Separating the Indicted Wheat from the Indicted Chaff
In Kirk Nielsen's article about Humberto Hernandez ("A Merciful Court of Public Opinion," November 13), a retiree said voting for Hernandez was like voting for Raul Martinez. But there is a difference.

Mayor Martinez was charged with nine counts by the government. Mr. Hernandez has 23 counts against him. Of course, Mr. Hernandez is not guilty until proven otherwise, but it will be a lot easier for the federal government to prove something with 23 counts. Hernandez's case cannot be compared with Mayor Martinez's, even if both faced trials and elections.

The political ignorance of Miami voters is a disgrace. Time will show how wrong they were.

Miriam Mata

A Mercifully Bad Map
An inaccurate map reduces the credibility of the story it illustrates. In "A Merciful Court of Public Opinion," how far north of Flagler Street does SW 27th Avenue extend before it becomes NW 27th Avenue?

And what is South Dixie Highway doing cutting through Overtown? According to other maps, it doesn't exist north of the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Thomas W. Talmadge

Castro, Penelas, Suarez -- What's the Dif?
As I read Kirk Semple's article "The Rise and Fall of Miamiland" (November 6), my blood began to boil. I'm an American citizen born in Cuba and raised in Miami. When I became a citizen, the question of whether I was in agreement with the U.S. Constitution did not come up. After 40 years of exile, you would think that Cubans who live here in "Miamiland" would have a greater appreciation of the First Amendment. It seems to me that some of my compatriots pick and choose from that precious document to further their own means.

Castro, Penelas, or Suarez -- what's the difference? Maybe we are not ready to take Cuba back from Castro. We still have a few lessons to learn.

Ileana Gonzalez

Latest Ethnic Slur: Cubans Have No Sense of Humor
I am outraged at New Times and Kirk Semple for such an anti-Cuban, racist article. You have successfully managed to stereotype an entire community of people as a bunch of bigots. Why don't you write another story on how all blacks are criminals? Or about how all Jews are cheap? Or better yet, a story about how all homosexuals are nothing but AIDS-spreading pedophiles? You might as well; that's what you've done with the Miamiland article.

Mr. Semple's story complains that Cubans ruined this city. Why not write about how white Europeans murdered all the Native Americans and stole their land and ruined this country? There's a real story.

Cubans have done a lot of positive things for this community, yet you're focusing only on a few mistakes a few Cubans have made. They do not reflect the entire community. I, for example, am an honest, taxpaying, Constitution-obeying, business-owning Cuban American, and I am outraged. You owe the community an apology!

Marcelo Lecours

Getting Tough on Luft
Paula Park's article about the issues surrounding Miami's waterfront properties and the vision of planning director Jack Luft was informative ("Parks & Profits," October 23). Some issues, however, could have been more effectively viewed from a variety of perspectives.

That Mr. Luft has been a devoted public servant cannot be denied. Encountering him on many occasions, I have observed an individual intensely dedicated to doing the best for the citizens of Miami. But many of Mr. Luft's arguments for development of the city's water-related properties are driven by the notion that city-owned land must generate a financial return. It is just such logic that sadly moves Mr. Luft from reasonable steward of the landscape into the realm of just one more bureaucrat intent on plundering our community's natural and aesthetic resources for the city's financial gain. Generating income from the mismanagement and inappropriate development of unique sites is clearly an undesirable solution to that problem.

Mr. Luft notes that "there are a lot of laws ... to protect the frogs and the turtles and the trees" but adds that he does not see "the same level of protection ... for the urban environment." These are not laws to protect wildlife; they are based on the awareness of nature's interrelationships and the recognition that the integrity of the system must be protected.

Mr. Luft also notes that "to bring in the private sector you have to complement those public-sector objectives that are not economically viable.... Why are they putting executive corporate suites in basketball arenas?" The metaphor is flawed. More corporate suites for arenas merely make existing profits more gross; they are not the difference between success and failure. It follows, then, that an economic return on city-owned land is not based on the best and most cost-effective use of that land but rather on its potential to generate more income ("profit") for the city -- at a cost that must be measured not merely in dollars but also in social, aesthetic, and environmental costs.

Mr. Luft falls victim to the collective nuances of the "publicrat" in describing the Virginia Key campground site as an "80-acre battered and environmentally barren piece of ground that is not going to mushroom into a primeval forest by itself." Mr. Luft reveals here his lack of knowledge of research into environmental issues. The lessons of Harvard Forest and of Hubbard Brook (Yale University) speak legions about forest and woodland renewal when damaged sites are left to their own devices. Although Virginia Key may be downtrodden, it is erroneous to characterize it as lost and barren. With time it will again become viable as a natural area, left to its own devices and given the absence of human disturbance and intervention.

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