Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernández will ask the city council on Tuesday to pass three resolutions to remove the names given to city properties years ago to honor former Mayor Raúl Martínez, his wife, Angela, and Martínez’s political ally and former state Sen. Roberto Casas.
“If the resolutions are approved,” Hernández said, “the names will be removed immediately.”
Hernández said that the measure will allow removing Raúl Martínez’s name from city hall, a four-floor building located at 501 Palm Ave.
Also, the name of Angela Gardens will be removed from a city building of 18 apartments rented to low-income elderly people at 695 West Second St. On Oct. 5, 2005, the three-floor building was officially named after Martínez’s wife, Hernández said.
The third resolution refers to a park of a little more than two acres located on 33rd Avenue West and 79th Street, which was named in 2003 to honor Casas. In 2011, Casas offered his political support to Martínez’s candidacy for mayor against Hernández.
Martínez, who declined to elaborate on the issue, only spoke to call the measure “a delinquent’s vile deed,” clearly referring to the mayor.
“Raúl Martínez is entitled to his opinion,” Hernández said, “but people know him too well … I have spoken enough about him, and it’s not worth saying more.”
For his part, Casas, 82, said the measure was just Hernández’s “nonsense” prompted by political revenge, thus underlining divisions within the community rather than focusing on uniting it.
“Maybe in the future we will have a mayor who doesn’t carry the resentment of this man,” Casas said. “He now has the power and controls the council, whose members simply do what he says. That is not good. There is no balance of power.”
Hernández denied that his initiative is personal revenge against his political enemies.
“This has nothing to do with revenge against anyone,” Hernández said. “This is the response to a request from residents. People on the street have asked me to do it, and several cities have experienced the nuisance that when people get elected they begin to name parks and streets after themselves. It shouldn’t be that way.”
The mayor said the measure to remove the names of Martínez, his wife and Casas from city properties complements the Ordinance of Historic Preservation approved unanimously in November by the seven council members. That ordinance forbids the future naming of any city property after living persons or their relatives.
Council chairwoman Isis García-Martínez has said that any recognition of the legacy of a former public official should take place “at the end of a lifetime.”
Shortly after learning about the ordinance, Martínez said that Hernández’s initiative was only an attempt to erase part of Hialeah’s history. Martínez, who governed the city for more than two decades, said his administration brought about most of the city’s development, with the construction of large segments of public infrastructure, including parks, streets, public mess halls and housing for low-income elderly residents.
Hernández and Martínez used to be on the same political side, to the point that when Martínez ran for Congress in 2008, Hernández supported his campaign while other Hialeah politicians remained distant.
However, in November 2011, Martínez ran for mayor against Hernández, who five months before had temporarily taken office after then-Mayor Julio Robaina had resigned to run for county mayor.
Martínez says the city has dramatically reduced the hours of service at parks, libraries and police stations, among other facilities, due to the city’s poor management. The mayoral campaign accentuated the rivalry between both politicians.
Casas says that Hernández maintains a double standard, and that while he attacks his opponents he turns around and gives the name of Banah Sweet Way to part of Hialeah’s 10th Street East to honor Banah Sugar, a company owned by Alex Pérez, a person convicted of drug-trafficking.
“My honor is intact. I am an honest person, and the community knows it,” Casas said. “I don’t live a life of scandals, and my name is not linked to drug-trafficking cases, as is Banah Sugar’s.”
Hernández said that, if the resolutions are approved, on Thursday morning a crew of city workers will begin removing the names of Martínez, his wife and Casas from city properties.