Hypocrite Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago votes against appointmentPolitical Cortadito

Loses attempt to block Javier Baños from board

What a openly obvious hypocrite Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago is. It’s the only thing he’s transparent about.

Lago tried to block the appointment Tuesday of Javier Baños, a former commission candidate and the new publisher of Gables Insider — which he took over from Commissioner Ariel Fernandez after the latter was elected last year — to the Historic Preservation Board. After a long-winded explanation for his obviously biased and vindictive position, Baños’ appointment was ratified 4-1. Even Vice Mayor Rhonda Anderson voted in favor and against the mayor.

This is because Lago’s retaliation and hypocrisy is in plain view for even Anderson to see.

Lago said that one of the reasons why Baños should not be appointed is because of his “political agenda” and cited articles in the Insider that have been critical of him. He seems hurt now that the website doesn’t wax on about what a great public servant he is, you know, like they used to because he paid them. He admitted it at a public meeting last year.

Read related: Coral Gables commission beefs up security at first post ‘assault’ meeting

“Political bias is one of the biggest issues we are facing,” he said. No kidding. He should know.

The mayor had former commission Candidate Claudia Miro removed from the planning and zoning board last year after she failed to vote for his chosen pocket vote on the board. Anderson removed her, citing attendance as the reason. But it came on the heels of a barrage of text messages from Lago to Miro in which he expressed disappointment with her vote.

The mayor has appointed plenty of people who also have political agendas — they just align with his. Not to mention his appointment to the Waterways Advisory Board of business partner and real estate agent Manny Chamizo, who faces felony stalking charges and has a hearing in September (more on that later).

If the city is going to start screening board members and apply some kind of regulatory political standards, they will need to replace a lot of board members. And they gotta start with Lago’s peeps.

Lobbyist Leslie Pantin, who went before the commission with an item Tuesday and whose mother works for the city — and who also has given at least $10,000 to Lago’s political action committee — is the mayor’s appointment to the cultural development board. He also gave $10K to the PAC for former commission candidate Alex Bucelo, who was heavily supported by Lago. If that’s not evidence of a political agenda, Ladra doesn’t know what is.

Nicolas Cabrera, the self-named “Prince of Coral Gables” and son of former Commissioner Ralph Cabrera, is Lago’s appointment to the Insurance and Risk Management Advisory Board. Although the former commissioner is a professional benefits consultant, Cabrera doesn’t work in the industry — he works for the mayor’s side renovations business — and could also be deemed as unqualified. Cabrera is also the day to day handler for Lago-recruited commission candidate Richard Lara, to run against Menendez, so he’s got a political agenda for sure. Cabrera also knocked on doors with Vice Mayor Anderson to talk to residents about bike lanes (more on that later) and made public comments on it.

Is the Carmen Cason appointment to the Merrick House Governing Board a reward for her hubby Jim Cason‘s endorsement in the last mayoral race (and support in the forthcoming 2025 race)?

Lago even appointed Ariel Fernandez, his one-time ally and campaign consultant, to the Gables High School Community Relations Committee at the same time as he was publisher of the Gables Insider. That’s because they agreed on stuff. It’s different if you disagree with L’Ego.

Read related: Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago blasted Claudia Miro via text after P&Z vote

The mayor also had no issue with Baños serving on the Board of Adjustments, where Fernandez said he was very happy. Fernandez asked him to switch to the Historic Preservation Board after his appointment, who moved out of the city, recommended Baños for the post and that Karelia Martinez Carbonell, president of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables, “spoke very highly” of his qualifications.

“I trust Mr. Baños. He has never taken advantage of his position on the Board of Adjustment,” Fernandez said.

Commissioner Kirk Menendez said he was confident that as an attorney Baños understood the rules of a quasi judicial board. He also said he believes in respecting the appointments of his colleagues.

Lago started his tirade by announcing he had a “few comments” about his “significant concerns” and said he had received two whole emails from residents who also opposed it “and multiple phone calls” from residents too scared of retaliation on Gables Insider to create a public record by sending an email.

The mayor started by saying that Baños “does not possess the relative experience required for this position.” But Baños owns a historic home that he dedicates to restoring correctly. The board calls for an attorney, which Baños is. Lago also said that Baños had demonstrated “very combative behavior” on his previous tenure on the pension board, leading to other members threatening to resign.

But his real issue is the fact that Baños now runs Gables Insider, which has exposed his gaffes and graft for month and no longer just whitewashes everything he does. He said, for example that there were serious questions about Baños ability to remain impartial.

“It is vital that our board members approach the rules without political bias,” Lago said, and proceeded to give an example of an article on the blog about the City Hall “assault” incident between the mayor and city manager that the police are investigating. “[It] fails to relevantly mention in his article that the assistant city manager was also at the meeting.

“It is the continual attack and innuendo that is disturbing,” Lago said.

“He has a conflict of interest in my opinion. He often publishes one-sided pieces filled with unfounded allegations,” the mayor went on and on. “His position with the Gables Insider casts doubts on his ability to be an unbiased board member.”

Baños said he was simply trying to inform the community and, yes, he provides his perspective. He also said he keeps his job and his public service separate. “I’m very careful about those things. I am a lawyer, at the end of the day,” he told Ladra, adding that Lago is the one with a personal bias.

“I take offense to my mayor using my political speech to disqualify me from service.”

Well, he tried. But he didn’t get to.

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