Letters

Perry and Thrust
Jim DeFede's piece "The Ethnic Chopping Block" (July 18) was a trenchant look at the rawness of Dade County's politics and specifically the rave for Metro mayor. I am a candidate for that office and was mentioned in Mr. DeFede's article. It contains an amateurish conclusion that could lead to the public's misconception of why I decided to enter this race. That mistake needs to be corrected.

I'm running because I'm qualified and can add fresh ideas and new approaches to the political milieu in Dade. If elected, as an outsider, I can bring integrity and light to Dade County's secretive way of conducting county business. Thousands of people in this county are turned off by the business-as-usual attitude of Dade's politicos. We need to let them know that they have a voice in their county government.

I have the experience as a public-paid manager of the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority to know that the county's recent $165 million deal to build a new arena benefits only private industry. That money should be used instead to develop other much-needed programs such as community resource centers for our youth -- we need to invest in our children's future.

I have the experience to know that Dade County government desperately needs to spend more money improving its neighborhoods. This lack of attention placed on our neighborhoods has led to a situation in which our affluent neighborhoods are scampering to leave Metro-Dade, which has no comprehensive plan to address this issue.

I have the experience to know that there is a link between the explosion of youth crime and tourism. We can't possibly ask people to come to Dade and feel safe if we are not thinking of new ways -- not just the old method of chasing robbers after they've committed the act -- to reduce delinquency.

And, yes, Mr. DeFede's article correctly noted that Commissioner Teele's support in the black community is soft. That, too, is common sense. Mr. Teele is a long-time member of the Republican Party, whose prohibitive nominee for president didn't think he "could relate to" the delegates at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People convention and thus decided to skip it.

Think about it. And, oh yes, Mr. DeFede: Think about being more thoughtful and less acerbic in your future political analysis. Bitterness does not compliment you.

William "Bill" Perry
Miami

Borderline Schizo
Hats off for publishing Jim DeFede's unbiased analysis of the Dade electorate. It was head and shoulders above the level of political journalism usually dished out hereabouts.

Hats back on for the way the story was presented -- the grotesque cover, et cetera. I guess New Times has to reach the market for its grungy ads, but those schizophrenic policies make me nervous.

What the hell, it's free.
H. O'Donnell
Miami Beach

Collegial Courtesy
As Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I am pleased to see that the Miami New Times is concerned about environmental issues in South Florida, such as how best to use former military installations like Homestead Air Force Base. However, I was concerned by an inaccurate allegation made in a recent column by Jim DeFede ("Oops, Sorry, There Will Be No HABDI Investigation," July 11).

While I considered asking the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) to review the awarding of a development contract to Homestead Air Base Developers, Inc., I ultimately decided not to ask for a GAO report.

Mr. DeFede mistakenly claims that Sen. Bob Graham dissuaded me from pursuing a GAO investigation. This is not the case. I had already decided not to ask for a GAO report before I contacted my Senate colleagues from Florida as a matter of courtesy.

Thank you for publishing this correction.
Sen. John H. Chafee (R-Rhode Island)
Washington, D.C.

Jim DeFede responds: I reported that Senator Chafee wrote a letter to the General Accounting Office asking for an investigation into the private development plans for Homestead Air Force Base. Senator Chafee wrote the letter, signed the letter, and even penned a personal greeting to the head of the GAO at the top of the letter. New Times has a copy of it.

Before delivering it to the GAO, however, Chafee, according to the staff director of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, discussed the letter and the impending GAO investigation with Senator Graham. Following that conversation, Chafee decided not to send the letter. While it is true that others around Chafee argued against sending the letter, I still believe, based upon the interviews I conducted at the time (and since), that Senator Chafee finally decided not to ask for a GAO investigation because of his discussions with Senator Graham. I realize that my column has proved embarrassing to Senator Graham; his staff has been pressing for a denunciation of the story through Chafee's office for weeks. It is interesting to note that Senator Graham's press office initially denied that Chafee and Graham had spoken at all regarding the possible GAO investigation. They then had to back away from that statement after Chafee's office confirmed the discussions.

 
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