Joe Carollo

Page protected with pending changes
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joe Carollo
38th and 40th Mayor of Miami
In office
March 12, 1998 – November 11, 2001
Preceded byXavier Suarez
Succeeded byManny Diaz
In office
July 24, 1996 – November 14, 1997
Preceded byWilly Gort
Succeeded byXavier Suarez
Member of the
Miami City Commission
from the 3rd district
Assumed office
December 2, 2017
Preceded byFrank Carollo
Personal details
Born (1955-03-11) March 11, 1955 (age 68)
Caibarién, Cuba
Political partyRepublican
SpouseMarjorie Teresa Carollo

Joe Carollo (born March 12, 1955) is a Cuban-American politician who served as mayor of Miami from 1996 to 1997 and again from 1998 to 2001.[1] Following his loss in the 2001 mayoral election, he served as Doral, Florida city manager from January 2013 until his firing in April 2014;[2] he was reinstated in June 2017, then immediately resigned.[3] He successfully ran for election to the Miami city commission in 2017.[4]

Carollo's combative and erratic behavior in his political career earned him the name "Crazy Joe" from award-winning Miami Herald journalist and author Carl Hiaasen. The Miami New Times called him "Loco Joe."[5]

Political career[edit]

Miami City Commission[edit]

In 1979, Carollo was elected to the City of Miami commission at the age of 24.[6] He quickly gained a reputation for making enemies, and in 1982, the police chief Kenneth Harms sent a memo accusing Carollo of seeking political favors for Sheik Mohammed Al-Fassi, bribing the police, seeking career favors for his friends on the police force, and enforcing these demands by withholding budget funds for the police.[7]

During the mayoral election in 1983 between Maurice Ferré and Xavier Suarez, Carollo was set to endorse Ferré at a public event with the incumbent mayor. Ferré had endorsed Carollo five years earlier for his city commission seat. Instead, at the event, Carollo accused Ferré, who was Puerto Rican, of being anti-Cuban, and lambasted Ferré. Ferré won the election but this event remains a fixture in Carollo’s career in Miami politics.[8]

In 1986, as a city commissioner, Joe Carollo attacked a plan to develop Watson Island as funded by communists. The plan was backed by several conservative leaders, such as former U. S. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, conservative anti-Castro lobbyist Jorge Mas Canosa, and the Democratic then-mayor Xavier Suarez.[8]

In 1987, at a fundraiser for his mayoral re-election campaign, Suarez said of Carollo "He's really kind of an embarrassment to those people who really are fighting communism and giving their lives and their talents and their time and their money, and in the halls of the U.S. Congress, and in South America and Africa they sometimes give their lives. In fact I think he's an all-around embarrassment."[9]

Carollo lost his Miami City Commission seat by a wide margin to Victor De Yurre in 1987.[10]

Return to Miami City Commission and first mayorship (1996–1997)[edit]

Eight years later, in 1995, Joe Carollo beat Victor De Yurre to retake the same seat on the Miami City Commission he lost to De Yurre.[11]

One year later, Carollo won a special election to replace Stephen P. Clark, who died of cancer, as mayor of City of Miami.[12]

Not long after taking office, several city commissioners were arrested in a bribery sting and it came to light that the City of Miami was $68 million in debt.[13] Carollo brought in Merritt Stierheim as interim city manager to create a recovery plan. While the city faced scrutiny from Governor Lawton Chiles, reduced bond ratings from Moody, and calls to dissolve the city government, Stierheim’s plan was approved by the city commission.[14]

In 1997, with the first Strong-mayor system in the City of Miami’s history at stake, Carollo lost his re-election campaign in a runoff election to Xavier Suarez. Although Carollo alleged ballot fraud in the first voting round, Suarez took office.[15]

Voter fraud lawsuit[edit]

Carollo continued his lawsuit alleging ballot fraud in the first round of voting of the 1997 mayoral race. On March 5, 1998, Thomas S. Wilson Jr., a judge in the Florida circuit court voided the first round of the election writing "this scheme to defraud, literally and figuratively, stole the ballot from the hands of every honest voter in the city of Miami."[16]

A Miami Herald investigation of the mayoral race found that campaign workers for Xavier Suarez and city commissioner Humberto Hernandez were registering voters where they didn't live, punched absentee ballots for voters without permission, casting ballots for voters who did not vote, and signed absentee ballots as witnesses that they did not witness, including for dead people.[17]

On March 13, 1998, Joe Carollo was sworn in as Miami mayor after the 3rd District Court of Appeals threw out 5,100 fraudulent absentee ballots.[18]

Second mayorship (1998–2001)[edit]

Carollo's second mayorship was marked from the beginning with struggles with the City Commission. After City Commissioner Humberto Hernandez was removed from his office by Governor Lawton Chiles, Carollo fired the City Manager Jose Garcia-Pedroza, who had been appointed by his predecessor, Mayor Xavier Suarez. The City Commission voted to reinstate Garcia-Pedroza and Carollo fired him again, a back-and-forth that led to Garcia-Pedroza being fired three times before asking the City Commission to let his dismissal stand.[19]

Miami Circle[edit]

Main page: Miami Circle

Real estate developer Michael Baumann tore down an existing apartment building in the summer of 1998 and after being pushed to do a required archaeological survey, discovered an ancient 2,000 year old, 38-foot-wide circle beneath the soil at the mouth of the Miami River. Carollo and the developer first attempted to move the site away from its historical location.[20] Carollo opposed preserving the site as it stood because of the possibility of significant tax revenue from Baumann's planned apartment building. However, Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas took up the cause of preserving the site after pressure from Native American groups, schoolchildren, archaeologists, the Smithsonian Institution, as well as international scrutiny.[21]

Voter referendum[edit]

On Election Day, November 3, 1999, Miami voters voted to change their system of government to a Strong-mayor model. As a result, city manager Donald Warshaw was fired and Carollo was forced to run for re-election the following March, effectively cutting his term in half.[22] After the election, Carollo sued to overturn the results of the election, arguing that it constitutes an illegal recall vote.[23]

The results of the election found defenders with City Commissioners Arthur Teele, Tomás Regalado, and Joe Sanchez, whose attorneys asked the Florida Supreme Court to intervene so they could begin to plan and advertise the March election.[24] When the Florida Supreme Court refused to intervene, Carollo successfully defended his seat against the election results.[25]

Elián González affair[edit]

Main page: Elián González

In November 1999, Elián González and his mother, along with other Cuban migrants, left Cuba for the United States. While at sea, their boat failed, and most of the passengers, including González's mother, died. González and two other survivors were rescued at sea by fishermen.[26] After arriving, González's family in Miami sued to retain custody of Elián while his father in Cuba, Juan Miguel González Quintana in Cuba, demanded that Elián be returned to Cuba.[27]

The cause to keep Elián González in the United States was taken up by Miami's Cuban community. On March 29, Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas held a press conference where he announced that the county police department would not assist federal police in removing Elián González from Little Havana.[28]

At that point Joe Carollo began a media blitz where he appeared on television more than 50 times, including Rivera Live, Nightline, Hannity, and frequent visits to Miami-area Spanish-language talk radio station Radio Mambi.[28]

Carollo's media appearances garnered local and national derision. He accused Juan Miguel González of child abuse.[29] In the days leading up to the April 21st federal raid, City Manager Donald Warshaw wrote memos saying that Carollo was attempting to direct the police to defend the González's home.[30] After Elián was taken by federal agents and reunited with his father, Carollo was one of the first to say that photos of Elián with his father were faked, and said that any supporters of Elián in Little Havana with guns were agents of Fidel Castro.[28]

Carollo fired City Manager Donald Warshaw, who did not support Carollo's actions in the Elián González affair. Subsequently, City of Miami Police Chief William O'Brien resigned.[28] The shakeup caused Miami City Hall was inundated by bananas, referring to Carollo's leadership as a "banana republic", with boxes of bananas being delivered and drivers throwing bananas at the building.[31]

Failed reelection bid[edit]

Facing a field of nine opponents and the pressure of a public domestic violence scandal, Carollo failed to make the runoff in the November 2001 election for mayor. He was defeated by former Miami mayor Maurice Ferré and eventual winner Manny Diaz (Florida politician).[32]

Doral city manager (2013-2014)[edit]

After the resignation of Doral City Manager Yvonne Soler-McKinley, Joe Carollo was appointed January 2013 as city manager without a search being held for a new manager by Mayor Luigi Boria and the Doral City Council by unanimous vote.[33] Interim City Manager Merrett R. Stierheim, who had been brought in to lead the search, called the appointment "a terrible decision."[34]

Fifteen months later, in April 2014, Carollo was fired by the City Council in a 3-2 vote, as according to Vice Mayor Christi Fraga, Carollo "has now escalated to nonsense, untrue allegations, insubordination, intimidation, and bullying by our manager." Carollo had accused several members of the council of taking bribes for votes and predicted his firing in an earlier press conference. The city council members who voted to remove him said that he was creating a toxic work environment leading to high turnover in city staff.[35]

Carollo sued the mayor and city council members on first amendment grounds and Florida whistleblower protections. In 2017, Carollo and the city of Doral settled, and Carollo was reinstated as city manager so he could resign.[36]

Miami City Commission (2017-present)[edit]

November 21, 2017, Joe Carollo defeated Alfie Leon in a runoff election to take the district 3 seat on the Miami city commission. The seat was papal held by his brother, Frank Carollo, who was term limited.[37]

Replacing Viernes Culturales[edit]

Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays) is a festival in the Little Havana neighborhood in Miami held on the last Friday of the month run by a nonprofit made up of area business-owners and community members. In 2018, Carollo applied for permits on the same space and time that would have held Viernes Culturales in a move to force the festival to shut down. Carollo said that he felt the existing event had become "a flea market." One of the Viernes Culturales nonprofit board members, William "Bill" Fuller, said that the actions were taken to attack him personally.[38]

Ouster of police chief[edit]

In March 2021, Mayor Francis Suarez announced that he had recruited and hired Houston police chief Art Acevedo. Acevedo said he would "not tolerate mediocrity at the Miami Police Department", and would make reforms to improve the department.[39] Acevedo quickly began to follow through with high profile firings of police officers starting in June 2021, which brought controversy to his position, and criticism from the Miami City Commission.[40]

Although Art Acevedo won praise from the Cuban community of Miami for standing with them during rallies to support the 2021 Cuban protests, the relationship soured when, in a statement to staff, he referred to a "Cuban mafia" that controlled the Miami Police Department. Carollo criticized him for the statement, calling it "unbelievable," and pointed out that Fidel Castro used the same language to denigrate Cubans in Miami. Carollo expressed disbelief that Acevedo, himself Cuban, could be unaware of that history.[41]

During a September 2021 hearing on the future of Acevedo as police chief, commissioners aired grievances against Acevedo, including his "Cuban mafia" comments, the firings of popular officers, and the hiring process by the mayor. Carollo brought in a video of Acevedo impersonating Elvis for a fundraiser. Carollo then proceeded to freeze the video and bring attention to Acevedo's crotch, stating "Do you find it acceptable for your police chief to go out in public with pants like that, with his mid-section and pants so tight?"[42]

Art Acevedo was fired by the city manager in October 2021. At the swearing in of his replacement, Manny Morales, Carollo played the theme from the film The Godfather, referencing the "Cuban mafia" statement.[43]

Actions against homeless[edit]

In October 2021, Carollo sponsored an ordinance criminalizing tent encampments in the city of Miami. Critics said that the ordinance would criminalize being homeless. Carollo and his supporters say that homelessness is a choice, with Carollo himself saying that the homeless are "people that are out there because they want to be out there."[44]

As a result of this action, the city of Miami was sued by the ACLU of Florida in federal court alleging that the city was destroying the property of residents. The plaintiffs in the case reported city workers destroying personal belongings such as clothing, family photos, identification documents, and an urn containing one plaintiff's mother's ashes.[45]

Carollo also pushed a plan to build an encampment on Virginia Key to keep homeless people. The plan drew sharp criticism from many sectors of Miami, including the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, advocates for the homeless, area historians, environmentalists, and nearby residents.[46] After vocal disagreement from the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust, which manages the beach due to its history as a Black beach during the Jim Crow era, the city commission took over the board.[47]


Racism and antisemitism[edit]

In the 1976 Democratic primary, Carollo supported the segregationist Governor of Alabama George Wallace. In 1979, Carollo, who was then a police officer, was reprimanded for putting Ku Klux Klan cartoon pamphlets in the mailbox of a fellow Black officer.[48]

Filmmaker Billy Corben accused Carollo of using “an anti-Semitic dog foghorn” when Carollo teased him repeatedly using his Jewish birth name instead of his professional name during a tense committee meeting.[49]

Domestic violence[edit]

On February 8, 2001, Carollo was arrested on charges of domestic violence. He was accused of throwing a terra cotta pot at his then-wife, leaving a golf-ball-sized welt on her head.[50]

Civil lawsuit[edit]

While serving as a commissioner, Carollo was sued by two businessmen for actions he took as commissioner that they felt violated their First Amendment rights. They claimed Carollo "weaponized" the code enforcement department against them and their businesses as a result of them supporting one of his political opponents. Carollo claims he exercised his powers as commissioner properly. In June 2023, a jury found Carollo liable for $15.9 million in compensatory damages and an additional $47.6 million in punitive damages. Carollo says he plans to appeal.[51][52]


  1. ^ Ianelli, Jerry (May 14, 2018). "A Brief History of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo's Craziest Moments". Miami New Times. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  2. ^ Flechas, Joey (April 28, 2014). "Doral Council fires City Manager Joe Carollo". Miami Herald. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  3. ^ Jones, Keith (June 21, 2017). "Former Doral City Manager Resigns After Being Reinstated". WTVJ. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  4. ^ Smiley, David; Koh, Elizabeth (November 21, 2017). "Carollo wins runoff for Miami City Commission District 3 seat". Miami Herald. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  5. ^ Miller, Carlos (September 12, 2009). "Say It Ain't So, Crazy Joe". NBC 6 South Florida. Retrieved May 22, 2023.
  6. ^ "Cuban-Born Commissioner Is Elected Mayor of Miami". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Miami's Police Chief Once Slammed Joe Carollo for Trying to "Manipulate System to His Advantage"".
  9. ^ "SUAREZ ANNOUNCES BID FOR RE-ELECTION". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved April 20, 2023.
  10. ^ Nordheimer, Jon (November 11, 1987). "Mayor Wins 2d Term in Miami Runoff Vote". New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  11. ^ By (November 15, 1995). "FORMER MIAMI CITY COMMISSIONER MAKES POLITICAL COMEBACK". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 7, 2023.
  12. ^ By (July 24, 1996). "CAROLLO RISES AGAIN, WINNING MIAMI MAYOR POST". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 7, 2023.
  13. ^ By (October 8, 1996). "MIAMI $68 MILLION IN THE RED". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  14. ^ By (December 8, 1996). "CAN MIAMI SAVE ITSELF?". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  15. ^ By (November 14, 1997). "SUAREZ UPSETS CAROLLO IN MIAMI RUNOFF". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  16. ^ Navarro, Mireya (March 5, 1998). "Fraud Ruling Invalidates Miami Mayoral Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  17. ^ "Dubious tactics snared votes for Suarez, Hernandez". The Miami Herald. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  18. ^ By (March 13, 1998). "CAROLLO SWORN IN AS MAYOR OF MIAMI". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  19. ^ By (June 18, 1998). "EX-MIAMI MANAGER TAKES HIS LEAVE". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 10, 2023.
  20. ^ By (February 3, 1999). "MIAMI, DEVELOPER TEAM TO PRESERVE SITE". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 11, 2023.
  21. ^ By (February 19, 1999). "ANCIENT CIRCLE TO STAY PUT". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 11, 2023.
  22. ^ By (November 3, 1999). "MIAMI VOTERS OPT TO CHANGE COURSE OF GOVERNMENT". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 13, 2023.
  23. ^ By (November 9, 1999). "MAYOR ASKS COURT TO VOID BALLOTING". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  24. ^ By (February 18, 2000). "MIAMI'S OVERHAUL IN LEGAL LIMBO". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  25. ^ By (February 23, 2000). "CAROLLO FOES CONCEDE DEFEAT". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  26. ^ "Cuban boy draws picture of shipwreck drama / Fox News - Cuba News / Noticias - CubaNet News". January 12, 2009. Archived from the original on January 12, 2009. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  27. ^ "A little boy named Elian arrived on a raft in 1999. A look at how the saga began". The Miami Herald. November 10, 2019. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  28. ^ a b c d Jiménez, Tristram Korten, Jose Luis. "The Return of Loco Joe". Miami New Times. Retrieved May 18, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ sources, Independent Cuban journalist and other media. "Cuba News / Noticias - CubaNet News". (in Spanish). Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  30. ^ By (June 6, 2000). "MEMOS:'MAYOR IS TO BE IGNORED' – Sun Sentinel". Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  31. ^ "Miami's City Hall inundated by bananas - UPI Archives". UPI. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  32. ^ By (November 7, 2001). "CAROLLO APPEARS OUT OF RACE". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  33. ^ Munzenrieder, Kyle. "Former Miami Mayor Joe Carollo Is the City Manager of Doral Now For Some Reason". Miami New Times. Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  34. ^ Herald, Miami. "He's baaack: former Miami Mayor Joe Carollo appointed Doral city manager | Naked Politics". Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  35. ^ Flechas, Joey (April 28, 2014). "Doral Council fires City Manager Joe Carollo". The Miami Herald. Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  36. ^ Madan, Monique (June 21, 2017). "Joe Carollo settles with Doral; comes back as city manager for half a day". The Miami Herald. Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  37. ^ Smiley, David (November 21, 2017). "Carollo wins runoff for Miami City Commission District 3 seat". The Miami Herald. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  38. ^ Flechas, Joey (November 17, 2018). "Joe Carollo wants to force out Viernes Culturales and host his own monthly festival". The Miami Herald. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  39. ^ Flechas, Joey (March 16, 2021). "Houston's police chief brings bravado to Miami PD: 'We will not tolerate mediocrity'". the Miami herald. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  40. ^ Rabin, Charles (January 12, 2022). "Seven Miami cops let go or demoted during purge by fired chief Acevedo to get jobs back". The Miami Herald. Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  41. ^ Rabin, Charles (September 10, 2021). "Miami Chief Acevedo apologizes on Twitter for referring to Miami's 'Cuban Mafia'". The Miami Herald. Retrieved June 7, 2023.
  42. ^ Rabin, Charles (September 28, 2021). "Crotch shots and pot shots: Miami police chief's dance moves highlighted in odd hearing". The Miami Herald. Retrieved June 7, 2023.
  43. ^ "Joe Carollo plays 'The Godfather' theme before interim police chief is sworn in". The Miami Herald. January 20, 2022. Retrieved June 7, 2023.
  44. ^ Kaiser, Anna Jean (September 24, 2021). "Miami may ban homeless encampments, arrest residents. Advocates say that's the crime". The Miami Herald. Retrieved June 8, 2023.
  45. ^ "Advocacy Groups File Lawsuit Challenging Miami's Practice of Destroying Property of People Experiencing Homelessness | ACLU of Florida | We defend the civil rights and civil liberties of all people in Florida, by working through the legislature, the courts and in the streets". June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 9, 2023.
  46. ^ Melendez, Pilar (August 7, 2022). "Miami Is Tearing Itself Apart Over Bonkers Plan to Move Homeless to Island". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 9, 2023.
  47. ^ "Miami's disrespectful takeover of Virginia Key Beach Trust is sudden — and suspect". The Miami Herald. October 27, 2022. Retrieved June 9, 2023.
  48. ^ Grimm, Fred (September 12, 2014). "Fred Grimm: For Joe Carollo, an erratic career, an erratic return". The Miami Herald.
  49. ^ "In nasty clash, Miami pol accused of 'antisemitic dog foghorn'". The Forward. March 26, 2021. Retrieved June 16, 2023.
  50. ^ By (February 8, 2001). "MAYOR CAROLLO CHARGED WITH BATTERING HIS WIFE". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  51. ^ Mazzei, Patricia (June 1, 2023). "Behind the Shimmer of Miami Is a City Hall in Turmoil". The New York Times. Retrieved June 2, 2023.
  52. ^ Rabin, Charles (June 1, 2023). "Big, expensive legal loss for Joe Carollo. Jury awards Miami businessmen $63.5 million". Miami Herald. Retrieved June 2, 2023.
Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Miami
Succeeded by
Preceded by Mayor of Miami
Succeeded by