Regarding your "Search for the Lost Mojito" (December 11): I had my first mojito at the now-defunct Havana Clipper several years ago and instantly became a mojitoist, scouring all sources for recipes like some sort of "buzzed" alchemist. I now have an herb garden with four kinds of yerbabuena and a liquor cabinet with rum from all over the world -- sorry, Bacardi.

Having experimented by combining the above items with different citrus fruits, sugars, and bottled waters, I've come to one conclusion. I don't know if I make the best mojitos this side of Havana, but my friends and I had a great time trying (and we've got the lapses in memory to prove it).

Victor Valcarce

Concerning "Gambler's Paradise" in your December 11 edition, first it was: Fix up your hotels, and tourists will come. We did. But they didn't. Then it was: Let's build condos for retired people with money. They died or moved to Palm Beach County. Then it was: Let's bring in the young person, the "yuppie." The demise of Eastern, CenTrust, Southeast Bank, PanAm, and 100 other businesses made them leave Florida. So now it's the South Pointe neighborhood: Yeah, that's the ticket!

Look, it's nice to try, but the only gambler's paradise Miami Beach will ever be is a resort with casinos. Mr. Fisher planned it that way when he developed it in the early Twenties. Casinos are coming, so forget new condos. Forget "the Beach is back," and forget the neighborhood (via the late Mr. Bloom). Somewhere between the Seminoles, Havana, and other states are the casinos of South Florida, because casinos are economic answers to economic problems.

Stan Wertheimer

Reporter Mary Ann Esquivel-Gibbs's story about South Pointe redevelopment was generally on target, but she made a serious error in saying that no master developer came forth in the early years.

Indeed, Earl Worsham was selected as the master developer early on and served as such until he formed a partnership with First Boston Corporation. That combination (clients of mine at the time) helped win the spirited 1980 citywide election referendum, which affirmed public support for redevelopment.

Unfortunately, by the time the issue passed and the city commission was ready and able to move forward, interest rates skyrocketed and it no longer was possible for developers to build with such finances. Worsham and First Boston then had a major dispute, the partnership fell apart, and since then, the entire project has suffered exactly because there is no master developer.

Without one, the city is really spinning its wheels and should move its redevelopment district up the beach to Collins Avenue (on the ocean) between 14th Street and 24th Street so that the city can get new hotels able to serve as headquarters for large conventions.

In the interim, the city could do worse than simply designate the Fontainebleau Hilton as the city's official headquarters hotel. It's far better equipped than other cities' headquarters, and express buses can make the trip to the convention center in ten minutes or less.

Gerald Schwartz
Miami Beach

In reference to Mark Cleary's letter of December 11, I must offer a counterrebuttal. Mr. Cleary's premise bemoaned the singular lack of thought given to the arguments presented in the December 4 letters to the editor. Included among those letters was one from my husband, who outlined in a concise manner several property crimes that had occurred against me within a one-year period. Mr. Cleary came to some outlandish conclusions in his rebuttal, and in doing so, invalidated his whole premise.

A few observations are definitely in order:
1) My husband did not make any racist comments. Mr. Cleary evidently drew that conclusion from the comment relating to "five-dollar rocks of crack." Nowhere in that statement did my husband single out any one race of people. The last statistics that I read stated drug use was pervasive among both sexes, all races, and all socioeconomic groups in our society. In the last presidential election, my husband voted for Jesse Jackson, while I meekly followed the herd and voted for Michael Dukakis.

2) In regard to the value of my property: I am a teacher in a private school. Please do not cry elitist; as a new teacher in Dade County, I was fortunate to find employment during such difficult economic times. My yearly salary does not equal the estimate Mr. Cleary placed on my automobile. I drive a 1986 VW convertible (not a Beemer), which still sports the slit top. The present value of the car is approximately $5000. While it is not an '81 Citation, it is a popular car for those people in the business of taking automobiles without offering compensation to the owner.

3) In regard to preventive measures, I have implemented the ones that are affordable to me. A pull-out radio was lost while I was parked inside the grounds of one of our public high schools, substituting. Yes, the car was locked.

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