Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi in May returned to the dais after winning his reinstatement lawsuit against the town — but Tuesday night marked the first time he chaired a meeting with the entire council present, and the tension was palpable at times.
The meeting, which lasted more than three hours, kicked off with a tense 11-minute discussion on speaking time limits.
Councilman Ceasar Mestre called a point of order asking that the council be mindful of its three-minute time limit rule for speakers.
Pizzi objected, saying he viewed the rule as silencing members on the council.
Councilman Frank Mingo then placed the issue up for a vote, claiming the town has to follow the rules.
“It’s really unfortunate that this is how we’re starting off, and I’m sure none of this was pre-planned by the team,” Pizzi said. “I will always speak out for the residents of this town. I am not going to be silenced by my colleagues.”
He then hinted at his reinstatement lawsuit saying a lot of “powerful people” tried to silence him on the dais.
Mestre then spoke.
“Mr. Mayor, I’m sorry that you’re taking this as a personal attack,” he said.
“There’s no reason for this, but go ahead,” Pizzi said.
“All I simply asked was we have a rule, I just want to make sure we follow it,” Mestre said. “Nobody is saying the rule only applies to you. I’m just making sure we follow the rule because there have been other times when we don’t.”
In the end, the point of order passed with Pizzi being the only vote against it.
Following a recess — when the mood cooled off — Pizzi cleared the air saying he wasn’t suggesting that people were conspiring.
“I think everybody is here in good faith,” Pizzi said. “It’s my goal that we can all work together as colleagues and friends and do good things together.”
Vice Mayor Manny Cid tried to lighten things up.
“Nobody here is coordinating anything, nobody here is against you,” Cid said, adding that the town has spent months getting briefed on following the rules properly.
The rest of the meeting involved the council compromising and hearing each other out on items. And yes, time was extended for those who went over the limit.