"Miami is a banana republic"

The stench of rotten fruit lingers heavily over City Hall.

Published May 5, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Staffers at Miami's City Hall have something Mayor Joe Carollo seems to be lacking -- political savvy and a well-developed sense of humor. After the ouster of Police Chief William O'Brien and City Manager Don Warshaw (who's been asked to pack his bags in the coming days), employees have had to stumble through the doors of an edifice covered with rotting bananas. Get it? A banana republic!

"Have any recipes for bananas?" Eileen Damaso, chief of staff for City Commissioner Joe Sanchez asked the Miami Herald. "There's banana bread, banana splits, bananas flambi, what else?" Drivers passing City Hall have also taken to screaming, "Miami is a banana republic." (Referring not to the clothing Elian rescuer Donato Dalrymple wears on his Geraldo Rivera appearances but to the corrupt Latin American governments that inspired the term.) The paper reports that, despite a fair amount of office jokes about the tense situation, morale among City Hall staff is pretty low these days.

Carollo isn't taking the backlash lightly. "Warshaw is the most evil man I have met," he told the Herald Wednesday night. "He makes Rasputin look like a child."

This food fight is the latest development in a stinky mess that has rocked
the city in the wake of last month's raid and seizure of 6-year-old
Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez
at the home of his Miami relatives.

By Daryl Lindsey

Daryl Lindsey is associate editor of Salon News and an Arthur Burns fellow. He currently lives in Berlin and writes for Salon and Die Welt.

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