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Hialeah may stop naming city properties after living persons

Less than a week after being re-elected mayor of Hialeah, Carlos Hernández announced that he will submit to the council an ordinance to prohibit naming any city property after a living person.

“This is an ordinance that has been in the works for months and has nothing to do with the elections,” Hernández told El Nuevo Herald. “People have been criticizing that in Hialeah public buildings and parks are named after living elected officials.”

Hernández said on Sunday that the measure is a response to criticism from Hialeah residents that adds to questioning from other communities of the abusive practice of naming city properties to promote living politicians.

The ordinance named “Historic Preservation” presented by Hernández was schedulef for first reading on Tuesday, according to the council’s agenda.

In Hialeah, at least two city properties are named after living former elected officials: City Hall, named Raúl Martínez in honor of the former mayor, and the Roberto Casas Park, named after the former state senator.

Martínez said the ordinance could not be applied retroactively. However, he said both Hernández and the council have the right to approve a resolution that directly leads to removing the names on those properties.

“Laws are not applied retroactively,” Martínez said. “But if they want to eliminate our names it’s their decision. Hernández or the council cannot erase the history of my 28 years of service.”

The City Hall building at 501 Palm Avenue was inaugurated in the late 1960s and named for Raúl Martínez in 2006 under then-mayor Julio Robaina’s administration. Hernández and current Commissioner José Caragol were among the council members who voted in favor of the new name.

The controversy over naming public properties after controversial figures is not recent. In June 2012 Hernández’s critics questioned his administration for naming a street in east Hialeah after Banah Sugar, whose owner and several of its executives were convicted of drug trafficking.

Casas considers Hernández’s initiative an act of revenge against people who have criticized his administration.

“I think this is an abjection on the part of mayor Hernández,” Casas said. “This is political retaliation against those who disagree with him.”

Casas said his work had been crucial to obtaining about $800,000 from the state to pay for the park in west Hialeah. Once the work was finished, then-mayor Martínez decided in 2003 to name the park to honor Casas.

“These kinds of proposals are laughable,” Casas said. “I really think it would be a big mistake for the mayor and the council to approve that ordinance. I wish the mayor success in his job, but he is wrong to plant more reprisals.”

Hernández said he wasn’t motivated by politics.

“There is no political revenge here. If that’s how they want to interpret it, fine,” Hernández said. “If their egos are going to be affected, that’s their problem. People have been saying it very clearly, not only in this city but in many places in the United States.”

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