MIAMI – Another business owner accuses Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo of abusing his power.
Esther Alonso doesn’t want the city to turn Virginia Key — enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts who rent paddle boards, kayaks and bikes from her business — into a homeless camp.
Surveillance video shows when police officers arrived Friday afternoon at the Virginia Key Outdoor Center to lock up and threaten Alonso.
“If you refuse to sign this form, then I have to take you to jail, physically,” said a Miami police officer.
Alonso said he could not believe what he was hearing. It was outrageous to him that a police officer would threaten to take someone to jail for refusing to sign a form.
The officers were with two inspectors from the Miami Office of Code Enforcement, who accused him of operating without a certificate of occupancy and owing more than $140,000 in back rent.
Alonso, a City of Miami tenant, denied the allegations.
“I sent her checks in the mail,” Alonso said, adding that they seemed to “disappear” and that as a Cuban-American she was able to quickly recognize the “abuse of power.”
Carollo is spearheading a plan to build tiny homes on Virginia Key property to divert the homeless from urban areas. In July, commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the pilot program. Commissioners Ken Russell and Manolo Reyes were the dissenting votes.
Before Alonso told her it was clear Carollo was abusing his power over city employees, the commissioner faced similar allegations that resulted in lawsuits.
The owner of the Little Havana nightclub Ball and Chain, Bill Fuller, accused Carollo of abusing his power to punish him for supporting his political opponent.
Former Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo also accused Carollo of misusing Miami Police Department resources “to further” his personal agendas.
This Week in South Florida: August 7th
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