Miami commissioner explains delay in vote in settlement of unauthorized map claim

MIAMI – During this week's Sunday in South Florida, Miami Commissioner Miguel Gabela said the delay in replacing the map of unconstitutional city districts was to ensure it gets done.

Gabela said the map was designed to divide Coconut Grove to “accommodate” Commissioner Joe Carollo's home and protect former Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla, whom Gabela deposed.

On April 10, Judge K. Michael Moore ruled that city councilors had drawn up maps by “sorting citizens by race” — declaring them unconstitutional.

“That’s how we got into this problem,” Gabela said.

Carollo, a former mayor, and Commissioner Manolo Reyes disputed claims at public meetings that they were endorsing the candidate and said Thursday that they want to prioritize diversity.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union reached a settlement that required the city to pay over $1.5 million in legal fees following a 2022 lawsuit It was claimed that the redevelopment of the city was racially motivated.

Moore agreed that it violated the 14th Amendment.

Aside from legal fees, the plaintiffs have a proposed plan that places all of Coconut Grove in District 2 and all of Overtown in District 5. They also want a ballot question and a redistricting committee.

Gabela said Commissioner Damián Pardo, who was elected to represent District 2 in November, was not present at Thursday's meeting. He supported the settlement of a lawsuit in January.

“It would be a 2-2 vote and nothing would happen, so I'd rather put it off until Pardo comes back rather than have it fail,” Gabela said.

Commissioner Christine King voted with Gabela to postpone the vote. Gabela said he expected Pardo and King to vote in favor of the settlement, as he intended, and that Reyes and Carrollo would vote against it.

“If we don’t vote for this map, we won’t be in control,” Gabela said of the risk of rising legal fees.

The agreement has “no impact on the qualifications of the incumbent commissioner,” so Carollo would continue to represent District 3, even though his home will be in District 2.

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