Letters

Evelyn and the Magic Bus
I would like to thank Kirk Semple for clarifying the public transit situation for us, the users ("Token Ridership," June 20). I ride the bus on a daily basis -- to and from work, to doctors' appointments, on shopping trips. I also take the bus on Alton Road and am utterly frustrated and disappointed by the service in Miami Beach. Some buses do not meet their scheduled time requirements for specific bus stops. Riders cannot follow the timetables printed on the bus stops. The best bet is to be at the stop at least 20 to 30 minutes before the time the bus is scheduled to arrive.

The concept of Metrobus/Metro-Dade Transit system is a wonderful idea, but it is a vicious circle. Riders do not use it enough because the service is not dependable, some drivers are rude, et cetera. On the other hand, the service is not improved because the money is not coming in owing to a lack of riders.

The drivers of the buses are truly exceptional characters. The ones who are good are great, but the ones who are rude and impatient are really, really bad. Some of them need training on how to treat senior citizens, tourists, and users who don't speak English.

More people use public transit, thus fewer cars on the highways, therefore fewer accidents and less stress. Does this equal improved service and dependability? What a beautiful dream.

Evelyn R. Nieves
Miami Beach

Bardach Goes Ballistic
Elise Ackerman's story on The New Republic/Jorge Mas Canosa lawsuit ("The Mobster Mash," June 20) violates the most fundamental canons of journalistic ethics, and is riddled with errors, misstatements, and misconceptions. It reflects an egregious bias.

About four months ago, Ackerman phoned me at my home in California regarding a story she said she was writing about Jorge Mas Canosa's paternity suit. She eagerly solicited my advice, opinions, and help in obtaining depositions and research material relevant to the paternity suit. She also asked if we could have dinner when I visited Miami. With Ackerman's assurance that she was writing about the paternity suit and not The New Republic lawsuit, I agreed to meet with her.

Since the first meeting, Ackerman avidly sought my friendship A inviting me to dinner, drinks, nightclubs, not to mention soliciting my advice in her quest to secure work at another newspaper. She also confided her romantic troubles and even urged me to rent an apartment in her building. On several occasions, I specifically asked her whether she or New Times would be writing about The New Republic's lawsuit. She said no, but should she change her mind, she would tell me beforehand to ensure there would be no conflict of interest.

With craven cowardice and stunning bravado (truly worthy of Eve Harrington), Ackerman pursued her story and relationship with me under false pretenses, duplicitously garnering material for a story she claimed she wasn't writing. Less than two weeks before the June 20 story was published, Ackerman visited me at my hotel in Miami. At that time she asked for some phone numbers that she said she wanted for "another story." Later I saw her perusing papers in my room and jotting down notes. I told her that I would prefer that she ask me for what she wanted and moved my papers away. I last saw her with her friends on the evening of June 7, during which time she continued her charade that she was not writing about my case.

After sending her story to print on the evening of June 18, Ackerman called me and said, "I hope you won't feel betrayed and I hope you won't feel bad, but I just wrote a story about you that I don't think you will like. My editor told me not to tell you. I've read your stories and I think you're a great reporter and I hope you'll still be my friend."

Responding to my query as to what she thought I wouldn't like, she cited a part of my deposition which I immediately recognized as a transcription error. When I asked whether she had reviewed the "deposition errata," she said she had not and did not know it existed. "My editor told me not to call your lawyers," she explained. "We were worried that the Miami Herald would find out we were writing a story." Although Ackerman had more than a dozen conversations with me during her surreptitious preparation for this story, she repeatedly denied writing a story, chose neither to check her facts with me nor my lawyers, and never once requested a complete file record of the case. Had she complied with this elementary procedure, she would have had all the facts of the case available to her. Moreover, she informed me (incredibly) that no one at New Times checked the facts or circumstances of her reporting. Consequently New Times rushed into print a misleading, thoroughly biased, and downright inaccurate story -- all for the sake of beating out a phantom story from a competitor.

Ackerman also conceded to me that she had not read any exhibits nor any of the depositions taken in early June, without doubt the most critical ones in the case. Her only materials were incomplete and selected (by whom, one might ask) depositions without any of the accompanying amendments, errata statements, or documents. Ackerman need only to have waited till next month for a complete and accurate record of the case when the summary judgment filings will be made. Any of the lawyers involved in the case could and would have told her this. In fact, I did tell her.

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