Calling him “a great man,” Miami-Dade commissioners on Tuesday named a street in honor of José Milton, a Cuban-American developer who built more than 50,000 South Florida rental units — but also faced allegations of racial discrimination.
The U.S. Department of Justice twice accused Milton of discriminating against black apartment-seekers. Citing those cases, two black Miami-Dade commissioners passionately argued against the street naming, but it passed anyway. Unless Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez vetoes it, a portion of the Northwest 9500 block at the intersection with Fontainebleau Boulevard will now be called “José Milton Way.” The mayor’s office said he doesn’t intend to veto the naming.
Commissioners’ debate over the issue was tense.
“I will not support it, I cannot support it,” said Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who spoke out against the renaming with Commissioner Barbara Jordan. “I see a pattern that went on.”
Edmonson, who is black, was joined by two other black commissioners, Jordan and Dennis Moss, in voting no. Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who is white, also voted no.
“Mr. Milton’s company has an extensive record of discrimination,” Levine Cava said.
One of Milton’s sons, Cecil, later told the Herald that the focus on decades-old allegations was unfair. Cecil Milton said his father’s only mistake was not doing a better job training and monitoring his employees.
“My father was a builder, that’s what he loved to do, his passion was building,” Cecil Milton said. “He was not an administrator.”
Still, he said, “anybody who knew my father knew he was not a racist.”