Doral City Manager Joe Carollo defended himself for more than three hours against recent accusations made against him at the City Council's meeting Tuesday night, just under a week after the group rebuffed an attempt by Mayor Luigi Boria to fire Carollo.
After spending last Wednesday's meeting in silence, Carollo came out swinging Tuesday, choosing to start his rebuttal by reading comments left on the mayor's Facebook page.
"It says Carollo is mentally sick, he thinks like a policeman from the German SS,” Carollo said, adding that if the mayor truly wanted to turn the page, he would delete those comments from his social media sites.
The council’s members supported Carollo in a 3-2 vote of confidence during its dramatic meeting last week.
"I have tried to build leadership while under these attacks," Carollo said Tuesday, adding that he has tried to behave the way that a professional should.
Last week Boria accused the city manager of erratic behavior, taking a weeklong vacation to Las Vegas without letting anyone know, and of hacking into emails.
After a majority of council members backed Carollo in the vote of confidence, Carollo presented a document that he said Boria himself signed, which gave him the green light to travel to Vegas on business. Carollo said he went there to discuss bringing the Miss USA pageant to Doral, and said he took two days and a few hours of a third day of vacation for the trip.
Carollo said Tuesday that he went to Las Vegas on June 15, arriving after lunch.
”Sometime later I met with Donald Trump and I told him that it would be best not to make any announcements that Miss USA was coming to Doral next year. And we discussed that if anything it would be done (in) November, when the Miss Universe pageant would be held," Carollo said.
Trump announced the next day, after the 2013 Miss USA pageant was held in Las Vegas, that he would be moving the competition to his Trump Doral Golf Resort and Spa beginning in 2014.
Last Wednesday a Venezuelan developer, Juan Carlos Tovar Barrios, 31, surrendered to police and was arrested for allegedly filing a false police report after accusing Carollo of physically and verbally attacking him. Tovar faces a charge of false report of crime to law enforcement authority.
Carollo has denied Tovar’s accusations, calling them “a lie.”
A witness to the alleged altercation was arrested last Friday on a charge of giving false information to police.
On Tuesday Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz, who did not give Carollo a vote of confidence last week, wanted to cap the time the city manager had to speak, saying it would open the floodgates for more rebuttals and more time wasted from doing the people’s business.
"I think it's in the best interest of the city to heal and move forward,” she said.
But Vice Mayor Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera disagreed.
"It's important for us to hear him out and then put it to rest,” she said.
One of Carollo's biggest bombshells was his claim that the mayor owes his job to him – saying that if it weren't for him, the mayor would have voted on a land deal that the manager deemed a conflict of interest.
"If I hadn't stepped in to save this city and save him from himself, he would have voted in that vote, and he would have lost his job at best, at worst lost his job and gone to jail,” Carollo told reporters after the meeting.
Boria said all those allegations are false.
“This is Joe. His past history has been always a defamation to people,” Boria said.
The city manager also accused the mayor of having urged him to hire lobbyist Jorge Forte, who was arrested in an FBI sting where two other Miami-Dade mayors were also arrested on public corruption charges.
As far as the alleged confrontation with Tovar at City Hall, Carollo says the man was put up to it.
"I have seen what was done to me by Mr. Tovar in a conspiracy with others. To try to defame me, discredit me, so that I could be thrown in jail. Fired from my job," Carollo said.
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