I can well imagine Ninoska and her husband being ticked off at the guy who took all the goodies their parents obviously stole from the peasants. I'm sorry, but I just can't shed a tear over these two. Tell me if I'm wrong. Tell me about the goodness of the KGB, the SS, or Batista's colonels.

Fred C. Hammer

You Think Castra Was Bad? Try South Florida
It has been 40 years since I moved to South Florida from my hometown of Philadelphia, and in all those years I had never experienced the pleasure of observing a local newspaper tear into the comically inept and dangerously destructive city and county governing bodies that control our lives and livelihoods in the Miami and Dade County areas. Never, that is, until I read Jim DeFede's hard-hitting and well-researched articles in recent issues of your fine publication.

Both New Times and Mr. DeFede should be held in high esteem for their courageous efforts at enlightening us on the truly frightening circumstances that prevail under our current leadership. That a city with the worldwide appeal of Miami could find itself on the brink of bankruptcy is reprehensible and is a direct reflection of the inability of our elected officials to properly legislate on our behalf. Or are the politicians even interested in us?

Other than through political chicanery, how could people like Charlie DeLucca and Nat Moore be squeezed out of the group overseeing operations at the Golf Club of Miami ("You Call This a Fairway?" January 23)? In all of South Florida, who could have been more qualified to operate a golf course than Mr. DeLucca, a man whose name is synonymous with Florida golf? And one would be hard-pressed to find a more recognizable name than Nat Moore, former University of Florida and Miami Dolphins standout. How could anyone in his right mind fail to recognize the value of having individuals of their caliber and experience running a golf club and ensuring its financial success?

I'm sure I'm not alone in applauding Mr. DeFede's informative reporting of a truly deplorable situation, one that can be rectified only by more articles such as DeFede's and courageous newspapers such as New Times. I sincerely hope you will remain on top of this cancerous situation and keep us informed as to what, if anything, is being done to improve things.

I can accept the fact that we live in a multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual area, and that we certainly don't all think alike. But decency, honesty, respect, and consideration are basics that should be emphasized in everyone's demeanor -- even that of politicians. It really doesn't demand a great deal of effort to abide by these principles when dealing with one another.

Again, my heartfelt appreciation goes out to Jim DeFede and New Times for having the intestinal fortitude to tell it like it is. I shall look forward to many more such articles in the hope that eventually our city and county fathers may be made to see the errors of their ways and to amend them.

James Montgomery
North Miami

Okay, So Try This: An Ode to Badness
Kudos to New Times and your staff writers -- more specifically, your investigative reporters -- who have contributed so much public awareness and knowledge regarding the follies of the City of Miami and Metro-Dade governments over the past year. As the Herald becomes less informative and reliable, your paper shines in contrast, with insight and diligent reporting regarding local government's state of malaise.

I recently came upon a story by Robert Andrew Powell dated more than a year ago titled "The Graduate" (January 18, 1996). This story was revealing enough to seriously place in doubt the character as well as the educational qualifications of then-Miami city manager Cesar Odio. This was followed by another story by Mr. Powell about Odio's "slush fund" giveaways to political cronies of the commissioners ("Petty Cash," August 22, 1996), eventually cited by the Herald when the scandals of mismanagement and corruption were revealed (prematurely, as you have also revealed).

More recently your paper has focused on County Manager Armando Vidal, whose appointment, as we know, was a bitterly fought, strongly ethnic issue. Recent articles by Jim DeFede -- "You Call This a Fairway?" and "Bounty Manager" (February 13) -- reveal doubts about Vidal's character and integrity similar to those about Miami's former manager. As far as qualifications are concerned, I know that at least Vidal has a bachelor's in civil engineering from the University of Miami.

But I would seriously ask what qualifications are required to properly run a government that is bigger than those of several states. The recent choice by the manager of a "local" firm (controlled by Cuban exile leader Jorge Mas Canosa) over nationally renowned organizations to supervise construction of the forthcoming performing arts center brings into focus the issue of patronage over qualifications and our future destiny following this path.

My congratulations to New Times must also include the direct inspiration that prompted this letter: Robert Andrew Powell's humorous story "Life Sentences" (February 6), about the Herald's police reports and the reference to their poetics in the form of Japanese haiku. I offer a three-stanza haiku to summarize and close my letter. It is not pretty, but at least it is in correct syllabic form (which is hard enough to do):

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