North Bay Village Mayor Corina Esquijarosa's days in office might be numbered. Citizens for Full Disclosure, a political action committee, has collected 414 signatures from village residents for a petition to give her the boot.
The group targeted Esquijarosa earlier this year after she was busted for lying on her personal financial interest statement when she ran in 2010. She failed to disclose she derived income from two rental condos she owned in the City of Miami. She also failed to mention a default judgment against her as a result of losing one of the properties to foreclosure.
Things got worse for the mayor when a part-time resident complained in April to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser, accusing her of falsely claiming a homestead exemption on the other condo she still owned and rented to a man named Osmany Ramos. (She has since lost that property, located at 1021 NW Third St., to foreclosure as well.) Last month, the property appraiser filed a lien against Esquijarosa and her husband for not paying $3,109.70 in back taxes she owes the county.
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Esquijarosa, whose day job as a senior project representative for Miami's Public Facilities Department pays her a $98,000 annual salary and benefits package, has previously told Riptide that she forgot to notify the property appraiser she had moved to North Bay Village and no longer qualified for a homestead exemption. She declined to comment for this story. State law requires signatures from 275 of North Bay Village's 2,748 registered voters to force a recall election. Now the Miami-Dade County Clerk's Office has to certify that the 414 John Hancocks are indeed from those voters.
Once the signatures are verified, Esquijarosa is given time to respond to Citizens for Full Disclosure's recall petition before the ballot can be placed before the voters. Al Blake, the PAC's vice president, says Esquijarosa probably would have lost the election had residents known about her default judgment and her homestead exemption fraud. She won by six votes. "She basically misled and deceived the voters," Blake grouses. "And she's defrauded her employer, the City of Miami, of property tax revenue. Hopefully, she will resign before we actually get the recall question on the ballot."