By Anne Michael-Anthony
On March 18, in a chambers packed with citizens, press, and staff the tension is felt and anticipation of what may happen builds. However, the crowd does not have to wait long, Item 9(G) “Discussion: Reappointment of Vice Mayor (Requested by Mayor Boria)” is quickly moved to be the first item addressed at the Council Meeting.
The Mayor of the City of Doral has the right to appoint the Vice Mayor. The Vice Mayor will step in at any given time to act on the Mayor’s behalf and therefore a copasetic relationship, trust, and understanding of the Mayor’s overall policies and vision must be shared by both. It appears that this is not the case with Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz and Mayor Boria. The rift between the two on issues and policies has widened and this has caused stagnation and conflict at City Hall. In an effort to resolve the current tensions and narrow the divide within City Hall, Mayor Boria exercises his powers and appoints a new Vice Mayor who will work closely with him in hopes of bringing the City together.
The Mayor passes the gavel to Councilwoman Fraga and makes a motion to remove Vice Mayor Ruiz. The item that was up for discussion seems to take a sharp turn as he then nominates Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez as Vice Mayor with little discussion.
Councilwoman Rodriguez graciously declines, “I’m quite busy with my newborn and my job responsibilities and as such I would like to respectfully decline the nomination.” The Mayor, then nominates Councilwoman Rodriguez-Aguilera as Vice Mayor and she accepts.
Vice Mayor Ruiz makes a statement, “I am flattered to serve with the group of colleagues and ladies on this council,” says Vice Mayor Ruiz, “I had the opportunity to serve with four men and it was an interesting experience and now I have the opportunity to work with four very talented women.” She goes on to state that this is not a personal issue for her and that she does not have any issues with any of the councilmembers and that she finds it inappropriate to re-select a new Vice Mayor mid-term. The still Vice Mayor goes on to state that she serves the people of Doral and that the Mayor’s decision is done at a “whim”. “I want you to hear this directly from me. My colleagues on the council, the administration, the people in this room, the media, those watching at home and all the residents of Doral, regardless of what decision is made today in terms of appointed titles, I will continue to be the leader and the voice on this dais. I refuse to be intimidated or muzzled or silenced.”
Councilwoman Bettina then makes her statement opening up the floor statin that since her tenor at City Hall there have been numerous complaints filed against Sandra Ruiz for abuse of power, harassment, and intimidation. She states that this is a matter of public record and that anyone can search for the validity of these complaints. She goes on, “Vanessa Britto has been saying that I have placed a lawsuit against the City, and I am. That lawsuit is an EEOC complaint against Sandra Ruiz and Pete Cabrera because of the abuse of power, intimidation, and discrimination. This has happened way before, not only me, there are at least ten different women with complaints.” Councilwoman goes on to state that there have been phone calls made to the citizens spreading rumors and untruths about her. She says her office is always opened to answer any questions
The Mayor stated that he had elected Vice Mayor Ruiz in the spirit of putting the past behind them, “However, the thirst for power that Sandra Ruiz has cannot be satisfied no matter how gracious we can be to her.” The Mayor continues to point out that the current recall effort against Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera has been undermined by Sandra Ruiz, Pete Cabrera, and Mr. Al Malouf . “Mr. Maloof is a lobbyist associated with both Sandra Ruiz and Pete Cabrera that together with them has been lobbying for the law firm that he represents to be named City Attorney for the City of Doral.” Mayor Boria speaks and outlines Vice Mayor Ruiz divisive tactics, “…when three City managers in a row have complained with examples and facts of how she has been attempting to interfere in the administration of our city, I will say, as it is said in baseball, strike three, you’re out!” And, with those words, the City of Doral has a new Vice Mayor.
Counclwoman Ruiz picks up her name plate and moves her seat, Vice Mayor Rodriguez Aguilera moves as well and takes her position next to Mayor Boria.
As the room is silent during the shift of power, Sandra Ruiz’ words echo through the chamber, the statements made by the Councilwomen echoes through out.
“This really saddens me. I’m not against you (she looks at the Mayor), I’m not for anyone. I’m here to serve the people and I don’t feel that that is being done”, said Coucilwoman Fraga
“It also saddens me, Christi that we cannot do the job we were elected to do we are put in this circus that has become Doral” , said Vice Mayor Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera