By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Saving the Beach, One High-rise at a Time
Are you all a bunch of idiots? The individuals quoted in Ted B. Kissell's article "Elector Set" (October 30) all attempt to parrot the same "save the Beach" philosophy. Save it from whom? The reason these morons are all recent residents of Miami Beach is that not long ago South Beach made Overtown look like a garden community.
Sure, there was plenty of parking on Ocean Drive in the Seventies and early Eighties. Hotel rooms were $75 per week! No one lived there but Mariel criminals and crackheads. There was no Miami Beach Marina, no Versace mansion, no restaurants on Lincoln Road, no designer stores on Collins or nightclubs on Washington. Nemo was a crackhouse, Amnesia a long-abandoned Italian restaurant.
Is that the quality of life these people long for? The reason they're able to live in this community is because of the vision of people like Gerardo "Gerry" Sanchez (remember him?) and Thomas Kramer, who, through development, "saved" the Beach by chasing out most of the lowlife scum who once ruled the streets.
These towering condos aren't going to add to the city's parking problems. They all provide adequate off-street parking for residents and guests alike, and they're going to be filled with wealthy, full-time, taxpaying, voting families -- not here-today-gone-tomorrow tourists.
Look around, folks. All the parking hassles are created by the older buildings that aren't required to provide off-street parking for their residents, most of whom are here for a short stay and couldn't care less about contributing anything to the community or its quality of life. Those are the buildings the Save Miami Beach people ought to be trying to close down if they're really searching for a "symbol of all that's screwed up."
Of Course It Sounds Crazy, Ozzy -- They Thought Nostradamus Was Crazy Too
The amount of development taking place on Miami Beach is a disgrace. But what will decide the fate of the Beach is Mother Nature. When things get out of control, she takes action. And as far as South Florida's ecological destruction, she is fed up.
When the volcano on Montserrat finally blows its top, it will trigger underwater faults and set off a high-intensity earthquake that will rock the South Florida coastline. It will also unleash immense tidal waves that will flood the coast. As a result, all the high-rises will be leveled; they were not designed to withstand earthquakes.
On the bright side, multistory construction of any type will thereafter be banned in Florida, and the condominium will go the way of the dinosaur. Over time, things will return to what used to be normal, and South Florida will once again be a place of gentle beaches and unobstructed sunrises and sunsets.
No one will listen to this, of course, because it sounds -- well, crazy.
Over the Edge and Off-Target
In the article "Over the Edge and Under Investigation" (October 30), Jim DeFede stated that I received a letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Butler advising me that I was a "target" of a federal investigation. This is not true. My former client, Lynne Sachs, received a letter notifying her that she was the "target" of the investigation because she was suspected of having sent the two faxes to Judge Ellen Venzer. I received a letter stating that I was a "subject" of the investigation.
In my opinion, the definition of a "target" and a "subject" of a federal investigation is this: The "target" is a person for whom the prosecutor has substantial evidence linking him/her to the commission of a crime, a putative defendant. A "subject" is merely someone who knows something about the matter under investigation.
There is no evidence whatsoever that I had anything to do with sending the faxes and/or that I had any knowledge as to who sent the faxes or why they were sent. My former client has denied having sent the faxes. By being her attorney, I had general information about the matter under investigation. That is why I received the "subject" letter.
Mr. DeFede characterized my letter to prosecutor Butler as "pleading with her to clear" me. This is also not true. Mr. DeFede's false reference that I was a "target" and his negative characterization of my letter could lead some to think that I may have acted improperly while I represented this client. I represented my former client zealously, as I am obligated to do by the Florida Bar. I was not involved in any improper conduct whatsoever.
Mr. DeFede chose to ignore the truth and printed false information that was damaging to me. This was an example of careless and unprofessional news coverage of a story. When the news media print false information, the result is that a person's reputation is negatively affected.
Abe Koss, Esq.
Editor's Note: Owing to a reporting error, Abe Koss was incorrectly identified as the "target" of a federal criminal investigation. In fact he is a "subject" of that investigation. New Times regrets the error.
Over the Edge and Out of the Closet
It was very refreshing to read Jim DeFede's detailed and uncensored version of the Lynne Sachs lawsuit as compared to the Ms. (Homophobic) Manners version in the Miami Herald, which coincidentally was published the same day.
It didn't require a Ph.D. to suspect that when the Herald reporter wrote "allegations concerning her personal life," it was a polite phrase to describe a suspected lesbian. One might also guess, however, that the Herald was just too much of a homophobic coward to reveal the allegation.
Even more pathetic is that probably another generation will have to pass before we'll see one of the Herald's muzzled but supposedly openly gay journalists have the opportunity (or intellectual courage) to comment on such a story. If a story like that were relevant to any other minority group in this town, do you have any doubt we'd see editorial comment all over the media?
There could have been no credible extortion attempt if Judge Ellen Venzer had not been in the closet regarding her sexuality. If an affirmative acknowledgement to the public she serves is embarrassing and scandalous to her, then she should seriously consider resigning from the bench.
As a member of the gay community, Judge Venzer has a moral obligation to help fight gay discrimination in this society. She and others like her do not deserve to be on the bench if they choose to cower in the closet.
Although she was forced out by an alleged blackmail attempt, I applaud Judge Venzer's courage in facing up to the revelation. As the battle for gay equality continues in America, it is essential that gay people come out of the closet that perpetuates discrimination.
Over the Edge and Underwhelmed
I have to say I was surprised by Jim DeFede's "Over the Edge and Under Investigation." Besides being below the usual standards of New Times's ability to ferret out corruption, scandal, and wrongdoing, the article didn't really say much.
While I was pleased to see that a Dade County elected official such as Judge Venzer actually followed the rules as she was supposed to, I did not read about any abuse of her power, nor did I see any impropriety on the part of anyone but Lynne Sachs. Her idea of blaming it on the dead guy is so in vogue you really must give her credit -- dead men tell no tales, fortunately for her.
I am a little surprised that the only prurient thing New Times could pick out about Judge Venzer is her lifestyle. So what?! We have representatives in Congress like Barney Frank who stand up and admit their sexual preference, and we don't elect them based on that.
New Times didn't have anything it could uncover about the quality of Judge Venzer's work on the bench, no "backroom deals," just her lifestyle, a choice that is hers to make. There is not one scintilla of proof that her choice affects the job the people elected her to do.
When New Times reported Ms. Sachs's statement that Judge Venzer was using her "political connections" to push the issue toward the U.S. Attorney's Office, I didn't follow. If anyone threatened, or attempted to influence, a politician or judge and that person did not report it to the proper authorities, the public would be demanding a federal investigation.
Ms. Sachs is now getting the public scrutiny she wanted, but the magnifying glass is on her, her IRS returns, and her veracity.
I wonder about one last thing, though: Who tipped New Times to this incident? The dead guy? Was it by fax?
More to Teen Life than Gangs and Zits
This is in response to Larry Boytano's article "The Young and the Rockless" (October 16). As a teenager I find it refreshing that someone actually recognizes that the youth of Miami might actually have a culture of their own (other than gang activity). I was upset, to say the least, when I heard of the closing of Cheers. It was the only place teens could go almost every night of the week and socialize with people they knew and see bands they were familiar with that played what they wanted to hear.
Like most, I am cash-poor. When Cheers was open, I always found it easier to part with the five-dollar cover charge to see three or four hours of live music than to spend the same amount on a movie. I believe many like me will refuse to give up their passion for live music, which is the only way youths can really express their unique ideas and emotions.
I commend Rose's Bar & Music Lounge for supporting local acts and for understanding that people under 21 need music as much as anyone. I hope it won't be alone in South Florida for long. I also commend New Times for giving publicity to the bands and individuals who continue to make sure that the treasured all-ages shows don't disappear completely.
The Week Shall Inherit the Praise
Loathe as I am to praise New Times, I must commend you on your "Calendar" section, the only part of your rag I (and most of Miami) pay any attention to. I don't know what you've done, but the blurbs have actually become fun to read! The writing has undergone a marked change for the better -- lively and satirical. They inform while refusing to take themselves and much of their subject matter too seriously.
Nice to see that you guys are finally doing something right.
In last week's "Calendar" section, a photograph of drag performer Daisy Deadpetals (shown here) was used to illustrate the Miss Florida National Pageant for Female Impersonators. While Ms. Deadpetals was indeed a contestant, the photograph should have been used to illustrate "The Metamorphosis of Daisy," a photography exhibit by artist Jamie Robinson, now on display at Ms. Robinson's studio at 630 Lincoln Rd. courtyard, Miami Beach. New Times regrets the error.