Don’t live in Miami? Commissioner Joe Carollo says your opinion don’t matter

If you don’t live within the city of Miami boundaries, don’t bother to care about it’s businesses or it’s residents or it’s history or it’s future. That’s what Commissioner Joe Carollo said Saturday when he dismissed a speaker at the budget hearing who was making a plea for more transparency and more sustainability funding.

First, Jeanette Ruiz, program director at the Miami Climate Alliance, thanked the commission for the Saturday hearing, which she said makes it easier for people who can’t go during the week to participate in the process. But Ruiz also said more had to be done to promote or announce the hearing.

“In order for a government to be efficient and transparent,” she said, citing the language used in the city’s own mission statement, “there needs to be communication and trust. I sincerely hope that for the next budget hearing, more effort is made.”

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She also joined the voices that called for $154,000 more to be budgeted for the office of resilience, which would allow them to hire another person and focus on the issues of extreme heat and flooding. She reminded commissioners about a storm surge that put cars underwater in the Brickell area at the beginning of the summer.

“We need to do more. Our budget needs to reflect this priority,” she ended.

But before Ruiz could leave the podium, Carollo couldn’t help himself.

“The address you gave is way out in unincorporated Dade County,” the commissioner said. Ruiz explained that, like many speakers at many meetings, she worked in the city. Speakers have to provide their name and address before they comment. Many provide work addresses.

“But you don’t live here,” he told Ruiz. “Your words are a little harsh. You are not a resident. You’re coming from outside.”

Ruiz was visibly flabbergasted. “But the decisions you make here impacts my life as well, impacts my family who lives in the city of Miami, so I appreciate having a say in it.”

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Carollo interrupted her: “All of you people that don’t live in the city of Miami, I am sorry: You don’t have the same right to demand of us as residents who live here, pay taxes here, live here, vote for us.”

Ruiz said she paid taxes when she supported Miami businesses.

“You don’t pay the taxes that our local residents do,” Carollo quipped.

“But I’m pretty sure that they feel the same way,” Ruiz shot back.

“But you don’t live here!”

Does Loco Joe not want any non city residents eating at Miami restaurants or getting their haircut in Coconut Grove or ice cream in Little Havana or buying products from any Miami stores? Does Carollo realize what an economic blow it would be if we residents of Kendall and Hialeah and Miami Beach and Coral Gables just suddenly stop spending our money in the city of Miami?

Just in time for the holidays, Carollo wants to alienate anyone who doesn’t live in the city’s boundaries.

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Do the stores in Bayside Marketplace or Mayfair in the Grove or the Midtown Shopping Center or Brickell City Center know how he disrespects people from “outside”? Do the restaurants in Wynwood and Little Havana?

Of course, the commission listens to non-residents all the time — when they have something to say that they want to hear. Jorge Mas lives in Coral Gables. So do a lot of the lobbyists that have the commissioners’ ears.

But if you are just an active and participating South Miami or Key Biscayne or UMSA (unincorporated Miami-Dade Service Area) citizen, someone who is critical or wants to talk about something Carollo doesn’t want to talk about, then the address matters.

Remember to take your IDs to Tuesday’s commission meeting if you want to speak.