Once again, the topic of legal fees related to Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi’s lawsuits dominated the Town Council meeting Tuesday night.
The main item
The town has decided to hire the firm Lydecker Diaz to represent it in two lawsuits filed by Pizzi for reimbursement of legal fees.
The vote passed unanimously, with Pizzi out of the room because he recused himself prior to the nearly hour-long discussion.
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Council members questioned Town Attorney Raul Gastesi about the fees associated with this case, and expressed their concerns about spending taxpayer money and over Miami Lakes being the only defendant in the case.
“The reality is we have a lawsuit that was brought against the residents of Miami Lakes and we’re looking at $3.25 million. If we don’t defend it, and we don’t defend it properly, we’re going to be writing that check,” Councilman Ceasar Mestre said.
The council agreed on an initial budget of $50,000 to pay Lydecker Diaz for their services. This is the same law firm that represented the town’s insurance company, and are therefore familiar with the case.
Last month, the town’s insurance company declined to cover Pizzi’s legal fees.
In addition the council agreed to send a letter to the mayor’s legal team asking them to proceed solely against the insurance company, and not collect attorney’s fees from Miami Lakes taxpayers.
Following roughly 50 minutes of discussion Pizzi came back to the dais where the conversation about legal fees and representation continued.
“With regard to the reinstatement case, the council generated all of this liability by paying all of [former mayor Wayne] Slaton’s legal fees and forcing me to go to court so the people could have their rightful mayor,” Pizzi said in an emailed statement to the Miami Herald.
▪ Transportation: The council unanimously passed a resolution to integrate recommendations made at the town’s transportation submit into the town’s strategic plan. This includes improving traffic signals and pedestrian connections across Northwest 67th Avenue within Town Center.
▪ Charter review: The council agreed on a new business item to review its charter by having workshops and discussion. The town has spent much of the past year in court over the language in the charter as it pertained to Pizzi’s reinstatement. Councilman Frank Mingo said he wants to make sure the language is clear moving forward.
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The next meeting
▪ When: Nov. 3.
▪ Where: Miami Lakes Town Hall 6601 Main St., Miami Lakes.