By Gerri Elder
On August 28th, former Miami Mayor Joe Carollo's car was struck at an intersection. Neither driver was injured in the accident, but I can imagine that they each felt like they were having heart failure when they realized who was driving the other car in the accident.
The car that hit Carollo's car was driven by none other than Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Paul Seigel, who happens to be the same judge who has been presiding over the Carollo divorce. Carollo and his wife have been attempting to get a divorce since 2000, but they just have not been able to reach an agreement in all these years.
Siegel, who was charged with failing to yield right of way and found to be at fault in the accident, recused himself from the Carollo divorce case after the fender-bender. So now, some lucky new judge gets to take over the complicated divorce case.
Maria Ledon Carollo filed for divorce from Joe Carolla in November, 2000. In February, 2001, Joe Carollo was arrested for a misdemeanor simple assault after he allegedly threw a cardboard tea canister that beaned his wife in the temple during an argument about how to make tea at the family home.
Mrs. Carollo reportedly suffered a lump on her head from the alleged assault. Carollo was ordered to stay away from his wife for a month and a half as a result of the incident. A short time later, over the objection of the State Attorney's Office, the restraining order and charge related to the domestic violence were dropped after Mrs. Carollo said that she again wanted to try to reconcile and Joe Carollo completed a family counseling program. We can see how well that has worked out, as the couple is still trying to divorce.
The former Miami Mayor has a past that can be delicately described as colorful. In the 80s Carollo gained notoriety because he often publicly claimed a communist conspiracy was going on among his opponents. He also often pulled political media stunts that kept him in the public eye. Once, while he was a commissioner in Miami, Carollo was to speak at a news conference to endorse the then-Mayor of Miami, Maurice Ferre. When he took the microphone he proceeded to bash Ferre instead.
Carollo came to be the Mayor of Miami in 1996 when he won a special election after Mayor Steve Clark died. In 1997 there was a run-off election and Carollo lost to a previous Miami Mayor, Xavier Suarez. Carollo contested the election, claiming voter fraud and had all of the absentee ballots thrown out. Four months after the election Xavier Suarez was removed from office and Carollo was once again in the Mayor's Office.
He was the Mayor of Miami during the Elián González scandal. On April 23, 2000 as Miami Mayor, Carollo issued a statement saying that the INS agents who seized Elián González at gunpoint and took him from his Miami family were "atheists" and said "they don't believe in God." Carollo had supported the efforts of Elian's Miami family to keep the boy and raise him in the United States.
In the 2001 election the attorney for the Miami family of Elián González , Manny Diaz, and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, who is obviously not a Carollo fan, ran against him for the Miami Mayor's Office. Carollo was defeated by Manny Diaz in that election, ending his stint as Mayor of Miami but not the controversy that seems to follow him in life.