Just 24 days after being elected, Doral Councilman Pete Cabrera requested a special meeting to fire the city’s longtime city clerk, Barbara Herrera, records show. Prior to that, he asked the city attorney for a legal opinion on how to go about it.
Over the holiday weekend after Thanksgiving, Cabrera sent an email to Herrera, requesting a special meeting for Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. Herrera is responsible for letting the other council members know that a special meeting is being called.
“For years while previously on the Council, I observed the inefficiencies, tardiness to work, mistakes, oversights and the politics of the city clerk on a routine basis and expressed my concerns over the years,” the request said. “I am extremely disappointed to observe that this behavior continues to occur on a regular basis.”
However, he failed to get a quorum.
Never miss a local story.
According to the city charter, Cabrera would have needed support from the mayor or any other two members of the Council to make the meeting happen, but Vice Mayor Sandra Ruiz was the only member who replied that she was available.
Mayor Luigi Boria suggested it be put on the next council meeting’s agenda on Dec. 10.
Cabrera agreed, and sent an email to Herrera asking that his request to fire her be placed on the Dec. 10 agenda instead.
Herrera told the Miami Herald Tuesday that she was “disheartened and disappointed” by this action.
“This is clearly retaliatory for the lawsuit I filed against him for gender discrimination,” she said. “How ironic that 16 days after he’s elected, he’s asking [the city attorney] for an opinion on how to fire me.”
Cabrera and Herrera have history. Records show that in 2009, Herrera filed a lawsuit against Cabrera for assault, slander and causing her emotional distress in the workplace. They settled in 2011 for $34,000.
Cabrera refused to comment on the subject Tuesday, but told the Herald everything that needs to be said “is in the record.”
“Everything thing you need to know is written in my email or said in meetings,” Cabrera said. “I don’t like the outside chitter-chatter.”
Cabrera was a city councilman for nine years. In 2010, he lost the mayoral race to Boria. He was recently sworn into as a councilman on Nov. 5, after beating former councilwoman Bettina Rodriguez-Aguilera by by 574 votes.
Herrera has been working for the city since 2005 and has seen a revolving doors of city managers, attorneys and elected officials. She is among several women who have filed “hostile work environment” complaints against Cabrera.
Cabrera’s most recent campaign platform was planted in “eliminating drama on the dais.”
“His whole platform was to bring back stability, but every chance he gets he criticizes the previous Council,” said Claudia Spangaro Mariaca, a longtime Doral resident. “If firing the clerk is his way of bringing back stability, I’m very concerned about his next four years in Council. His actions don’t seem to follow his words.”
But Vice Mayor Ruiz disagrees, noting that “charter officials need to create a positive environment ... an environment of teamwork and cohesiveness.”
“It’s not drama. He’s doing it exactly the way it’s supposed to be done,” Ruiz said. “Councilman Pete Cabrera is exercising his right to bring his concern before the City Council; and there’s no drama with exercising your right. This is exactly what the voters of Doral wanted.”
Cabrera’s request outlined that if terminating Herrera comes to pass, he would suggest appointing the deputy city clerk to take the city clerk’s role on an interim basis while a search for a new permanent clerk is completed.
In addition, Cabrera cited city Charter Section 3.02(a), which requires the naming a search committee for the selection process. Council members each appoint one member to the search committee.
“It has already been confirmed by the city attorney that each Council member can nominate themselves to the committee, and as such I will be nominating myself to the committee,” Cabrera said. “In an effort to save time, it would be good if Council members could be prepared to nominate themselves or someone else that evening.”
The item will be discussed at 6 p.m. on Dec. 10 at Doral City Hall.
Follow @Monique O. Madan on Twitter.