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Old marijuana conviction snuffs out proposal to rename Miami-Dade baseball complex

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami-Dade County commissioners were not so high about naming a portion of a West Kendall park Tuesday after a youth baseball coordinator who was once convicted of a pot-related charge.

The late Al Engle was the former president of the Kendall Hammocks Optimist baseball program and, according to Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, who knew him, was beloved by the community.

But in 1983, a U.S. district court in Illinois found Engle, who was born in 1936, guilty of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, a background search by a commission auditor found. (The search also found some financial issues, such as liens, that commissioners said mattered little to them.)

Yet the federal drug conviction, while more than three decades old, sparked opposition on the board, with all but two commissioners on the dais saying they couldn't support the "Al Engle Baseball Complex" name at Hammocks Community Park.

"Parks are for children, and children will learn the history of the person," Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa said.

Zapata, who proposed the name change, stood by his legislation despite the finding, saying commissioners should not judge a person by a single mistake.

"I want to look at a man or woman, the totality of their existence and their life, and their dedication to what they did," he said.

But commissioners said they would not be burned again as they were last year when they learned the owner of a Hialeah sugar processing company had once pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge.

The county had named a street after the firm.

Comments

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Ed Jenkins

The citizens greatly approve of this decision as they cannot have someone known to be involved with the dangerous illegal drugs we want to be kept away from our innocent children honored in a place where these children play. The citizens have shown that they are aware of the dangers of these illegal drugs and the damage they can do to the young and many others in society which is why they wisely made them illegal many years ago and stand by that decision to this day.

Bill Thompson

Meanwhile the republic party is moving legislation forward in the Florida legislature to legalize medical marijuana. Hmmmmm...

Thomas

So somebody dedicated to the community can not be honored because of a minor drug offense. Conspiracy to sell marijuana means they couldn't prove he ever sold marijuana. It's a racially biased law for which he was likely profiled.

What a disappointment.

D

Thompson you dumb druggie shut up already. All day you whine about your pathetic life on here and no one cares in case you hadn't noticed you loser.

Bill Thompson

While the county commissioners are spending the day debating what to name a park, violent crime and drugs are rampant in our family friendly county and they, the mayor and the police department are doing nothing about it. Children are being slaughtered every day on the streets of the county and they are worried about the name of a park. pathetic.

D

Shut up already thompson haven't you figured out yet that no one cares to here your whining you loser?

Bill Thompson

These commissioners are truly only concerned about selling the naming rights for these parks and streets to whoever makes the biggest campaign contribution to their election campaigns.

Doug Geffner

Reading the posts here concerning Al Engle, it appears to me that all of you are ignorant regarding the English language!
Learn how to construct a cogent thought before all of you post! And learn some grammar.

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