Fred Grimm

Fred Grimm: Miami Lakes mayor fight should go to the ring

The words out of Maybe Mayor (maybe not) Mike Pizzi’s mouth sent journalists into a collective melancholy. “There’s not going to be a wrestling match.”

We had expected fiercer words from the fellow who — with the possible exception of Crazy Joe Carollo — may be the most combative politician in South Florida. Google “pugnacious, mayor, Pizzi,” you get 193,000 hits. Some of them below the belt.

Yet the ex-and-possibly-future mayor of Miami Lakes promised the Herald’s Charles Rabin on Sunday that there would be no smackdown at City Hall, despite his contention that he, not the present occupant of the office, ought to be running the show. “I’m not going to force them to throw me out of the building,” Pizzi said, spurning a potential YouTube sensation.

Wayne Slaton, the other claimant to the throne, has refused to relinquish the office. Miami Lakes City Attorney Raul Gastesi employed some pugnacious language himself, promising to thwart Pizzi’s plans to reclaim his old job. He wrote that if Pizzi enters City Hall, he will be “deemed a trespasser and subject to arrest.”

The city attorney, of course, knows that if Pizzi can convince a judge that he’s the rightful mayor, Gastesi would be booted from City Hall, too.

Gov. Rick Scott removed Pizzi (though not bodily) last year after federal prosecutors hung seven counts of public corruption on the mayor. Slaton, who had served two previous terms as mayor (2000 to 2008), won a special election to replace Pizzi, albeit with only a plurality amid a piddling turnout. During the campaign, Slaton made references to a “rogue individual who knows how to perhaps just over-talk everyone.” He and Pizzi — the only two mayors in Miami Lakes’ short history — are not best buddies.

A federal jury created this mess last week, acquitting Pizzi on all counts. The governor was expected to give him his job back. In City Hall, Mayor Slaton’s photo came down. But the gov refused to restore Pizzi. Slaton’s picture went back up.

This was unexpected, given that this same governor had restored Miami’s Michelle Spence-Jones to her old commission seat under similar circumstances. No matter that her replacement, Richard Dunn, also had won a special election.

The governor didn’t bother explaining his inconsistency. Slaton, at a press conference on Sunday, tried, but he got his facts muddled. Plus, he kept referring to Richard Dunn as Marvin Dunn, the noted Miami academic.

Slaton didn’t mention that in the 2012 mayoral election, Pizzi crushed him with 70 percent of the vote. But in this contest, he needed only a single vote — Scott’s.

Obviously, this fight shouldn’t be settled in some staid courtroom, going on for years. Come on. This is Pizzi-the-pugnacious, the self-anointed “Brooklyn Brawler,” who before his indictment had been slated to take on Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez last September in a mixed-martial-arts fight for charity (ringside seats, $500).

We reporters are begging. Settle this in the ring. The Brooklyn Brawler versus Mundane Wayne. Could be (or maybe not) the tussle of the century.

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