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Cigar chief and Vice Mayor Nick Perdomo sues citizen over critical remarks

I guess being a cigar blog we should have known this already. But I for one was very surprised to learn recently that Nick Perdomo, leader of the Tabacalera Perdomo empire, is also Vice Mayor of the township of Miami Lakes in Florida.

Perdomo was elected on the campaign promise to bring his finely honed business acumen to bear on the town’s cash-strapped government. His latest attempt to tighten the town budget — laying off a police assistant — began a calvalcade of remarks which landed Perdomo in hot water and subsequently spurred a lawsuit.

Miami media is all over this story, in no small part due to the un-politically correct statements made by Perdomo to officer Frank Bocanegra at a recent City Commission meeting. Bocanegra, a veteran of the horrific Liberty City race riots in 1980, was voicing opposition to the prospect of losing one of his assistants. That’s when Perdomo gaffed:

“Frank, I know you’re going to be fine, too,” Perdomo said. “I mean, you were in Liberty City fighting the animals over there when you were younger, okay? You’re going to be fine, and we’re going to save the town’s folks $50,000 a year.”

As cringe-worthy as this statement was, Perdomo wasn’t done yet. He then offered Bocanegra “one of my hot girls from Nicaragua to come and assist you.”

In response to Perdomo’s remarks, Civic Association president Angela Garrison criticized the Vice Mayor, saying “I think we need to show a little more class than that… The employees that [he] was degrading were sitting right in the audience.”

That was the first and final straw for Perdomo, who quickly filed suit against Garrison over what the Vice Mayor claims is a “personal vendetta” to libel and slander his name and company. He is claiming that customers have stopped buying his cigars in response to the criticism (we confirmed this to be true on the Puff.com forums).

Whew, where to begin with this one? First off, Perdomo made a political gaffe, no question about it. Political correctness sucks but it’s a reality, and watching what you say isn’t always equatable to self-censorship. Had he simply omitted the words “animals” and “hot girls” there would have been no big story, no lawsuit. Perdomo should know better. Of course, given that he did say those things, it’s reaching too far to instantly brand the man as racist and sexist. That kind of kneejerk emotional reaction is what defines political correctness as a bunch of baloney.

As much as we hate political correctness, we find this whole Perdomo affair embarrassing. After all, it’s not the comments Garrison made that are stoking the boycott, but the ones Perdomo himself made. Make no mistake, we love Perdomo cigars and the Perdomo company in general, and think people boycotting the brand are overreacting to a pretty minor political gaffe.

From our perspective it seems like, in the end, the lawsuit will be dropped or dismissed, but not before Garrison pays thousands in legal fees. We don’t see anything resembling libel or slander in Garrison’s comments, just like we don’t see any overt racism or sexism in Perdomo’s remarks. We appreciate Perdomo doing everything he can to prevent loss of business due to this petty he-said she-said. At the same time, two personal vendettas do not make a right.

What do you think about this story?