Hialeah's Carlos Hernandez: Next Mayor to Jail?

On August 6, FBI agents swooped into Sweetwater City Hall, handcuffed Mayor Manuel Maroño, and charged him with bribery. The feds alleged Maroño and business partner Jorge Forte accepted $40,000 in payola from a pair of undercover agents pretending to be corrupt Chicago businessmen aiming to defraud the federal government. That same morning, almost simultaneously, other G-men popped into the city hall office of Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and led him out in handcuffs. He allegedly pocketed $6,750 for helping the fake Chi-town corrupters with a similar scheme in his town and in Medley, where he had a job as the town attorney.

The city has a ratio of one officer to 766 residents.

Three weeks later, Miami-Dade prosecutors charged Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman with two felony counts of unlawful compensation. The barrel-chested, Oompa Loompa-hued South Dade pol was caught lobbying his fellow city council members and county officials to fast-track a water and sewer project for a nonprofit agency that was paying him $125 an hour under the table to be its "construction consultant."

Maroño, Pizzi, and Bateman (who have pleaded not guilty and have been suspended from office) are just the latest in a long line of Hizzoners, including Miami Beach's Alex Daoud, West Miami's Cesar Carasa, and Hialeah's Julio Robaina, to make the perp walk of shame. The odds of another mayor joining them is not a question of if but of who.

Mark Poutenis

In Florida's sixth largest city, we imagine a crew of civic cheerleaders — or maybe haters — rooting for their main man, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez (who did not respond to two phone messages or an email request for an interview). Consider this scene: They gather on the steps of Hialeah City Hall, holding pom-poms and placards for a pep rally led by Raul Martinez, the political don who once held Hernandez's seat for more than a quarter-century and beat three attempts by the feds to send him to prison in the '90s. Sporting a blue-and-red (the colors of Hialeah Senior High) cheerleader's sweatshirt emblazoned with the words "Alcalde for Life" across the chest, he'll grab a bullhorn and urge on the rabble:

Gimme a j, for "jodiendo el pueblo"!

Since becoming mayor, Hernandez has been screwing Hialeah citizens big-time, critics say. In August 2011, a month after the city council appointed him interim mayor, Hernandez pimped out Benny Babcock Park, Hialeah's oldest and most popular hangout, to Major League Baseball pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez's private academy. The only way kids in the City of Progress can play on the seven diamonds is to pay the $300 registration fee to attend El Duque's school. When the academy is not in operation, the park's fields are padlocked even though Hialeah taxpayers pay 100 percent of the park's maintenance and lighting.

Meanwhile, Hernandez has done squat to lower the unemployment rate in Hialeah, which is the highest in Florida. He was instrumental in helping the sugar-making company Banah International Group win approval for $430,000 in tax incentives to create 300 jobs in Hialeah last year. The mayor also persuaded the city council and lobbied Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioner Rebeca Sosa to rename a portion of the street where the firm is headquartered to Banah Sweet Way. Well, turns out the company is owned by Alexander Perez, a convicted cocaine trafficker who never delivered the jobs he promised. Just months after getting approved for the tax breaks, Banah was forced to file for bankruptcy because it was facing a mountain of lawsuits from former vendors and employees claiming they had not been paid. The tax incentives have not been awarded because Banah hasn't created any jobs.

Yet Hernandez keeps sticking it to the residents. In October of last year, the mayor urged the city council to hike code enforcement fines. A first-time offense was doubled from $50 to $100. Daily fines were also doubled to $200. At the same time, he can't keep any cops on the force. More than 100 officers who have retired or left for other departments during his tenure have not been replaced. The city has a ratio of one officer to 766 residents.

Gimme an a, for "arranging favors"!

Helping political benefactors is a Hernandez specialty. Earlier this year, he recommended the city reject a developer's request to build an apartment complex at West 80th Street and 35th Avenue. On February 26, the council agreed and then, a few minutes later, rubber-stamped Hernandez's recommendation to allow Miami Lakes-based developer Martin Capparo to build a three-story apartment building ten blocks away in the same industrial district. Three weeks later, 34 companies owned by Capparo or listing the exact address as his Miami Lakes main office each contributed the $500 maximum to Hernandez's re-election campaign. That's $17,000 in bundled donations.

Hernandez also arranged more pay for city hall employees who'd helped him get elected two years ago. Shortly after taking office, he promoted mayor's assistant Arnie Alonso to chief of staff. Alonso, who beat an investigation into his alleged theft of vendor monies when he was a park department employee, went from making $40,200 a year to a little more than $65,000. Hernandez gave his star lackey a 62 percent raise at a time when he cut pay for firefighters, cops, and low-level employees by 5, 10, and 17 percent, respectively.

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4 comments
catarecibo662
catarecibo662

The Orlando Duque Hernandez's private academy, at Benny Babcock Park Hialeah Thumb Up!
comm:There's big difference between a league and an academy as Carlos Hernandez's excuse for making a deal.
The unemployment rate in Hialeah, Thump Down  Francisco, 

comm:that's not his fault, Hialeah was famous for their factories, If they close or move somewhere else like the rest of the country as we know it! There's nothing that Carlos Hernadez can't do about it.
Banah International Group (the sugar company) Thumb Down

comm:Carlos Hernadez is not Dick Tracy; is the mayor of Hialeah.
The fines Thumb Up Francisco Alvarado
comm:Totally uncalled for it.
766 resident  for one police Thumb Down
comm:Francisco are you letting the crimminals of Hialeah know that is open season for crimes; that's irresponsible reporting Francisco.
Martin Capparo Thumb Down
Thats Martin Capparo's money he can do with it whatever he wants. Just like the Castro Regime in Cuba did with Joe Garcia's campaing as we already know it.

OVERALL:Poor Reporting; it seen to me Francisco Alvarado that you are being used by some resentful, and bad loosers Left Wingers that have open a season of discrediting all these conservative politicians, who probably are more capable of doing a better job than most of these conspirators. Francisco you either naive or blind; or maybe you're sharing a cafecitos with the Sandinistas whenever you travel to Nicaragua.

juan_j_santana
juan_j_santana

Juan Santana for mayor of hialeah 2013 vote vote I am number #12

joeb104
joeb104

bye bye you uncouth bas/turd.

 
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