Tuesday night's City Council meeting in Hialeah, FL was probably the most controversial political meeting in years in the City of Progress. Around 100 parents and children attended a special presentation on the local Babcock Park, the center of a controversy in the fifth largest city of Florida.
Babcock Park is a public park, maintained by taxpayer funds, which are becoming scarcer by the day in the city. Yet, the Council of Hialeah gave a contract last year to a company owned by baseball legend El Duke Hernandez to open a baseball academy in the park.
The problem arose when El Duke increased the seasonal rates for students to $300 and padlocked the entire public park when off-season.
Critics of the situation accuse the City Council for wasting taxpayer money to take care of a public park that no resident can access anymore.
One of those critics is Marcos Miralles, the Libertarian candidate for Hialeah City Council, running against incumbent Paul "Pablito" Hernandez.
Attending Tuesday's meeting, Marcos Miralles had to face tough criticism from Mayor Carlos Hernandez, who used the dais to call his opponents "clowns and cowards".
Isis Garcia, President of the Council, pointed directly at the candidate, seating next to his campaign manager and family, telling parents, "One of those liars is here, Marcos Miralles. He is one of those that want to shut down the park."
The events that followed were described by local activism group Hialeah Boletin as "communistic Cuba".
Both children and parents booed at the Council candidate until Marcos's father himself went to the stage and told the Mayor of Hialeah directly, "You are accusing my son of using this issue as a campaign talking point. Yet you are the one making it an issue tonight. You are the one manipulating these parents and kids by telling them lies. You are using them with your political shenanigans."
In a brilliant strategy, parents went from being aggressive toward the Libertarian to questioning the City government's motives and ended up applauding Mario Miralles's speech.
Interviewed by America TeVe, Marcos Miralles showed his support for the baseball academy. "I love what El Duke has done with our kids. He has brought a whole generation off the streets with his school of future pro players."
"What Mayor Hernandez tried to imply was that I want to close Babcock. I don't. What I want is for parents to be able to pay for classes without having to put themselves into debt. Remember that Hialeah has the highest unemployment rate of large South Florida cities."
"I have nothing against El Duke. But before renewing the contract, I want to make sure he keeps his promises and follow our local laws by not closing down the park to non-players."
According to insider sources at the Marcos Miralles for Council headquarters, the special meeting was supposed to be a deathbed for our race. But it backfired against the Mayor and against Councilman Pablito. "Our website had a peak of popularity unseen in the past two months and more people are awakening to our message," says the campaign's media director David Torres.