Commissioner Bruce Kaplan: So Sincere It Hurts
Joe Wilkins and his neighbors are the heroes of the Roads, and I truly regret the inconveniences they were subjected to at the ill-fated June 23 graffiti paint-out ("A Pigment of Their Imagination," August 8). The foulups in that event as reported were certainly not their doing, and I take full responsibility for whatever did occur.

I have contacted Joe and pledged to make good on our promise as soon as we have passed the September 3 election. Volunteers like Joe and the members of the Hispanic Association of Correctional Officers should be commended and supported, as too few citizens take part in such causes. It certainly was not my intention to have things happen as they did. We will do everything we can to make amends.

Commissioner Bruce C. Kaplan

What a Revolting Development It Has Been
As an environmentalist, I spend seemingly interminable hours witnessing developer-dominated county commissioners squander our natural legacy and our children's quality of life here in Dade County. And so, as a fellow observer, I have witnessed Jim DeFede's coverage of the county commission emerge as the most important journalism in South Florida. His depth of reporting, clarity of expression, and ability to root out the real story behind the votes at the county commission are deeply appreciated.

DeFede's report on the political career of Alex Penelas was incisive and succinct ("Ambitious to a Fault," August 1). The Shakespearean reference, "Beware the lean and hungry look of Alex Penelas," was well noted by a public that watched with horror as erstwhile environmentalist Commissioner Penelas (and Maurice Ferre) actively supported the realigned and immaculately bipartisan Latin Builders Association -- as HABDI -- and voted to give away the Homestead Air Force Base without competitive bidding or a formal request for proposals.

Betrayals of the public trust such as these recall other classics etched in the public imagination: Faust, who relinquished his soul to gain worldly power; Orwell's Animal Farm (people first, but some people firster); and perhaps most appropriately, Tales of the Arabian Nights. Having rubbed the golden lamp and released an omnipotent and destructive genie, our youthful hero must struggle to find a way to get it back into the bottle.

This story doesn't end happily, though, and it recalls a Pulitzer-worthy DeFede gem: his story of "environmentalist" Sen. Bob Graham obstructing a proposed government investigation of the Homestead Air Force Base fiasco ("Oops, Sorry, There Will Be No HABDI Investigation," July 11). That investigation might have disclosed the boondoggling approach to saving the Everglades, Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay, and our coral reefs by rewatering the north end of the system, at a cost of billions of our tax dollars. Meanwhile we subsidize, with our tax dollars, its befouling right here in Dade County with HABDI's subsequent and successful bid to develop the base and its toxic canal through an environmentally lax "expedited" process.

The public has had enough of greedy developers and enough of ambitious politicians chasing their dirty campaign dollars under the masquerade of "jobs and economic growth." The Everglades is jobs, tropical farmlands are jobs, healthy coral reefs are jobs, clean bay waters are jobs, pristine beaches are jobs -- joyful jobs both in tourism and the construction industries, as well as agriculture and fishing, for us and our grandchildren.

True economic health, well-being, and security for the citizens of Dade County should be based on sustainable economic practices and the benign stewardship of our natural world. For better or worse, the most important platform for that debate is the Dade County Commission. By their unconscionable votes on HABDI, Penelas, and Ferre have dismissed themselves from consideration in the upcoming election for county mayor. The three commissioners running for re-election who did stand up to the developers' power deserve our support in the September 3 election: Art Teele for county mayor, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla for District 11, and Dennis Moss in District 9.

Thanks to Jim DeFede for showing where the doors lead. I hope he gets the recognition his reporting deserves.

Robert Shanbrom

Talk About 'Tude!
As a concierge in a very busy hotel (Fontainebleau Hilton), I often use the information on dining offered in your publication, and I diligently read the restaurant reviews by Jen Karetnick.

When I read her review of Les Deux Fontaines on South Beach ("Les Deux Faux Pas," August 1), I was shocked, for I have had many pleasant moments there dining with friends or family, and it also happens to be one of the few restaurants about which I have always received excellent comments from my guests.

My shock in this case does not come from the criticism or the negative experience Ms. Karetnick shared with her readers, but from the fact, evident from her entire article, that she had made a judgment about this restaurant before she even went there. To me and to few other concierges from Miami hotels, this review had the feeling of a personal vendetta. Any food critic with self-respect should be aware of rule number one in the critic's work, which is always be objective and fair. In this case, it was very clear that Ms. Karetnick was completely out of line, which is a shame.

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