Shame on Greg Baker for smudging his column ("Program Notes," April 1) with acrimonious comments about a subject about which he apparently has little knowledge. Although illegal jitneys may save a small minority of bus riders 25 cents and a few minutes here and there, they are generally a disservice to the public, including taxpayers, bus riders, and visitors.

A case in point: After enjoying the nightlife in South Beach, a German tourist couple boarded a jitney, clearly marked "Aventura," in order to reach their motel in Sunny Isles. The jitney driver did not "feel like" going that far, so he dumped them at 96th Street in Bal Harbour. At that late hour, the streets of Bal Harbour and points north are mostly deserted. It was a cost-effective move on the part of the driver; there were plenty of fares back in South Beach. He was "getting the job done better." The tourists, however, were stranded, alone, in an unfamiliar area, and did not receive the service for which they had paid. When I happened to drive by in my taxi and pick them up, they were grateful but obviously upset by the treatment they had received from the jitney service which they thought was a bona fide form of transportation.

In Dade County, taxi and jitney drivers pay $40 per year for a license which makes them accountable to the government, and thus, the public. Illegal jitney drivers answer to no one, and sometimes lack even a state driver's license.

So Greg should keep listening to the music. But if he ever drives along Biscayne Boulevard or Collins Avenue, I caution him to be extremely alert. You never know when some "superior service" provider is going to cut you off and jam on the brakes, in order to snatch a dollar or two from the Big Bad Government Monopoly which has gobbled up all the bus business, including such quasi-profitable areas as Carol City, Miami Lakes, Perrine, and Homestead.

Paul Amorose

On behalf of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), I would like to thank Greg Baker for educating the public in his "Program Notes" column of April 1 about the ramifications of dissection and vivisection as they pertain to the theft of companion animals.

The demand for animals to be used for biomedical research and classroom dissection has created quite an incentive for unscrupulous people to steal dogs and cats. Some people actually make a living stealing and selling animals. They also answer advertisements that offer free puppies, kittens, cats, and dogs to "good homes." This is why anyone attempting to place an animal should always charge at least a nominal fee and screen prospective buyers thoroughly.

I would like to add a number four to the three suggestions for curtailing the theft of companion animals mentioned in the article to which Greg Baker referred. If at all possible, don't let your dogs and cats out of your sight. Animals roaming the neighborhood often annoy and anger neighbors, who sometimes resort to poisoning or otherwise cruelly destroying animals they consider a nuisance.

We are responsible for the health and safety of our four-legged friends, and we must keep them from the clutches of sadistic, heartless, and greedy people who have no regard for the rights of nonhuman animals who cannot defend themselves.

Marian Lentz, vice president
Animal Rights Foundation of Florida

You're probably used to getting a lot of "you forgot about me" letters after the exhaustive 1992 Best of Miami issue (March 25), but this one is a little different.

Why has New Times never acknowledged Our Place, a wonderful vegan restaurant on South Beach? It's been there for years, and you have written about many of its neighbors that have come and gone.

There were several categories in the 1992 Best of Miami issue where you might have mentioned Our Place if you'd wanted to be fresh and different - "Best Natural Food Restaurant," "Best Restaurant Trend," and "Best Place for Appetizers" among them.

No sense in crying over spilled soy milk; after all, that Best of Miami issue is history now. It would be nice, though, to see a review of Our Place in a future issue. I eat there often, and as far as I can discern, Our Place has all the qualities your able restaurant critic, Sue Mullin, and her dining companion seem to appreciate: It's located on South Beach - Washington Avenue, no less; the portions are as healthy as the ingredients; interesting-looking people frequent the place; it has its unique charm and atmosphere; the menu offers delicious, imaginative fare; and it has live jazz most weekends.

One of my dining companions suggested that perhaps it is a gender or racial thing, but on consideration of what seems to be your editorial policy, we dismissed that idea. Someone else suggested that you only mention restaurants that advertise. This seems more likely, since the paper does depend solely on advertising for revenue. Whatever the case, it sure would be nice to see a review of this unpretentious, socially conscious coffee house/eatery.

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