A North Miami city council meeting descended into a shouting match Tuesday night before a vote on the controversial issue of privatized garbage pickup, with Mayor Andre Pierre referring to one of Councilman Michael Blynn's daughters as a prostitute and then demanding Blynn's outraged wife be removed from the room.
In other words, it was equal parts embarrassing and awesome -- unless you're Elisa or Sharon Blynn, who according to the Miami Herald both boast clean criminal records. The brouhaha began when their father pointed out that privatizing sanitation pickup would cost North Miami more than $600,000 a year, according to NBCMiami, and then referred to the ordinance having already ensnared Pierre's nephew, who was hit with a bribery charge in March for allegedly accepting $4,000 to ensure the ordinance was passed.
"If we approve this, we’re actually gonna raise the fees for the residents who don’t live in apartments, and give the apartment holders as much as $8 million in rewards,” Blynn said, before mistaking the man's relation to Pierre: “That’s why they worked so hard to get Mayor Pierre’s cousin on a bribery charge.”
"What happens if I say your daughter’s a prostitute?" shot back Pierre, who clearly didn't enjoy the jab at his nephew. "What happens if I say your daughter's a prostitute?"
LISTEN TO AUDIO OF THE MEETING OBTAINED BY THE MIAMI HERALD.
Blynn responded that neither of his daughters have ever been arrested for prostitution, but Pierre didn't let up: "You don’t have to be prosecuted to be a prostitute," he said, as the meeting dissolved into shouts.
"You called my daughter a prostitute? How dare you! How dare you!" yelled Blynn's wife at Pierre from a podium, according to reports, before Pierre declared the meeting closed and asked security to escort her from the meeting. "Would you get her out of here please?" he asked, as a councilperson bravely soldiered on with the garbage debate.
Naturally, though the warring parties are now more composed, the controversy in North Miami is far from over: Pierre told NBCMiami he has apologized to Blynn and his family, but Blynn told the Herald he hasn't heard from the mayor and would be exploring the family's legal options. According to the Miami New Times, City Clerk Michael Etienne responded to a local activist's emailed complaint with a "furious" screed defending his support in the matter of the Haitian-born Pierre, alleging that Blynn, who is white, is a racist and "cancer on our society."
"They keep trying to turn this into a racial issue, which is nonsense," North Miami activist Ellen Abramson told New Times after receiving Etienne's scathing reply. "It's really disappointing."
Oh, and the garbage ordinance that led to this garbage? It earned preliminary approval in a 3-2 vote, according to the Herald.