Letters

Black, White, Red Over All
Thank you, thank you, thank you Kathy Glasgow and New Times for presenting the other side of the story of the Cuban revolution ("La Vida Dura," March 12). It's called racial oppression, and it doesn't take place only in communist countries. In fact, there is much less such oppression in Cuba since the revolution. I love this country and I love democracy, but that's just the grim reality. Who the hell wouldn't prefer communism -- or for that matter insurrection, anarchy, or tyranny -- over having to wait until the white Catholic mass was finished, or over being classified as too dark, or over having to clean a rich woman's floors by virtue of one's color?

Manny Losada
Miami

The Pioneers of South Pointe
Hortense Leon and Ted B. Kissell's article "Builder Beware" (March 12) did a fine job of explaining the complexities of the current Miami Beach development battle. Your readers should know, however, that there are other players who laid the foundation for today's development drama.

Before John Shubin and Jeff Bass, before Save Miami Beach, there were Gary Held and Tucker Gibbs, two exceptional land-use attorneys who gave generously of their time and professional skills to assist a small, rag-tag group of "professional malcontents" (as we were often called by our opposition) in the first wave of high-rise battles in South Pointe.

Beginning in July 1993, Citizens Against Tall Buildings (CATS) soon gave birth to the South Pointe Citizens Coalition (SPCC). It was CATS and SPCC that valiantly waged a series of battles against inappropriate development, culminating in the long, lonely fight with the City of Miami Beach and Portofino to stop the city from entering into the ill-conceived Portofino Development Agreement. On the day the agreement was approved, Mark Needle, an SPCC board member, promised the mayor and commission that the citizens would prevail at the ballot box. Tucker Gibbs initiated the first draft of the referendum petition, and from there Save Miami Beach was born.

Ilona Wiss
Tamara Hendershot, cofounders
South Pointe Citizens Coalition

Hoop Schemes: Truthful Rumors
I commend Robert Andrew Powell on an insightful, objective investigation of the corrupt practices of the Miami Senior High School basketball program ("Dream Team," March 5). What has been rumored to have been going on for years has now been brought to light by what was obviously a thorough and reasonable investigation by Mr. Powell. Although Miami High is not the only school guilty of such practices, it certainly is the most guilty.

Evan Morgenstern, co-sports editor
The Cougar's Roar
Killian Senior High

Hoop Schemes: Just Blame Nike
I read Robert Andrew Powell's article and I knew it was bad, but not that bad. But what can you do? You can't blame the kids (I'd want to play for whatever school could get me the attention I need to get into a Division I college too). You can't blame the parents (I'd want my son to have the best chance at becoming a millionaire too). You can't blame the coach (at Miami High, you win or you're out of a job, and quite frankly, unemployed life sucks).

So who do you blame? What do you do? Attack Nike! Big endorsements have all but destroyed professional sports. Now they're destroying collegiate sports. Remember when it was just the Rose, the Orange, or the Sugar bowl? Not the Poulan Weedeater Bowl. They could at least leave us with a pure high school sports system.

Victor Vasconcelos
Miami

Hoop Schemes: Just Blame Anyone but Us
As a student at Miami Senior High, I must inform you that these types of actions do not occur only at Miami High. Other schools violate Florida High School Activities Association rules. I guess since Miami High School isn't as rich as these other schools, you don't care.

I am so tired of Miami High and other minority schools getting such bad reputations. Why don't you investigate Coral Gables or some other ritzy school? I'm sure they violate many more rules than Miami High.

Marysabel Merino
Miami

Killian Nine: Freedom of Intolerance!
I am dumbfounded by the double standard shown in this community regarding Ted B. Kissell's article about First Amendment rights ("Reading, Writing, and ... Ohmygod!" March 5). Why are so many quick to defend the Killian Nine when just last year a highly respected consultant was removed from her position on an advisory board simply because she suggested that Cuban musicians should be included at the MIDEM music conference? Would those people who think the Killian Nine are so courageous also think the same of a group of students who circulated a pro-Castro newsletter? I don't think so.

I found the Killian Nine pamphlet to be hostile, threatening, and very, very racist. I wonder about the kinds of homes in which these children are being reared, and I find it curious that these students have nothing better to do than send personal threats to their principal. What happened to writing editorials in the school newspaper? Certainly the Dade County school system is lacking in many ways, but mean-spirited, poorly written tirades won't change that system. Let's hope these students find more productive ways of voicing their concerns at their new high schools.

A.J. Johnson
Hollywood

Killian Nine: Toss Dawson in the Slammer
After reading the Killian pamphlet, I was very impressed. These kids showed remarkable vocabulary, artistic clarity, mental ability, and logic.

If I had enough cash, I would offer them effective legal counsel. And I would be happy to see principal Timothy Dawson behind bars, just to see how he likes it. I only hope the Killian Nine remember, years from now, what an assh- - - this Dawson is. Now I can see why he is not highly regarded by the students.

Mikel Adones
Coral Gables

Killian Nine: Bust the Busters
Yes, there is no question the Killian pamphlet was against school policy, but the fact that these students were arrested is an outrage! No laws were even remotely broken. Criminal charges should and must be brought against the principal and anyone else involved in the arrest and attempted prosecution of the students involved.

Tad Swackhammer
Cutler Ridge

Nice Try, Richard
Just a few brief comments on Jim DeFede's recent coverage of Commissioner Bruce Kaplan's mortgage application ("The Case Against Kaplan," March 5): For one thing, the accusations appear to be based largely on hearsay, secondhand verbal reports, and subjective interpretation. There also appears to be considerable political motivation involved.

For another thing, exaggeration or distortion on a mortgage application is like fornication or adultery -- if everyone who has ever done it were prosecuted, half the population of the United States would be in jail. Moreover, it seems to me that if Commissioner Kaplan is making his house payments, not only should he not be accused of a criminal offense but there are not even any grounds to sue him in civil court.

If someone does exaggerate their income on an application, gets a mortgage, and does not make their payments, then it should be strictly a civil matter, and the lending agency always has the option of foreclosure. It is the responsibility of banks and mortgage companies to investigate the income, assets, and credit-worthiness of applicants.

Don't we have enough real corruption in local and regional government without this sort of nonsense?

Richard H. Rosichan
Miami Beach

No Harm, No Foul at Munisport
This letter is in response to Paula Park's article "What Are a Few Toxins Among Friends?" (February 5) regarding the Munisport Superfund site. After reading the article and considering the time taken by my staff to answer questions from Ms. Park, I would like to correct and clarify some of the misrepresentations and errors in the article, which does not adequately reflect the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) position in this matter.

Much of the article pertains to the potential involvement of EPA's national ombudsman and the Department of Justice (DOJ) submissions to the U.S. District Court regarding the role of the ombudsman at the Munisport site. The article implies that the EPA ignored the concerns of the community and provided incorrect information to DOJ. The article fails to note that after a review of the concerns raised by the Munisport Dump Coalition (MDC), a letter was issued to the organization on November 3, 1997, by Tim Fields, EPA acting assistant administrator, Office of Emergency and Remedial Response, stating that after a review of the issues, it was concluded that "it was not necessary nor appropriate" for the ombudsman to review this site. Additionally, the article failed to note that the inspector general's office issued a determination on January 7, 1998, acknowledging that the EPA and the DOJ had been contacted, that their response was satisfactory, and that no further action was required.

The EPA, along with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM), has spent more than a decade investigating this site, collecting hundreds of samples, and considering concerns raised by the community environmental groups, at a cost of millions of dollars. Contrary to the article, EPA has never asserted that the site has been fully cleaned and needs no further response. In fact, we support FDEP and DERM in their efforts regarding the closure of the landfill and the management of contaminated groundwater in accordance with their regulations. In essence, the EPA's decision is a determination that the threat to the environment has been mitigated to the degree that further response by the federal government is no longer needed.

Another error in the article is the date on which the EPA was reported to have made its decision that no further federal action was needed. The article states that the EPA decided in 1990 that the work was "progressing well enough that it could begin packing its bags to leave." It was July 1990 when the EPA initially decided that an action was needed to protect the environment. It was not until later, in 1996, after the tidal improvement to the wetlands and extensive studies, that the EPA began to see improvements in water quality. A formal decision that no further action was needed by the EPA was issued in September 1997.

It is important to understand that this site does not pose a threat to health or the environment that would require further federal involvement, and that the landfill will soon undergo final closure to bring it into compliance with FDEP and DERM requirements, which are much more stringent than the EPA's.

John H. Hankinson, Jr., regional administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
Atlanta

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