Opinion

Six Ridiculous Moments From Miami's "Special" Art Acevedo Meeting

Crotch shots, bottom-spanking, 911 audio were just some of the theatrical events at Monday's special meeting at Miami City Hall.
Crotch shots, bottom-spanking, 911 audio were just some of the theatrical events at Monday's special meeting at Miami City Hall. Screenshot via City of Miami/Photo courtesy of Billy Corben
Miami Police Department (MPD) chief Art Acevedo is learning the hard way that our town might not be run by the "Cuban Mafia," but rather the colorful cast of characters who occupy the dais of the Miami City Commission.

On Monday, September 27, the commission convened on Dinner Key for a "special" meeting — or, if you will, a modern-day Shakesperean comedy — to discuss Acevedo's tenure with MPD, and, specifically, to address what longtime Miami Herald reporter Charles Rabin labeled "a series of controversial decisions and gaffes" by the chief during his five-month tenure.

The former include high-profile police firings and an open acknowledgment of the department's history of letting bad cops slide. The latter would seem more a matter of opinion but are inarguably highlighted by the Havana-born police chief's off-the-cuff quip that his department was run by the "Cuban Mafia."

Though Acevedo apologized for the remark, made during an August roll-call meeting, the comparison spurred the five-member city commission's three Cuban-Americans — Joe Carollo, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, and Manolo Reyes, often referred to as the Three Amigos — to schedule the special session, where for hours they railed against Acevedo for his outspoken nature and his allegations of corruption within local government, and also seized the bully-pulpit opportunity to relitigate various blots on the chief's résumé dating back to his tenures in California and Texas.


As social media mavens looked in from far-flung locales ranging from Texas to New York to the U.K., the City of Miami's legislative braintrust — minus Commissioner Ken Russell, who announced prior to the meeting that he wanted no part in it — demonstrated that even when important matters are brought before them, the proceedings tend to skew toward the absurd.

Without further ado, here are the six most outrageous moments from Monday's Miami City Commission meeting.
click to enlarge Miami City Manager Art Noriega was also put on blast on Monday for failing to deeply vet Acevedo when he hired him as police chief out of the blue this April. - SCREENSHOT VIA CITY OF MIAMI
Miami City Manager Art Noriega was also put on blast on Monday for failing to deeply vet Acevedo when he hired him as police chief out of the blue this April.
Screenshot via City of Miami

"There's Something Called Google": Acevedo Went Unvetted

Acevedo's hiring in April came as a surprise to everyone. After a lengthy review process to find a replacement for outgoing MPD Chief Jorge Colina, City Manager Art Noriega and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced out of the blue that they had selected the Houston chief to take the reins, despite the fact that Acevedo hadn't applied for the position.

At Monday's meeting, commissioners questioned Noriega about how much research he'd done into Acevedo's past before hiring him.

"Did we do an in-depth vetting of him? No," Noriega replied.

It was a stunning moment: a bald-faced admission that the city administration failed to scrutinize the background of the man they were about to pay more than $400,000 a year to oversee the largest municipal police department in Florida.

So astounding, in fact, that it prompted white-haired commissioner Reyes to joke that Noriega didn't even bother to do a cursory internet search: "There's something called Google," the District 4 commissioner said.
click to enlarge Miami Police Department Chief Art Acevedo dancing the Cha Cha Cha at a charity event in Austin, Texas, in 2008. - SCREENSHOT VIA CITY OF MIAMI
Miami Police Department Chief Art Acevedo dancing the Cha Cha Cha at a charity event in Austin, Texas, in 2008.
Screenshot via City of Miami

Dancing With the Stars

In one of the more bizarre moments of Monday's inquisition, Commissioner Carollo shared video clips from Acevedo's tenure police chief in Austin, Texas. But this wasn't bodycam footage of interactions with the public. Rather, Carollo highlighted moments of alleged impropriety that took the form of Acevedo dancing at various events.


The first clip came from Acevedo's performance at Dancing with the Austin Stars, a 2008 charity event for the Center for Child Protection. In the video, Acevedo dances the cha-cha with a female dance partner and slaps her bottom with a parking ticket.

"The part that I wanted to illustrate is that he comes in a police uniform, as the chief of the department, and he's taking out this paper and hitting the lady," Carollo said helpfully.

As some spectators pointed out on Twitter, it was ironic to see Carollo scolding another man for "hitting the lady," but more on that later.
click to enlarge Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo dissected a clip of Chief Art Acevedo impersonating Elvis Presley, zeroing in on the latter's nether parts. - SCREENSHOT VIA CITY OF MIAMI
Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo dissected a clip of Chief Art Acevedo impersonating Elvis Presley, zeroing in on the latter's nether parts.
Screenshot via City of Miami

Hunka Hunka Burning Crotch

It's difficult, even for a New Times journalist, to type these words without guffawing: a sitting City of Miami commissioner spent taxpayers' time and resources to hold forth about the police chief's...twig and berries.

Partway through his video presentation, District 3 Commissioner Carollo analyzed a brief clip wherein Acevedo performs an Elvis Presley impersonation at a fundraising event in Austin, complete with cape, frills, and white pants that were maybe a little too showy around the ersatz Elvis' pelvis.

Carollo projected the video onto the screen in the commission chambers and asked that it video be paused to focus on Acevedo's nether regions, bemoaning the tightness of the chief's trousers.

"Do you find it acceptable, not that he was dressed as Elvis, but that he would go out publicly with pants like that, in that fashion?" Carollo asked City Manager Noriega. "His pants so tight like that — is this something that you believe is appropriate for a police chief?"

The question evidently intended as rhetorical in nature, Carollo went on to share his own experience with tight-fitting slacks.

"I don't wear those tight pants. The only time that you would see me like that was when I played football, but that's because I had a jockstrap on," said he.

We used to think we knew what people were talking about when they referred to Miami as a "banana republic." Now we're not so sure.
click to enlarge A truck blaring audio of Joe Carollo's daughter calling police in 2001 after her father hit his wife sat parked outside city hall during Monday's proceedings. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BILLY CORBEN
A truck blaring audio of Joe Carollo's daughter calling police in 2001 after her father hit his wife sat parked outside city hall during Monday's proceedings.
Photo courtesy of Billy Corben

"Crazy Joe" Carollo's Seedy Past Put on Blast

Remember the part where we promised to return to the theatrical fanny-slapping?

While Carollo was lambasting Acevedo from inside the commission chambers, a video advertisement truck sat parked outside Miami City Hall blaring audio of a 911 call from 2001, when one of the former's daughters called police after her father — who at the time was mayor of Miami — struck his wife, Maria Carollo, reportedly leaving a "golf ball-sized welt" on her head.

"Help, my dad is hurting my mom! Please come now, please!" played from the speakers of the ad truck, rented by Cocaine Cowboys documentarian and local political gadfly Billy Corben, who recently clashed with Carollo over comments the commissioner made on the dais that Corben called anti-Semitic and racist.

Carollo was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery in the 2001 incident. The Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office dropped the domestic violence charges after Carollo agreed to attend anger-management courses.
Reached by New Times by phone, Corben compared the Cuban-born Carollo to a mafioso and to dictator Fidel Castro, excoriating the commissioner's use of the commission to harass political opponents.

"If he wants to sit on his bully pulpit and read for hours like Fidel the Google search results of everyone in the city to intimidate and harass them like the wannabe tin-pot mayor that he is," Corben says, "then we need to talk about Carollo and his demagoguery, McCarthyism, and wife-beating that has plagued this city since he was first elected in 1978."

Carollo has been a fixture in Miami politics for longer than some can remember and has racked up a laundry list of controversies — many of which have been cataloged by New Times — that earned him the moniker "Loco Joe."
click to enlarge While his handpicked police chief was being raked over the coals, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez sipped from a tall can of Perrier and talked bitcoin on a YouTube livestream. - SCREENSHOT VIA YOUTUBE
While his handpicked police chief was being raked over the coals, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez sipped from a tall can of Perrier and talked bitcoin on a YouTube livestream.
Screenshot via Youtube

Where in the World Was Francis Suarez?

While Acevedo's genitalia were being examined through his pants in absentia, some observers wondered: Where is the man who brought him here? Where is Mayor Suarez?

Suarez, who reportedly introduced Acevedo to Noriega via the mayor's connection to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, was too busy to defend the man he touted as the "Tom Brady of police chiefs" because he was doing an interview about bitcoin in his office.

During the meeting, Suarez called in to The Best Business Show with Anthony Pompliano and sipped Perrier and waxed romantic about cryptocurrency while his commissioners made a mockery of Miami on the national stage.

Then again, that's pretty on-brand nowadays for Suarez, who seems to spend more time with tech insiders than with the constituents who pay his salary.

Suarez did not return a request for comment from New Times on Monday but did provide a generic comment to the Herald, saying he looks forward to a quick resolution to the matter at hand.
click to enlarge Miami resident Mario Alvarez scolded commissioners for wasting taxpayers' time and embarrassing the city. - SCREENSHOT VIA CITY OF MIAMI
Miami resident Mario Alvarez scolded commissioners for wasting taxpayers' time and embarrassing the city.
Screenshot via City of Miami

"We're All Looking Like a Joke in Miami"

Monday's special meeting was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. But in typical Miami fashion, the proceedings commenced more than an hour late, at 11:10 a.m. That's fine and dandy, par for the course, except for the fact that public comment had been slated for 11:30 a.m., and numerous citizens and police officers had taken time out of their day to speak at the meeting.


Those who came to comment weren't invited to the podium until around 4:15 p.m., by which time they'd endured more than six hours of Carollo and company airing Acevedo's dirty laundry, including a leisurely lunch break that also ran nearly 30 minutes late.

Once they were finally given their statutory right to comment on the proceedings, each person was given only about two minutes to speak their piece.

Some, including members of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association, Miami's Black police union, used their allotted time to defend Acevedo and his reform-minded approach. Others denounced the chief, including attorney Robert Harris, who spoke on behalf of former deputy police chief Ronald Papier and his wife, Commander Nerly Papier, both of whom Acevedo fired this summer.

Others stepped up to speak their minds about the three commissioners — Carollo, Diaz de la Portilla, and Reyes — who had orchestrated this event on city time and on the taxpayers' dime.

"I want to thank Chief Acevedo for detailing how you, you, and you have abused your public office," said left-wing political activist Thomas Kennedy, pointing at the Three Amigos. Kennedy accused the three of using their office for "racketeering, bribery, extortion, and corruption, for decades."

Diaz de la Portilla joked about Kennedy being a "known agitator" as he walked away from the mike — a reference to Kennedy's record of crashing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' events.

Miami resident Mario Alvarez came forward to blast the commissioners for their tardiness.

"What I don't agree with is you guys coming an hour and a half late when we pay you guys as taxpayers, then at lunch coming 30 more minutes late then getting coffee, for God's sake," Alvarez snapped.

Then Alvarez said what many in the city were thinking as they watched the spectacle unfold in real time.

"We're all looking like a joke in Miami," he said.
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Joshua Ceballos is staff writer for Miami New Times. He is a Florida International University alum and a born-and-bred Miami boy.
Contact: Joshua Ceballos