Miami council members Joe Carollo and Miguel Gabela scream ‘You’re a liar’ and ‘You’re a small little man’ as they almost BRAWL over vote, with one likening the other to Tony Soprano

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Written By Maya Cantina

Two Miami council members nearly brawled, screaming ‘You’re a liar’ and ‘You’re a small little man’ over a vote to extend the city attorney’s contract at the first city commission meeting of 2024. 

Commissioner Miguel Gabela, 59, jumped out of his seat and charged toward Commissioner Joe Carollo, 68, until a staff member rushed to hold him back, bringing the Thursday meeting to an abrupt end.

Gabela repeatedly said, ‘You are a liar,’ before standing up and rushing toward Carollo, seemingly ready for a confrontation.

Carollo responded, ‘You are a small little man. You want to play Tony Soprano, but I’ll play right back to you.’

The near-brawl on Thursday was sparked by a vote to extend City Attorney Victoria Méndez’s contract for five months following a lawsuit alleging her and her husband of real estate fraud. 

Two Miami council members nearly brawled, screaming ‘You’re a liar’ and ‘You’re a small little man’ over a vote to extend the city attorney’s contract at the first city commission meeting of 2024

Commissioner Miguel Gabela (right), 59, jumped out of his seat and charged toward Commissioner Joe Carollo (left), 68, until a staff member rushed to hold him back, bringing the Thursday meeting to an abrupt end

Commissioner Miguel Gabela (right), 59, jumped out of his seat and charged toward Commissioner Joe Carollo (left), 68, until a staff member rushed to hold him back, bringing the Thursday meeting to an abrupt end

Carollo said, 'You are a small little man. You want to play Tony Soprano, but I'll play right back to you'

Carollo said, ‘You are a small little man. You want to play Tony Soprano, but I’ll play right back to you’

Both Carollo and Gabela returned to their seats, but the altercation continued as Carollo pointed Gabela and called him ‘a gangster’. 

The former mayor of Miami said Gabella wanted to ‘act like a thug’ in an interview with NBC6 outside the city hall. 

He said: ‘He wants to act like a Tony Soprano. He blew his cork and came at me. I’m a senior citizen. I’m not gonna let a young man come and hit me while I’m sitting in a chair. Of course, I’m gonna stand up.’ 

Gabella, who was elected at the city commissioner in November last year, called Carollo ‘a bully’ after the meeting. 

‘Sometimes you have to stand up to bullies, but it was never my intention to do anything,’ he said. 

‘I apologize if that’s the way it seemed, but the man starts calling me a gangster. I am not a gangster. I am a law-abiding citizen and I’m a duly elected commissioner like himself and he needs to respect that so people can respect him,’ he added. 

He later told Miami Herald:  ‘I’m just saying, ‘look man, if you want to have a fight outside, I’ll go outside with you.”

 Gabela added that Carollo ‘doesn’t like losing, and he’s lost control of this commission.’

Carollo responded: ‘If Mr. Gabela would have made it all the way here and he would have attacked me like he was going to, you bet your heart that I was going to defend myself.’ 

The near-brawl on Thursday was sparked by a vote to extend City Attorney Victoria Méndez's contract for five months following a lawsuit alleging her and her husband of real estate fraud

The near-brawl on Thursday was sparked by a vote to extend City Attorney Victoria Méndez’s contract for five months following a lawsuit alleging her and her husband of real estate fraud

The decision came after Méndez and her husband, Carlos Morales (pictured), were sued in March for allegedly scheming to profit from properties belonging to poor people

The decision came after Méndez and her husband, Carlos Morales (pictured), were sued in March for allegedly scheming to profit from properties belonging to poor people

Prior to the dramatic interaction between the two lawmakers, the commission voted 3-2 to extend Méndez’s contract for five months instead of removing her immediately. 

The decision came after Méndez and her husband, Carlos Morales, were sued in March for allegedly scheming to profit from properties belonging to poor people. 

Jose Alvarez, 70, claimed the couple convinced him to sell his Havana home below market value because there were more than $270,000 fins for code violations. 

But Morales later had all the violations wiped out by the code enforcement board using his political connections with city hall, the lawsuit alleges.  

‘The City waived $271,250.00 in fines for the property now owned by the City Attorney’s husband after a one-minute explanation,’ the lawsuit reads.

Méndez called the allegations ‘patently false,’ adding that it’s ‘really difficult and painful’ for her and her family. 

‘They have tried to bully me into submission in order to not continue to do my job as the city attorney. I have never seen such an intentional scheme to thwart justice.’ Méndez said in a statement last year. 

Jose Alvarez, 70, claimed the couple convinced him to sell his Havana home (pictured) below market value because there were more than $270,000 fins for code violations

Jose Alvarez, 70, claimed the couple convinced him to sell his Havana home (pictured) below market value because there were more than $270,000 fins for code violations

On Thursday, Carollo voted yes on the extended contract, saying, 'I don¿t think the city attorney has done anything wrong not to have extended her contract further'

On Thursday, Carollo voted yes on the extended contract, saying, ‘I don’t think the city attorney has done anything wrong not to have extended her contract further’

An investigation by WLRN found Morales’ company has been doing business with Miami-Dade County’s Guardianship Program for the past 12 years. 

The Guardianship Program oversees the assets of vulnerable individuals and those with incapacities, selling them to assist in covering living expenses.  

But the investigation found Morales’ real estate company has gained profits from 14 sales with the program and he had six-figure code fines removed by the Miami Cod Enforcement Board. 

On Thursday, Carollo voted yes on the extended contract, saying, ‘I don’t think the city attorney has done anything wrong not to have extended her contract further.’ \

The newly elected Gabela and Damian Pardo voted against, expressing their hope for Mendez to resign immediately. 

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