Commission candidate Carmen Olazabal can’t rewrite ugly past

Commission candidate Carmen Olazabal can’t rewrite ugly past
  • Sumo

Carmen Olazabal wants you to forget that she’s an unethical opportunist who put her career above the very safety and lives of Coral Gables residents.

As Olazabal, a former interim city manager, runs for a city commission seat, she wants you to forget that she doctored documents and focus on her gender and her degrees from MIT and Harvard University and her relationship with Jim and Carmen Cason and the fact that once upon a time the city declared it Carmen Olazabal Day.

That must mean something, right? Wrong. We all know those giveaway proclamations aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

But that’s all she’s got. And of course Olazabal wants to rewrite history. We don’t blame her. Because the real version isn’t very flattering. This is a woman who, as assistant city manager, helped cover up a landscaping mistake that caused a jump in car accidents along Ponce de Leon Boulevard in 2014. The woman who wrote the lie — or, rather, cut and paste the lie — that got former City Manager Pat Salerno fired.

This is why Commissioner Vince Lago was surprised that Olazabal — who was forced to leave the city’s employ — would run for office. He told her when she asked to meet with him that he couldn’t support her.

“She was too willing to risk the public safety of our citizens to make Mr. Salerno happy and keep her job,” Lago said, adding that public safety was the commission’s No. 1 responsibility.

If readers will remember this is sort of when the whole split between the administration and Police Chief Ed Hudak started. Because Hudak told the truth and then-manager Salerno lied and obstructed the truth for whatever reason, we still don’t know to this day. Arrogance, maybe?

Read related: Gables manager Pat Salerno felled by lie to commissioner

There were Bismarck palm trees on Ponce de Leon from Salamanca to Alcazar Ponce de Leon Salernoavenues that were interfering with southbound drivers’ line of sight. Hudak produced a multi-page report with graphs and figures that indicated a 170% increase in car accidents at that corner. The commission got a one-page report with no such finding, no graphs, after a cut and paste job by Olazabal, at Salerno’s instructions.

“She showed a lack of ethics and a lack of judgement. A person who is willing to mislead the commission should not be making the laws if she is breaking the laws,” Lago said, adding that Olazabal confessed her role to him and former City Attorney Craig Leen after the Salerno resigned over the doctored document.

It was an exceptionally bad choice for her to help orchestrate the lie because Olazabal knew she’d have whistleblower protection had she told the truth, he added.

Lago, who is arguably the only real elected leader on the Gables dais, is supporting Cabrera. He, like many people, said he has no idea who this Jorge Fors guy is or where he came from and knows that Cabrera’s experience will give the Gables some historic perspective and balance.

“He’s an individual who understands the character of the city and who has a deep interest in making our city the best in Miami-Dade,” Lago said. “He believes in pushing forward on development that allows our city to progress but also keep its hometown feel.”

But, then again, Lago would support anyone against Olazabal. Because her missteps do not end with the Ponce trees lie.

There was the time she tried to give herself a 10 percent raise. Oh, she will say that she didn’t, but she did. And it was a consent item, in fact. Thank goodness that Lago pulled the resolution from the agenda in May of 2014 and discussed it. Consent items hardly get discussed and are approved en masse. Olazabal tried to fly under the radar and give herself a 10 percent raise.

By the way, she did get that raise. And then she tried to keep it after a permanent manager was hired.

Read related: Interim Coral Gables manager got a 20% raise — but ‘for now’

The resolution, which was likely written by Olazabal, said she deserved the raise because “during her four month tenure as Interim City Manager, Carmen Olazabal has worked effectively on complex projects such as: Tree Succession plan, Bike Master Plan, RFP preparation for Garage 1 and 4, Teamster Union Contract, FOP Union Contract, Trolley Building Settlement and Miracle Mile Streetscape Project.”

Wait. Is she taking credit for these projects that existed before and after her? Wasn’t she just doing her job? For which she was already being paid 4% more (a parting gift from Salerno)?

And was she even really doing her job? Or was someone else? Because she also had municipal manager extraordinaire Merrett Stierheim holding her hand. He was hired as a back-up consultant since the city commission had no confidence Olazabal could do it alone. How much of her job did Stierheim do? Well, e was approved for $50,000 worth of work. So at $150 an hour, that’s more than 333 hours, which is more than eight weeks if he was working full time.

No wonder he’s backing her.

And that’s a lot of help. Can anyone imagine if City Manager Peter Iglesias needed hand holding?

But even the almighty Stierheim couldn’t steer Olazabal away from every bad decision.

Read related: Merrett Stierheim — Coral Gables’ extra city manager for $50K

Like that time Olazabal named Maj. Theresa Molina acting chief, to everyone’s surprise, the eve before the commission was to name an interim chief. Molina, who was later caught spying on a resident and commissioners and was fired for it, was under investigation by the State Attorney’s Office at the time. Again, shows a lack of judgement if this is who Olazabal thought was better than Ed Hudak to run the department.

In fact, she also thought retired Maj. Scott Massington was better than Hudak and, after telling commissioners she would let them decide at a special meeting after the former chief resigned, she flew Massington back to Miami. Word on the street was that Salerno was pushing for Massington and Olazabal was still doing his bidding.

Of course, today as part of her history rewrite, she supports Hudak and congratulates his leadership on her website, saying he has kept crime low.

Because if there is one thing voters need to remember about Olazabal it’s she will do or say anything to keep her job — or to get one. The city commission position pays $31,585. But Ladra bets Olazabal would move for a 10% raise.

14 Responses to "Commission candidate Carmen Olazabal can’t rewrite ugly past"

  1. SPerez   March 4, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Ladra, are you going to do a blog/post on Cabrera and all of his baggage? Or, are you only targeting his opponents?

  2. Ana   March 4, 2019 at 9:44 am

    Bye, Felicia! Your big MIT and Harvard diplomas are’t big enough to hide that picture of a flipped over car on Ponce. That was someone’s family member in there!!! Your poor judgement was clearly dangerous then and dangerous now. That’s what I call the clear choice.

  3. moresmear   March 4, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    A better headline is “Commissioner Lago can’t stand Olazabal’s impeccable past”

  4. Maria C Cruz   March 4, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    You are absolutely right, Ana, but the emphasis is not just on the diplomas, by the way. Since you are a female voter you MUST like Carmen, forget about her poor judgement, lack of qualifications,ie, having to get help to deal with the unions for example, and vote for her because after all, women have to stick together!

  5. LovingOurCityBeautiful   March 5, 2019 at 8:28 am

    Power makes people do and say nasty things. Oh and also money because its so obvious how biased “Ladra” is. I wonder how much Cabrera and Lago are paying for this dog to bark, I mean political hit job. It’s obvious that Lago wants to be Mayor so bad, he’s willing to purchase a “reporter” (so laughable) and back a weak candidate who will ask “how high” when Lago asks him to jump. This piece tries to also take out Fors with the flippant “who is he” even though Fors and Lago have plenty of pictures together. I hope the voters of CG are smarter than to fall for this outdated and gross attempt at “journalism”. You might as well call this column an extension of the National Enquirer.

    • Ladra   March 5, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      Why does bias automatically lead you to think there is money involved? Because you’re lazy and slanted and narrow-minded and old, that’s why.

      Ladra has always been biased. I have never claimed not to be. Not all journalism is. At least I stand by what I say. We don’t even know who you are (I suspect a Cason), so it’s hard to take any talk about journalistic ethics seriously.

      And I have always supported Ralph Cabrera. I supported him when I worked on his campaign four years ago and I supported him when I didn’t two years before that. And I support him now. I don’t get paid to support anyone. Wouldn’t that be proven by the fact that I am not on the campaign this year and still support Ralph because he is just the best candidate? Wouldn’t I be bashing him if I were pay to play? It really makes no difference to me. That’s not how it works.

      By the way, Fors has bought advertising on Political Cortadito, same as Ralph and same as Mike Mena, because they know you are reading it, same as your neighbors. They want your eyes. Not my words. That’s what they buy. Views.

      And what in this story isn’t true? A political hit job, possibly. But MY political hit job. I am the author and the originator, not any candidate, and I do it with truth. It’s what Ladra does. Can you point to anything in the story as untrue? No, that’s why you make these baseless accusations and talk about Lago, who you seem obsessed with because he isn’t even running this time and so not on my radar. I never even paid attention to all his styrofoam ban laws.

      There are lots of kinds of journalism. This is one of them. It is opinion or analysis, a column, like you said, but based in facts. It is up to you to interpret.

      Love, Ladra

      • LovingOurCityBeautiful   March 5, 2019 at 5:55 pm

        You should really start adding the “Paid for by the Cabrera Campaign” line under your interpretation of “journalism”. It is obvious that you are not interested in the truth since you only carry water for certain candidates. And how could you call me “old”; I’m not a day over 63!

        • Ladra   March 6, 2019 at 7:52 am

          See? Not a single fact refuted. Just baseless attacks. Must be scared of the truth.

  6. Maria C Cruz   March 5, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Once again I find myself wondering why people who have”facts” choose to hide behind the curtain of anonymity. If they really believe what they are saying and can prove it, why do they hide? I don’t!! Every time I write anything I do it with my name because I can back it up!
    Carmen, why don’t you do the same? Is it because your ”facts” are not real?
    It is very well known that Lago will be running for Mayor because he has publically said it. So????
    You bring up the notion that Cabrera is weak and will be his puppet. Anyone who was around during Salerno’s time, including you, knows better. If not, the minutes from the Commission Meetings from that period of time are available. Please read them to refresh your memory! You were the one who did what he “ordered” you to do, even knowing that it was wrong. Is that not the reason you cried in Craig Leen’s office about the doctored document. Do you need to refresh your memory? Ask those that were present.
    In my letter to the neighbors I said that you had hired Merrett Stierheim, you have denied it. I suggest you read the September 11, 2014 minutes so you can see how you were praised by Commissioner Quesada for bringing Stierheim in to help you with labor issues.
    As to the pictures. I really don’t care if they exist because I was at the groundbreaking of the PS Building and witness several candidates taking pictures with people who didn’t even know them. But, if you have them, make them public!
    Enough said, if anyone, including you and, or your surrogates, or any resident would like to see proof of what I have written or said, all they have to do is contact me with a date, time and place and I will be happy to meet and provide the proofs.
    I challenge all the anonymous posters to take me on my offer and, if they do have any proof, to also bring it. That is not a requirement for me to present what I have, though..
    My email address is and my number is 305-323-2154.

  7. bebest   March 5, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Ana, Maria, Vince, Ralph all of you. Be best. hug a loved one, and the anger will sooth. you can vote how you want, but so can we

  8. Maria C Cruz   March 6, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    Twenty hours later and NO ONE, NOBODY, NADIE has contacted me. What are they afraid of? Do they think that not looking at the facts will make them go away? Or that if they don’t see the documents they can continue LYING to our residents?

  9. Maria C Cruz   March 8, 2019 at 5:56 am

    Soon it will be 3 days since I challenged anyone interested in knowing the truth to contact me and I would meet them any day, any time, anywhere to share the documents that show Carmen Olazabal has not been telling the truth. Guess what? Now I know why no one from her campaign has made any effort to verify the real facts. Instead she posts “HER facts” on her website and brings copies to give out at the Forum.
    She claims that she did not forward the complete Hudak traffic report because it would have been wrong to do so. In other words, it was RIGHT to redact the report and only send to the elected officials the censored one? Why did she not give them the complete report and also her “version” and allow them to use their brains to decide which one to believe? Why did she not give the elected officials the opportunity to ask questions about the report? Was she afraid that it would have cost her her job, much as Salerno had to resign for lying? Carmen, what gave you the right to keep our elected officials in the dark????
    Once again, anyone wishing to see both reports, the complete one and the shortened, cleaned one, not REAL one, please get in touch with me. I’ll be happy to provide them. 305-323-2154

  10. Jack Thompson   March 19, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    Jack Thompson here. Ladra is to be commended for more fully exposing Olazabal.

    As to Fors, somebody needs to inquire as to his campaign’s relationship with the pay-by-the-hour motels on Eighth Street.

  11. Pingback: Fact check: Coral Gables candidate Carmen Olazabal on the defensive – Political Cortadito

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