Dispute in Hialeah: it's not marijuana, it's the councilor

MIAMI.- Behind the heated discussion in the last meeting of the Hialeah Council generated by the proposal of Councilor Angélica Pacheco in favor of creating a regulation to prohibit smoking marijuana in public places, lies a rarefied environment, where, according to Pacheco, harasses him and boycotts any of his initiatives.

In conversation with DIARIO LAS AMÉRICAS, Pacheco stated that she felt discriminated against by Mayor Esteban Bovo who “blocks my initiatives” so that they are not included in the agenda for discussion in the meetings of the legislative body.

“Mayor Bovo prefers that the topics be sent to him days before the meeting so that he can approve them and place them on the agenda so that they can be discussed and voted on,” Pacheco explained.

The other way we approach any initiative is to mention it in the meeting itself when “new issues” are discussed. Something the mayor doesn't like for fear of being caught off guard. Logically, he prefers to know about the topic in advance to have the opportunity to analyze it and know what will be discussed at the meeting, said the councilor.

“To keep the peace, I sent the marijuana initiative in writing to the mayor and he did not approve it. In fact, he is not approving me at all,” complained Pacheco, who advocates promoting municipal regulations that prohibit smoking marijuana in public, in streets and parks.

According to him, many constituents have approached him with the complaint that they are smoking marijuana in the park where they take their children. “The other day, in the Publix parking lot, a man was smoking marijuana standing next to his car, at the entrance of the store.”

It is not something new, Pacheco stressed, “Miami Beach approved a similar ordinance and other cities are doing it.”

Councilor Mónica Pérez, who brought the matter to the meeting, said that it was not necessary to create a different piece of legislation, stating that it was best to include the prohibition within the ordinance. Smoke Free Hialeah promoted by her, which already prohibits smoking in the city's parks.

However, Pacheco opposed it under the argument that they are different things; One is trying to regulate something legal, which is tobacco, and the other is trying to correct a perception that smoking marijuana in Hialeah is allowed.

“We did something similar recently with Mobile Homes, where we passed an ordinance to remind residents that living in them is illegal,” he said.

Even Rafael Suárez-Rivas, the city attorney, argued that legislatively, tobacco and marijuana were different issues, Pacheco recalled.

However, when Mayor Bovo spoke at the meeting and opposed the initiative, he said: “To be completely honest with you, I don't know what places in Hialeah you are going where it smells like marijuana everywhere.”, words that Pacheco considers offensive.

The mayor continued, “I know what you're trying to do. You want to create something that is unnecessary. I don't know, maybe to be able to go on the radio and talk about it,” said the same person who supported the mobile home regulations with an argument similar to Pacheco's.

It did not end there, the councilor continued saying with irony: “What I would propose is that we adopt a resolution or an ordinance that makes the use of heroin and fentanyl illegal. Go to any list of drugs that are illegal today and add them to that list. It is unnecessary, because it is illegal,” stressed the mayor.

But apparently, the real reason for the clash seems to emerge when the mayor pointed out: “I know you've been here for four months. I know you write a lot. I want you to understand something, you are not the only one chosen, okay?”

Indeed, Pacheco writes letters to the mayor where he shares all the actions against him that seem unjustified, such as the rejection of his proposal that Milly Herrera be part of the Planning Board, “because of her opinions,” or the inclusion of someone apparently with dubious reputation as part of the multidisciplinary affordable housing team. Also recorded are the defamatory statements apparently made against him by a member of the Planning and Zoning Board or the inappropriate practices that, from his point of view, take place in the Council.

These letters are a testimonial document of the behind-the-scenes of Hialeah politics that Pacheco, the councilor who defeated Vivian Casals Muñoz, supported by Bovo, in the last elections, has been writing.

The last letter he wrote to Bovo, Pacheco recorded a phrase expressed by the mayor in the last meeting, which the councilor found threatening, “perhaps the time to honor oneself will soon come to an end.”

“Such behavior is not typical of a mayor, it undermines the principles of democracy and respect that define our city,” said Pacheco, who warns that he will not be intimidated.

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