, MacDougall’s Oct. 3 email correspondence with Cutler Bay resident Brian Trainor regarded sidewalk repairs. Trainor complained about what he considered the “sub-standard level of work” done on the sidewalks, and MacDougall wrote, “you are a crybaby that will never amount to squat.”
“There are things in [the email] that run totally and absolutely contrary to our citizen’s bill of rights, to our town’s ordinance, to our charter and ironically to our civility clause,” council member Sue Loyzelle said at the meeting.
On that complaint, MacDougall apologized and agreed to pay a $50 fine to the town.
“I was guilty,” MacDougall said after the meeting. “I told the guy off. It’s part of our charter. I understand it. You are supposed to be nice to the public. It’s basically, don’t chew somebody out. And I did, in an email. I told off the guy. It’s a minor thing. It could have been a dollar. I don’t care if it’s $50, it doesn’t matter to me. The point is, I unloaded on the guy after two years of listening to his ranting. I’m just like any other man. I just went off.”
MacDougall said he deserves a fair hearing on the other complaint.
“I wanted this public meeting, and I’m going to make sure that they do not try me in this country,” said MacDougall, a retired police sergeant. “This is an administrative hearing, not a criminal or civil hearing, but I still have individual rights and liberties and the right to a fair trial.”
The mayor added that he is “unloading going out the door” as he plans to bring up “charges” against other council members at the hearing.
“I have tainted council members,” MacDougall said. “Think about the guy who is bringing the charges against me. His campaign manager is Jose Castillo. The council member that took his complaint and brought it forward is Peggy Bell. Her campaign manager is Jose Castillo.”
MacDougall criticized Castillo in the endorsement letter for Nanni.