'We Are Disappointed': Miami Commissioners Delay Racial Gerrymandering Settlement, May Cost Taxpayers More Money

'We Are Disappointed': Miami Commissioners Delay Racial Gerrymandering Settlement, May Cost Taxpayers More Money

The Miami Commission decided to delay their racial gerrymandering settlement which may cost taxpayers more money

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
May 9, 2024

MIAMI, FL—When a federal Judge found the Miami Commission guilty of racially gerrymandering their voting districts, they agreed to vote on a legal settlement redrawing the districts on Thursday morning. However, they decided to delay the settlement until May 23rd, potentially costing taxpayers more money in legal fees.

Why? Because some members were allegedly not fully briefed, believed they were "wrongfully" accused, and one member was out of town.

Last month, federal Judge K. Michael Moore ruled in favor of the ACLU of Florida and various other voting rights groups against the city of Miami, saying that commissioners' 2022 redrawn city districts were done to keep specific racial makeups: one Black district, one White district, and three Hispanic districts, WLRN reports.

The Judge ordered the city not to conduct any more elections with that voting map because it violated the 14th Amendment.

In response to this, a prepared settlement agreement was set to be approved Thursday morning by commissioners. The settlement included a new map of city voting districts for next year's elections and required the city to pay $1.58 million to the plaintiffs to cover their attorney costs and fees.

Commissioner Joe Carollo, however, claimed he had not received a full briefing before the meeting and that he and his fellow commissioners were being "wrongfully" accused of racial gerrymandering.

Judge Moore found otherwise.

“If I’m going to be asked to vote on something I want to be able to know what the breakdown is so everyone knows it. And at the same time I’d like to compare it to the other two maps that we have,” Carollo said. He also pointed out that Commissioner Damian Pardo was out of the country for a pre-scheduled event, claiming he wasn't comfortable approving a settlement without all five members present.

Pardo, however, told WLRN he was in full support of the legal settlement.

Carollo—or "Loco Joe" as some have monikered him—is no stranger to controversy: he had illegal ties to the Saudi royal family, allegedly threw a teapot at his wife's head, and compared Miami's first Asian-American Commissioner to Kim Jong-un.

"We are disappointed in the postponement. We hoped that after the ruling by the U.S. District Court, the City would want to resolve this matter expeditiously and look forward to the development of a new and racially equitable redistricting process," said interim executive director Howard Simon of the ACLU of Florida in a statement to The Floridian.

"Our clients fought for district lines that were fair to the communities that make up our multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural City.  And we fought to improve democracy in Miami by requiring the use of district maps that are fair and not racially discriminatory," the statement continues.

"That has been our guiding north star from the beginning of the Miami redistricting case, and it has been the concern of the federal district court that forcefully struck down the discriminatory maps that the City had been using."

The choice to delay the settlement will inevitably cost taxpayers more money to fund the Commissioners' unorthodox decision. The city has already paid their legal team—Gray Robinson—over $1.29 million to represent them, and will likely pay them more as the case drags out.

Additionally, the $1.58 million payout they owe the plaintiffs could turn into more if they decide to ask for more money for the delay, meaning more money out of taxpayers' pockets.

The city must tell the court where they are at with their settlement negotiations by next week.

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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