Letters

BUT WILL THEY GET BIGGER DESKS?
New Times is pleased to announce the promotion of three veteran staffers. Former advertising director Greg Stier has been named publisher. Senior account executive Patrick Flood replaces Stier as advertising director. And general sales manager Irene Bustamante assumes the added responsibilities of general manager. Good luck!

KRAMER: TALENT? ACCOMPLISHMENT? THE STUDIO 54 SYNDROME?
Thomas Kramer may be, and probably is, an obnoxious boor. However, this is not what concerned me most on reading the article about him by Steven Almond and Jim DeFede ("Tycoon Thomas," December 16). After all, if there is one constant principle in this world, it's that there is absolutely no correlation between character and either talent or accomplishment.

As a Miami Beach resident and taxpayer, my concerns are as follows:
(1) Enforcement of anti-discrimination laws should always be a priority. If any place of public accommodation is illegally discriminating by age or sexual preference, quick action is called for. Nightclubs and discos should fall into that category. If they don't, then the Beach commission should take action. This leads to

(2) The ugly Studio 54 syndrome. If there is one thing Miami Beach doesn't need, it's a super-wild, drug-ridden shithole from which would-be entrants, even membership card holders, are excluded by whim, by some smirking Steve Rubell look-alike at the door. If the new restaurants, cafes, clubs, and discos refuse to maintain open admissions policy and a fair hiring policy (how many black waiters are there on South Beach?), then we don't need them, and we don't want them.

(3) Large amounts of money spread around South Beach guarantee nothing without meaningful follow-up. We don't need a souped-up Sheik Al-Fassi! A situation like this could end up with ugly abandoned buildings, half-finished buildings, half-demolished buildings, and a new version of the South Beach redevelopment fiasco. This leads to

(4) Questions about the origin of Kramer's suddenly acquired wealth, which do not involve only idle curiosity. If the money was illegally acquired, borrowed against heavily mortgaged properties, or acquired in some other suspect way, then we could be looking at a mini-wave of seizures, foreclosures, and/or abandonments.

Finally, a word on the remarks of Beach Commissioner Neisen Kasdin. In his defense of Kramer's boorishness and eccentricity, he reportedly said, "There's a long tradition on Miami Beach, from Carl Fisher on forward, of developers with, uh, a colorful character." I would remind Kasdin, who ironically is a member of my synagogue, that colorful Carl Fisher was, uh, a vicious anti-Semite. Fisher was mainly responsible for the fact that, for decades, Jews were barred from hotels and resorts in most of Miami Beach. Do we need a young, arrogant German, of all things, following in his footsteps and setting up exclusionary "clubs"? I think not.

Richard H. Rosichan
Miami Beach

KRAMER: RETIREES? YUK! REFUGEES? YUK! SOUTH BEACH NEEDS A MAN OF VISION!
I just finished reading your article about Thomas Kramer, and as usual I am left with a negative feeling. New Times never has anything positive to say. (I will admit I laughed out loud when I read the portion of the article that said Kramer donated $70,000 to repaint a public housing project because he grew weary of looking at it.) Hello...anyone home, New Times? He donated $70,000 to repaint a public housing project and you are giving him grief for it. You obviously don't have the public interest in mind.

It seems that in your effort to beat the Miami Herald in covering Thomas Kramer, you compiled an article full of hearsay and few facts. Your article conveniently fails to mention the people behind the quotes because they are too cowardly to stand behind their beliefs. Could it be that New Times is a bit jealous of not getting an interview with the famed Thomas? Ever hear the term "sour grapes"? And so what is all this about Thomas Kramer? Remember, without people with the vision and ability to create their dreams, South Beach would still consist of retirees and refugees.

Your devotion to the cynical aspects of life once again shines throughout your entire publication. If I want to read articles that belong in the Enquirer, I'll buy one. I look foward to reading the Miami Herald's article about Kramer. In fact, recently I look forward to reading any publication except New Times. With the cultural boom in South Beach, I have seen other publications enter the market. (Kudos to Ocean Drive magazine.)

It's time to start embracing your community instead of alienating it. We need a change in the area south of Fifth Street, and Kramer seems to be trying to bring one. Let it go, and start reporting on things that matter. It's called journalism, and it may help your circulation.

Robin Lea
South Beach

KRAMER: TYCOON PRIVACY
Thanks to New Times for the piece about the newest eccentric addition to the South Beach scene, Thomas Kramer. The concerns expressed by locals about his plans for the many properties he has bought in the South Pointe area are valid as they will affect the whole of South Beach. Even the inquiries into where his money comes from may be important to those doing business with him.

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