By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Over the years Mayor Martinez has accepted nothing but total allegiance from his city council people. He does control the city council. Everybody in Hialeah knows this, to the point that, for some time now, laws proposed by the city council include this verbiage: "Ordinance of the Mayor and City Council."
The mayor is supposed to represent the executive branch of city government. He has no business passing ordinances, as stated in public announcements. I'm sure there is a sharp attorney out there who could have all these Hialeah ordinances advertised in the above manner tossed out for misrepresentation.
Hialeah's "Charter of the 21st Century" was the biggest fiasco in the city's history. This revised charter, which passed by a margin of only three percent, allowed the mayor and city council to appoint new members to the council whenever vacancies occurred. The mayor stated that only the city council has the power to appoint new members, but both of the "appointments" mentioned in Mr. Alvarado's article (Eduardo Gonzalez and Willie Zuñiga) were in fact interviewed by the mayor in his own office prior to the council voting for approval.
Incredibly, these two appointees shortly afterward voted to give the mayor $1.2 million for his public-corruption legal expenses and a $100,000-plus yearly retirement benefit. In addition, the famous mayoral pay raise, approved by the above two officials in September 2001, left much to be desired. Councilwoman Carmen Caldwell had to choose between serving the people versus serving the mayor. Once her choice was made (the people), Martinez recruited Julio Ponce, who then defeated Caldwell and went on to vote for the mayoral pay raise.
To a certain extent it is true that Raul Martinez does not control absolutely everything that happens in Hialeah. Recently he did allow Hialeah City Council president and real estate developer Julio Robaina to represent himself as a Hialeah public official for the $100 million double-density project in Hialeah Gardens, along with the lucrative real-estate annexation deal west of Miami Lakes. Ironically Mr. Robaina is currently Martinez's first pick for Hialeah mayor when he leaves office.
It sure would be nice for Hialeah one day to elect for mayor and city council individuals who will look out for the people's best interests first and their own interests last. Removing the above incumbents would be a step in the right direction.