By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
You Don't Have to Be a Kook to Hate the Sanctuary
It's a shame that Sean Rowe's article "A Key Battle" (January 9) portrays such a narrow view of why the referendum on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary was defeated in the last election. He didn't seem to talk to more than a handful of players involved, and never even mentioned that recreational anglers -- not just commercial fishermen -- are also up in arms over the no-fishing zones in the proposed management plan.
While there were certainly many anti-government votes cast, there was a huge number of people who would like to see the benefits of a federal sanctuary but were disappointed in many elements of the management plan. Rowe barely mentioned that the initial enthusiasm for a sanctuary was based on its hope of deterring oil drilling and ship groundings, and improving water quality.
Keys residents were instead presented with a bewildering barrage of confusing regulations that include lockout areas for anglers and segregation of selected user groups. The excuse by sanctuary proponents that they lost because of negative campaigning by the other side is a bit time-worn -- and the mudslinging was far from one-sided. Even if the sanctuary had won the referendum, it's obvious that too many people in the Keys haven't embraced what should be a mom and apple pie program.
Indeed, sanctuary officials have arrogantly decided since the referendum to make no changes to the plan -- even the most unpopular elements -- unless forced to do so by Governor Chiles and the cabinet or by congressional oversight committees. That's the very attitude that chased away many voters from supporting the sanctuary in the first place -- years of little listening on the part of sanctuary officials, except to those who supported NOAA's views and to cooperative environmental groups hungry for federal research grants.
Rowe's casual mention that only one percent of sanctuary waters will be off-limits to anglers doesn't come close to touching on all the explosive problems with zoning in the management plan. He fails to point out how unscientifically the sites were chosen, how worldwide studies show that any benefits to the surrounding ecosystem are largely speculative, that those pushing for the zones will be the ones compiling the statistics and will decide if more and larger ones are needed, and that anglers are booted out of zones but divers would be allowed in them, despite 1.6 million divers each year negatively impacting the resources of the Keys. This "divers in, anglers out" inequity will never be acceptable to anglers.
The Florida Keys are a national treasure, but that doesn't mean they deserve a flawed management plan. The heavy-handed manner in which the federal government has handled the sanctuary is giving pause to people around the state who are considering a sanctuary in their own back yards -- and that doesn't make most of them kooks or potential terrorists, as Rowe's article seems to portray those who voted against the sanctuary.
Let's have a marine sanctuary in the Keys, but one that concentrates federal money and resources in a positive, effective manner.
After Teetering on the Brinks, City Is Saved!
In Robert Andrew Powell's recent story "It's Official: Miami Is Now a Charity Case" (January 9), St. Petersburg resident Arthur Fleming suggested that Mayor Joe Carollo pray for a miracle to end Miami's financial woes. Well, that miracle arrived on the morning of January 8, on an overpass above Overtown -- the Brinks truck that rained money onto the streets below.
I can only hope that Mayor Joe and his aides had the presence of mind to recognize a miracle when it happened and grabbed shovels to help fill the city coffers. I also hope he had the presence of mind not to mention the incident to city commissioners as they would probably go overboard, show up with bulldozers, and then clog the drive-through lines at their local banks.
Thomas V. Gardner
North Miami Beach
Go Ahead, Shoot the Pianoman
Jim DeFede's mention that Miami Herald political editor Tom Fiedler sees Miami City Commissioner J.L. Plummer as the "whorehouse piano player who pretends not to know what goes on upstairs" gave me the hiccups ("Miami's Undertaker," January 2).
I don't know this Plummer fellow. He looks like quite a slob, so maybe he's not all bad. Or maybe he is all bad. One thing I do know: At worst, Plummer is just the guy in the whorehouse vestibule. It's Fiedler at the piano, pretending. If you feel like saying "Amen," go right ahead.
Let Camacho Guide You Out of the Wildnerness of Capitalism
For a number of years now, I have considered myself a bona fide revolutionary, engaging in a variety of legal activities the purpose of which is to bring about the overthrow of capitalism in this country and the establishment of an industrial democracy by means of a working-class revolution.
I suppose that to most people I must seem an oddball, a disgruntled weirdo who hates capitalism because he's been kicked in the teeth one too many times. Guys like me are always looking for potential comrades and for signs of the apocalypse written upon the granite facades of Wall Street. That is why I was immediately drawn to your January 2 issue, the one emblazoned with the headline "New Year's REVOLUTION." I eagerly read Kirk Semple's article, hopeful to detect fissures in Babylon's monolith and Ezekiels ready to prophesy its downfall. I was disappointed.
Although most "revolutionary" ideas expressed by Semple's interviewees were good, and some the result of genuinely disinterested concern for the general welfare, none, in my opinion, addressed in any fundamental way the root cause of what ails society in general.
The people to whom Semple addressed his tall order could have done better because, without exception, none of them could see any future beyond the present system. Moreover, they place their hopes and fortunes squarely at the feet of the beautiful golden calf of capitalism. But in fairness, it ought to be noted that any bad question is capable of eliciting bad answers. In this case Semple's question was defective because it was premised on an error of logic. Semple confused revolution -- a radical, thoroughgoing change that fundamentally transforms a thing -- with reform, a superficial, cosmetic alteration of something that leaves its basic features unaltered.
Armed with that confusion of ideas, he sought out people for whom revolution means nothing more than switching from AT&T to MCI. So logically they offered up their timid and unambitious suggestions. If you want any truly revolutionary ideas, you have to avoid the reformers and make a beeline for the revolutionaries.
If Kirk Semple or any other of your excellent writers ever again ventures into capitalism's wilderness to pose questions of hope for the future, I hope he or she will condescend to visit this locust-eater for some genuine insight into things revolutionary.
And on the Congas: The Big Man Himself
In Kirk Semple's article "New Year's Revolution," a lot of people suggested ways to "enhance the experience of living in South Florida." But no one mentioned the one who has the final (and initial) say over what happens here or anywhere.
That one, the infinite one, is God the creator (and destroyer) of all things. Does anyone think that anything can be done without the approval of God? The impression I get from Semple's article is that God is irrelevant to what may or may not happen in Miami or to what people want to happen in Miami. If anyone wants anything for Miami or themselves, let them ponder the following truth brought to us by the prophet Jesus: "Seek the kingdom of God and all else will be provided."
As my own contribution to those things that would enhance Miami, let me submit the following idea: a regularly occurring community percussion event -- what others would call a drum circle -- which occurs when percussionists get together and play one beat or rhythm continuously, ideally for many hours.
I am a percussionist with a lot of ideas for such an event. I think it would be good for developing community togetherness. After all, the family that drums together stays together. Anybody interested? Call me at 305-661-9900.